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American Government

Chapter 3

Section One

Six Principles of Constitution


-Popular Sovereignty
-Limited government
-Separation of Powers
-Checks and Balances
-Judicial Review
-Federalism

Popular Sovereignty
-Populace (voting class) is the ultimate source of authority
-Consent of the Governed
-Comes from John Locke

Limited Government
-Government must follow the laws of the nation
-Nation of Laws vs. Nation of Men
-No person is Above the Law

Separation of Powers
-Government is split into three branches
-Legislature-Makes Laws
-Judiciary- Interpret Laws
-Executive- Enforces Laws

Checks and Balances


-Each branch holds some power over the other two
-Ensures no one branch is gaining too much power

Executive
-Appoints Judges
-Approve or Vetoes Legislation
-Commander in Chief of Armed Forces

Legislature
-Confirms Executive Appointments
-Can over-ride veto with two-thirds majority vote
-Power of the Purse – Controls Spending

Judiciary
-Interprets the Constitution
-Judicial Review
-Life terms once confirmed by senate
Judicial Review
-Power to declare an Act of the President or the Congress Unconstitutional
-Usually exercised in landmark court cases
-Supreme Judicial body of the Nation

Federalism
-Two levels of the Government
-National and Local Levels
-Extended down to Cities, etc.
-Some powers specific to each level, some shared

Chapter 3

Section Two

Formal Amendment of the Constitution


-Proposal
-Easy to do
-Ratification
-Incredibly difficult to accomplish

Proposal
-Passage of proposal in both houses of Congress with two-thirds vote
-Requested by two-thirds of the states at a national convention called by Congress

Ratification
-Approved by three-fourths of the state legislatures (38 states)
-Approved by convention in three-fourths of the states

Rarity
-Over 10,000 proposed amendments since 1787
-Over 27 Ratified Amendments
-Shortest – 26th – 3 Months, 7 Days
-Longest – 27th – 202 Years, 7 Months, 23 Days

Chapter 3

Section Three

Informal Amendment of the Constitution


-Basic Legislation
-Executive Actions
-Supreme Court Decisions
-Party Practice
-Custom

Basic Legislation
-Laws Specify the Constitution’s broad meanings
-Interpretations of the powers of Congress as times change

Executive Action
-Executive orders hold the power of law
-Use of armed forces without Congressional Declaration of War
-Executive agreements instead of treaties

Supreme Court Decisions


-Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896
-Reynolds v. US, 1878
-Korematsu v. US, 1944
-The Civil Rights Cases, 1883
-Bethel v. Fraser, 1986

Party Practice
-Presidential Nominations
-Primary Elections
-Legislative roles by Majority Party

Custom
-Presidential Cabinet
-Succession of the Vice-President
-Presidential Term Limits*