Principles of the Constitution & the Branches of the Federal Government Grand Canyon University: POS 301 10. 30. 12 Principles of the Constitution: A Chart The Effectiveness of Checks and Balances The founding fathers could see issues with giving too much power to any one part of the government. They had witnessed what ha happened in Pennsylvania when their legislature, uncheched by a judiciary or executive, ignored essential liberties which lead to the deprivation of rights to Quakers based on their religious beliefs. The fathers knew we had out not to make this mistake again. Patterson, 2011) Thus, a system where each branch shared in a bit of the others’ power was created to ensure there would exist no monopoly on political power. To analyze the effectiveness of this system, the motivations behind the system must be revisited. Checks and balances were a means for political moderation. This ensures that all change is well considered by all, and executed in a just manner. Considering issues in the nation’s history such as womens’ suffrage and other civil rights, the rate at which our nation has shifted policy has sometimes dragged its feet.
Policy was well thought out, however at a slow rate. Specifically, there was nearly a century between the freeing of the slaves and the culmination of the Civil Rights movement. While it was a huge decision to be considered, the rights guaranteed to American citizens were being withheld or violated. If we are to consider the system in an international forum, we see that it comes down to the unique execution of the checks and balances. Again, considering the goal is political moderation, consider Mexico.
Mexico has a similar institutional system of checks and balances, yet has an international reputation for being politically extreme. Considering Britain, a nation with unicameral legislature fused with the executive and no mechanism for judicial review, they still maintain a politically moderate reputation. (Patterson, 2011) There is no universal best system, at least thus far. Where there have been issues with the timeliness of our own system, change does eventually occur even while maintaining that moderation which was a goal of the framers. The Three Branches of Government Legislative |Executive |Judicial | |Consists of Senate and House of |Consists of President and the Cabinet. |Consists of the federal court system, highest | |Representatives |Commander of the armed forces. |of which is the Supreme Court of the United | |Draft and approve laws for proposal to the |Essentially the leader of the nation. |States (SCOtUS) | |executive. Can sign proposed legislation into law. |Responsible for hearing cases of suit for | |Requires passing through both houses: the |Power to veto proposed legislation. |federal cases and cases where | |Senate and House of Representatives. |Appoints Supreme Court Judges and other |constitutionality may be in question. | |Have the power to overturn executive veto with|federal officials. |Review constitutionality of policy when | |2/3 majority vote. |The cabinet carries out and enforces laws. |brought in suit. |Have the power to amend the Constitution |Cabinet members: agriculture, commerce, |Nine justices ensures a decision. Each | |Power to coin monies. |defense, education, energy, health, homeland |decision will have Court’s Opinion, a | |Power to establish and maintain armed forces. |security, housing, interior, justice, labor, |commentary of the decision. | |Have the power to declare war. |state, transportation, treasury and veterans |Below the SCOtUS is the appellate court | | |affairs. system. Cases work up through the lower courts| | | |to the SCOtUS. | | | |Appellate court charged with hearing regional | | | |cases. | Branch Interaction The two bodies of Congress, the Senate and the House of Representatives, work together (sometimes with input from the President) to draft and discuss new policy.
If after policy is written, voted upon and approved by both legislative bodies, that policy is given to the President (executive) to approve and write into law, or veto. After this the Supreme Court (judicial) has the power to review policy and weigh in on its constitutional legitimacy. A Bill Becoming a Law Following the skeleton of interaction between the branches of government previously discussed, the Bill starts as proposal from a legislative member. The bill is categorized and sent to the appropriate committee to be discussed, argued and tweaked.
If the bill survives without being tabled, it is presented to both houses of Congress for debate and vote. If the bill passes these votes, it is presented to the President to either sign and enact the policy into law or to veto (deny) it. Effectiveness of the Process of Government There is a desire to have present a democracy, where the will of the majority will be driving force behind politics and policy change. To keep the majority in check, however, a republic is also in place. This puts into place the system of representation which will be accepting of the will of the majority (or its constituency) but not held captive by it. Patterson, 2011) The methods of selection also put varying degrees of separation between the masses and those governing, for example Representatives being elected by the people, the President being selected by the Electoral College, and Justices of the Supreme Court being nominated by the President & confirmed by Congress. What must be considered is whether or not the will and needs of the people are being represented in the making of policy. To be put in a position of representing people takes election from a particular geographic area. Those ho will be elected will, logically, be those individuals who hold and support the values of the majority of voting members of that constituency. That their job depends upon being elected initially, and then re-elected, it is in the politician’s best interest to hold his constituency’s interests at heart. Loosely, it is job security. Whether or not the agendas of the constituency or the politician’s personal agenda are more represented depends on the individual representative. The framers believed it would take a representing body that was virtuous for the republic to work well in execution.
But it is the whim of the people who is elected to represent them, at least in terms of Congress. It takes individual citizens being learned of actions being levied by their representatives and the individuals’ duty to contact that representative or change voting habits. There is a tremendous amount of accountability on all sides to ensure the process represents the people as accurately as possible. References: Patterson, T. E. (2011). The american democracy (10th ed. ). New York, NY: McGraw Hill. ———————– Goals of the Framers -Establish a government which could be strong enough to meet the needs of the nation. –Maintain integrity of states’ rights –Maximize liberty and citizen influence Political Mechanics Installed –Specific granting and denial of power –Bill of Rights for personal liberties –Elections –Separation of Power and Checks and Balances Between Them: Legislative – Executive – Judicial To Accomplish This Executive (President and Cabinet) Legislative: Congress (Senate and House of Reps) Judicial (Supreme Court) Executive over Legislative -Power of veto -Recommendation of policy -Execution of policy Can call special sessions of Congress Legislative over Judicial -Dictates size and jurisdiction of courts -May rewrite judicially interpreted policy Judicial over Legislative -May interpret Constitutional legitimacy of policy -May declare policy unconstitutional Legislative over Executive -May overturn veto or impeach -Approves treaties and appointments -Enacts budget Judicial over Executive -May declare executive action unlawful, against policy or unconstitutional – Executive over Judicial -Nominates those to serve as judges. -Can pardon anyone tried within the system (Patterson, 2011) ———————– 8
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