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Flashcards in US Constitution Deck (38)
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What are the 2 main features of the US Constitution? What does 'entrenchment' mean? Codification?

Codified (ie written) + entrenched (ie a constitutional tool that makes amendments more difficult, e.g. need for a supermajority).


What are enumerated powers? Give 2 examples for Congress? 1 for President + S.C?

Powers delegated by the Constitution, e.g. for Congress, borrowing money + collecting tax. President e.g. granting pardons; S.C. eg ruling on cases arising under the Constitution.


What is the 'elastic clause'? Where can it be found?

What are reserve powers? Concurrent powers?

An implied power that allows Congress to make laws to carry into execution their enumerated powers; Article 1 Section 8.

RP = Powers not delegated to federal gov by the Constitution belong to the state and people (10th amendment).

Concurrent = powers possessed by btoh federal and state govs, e.g. building roads.


Advantage of US Constitution? Disadvantage?

+ = demanding amendment process has stopped not fully planned proposals.

- = it's nearly impossible to amend things that are no longer applicable.


What meeting was called in 1787? (and where).
What established the 2 chambers?

In Philadelphia to strengthen the Articles of Confederation.

The Connecticut Compromise.


What is the definition of the separation of powers? An example re. Obama?

Whereby political power is distributed among L, E + J with each branch acting both independently and interdependently. Obama had to give up his Illinois Senate seat in 2009.


Which Articles established Congress and it's powers, exec and J?

What did James Madison (4th US President) say about ambition?

Article1 Sec1 C; A2S1 E; A3S1 J.

"Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.".


How old do you have to be to be a Representative? What do they represent?

For Senators?


Rep = 25+ yrs + rep a congressional district.
Senate = 30+ yrs + rep a state.

President = 35+ yrs and be a natural born citizen.


What is a sole power of the House? Senate? VP? What can both houses do?

House = begin consideration of money bills; Senate = ratify treaties; be the presiding officer of the Senate; initiate amendments.


What 2 things does the cabinet do?

What's the main diff between sep of powers in UKvUS?

How central is the constitution to the sep of powers in UK vs US?

Acts as an advisory group, helping the President decide and coordinating the work of the federal gov.

In US, they're totally separate; in UK, there's fusion.

US = v central, e.g. A1 sets out powers + how limited by other branches.
UK = not v central - UK Constitution largely based on conventions, unwritten rules and authoritative works.


Who made a comment about the US separation of powers (and where and what)?

Who made a comment about the UK separation of powers (and where and what)?

R. Albert; 'The Fusion of Presidentialism and Parliamentarism'; separation between leg and exec branches leads to gridlock.

Andrew Turnball in the Financial Times said that when there is fusion between the exec and leg, this undermines MP's independence.


What's 1 Exec check on the Leg?

President uses his State of the Union address to influence the agenda of the legislature, e.g. Obama used his to draw attention to his healthcare reform proposals. Two months later, he signed the bill into law.


What's 2 Exec checks on J?

Appoints federal judges (Obama - Sonia Sotomayor in 2009 + Elena Kagan in 2010) + can pardon federal offenders, e.g. Joseph M. Arpaio by Trump in 2017 (a former law enforcement officer).


How can J check L? How can J check E?

JL = Can declare acts of Congress unconstitutional, e.g. in 2013 in 'United States v Windsor', the 'Defense of Marriage Act' (1996) was declared unconstitutional.

JE = Can declare executive actions unconstitutional, e.g. in 2014 in the 'National Labor Relations Board v Noel Canning', the court ruled that Obama had acted unconstitutionally by appointing 3 officials to the Board without Senate approval.


What are 7 checks by L on E?

Can veto a President's veto; confirms/rejects exec appointments; Senate ratifies treaties; can declare war; appropriates money; can be impeached (by the House) and the trial takes place in the Senate (e.g. Clinton impeached in 1998 + trialled in 1999, but acquitted; has the power of investigation


What's an example of Congress using the power of investigation?

Following a terrorist attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi Libya in 2012, no fewer than 7 conhressional committees held hearings on how Obama + SOS Clinton was involved.


L check on J?

Has the power of impeachment, trial and removal for judges, e.g. HOR impeached federal judge Thomas Porteous (2010) for corruption.


How can an amendment be proposed? How can an amendment be ratified?

How many amendments have been proposed? How many of those ratified?

Proposed by a 2/3rds vote in both Houses. Ratified by 3/4s of the 50 state legislatures.

33 (this says something); 27.


What are two of the freedoms that the 1st amendment establishes? What does the 5th do? 13th?

Freedom of religion + speech; No one should be held for a serious crime without being presented to a grand jury; abolished slavery.


What's an amendment that was passed by Congress but failed ratification?

What's an amendment that did not get past Congress?

'Anti-title' amendment - proposed in 1810. Any citizen who receives a title from a foreign power no longer a citizen.

2006 'Flag-Protection' Amendment, which provided punishment for the desecration of the flag.


What does the 25th Amendment declare?

What professor made a comment about this (and who)?

That when a President dies or resigns, the VP becomes President.

Brian C. Kalt - said that it was unusual as it was not a response to a political movement.


What does the 2nd amendment declare? (hint: the right).

Why did the Founding Generation create it?

The right of citizens to have firearms for lawful purposes.

They thought that governments were prone to using soldiers to oppress their own people. Also, a militia of ordinary citizens could quickly respond to emergencies.


What event sparked more debate about gun control?

What does the term 'federalism' describe? (hint - a system)

Mass shooting in a Florida High School in early 2018, killing multiple.

'Federalism' = a system of gov whereby sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and constituent political units.


What do states have? (4 examples).

What can both fed and state govs do (other than build roads)?

Govs (there are 50); laws; police; courts.

Raise taxes.


What event put more emphasis on federal government? Why?

The Great Depression (1929-1939), as state govs did not have the resources to reverse huge levels of unemployment.


What Act did George W. Bush pass? What did it usher in?

'No Child Left Behind' Act (2002) - ushered in the biggest changes in federal education policy since the 1960s. Provided for a 20% increase in funding for the poorest schools.


Under Obama, how much money from federal gov accounted for state spending in comparison to Bush?

Obama in 2009 = 30%; Bush in 2008 = 25%.


When was there a regression to the decentralisation of power to the states? What did this entail? What did Nixon call it?

The final 50 years of the 20th century; a rise in block grants (i.e. grants granted by US Congress to the states for a wide variety of purposes) over categorical grants (narrow purposes).

Nixon called this 'New Federalism'.


What was the effective real-estate tax for Alabama? New Jersey? (As of Feb 2018).

Alabama = 0.43%.

NJ = 2.4%.


How is US Congress similar to UK Parliament in terms of checks and balances? (1 point).

How is this different? (3 points).

UK Parliament can check gov by voting on gov proposals - similar to USA's budget.

Parliament can check gov through a vote of no confidence - diff to impeaching one official; the HOL is unelected unlike the Senate and so cannot reject HOC decisions; unlike the President, the PM commands a majority.