lecture6 - UCLA PS 40 Department of Political Science...

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1 UCLA Department of Political Science Fall 2007 PS 40 Introduction to American Politics Prof. Thomas Schwartz Hunk 6 The Constitution in Detail, With Amendments Now let us look at the U.S. Constitution as a whole, amendments included. Preamble The source of the Preamble’s wording is believed to be the Iroquois Treaty of Union (1537). John Routledge apparently wrote it down while attending a lecture by a delegation of Iroquois leaders on their remarkable system. The Preamble of that treaty begins: “We the people to form a union, to establish peace, equity and order…” Note that in both documents the people —not the several tribes or states—are the source of authority. Article I—Congress Structure Congress has two houses: the House of Representatives and the Senate. The members of the House are popularly elected for two-year terms. A short term ensures responsiveness to the people. The House can initiate revenue (tax) bills and can impeach (accuse of a crime) officials appointed by the executive. Until the 17 th Amendment (1913), senators were elected by state legislatures. Senators serve six-year terms. Those terms are staggered so that a third face reelection every two years. These longer terms, staggered terms, and larger constituencies make the Senate less sensitive than the House to popular whims and passions. Its small size makes it more deliberate than the House - - better able to debate and discuss legislative details.
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2 The Senate tries impeachments and ratifies treaties. Conviction and ratification require 2/3 majorities. The Senate also confirms Presidential appointments, this by a simple majority. General Powers of Congress These fall into 9 categories Military : Declare War Regulate and Fund (State) Militia and Federal Forces Economic : Tax and spend for common defense and general welfare Borrow Regulate Commerce , interstate and foreign. Legislate Bankruptcy , Money , Copyrights , Patents , etc. The clauses allowing Congress to spend for the general welfare and to regulate commerce are vague and have been used by Congress over the years to expand its powers greatly. These are “Santa clauses” because they are splendid constitutional gift packages to Congress. Political System : S e l f -regulate (Rules of each house are made by each house.) Make rules governing time, place, and manner of Congressional elections (which are otherwise run by states) Admit states to the union Propose amendments to the Constitution
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3 Govern territory and seas Make naturalization laws Personnel : Confirm Presidential appointees Impeach and try Judicial : D e s i g n the federal court system (except for the Supreme Court) Administration : Establish and oversee the federal bureaucracy Foreign Matters : Regulate foreign commerce Senate ratifies treaties Supremacy : If there is ever a conflict between federal and state law, federal law wins. Elastic Clause
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This note was uploaded on 04/01/2008 for the course POL SCI 40 taught by Professor Schwartz during the Fall '06 term at UCLA.

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lecture6 - UCLA PS 40 Department of Political Science...

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