GOV Unit 5 Notes.docx - Unit 5 The Legislative and Judicial...

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Unit 5: The Legislative and Judicial Branch I consider trial by jury the only anchor yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution. —Thomas Jefferson - The story of the founding of the United States of America is unique in all of history. After winning a war against Britain against all odds, the people of the newly free land sought to govern themselves in peace internally and with strength externally. These were not easily accomplished goals, however. The people had fought hard and sacrificed much to win their freedom, but they soon found that, to be fully enjoyed, freedom cannot be absolute—there must be some order, some stability provided by a government. - Determining the proper balance between individual liberty and government authority has been the most important political question of the past three hundred years. Through the American Revolution and the subsequent efforts of the people of the United States to govern themselves, this question was raised, considered, debated, and answered in ways that were both stunningly simple and amazingly complex. The result of all this has been the longest lasting written constitution in the history of the world. In this unit you will learn more about the legislative and judicial branches of government that the founders of our country established. Learning Outcomes 1.Explain how legislative, executive, and judicial powers are distributed and shared among the three branches of national government. 2.Describe how the United States Congress makes laws. 3.Discuss the responsibilities of the Supreme Court and its role in the American political system. 4. Write a paper on Supreme Court Landmark cases. 5.1 Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Powers - As they drafted and refined the Constitution, the Framers sought to create a government that had sufficient authority to pursue national objectives but that was not powerful enough to trample on the rights of the people. It was not a simple task. James Madison observed that in forming a government of “men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”1 - The national government is granted legislative, executive, and judicial authority by the Constitution. However, to oblige the government to “control itself,” these powers are separated, with a distinct branch of government being the primary holder of each power. - The Congress, made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate, is granted legislative authority, while executive authority is granted to the president and judicial power is granted to the Supreme Court. However, each branch is also given the ability to check and balance the actions of the other.
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