Political science 21A introduction to American politics midterm study guide

Political science 21A introduction to American politics midterm study guide

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Topic #1: The Constitution and Separation of Powers Why did America's Founding Fathers design a system of separate institutions sharing power? Is this system still appropriate in the age of the welfare state and nuclear weapons? What are the advantages and disadvantages of the American constitutional structure as compared to parliamentary government? Which system would you recommend to emerging democracies? - The Founders established a federal system of government that divided the power of government between a national government and the individual states. - They did not want a direct democracy where the people/citizens directly make all the decisions - Even back then, the country was far too large for every single person to come to a consensus and make decisions (direct democracy was not feasible) - Solution: they established a republic : a system based on the consent of the governed, in which representatives of the public exercise power Separation of powers allows the three branches of government to check and balance one another Legislative branch – The Congress – House of Representatives & Senate - House and Senate can veto each other’s bills - Power over Judicial branch: The Senate confirms the president’s nomina t ions. Congr e ss can i mpe ach judges and remove them from office - Power over Executive branch: Congress approves presidential nominations and
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controls the budget. It can pass laws over the president’s veto and can impeach the president and remove him from office. Judicial branch – The Courts – Supreme Court, courts of appeal, district courts - Power over Legislative branch: The Court can declare laws unconstitutional - Power over Executive branch: The Court can declare presidential acts unconstitutional Executive branch – The President – Executive Office of the President, executive & cabinet departments, independent government agencies - Power over Legislative branch – President can veto congressional legislation - Power over Judicial branch – President nominate s j udges and enforces judicial opinions Checks and balances - Sets power against power to constrain government actions (Madison) - The President checks Congress by holding veto power - Congress, in turn, holds the purse strings of government and must approve presidential nominations - Presidents can nominate court judges, but the Senate must confirm this decision
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° Judicial review – the power of courts to hold executive and congressional policies unconstitutional - This right strengthened the Court’s ability to restrain the other branches of government - Judicial review was not specifically outlined in the Constitution itself, but was soon asserted by the Supreme Court in Marbury v. Madison - The system of separation of powers & checks and balances allows almost all groups in
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