Chapter 6 American Government Notes 6.1 – Roots of the U.S. Congress Bicameral legislature – A two-house legislature. The population of each state determines the number of representatives that state sends to the House of Representatives. In contrast, two senators represent each state in the Senate, regardless of the state’s population. Apportionment – The process of allotting congressional seats to each state according to its proportion of the population, following the decennial census. Bill – A proposed law. Powers of Congress, found in Article I, section 8 of the Constitution: Lay and collect taxes and duties. Borrow money. Regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the states. Establish rules for naturalization (the process of becoming a citizen) and bankruptcy. Coin money; set its value; and fix the standards of weights and measures. Punish counterfeiting. Establish a post office and post roads. Issue patents and copyrights. Define and punish piracies, felonies on the high seas, and crimes against the law of nations. Create courts inferior to (below) the U.S. Supreme Court. Declare war. Raise and support an army and navy and make rules for their governance. Provide for a militia (reserving to the states the right to appoint militia officers and to train militias under congressional rules.) Exercise legislative powers over the seat of government (the District of Columbia) and over places purchased to be federal facilities (forts, arsenals, dockyards, and “other needful buildings”). “Make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States.” Impeachment – The power delegated to the House of Representatives in the Constitution to charge the president, vice president, or other “civil officers,” including federal judges, with “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” This is the first step in the constitutional process of removing government officials from office. “Symmetric bicameralism” is our system.
6.2 – Representing the American People Congressmen must do a lot and represent a lot of people. They don’t exactly represent the general American population. They are more white, male, Protestants. Edmund Burke – Conservative British political philosopher of the eighteenth century who articulated the view that elected representatives should act as “trustees” and use their own best judgement when voting. Trustee – Role played by an elected representative who listens to constituents’ opinions and then uses his or her best judgement to make a final decision. Delegate – Role played by a representative who votes the way his or her constituents would want, regardless of personal opinions; may refer to an elected representative to Congress or a representative to the party convention.
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- Fall '16
- United States Congress, United States House of Representatives, Voting Rights Act of 1965