6 The ExecutiveAfter a general election, the Crown invites the leader of the party that emerges from the election with control of a majority of seats in the House of Commons to form a government and serve as prime minister. The prime minister selects approximately two dozen ministers for the cabinet. Unlike the French Constitution, which prohibits a cabinet minister from serving in the legislature, British constitutional tradition requires overlapping membership between Parliament and cabinet. A member of the cabinet must be either a member of parliament (MP) or less commonly, a member of the House of Lords. The JudiciaryIn Britain, the principle of parliamentary sovereignty has limited the role of the judiciary. Courts have no power to judge the constitutionality of legislative acts (judicial review). They can only determine whether policy directives or administrative acts violate common law or an act of Parliament. Hence, the British judiciary is generally less politicized and influential than its U.S. counterpart. Democracy: The American Presidential SystemUnderstanding two principles is necessary to understand American constitutional government: federalism and separation of powers. Federalism is the division of authority between multiple levels of government: in the United States, between the federal and state governments. Separation of powers is an effort to set government against itself by vesting separate branches with independent powers so that any one branch cannot permanently dominate the others. These two characteristics of American government—federalism and separation of powers—were necessary compromises to guarantee the ratification of the Constitution. They reflect a conscious desire by the constitutional framers to limit the federal government’s ability to control citizens’lives. To limit what they perceived as an inevitable tyranny of majorities over numerical minorities, the framers designed a system that set each part of government against all the other parts. Each branch of the federal government could limit the independent action of the other two branches, and the federal government and the states could limit each other. The second organizing principle of American government is separation of powers. Each of the three branches of the federal government—the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary—shares in the responsibilities of governing and has some oversight over the other branches.
7 In order to enact a law, for example, Congress must pass the law, and the president must sign it. The president can block the action of Congress by vetoing the law. Congress can override the president’s veto through a two thirds vote in both houses of Congress. The courts can review the constitutionality of laws passed by Congress and signed by the president. Congress and the states acting in unison