American System of Government, Lesson 4 assignment help

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The American system of government is based upon democracy, republicanism, and federalism. What is the meaning of this statement?

1. Democracy involves the rule of the people. Free speech, a free press, freedom of religion, and free elections, are all part of the meaning of democracy.

2. A republic is a form of government in which the people elect their rulers or representatives. This is different from a monarchy, when a ruler inherits the throne or is nominated by a group of nobles. The United States is a democratic republic.

3. A federal system of government consists of state governments that are bound together by a national government. Authority and power are shared by the states and the national government. The United States has a federal system of government. All fifty states share authority with the federal government.

The original Constitution contained a preamble and seven articles. Today it also contains twenty-seven amendments. The preamble states the general purposes for the Constitution was written. The articles and amendments establish the basis for government and the rights of the American people.

Article I
Article I deals with the Legislative branch of the government. It establishes two houses of government which are known as the House of Representatives and the Senate. The members of the House of Representatives are elected on the basis of state population. The larger the population, the more representatives a state has in the House. Each member of the House serves a two-year term of office. The Senate in comprised of two members from each state. Senators serve a six-year term of office.

Article I lists the qualifications for members of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the terms of office for each house. The method of selecting senators has changed from selection by the state legislatures to direct election by voters in a state. This change was made in the 17th amendment to the Constitution in 1913.

The Legislative branch (Congress) has power to:

Pass tax laws and collect those taxes
Borrow money
Regulate foreign and interstate commerce
Coin money and prosecute counterfeiters
Establish post offices and national roadways
Establish a federal court system
Declare war and make peace
Provide for and maintain national armed forces
“Makes all laws…necessary and proper” to perform its duties. This is known as the “elastic clause” and adds to the powers of Congress.

Article I of the Constitution also lists the powers that are denied to Congress and the federal authority.

Article II
Article II deals with the Executive branch of the government, which enforces the laws passed by Congress. Article II provides for a President as the head of the Executive branch. It also provides for a Vice-President who replaces a President who dies, resigns, or Is unable to perform the duties of office. The President and Vice-President are elected for a four-year term.

Article II lists the qualifications for the office of President which include being:

At least 35 years of age
A natural-born citizen of the United States
A resident of the United States for at least fourteen years

The duties and powers of the President include:

Commander in Chief of the armed forces at all times
Appointing the heads of executive departments. Most of these appointments must be approved by a majority of the Senate.
Making treaties. Treaties must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate.
Appointing all federal judges and ambassadors to foreign countries. These appointments must be approved by a majority of the Senate.
Giving information “from time to time” on the state of the Union to the congress. This report, known as the “State of the Union Address,” is made each year by the President to congress.
Taking care that the laws are executed. This “elastic power” adds to the authority of the President when enforcing laws.

In addition to these responsibilities, the President is also responsible for:

American foreign policy
Economic health of the nation
Acting as spokesperson for the nation on all matters
Acting as leader and spokesperson of a political party

The President is a powerful person, but the Constitution limits those powers. Article II, Section 4 warns that a President may be removed from office for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” No President ever been removed from office, but Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868. He was tried by the Senate and missed being found guilty by a single vote.

Article III
Article III addresses the judicial branch of the government. It states that “The judicial power if the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may …. establish.”

The system of federal courts and the size of the Supreme Court are set forth by various Judiciary Acts passed by Congress. Federal judges are appointed, not elected, to office. All federal judges, including members of the Supreme Court, are appointed for life terms. This is meant to protect them from political pressures.

The lowest federal courts are called district courts. Decision of the district courts may be appealed to the next higher court, the Federal Court of Appeal. The highest federal court is the Supreme Court. It is the last court of appeal concerning decisions made by the lower federal courts or the state courts. In rare instances, some special cases may be brought directly to the Supreme Court.

The Constitution does not specifically give the Supreme Court the power to declare any laws unconstitutional; however, this power has come to be part of our “unwritten Constitution” since 1803, when it was used for the first time.

Articles IV, V, VI, VII
Article IV establishes the boundaries of the relations between states and federal government. Is also “shall guarantee to every state … a republican form of government,” and protection against invasion or domestic violence.

Article V sets the methods of amending, or changing, the Constitution.

Article VI contains several general provisions and declares that the Constitution, the laws made by Congress, and the treaties signed, “shall be the supreme law of the land.” Article VI also provides that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

Article VII establishes the method for ratifying the Constitution.

Lesson 4 Review

Directions: Answer each question below by writing a strong paragraph that includes supporting information from the lesson. Please cite your outside resources.

A strong paragraph includes a minimum of three to five details from the lesson and is written in Academic English form. For more information on Academic English form, refer to the documents in the Orientation.

1. What does it mean when it is said that the United States is a “democratic republic”? Give an example of how our nation is a democratic republic.

2. Identify three specific powers of the Legislative branch of government, and briefly explain why each is important.

3. List three powers (responsibilities) of the President and explain why each is important.

4. In your own words, describe the critical elements of Articles I, II, and III of the Constitution.

5. In your own words, describe the critical elements of Articles V, VI, and VII of the Constitution.

6. Research and identify who is currently on the United States Supreme Court. List each member. Then write a short, one to two (1-2) paragraph biography on one of the members. Don’t forget to cite your resources.

7. Research and identify who is currently on the Supreme Court of your state. List each member. Then write a short, one to two (1-2) paragraph biography on one of the members. Don’t forget to cite your resources. Note: If you do not live in the United States, prepare a report on the system of your country.

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