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Introduction to US Law Introduction to American Constitutional Law: Lecture I10/22/12 American Constitutional Law 1
Not a Direct Democracy ● The U.S. is in no way a direct democracy. ➢ Congress is directly elected. ➢ President really is not. ➢ Judges are not. ➢ No recalls ➢ No direct initiatives (referendums) ● NOTE – each state has its own constitution ➢ some states do look more like a direct democracy.10/22/12 2
Separation of Powers ● Three Branches of Government ➢ In theory, each checks the other. ➢ Legislative Branch – law makers ➢ Executive Branch – law enforcers ➢ Judicial Branch – law interpreters ● There is some overlap. ➢ Executive Agencies make regulations. ➢ Courts make law.10/22/12 3
Sources of Law● Constitution● Bill of Rights● Federal Law● State Constitution● State Law● Local Law 4
Checks on Power● Constitution ➢ Separation of Powers ➢ Checks and Balances● Bill of Rights ➢ protects individual rights from tyranny of majority. 5
Competing Interests● Constitution ➢ Federal v. State governments● Civil Liberties ➢ Government (State and Federal) v. Individual 6
Article I- The House● Sec. 2 – Group 1 ➢ How are the members of the House of Representatives chosen? ➢ How many reps does each states get? ➢ How long do the reps serve? ➢ What are the requirements to be a rep? ➢ The section ends with “The House of Representatives . . . shall have the sole power to impeach.” What does this mean? 7
Article I – The Senate● Sec. 3 – Group 2 ➢ How were members of the Senate originally chosen? – How does the 17th Amendment change this? – For how long do Senators serve? – What are the requirements to be a Senator? ➢ Explain the Senates role in the Impeachment process. 8
Article I - Creating Law● Sec. 7 – Group 2 ➢ Where must bills that raise revenue start? ➢ Once both houses pass a bill, it is sent to the President for his signature. What can the President do with the bill? ➢ If President objects to the bill and sends it back to Congress, how can Congress bypass the Presidents rejection? 9
Article I – Checks on Power● Sec 9 – Group 3 ➢ What is the first clause limiting? ➢ What other limits are placed on Congress in the rest of the section? – NOTE – I will explain what ex post facto law and Bill of Attainder mean.● Sec 10 – Group 3 ➢ This section places limits on what the individual states can do. What are these limits? 10
Article I – The Powers● Sec 8 - Instructor ➢ Sets forth a list of explicit powers that Congress has. ➢ What does “regulate commerce among . . . the several states mean? ➢ What does “to promote the progress of science . . . by securing for limited times . . . exclusive rights . . . . “ mean? ➢ What does “to constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court mean? ➢ What does the last clause mean? 11
Article II – The Executive● Sec. 1 – Group 4 ➢ For how long does the President serve? How many times can the President be re-elected? – see also the 22nd Amendment ➢ Explain how the President gets elected? – see also the 12th Amendment ➢ What are the qualifications to become President? ➢ If the President dies in office or is removed, who becomes President? – see also the 25th Amendment 12
Article II – The Executive● Sec. 2 – Group 5 ➢ What powers are given to the President? ➢ Are there any limitations placed upon these powers?● Sec. 3 ➢ What duties must the President fulfill?● Sec. 4 ➢ How can the President be removed? – See also Article I for the exact process. 13
Article III – The Judiciary● Sec. 1 – Group 6 ➢ Which courts are expressly created by Article III? ➢ How can new courts be established? ➢ For how long to judges hold their office? ➢ Who selects the judges? – see also Article II, Sec. 2● Sec. 2 ➢ What powers are given to the Court? 14
Article V - Amendments● Explain the process for amending the Constitution. - Instructor 15
Introduction to U.S. Law The Players
U.S. Congress● Two Houses: ➢ Senate ➢ House of Representatives● Main Purpose = make laws and check power of other branches.
United States Senate● Basic Information ➢ 100 members, two from each state, six-year terms (staggered). ➢ Unique Powers and Rules – Filibuster & Cloture – Confirms Executive and Judicial appointments – Ratifies Treaties
Senate: Presiding OfficersVice_President Elect President Pro Tempore Senate Majority Leader Joe Biden Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)
House of Representatives● Basic Information ➢ 435 members, number per state depends on population, two-year terms. ➢ Presided over by Speaker of the House. ➢ Unique Powers – Power of the purse● Removal by 2/3 vote● Censure (punishment) by majority vote.