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The framers viewed the division of governmental

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The framers viewed the division of governmental authority between the national government and the states as a means of checking power with power, and providing the people with double security against governmental authority. The Constitution lists the powers given to the national government and denied to the states. All other powers are to remain with the states. 3. Separation of Powers Separation of powers is a way of parceling out power among the three branches of government. 1. Three distinct branches of government (legislative, executive, and judicial) 2. Three separately staffed branches of government to exercise these functions. 3. Constitutional equality and independence of each branch. o Executive (president) = Law-enforcing o Legislative (Congress) = Lawmaking o Judicial (Courts) = Law-interpreting The framers wanted a system where lawmaking, law-enforcing, and law-interpreting functions were separate so that power does not fall in a single branch’s hand. What the founders did not foresee was the intermingling of governmental functions, which we see today. 6
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ISS 225 – Power, Authority, Exchange Politics/Government 4. Checks and Balances: Power is checked and balanced because the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government share some authority, and no branch has exclusive domain over any activity. The Framers created this system to minimize the threat of tyranny from any one branch. For almost every power granted to one branch, an equal control was established in the other two branches. So each branch has some control over the other branches. This prevents the exclusive exercise of power by any one branch of government. For example, Congress passes a law, but the president can veto the law, and Congress can then override it with a 2/3-majority vote, and ultimately the Supreme Court may rule on the law’s constitutionality. 5. Supremacy Clause Article VI “Constitution, and the laws of the United States” are to be the supreme law of the land. If conflict exists, national law takes precedence III. Federalism Although the word federalism does not appear in the Constitution, the U.S. Constitution set up the first federal system in the world. A federal system is a plan of government in which power is divided between the national government and the state governments and in which independent states are bound together under one national government. A. Beliefs of Founders Alexander Hamilton presented three major arguments for federalism: 1. the prevention of tyranny. 2. the provision for increased participation in politics. 3. the use of the states as testing grounds or laboratories for new policies and programs. The founders believed both national and state governments are ultimately accountable to the public. Each government was to be supreme in some spheres, with some overlapping powers.
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