Constitutional Foundations: Instutionas and Compromises 2009
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Constitutional Foundations: Instutionas and Compromises 2009

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    Constitutional Foundations: Instutionas and Compromises 2009 Constitutional Foundations: Instutionas and Compromises 2009 Presentation Transcript

    • Constitutional Foundations: Institutions & Compromises Barbour and Wright, Chapter 2 Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Purpose of Government • All governments must have power to: • Legislate, or make laws • Administer, or execute laws • Adjudicate, or interpret laws • Who had these powers under the English system? • Who had these powers under the Articles of Confederation? Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Constitutional Crafting • Delegates to the convention represented varying ideals, values, goals and interests • The process of crafting the Constitution was a series of compromises between varying interests • Virginia Plan vs. New Jersey Plan • Recognition that the document wasn’t perfect, but still served founders’ democratic ideals Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Separation of Powers • “Government should be set up so that no man need be afraid of another” — Baron de Montesquieu • Cannot have single person or body exercising all three powers of government in case of corruption • In practice, total separation is not possible, however; this principle is key to the US Constitution Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Checks and Balances • Allows each of the branches to police the others—checking abuses and balancing powers • What are some examples of checks and balances built into the Constitution? • Results in a totally new system of government in which no branch can act independently, yet none is wholly dependent either Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Issue: Sovereignty • Under Articles of Confederation, states held the ultimate legal and political authority • Many delegates only wanted minor revisions to the Articles to preserve state sovereignty • New Jersey Plan • Why were states’ rights so important to early Americans? Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Compromise: Federalism • Under federalism, the people are sovereign and their contract with the government is the Constitution • The Constitution grants a national government its own source of power while also reserving some powers solely for the states • Federalism also serves as an additional vertical check and balance on governmental power • Federalists vs. Anti-federalists Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Legislative Branch • Role in government is to legislate or create laws • Even with checks and balances, Madison’s notes show that most delegates intended for the legislative branch to be the most powerful • Why? Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Issue: State Representation • Delegates from small states wanted 1 state, 1 vote • New Jersey Plan • Delegates from large states wanted the representation to be proportional to population • Example pg. 52 Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Compromise:Bicameralism • Two houses of legislative branch (Congress) • House of Representatives • Determined by state population giving large states greater representation • Senate • Each state allotted only two, giving small states greater representation • Key: Most legislation requires approval of both houses so large & small states have to work together—check/balance Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Issue: Counting Population • Need to determine population in order to allot House of Representatives seats • African Americans accounted for nearly 1/4 of population • Southern states want to count slaves in the population, but have no intention of letting them vote • Why did they want to count slaves? • Northern states had far fewer slaves and argued they should only count if they got to vote Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Compromise: 3/5ths • Although Constitutional language is vague, it essentially meant that non- free persons would count as three-fifths of a person—or 3 out of 5 would be counted • Delegates did not tackle issue of slavery head-on • Why not? Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Issue: Congressional Election • Direct democracy is not possible; delegates forming a republic, a representative democracy • Direct Election: Congress should be most powerful branch and closest to the people to reflect their diversity • Leads to more accountability and greater confidence • Other method of selection e.g. state legislatures • Voters have inadequate information, can be duped • Direct election not practical Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Compromise: Bicameralism • House of Representatives directly elected by the people • Greater numbers = more diversity • Shorter terms (2 years) = more accountability • Senate to be selected by State Legislatures • More deliberative, non-reactive • Nod to states’ rights Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Executive Branch • Role is to execute and administer the laws • Delegates fearful of a strong executive • Don’t want to create a monarch or dictator • Some delegates wanted multiple executive-power spread out • New Jersey Plan • Others want a single executive-more efficient • Virginia Plan • Issues over how best to limit president’s power Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Issue: Limit Executive Power • Delegates settled on a single executive but built in checks on his power • Madison: “Confine and define” executive power • Completely new position: republican executive • Compromise: Limit power with 4-year terms • Compromise: Advice and consent of Senate in appointments • Compromise: No power to declare war • Compromise: Add vice president in case of emergencies Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Issue: Presidential Selection • Some delegates advocating for direct election • Accountability, more democratic • Other delegates support alternative methods of selection • State Legislatures • Congress (parliamentary-type system) • States divided into voting districts, select electors • Why not direct election? Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Compromise: Electoral College • Each state alloted number of electors equal to the number of Congressional seats • Ex. Ohio: 11.4 million people = 20 EVs Ex. Idaho: 1.3 million people = 4 EVs • States determine how electors function • Winner take all, electors legally bound • Winner take all, electors not legally bound • EVs split proportionally or otherwise Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Issue: Presidential Veto • Veto is president’s power to override Congress • Some want absolute veto • Some want Council of Revision • Some want no veto power Compromise: Limited veto; Congress can overturn with 2/3 vote—more checks/balances Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Judicial Branch • Role is to interpret laws and judge whether they have been broken • Constitution is brief and vague • Establishes Supreme Court and leaves inferior courts up to Congress • Later case law allows for judicial review Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Issue: National Judiciary • New Jersey Plan called for no national court system, but a continuation of the state courts as under Articles of Confederation • Virginia Plan calls for a national judiciary only • Compromise: Federalism • Federal judiciary establishes a national court system while still allowing for state and local courts Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Issue: Judicial Appointment • Some delegates argued that the president should be responsible for selecting judges • He would be held to greater accountability for bad choices • Others thought judges ought to be selected by Congress • Too much power to give to a single executive • Compromise: President selects judges, must be voted upon by the Senate Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Issue: Amendments • Some delegates wary of Constitution because provisions in Bill of Rights were not included • Others argue Bill of Rights not necessary, even harmful • Compromise: Provisions for amending the Constitution • Proposed by 2/3 vote of Congress or a national convention called at the request of 2/3 of state legislatures • Approved by 3/4 of state legislatures or ratifying conventions of 3/4 of states Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Federalists & Anti-federalists • Effort to make the Constitution as broadly appealing as possible • Federalists want to account for human propensity for selfishness and corruption; need for larger government • Anti-federalists want smaller government that will be more accountable and less corruptible • Series of essays written by both sides arguing the merits and faults of the Constitutional system Wednesday, February 11, 2009
    • Ratification • Needed 9 states (3/4) to ratify the Constitution • Delaware, New Jersey, Georgia vote for unanimously • Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, South Carolina strongly support • Massachusetts, Virginia, New Hampshire, New York ratify narrowly • North Carolina fails to ratify; later ratifies • Rhode Island refused to call a convention; later ratifies Wednesday, February 11, 2009