The Unwritten Constitution

Ex. political parties, presidents cabinet, special interest groups, PACs, and bureaucracy
  • executive privilege
  • customs and traditions
  • Article 6: Supremacy Clause
    Defines relationship of federal government to states
    Article 4: Full Faith and Credit
    Mutual respect and legality of laws, public records, and judicial decisions made by states.
    Article 5: Amendments
    2 ways:
  • 2/3rds of both houses and ratification in 3/4ths of state legislatures
  • Congress calls national convention (requested by 2/3rds state legislatures), then 3/4ths must ratify
  • Article 1: Congress
  • Bicameral legislature to create laws (House of Reps and Senate)
  • House of Representatives: most directly responsible to people
  • Rules of impeachment of government officials outlined
  • The publics view of Congress has continued to deteriorate since the 1970s (but still continue to vote for incumbent)
  • Implied powers: necessary and process clause (elastic clause) gives Congress power to make all laws necessary and proper.
  • powers denied to Congress: denial of writ of habeas corpus, passage of bill of attainder laws, passage of ex post facto
  • Article 2: Chief Executive
  • Administer and execute the public policies
  • President has authority in foreign policy
  • The Constitution

    A practical, as well as functional, document. An enduring and evolving document as it has stood the test of time.
  • Separation of powers: no dominant branch
  • Article 3: Judicial Branch
  • Most vague regarding the qualification of its members
  • Refers to one Supreme Court and the manner in which cases get there (but does not give SC broad authority it has assumed)
  • Defines treason, provides for a range of penalties if convicted
  • House Of Representatives
  • 25 years old, 7 years in US, and inhabitant of the state represented
  • House is considered more representative, closer to the people
  • Starts all revenue bills, initiates process of impeachment
  • Senate
  • 30 years old, 9 years in US, and inhabitant of the state represented
  • Senate passes all revenue bills from HoR
  • Tries impeachment cases
  • Approves Presidents appointments and treaties
  • Congressional Powers
    Enumerated in Article 1, Section 8
  • collect taxes, pay debts, provide for common defense and general welfare
  • borrow money
  • regulate interstate and intrastate commerce
  • est. uniform laws dealing with immigration and bankruptcies
  • coin money
  • est. post offices
  • est. federal courts in addition to SC
  • declare war
  • raise and support armies and a navy
  • President
  • Must be a natural born citizen, 35 years old, 14 years in US
  • Power has increased more than the other branches Powers include:
  • Commander in chief of armed forces
  • Power to grant pardons
  • Make treaties
  • appoint ambassadors, justices, other officials
  • sign/veto legislation
  • duty to give Congress a State of Union report
  • The VP
  • Presides over Senate
  • Only votes if there is a tie vote
  • Next in line to succeed President, or if President is disabled (25th Amendment)
  • Judicial Powers
  • Term of office for SC justices is life after appointment
  • Appointment process: prospective justices scrutinized by Senate Judiciary Committee
  • Vast majority of cases heard are from appellate jurisdiction (brought on appeal from state and federal courts)
  • Electoral College
  • # of electors based on population
  • The candidate who receives the most votes receives all the electoral votes in that state
  • If no candidate receives majority, then HofReps decides election
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