branches?The Framers believed that separation of powers and checks and balances were essential to protect the rights of the people. They had to decide which powers to give to each of the branches of the national government, and how to give each branch ways to check the powers of the other branches.Today we will learn about the problems the Framers had in deciding how much power to give to the executive and judicial branches. We will also learn how they provided ways these branches could check the power of the legislative branch. Finally we will learn about the special system they established for the election of the President.
What did many of the Framers, such as Madison and Washington, think was dangerous and why?
They believed that legislative supremacy was dangerous—that a majority in Congress could trample on the rights of the minority.
They believed that majorities in a number of state legislatures had passed laws which violated the natural rights of minorities.
What did the Framers’ experience with Britain make them afraid of?At the same time, the Framers still remembered how much trouble they had had with the executive branch of the British government.
They believed that the king and royal governors had violated their rights.
They were afraid of giving too much power to the executive branch.
The problem at the Convention was to create an executive branch that:Had enough…power to fulfill its responsibilities to carry out and enforce the laws made by the legislative branchWas not so strong…that it could overwhelm the other branches and endanger the rights of the people.
The Framers’ solution is in Article of the Constitution, which creates the branch. It is written in general terms so it gives broad powers to the President. The executive branch was given powers the Framers thought could most easily be exercised by a --the President.
These powers include:
The power to…enforce laws made by CongressMake…treaties with other nationsAppoint…(or nominate) people for important jobs in the executive branch and the judicial branch.Conduct…war as Commander-in-ChiefVeto…laws passed by Congress (this is an example of a “check” on the legislative branch’s power)
Why did the Framers make the executive branch share some of its powers with Congress?They wanted to balance the powers of the President and Congress to be sure that neither branch had too much powerIn this way, each branch exercises some control over the other.
Give some examples of how the Framers balanced the powers of the President and Congress by limiting the powers of the executive branch by making it share most of its power with Congress:Appointments: the Senate can “check” this power by choosing to accept or reject these appointments that the President makes
Treaties: the Senate can “check” this power by approving or rejecting treaties the President makes
War: only Congress can declare war or provide money to fight wars—this is a “check” on the President’s power to conduct war—he can’t do it on his own.
Veto: the President’s veto of a law can be overridden by a 2/3 vote of both houses of Congress.
What other important way does the Constitution provide to control the President and prevent him/her from abusing his/her power? It gives the House of Representatives the power to impeachthe President.
Only two Presidents have ever been impeached:Andrew Johnson
Richard Nixon was threatened with impeachment but he resigned
What is the House of Representatives role in this? What is the Senate’s role?The House can accuse the President of serious crimes.
The Senate can then put the President on trial to find him guilty or innocent of the crimes he is accused of.
If he is found guilty, he is removed from office.
Neither of the two presidents who have been impeached have been found guilty.
How Should the President Be Selected?The Framers had given great powers to the President.
It is not surprising that they were very concerned about how people were to be selected to fill this position.
They took it for granted that George Washington would be our first President, and he was their model for the perfect President: patriotic, honest, devoted to the public good, and not interested in using power for his own advantage.
But what would happen in the future? They needed to figure out a way to make sure that future Presidents would be as qualified as Washington.
how people would be selected to be President. What were the various positions of the delegates on this
There were only a few delegates who seriously question?suggested that the President be…chosen directly by the people.Most agreed with Madison’s opinion that most people did not have enough…most believed that the people did not have enough wisdom to be given the right to select a President, nor would they be able to know enough about the candidates to make good choices.In most states the head of the executive branch (governor) was chosen by…the state legislature.The Framers thought that if the President was chosen by Congress, then Congress would…be able to control the President, resulting in a weak executive branch.
Describe the method the Framers finally created for electing the President.An electoral college would be created once every 4 years to choose the President.Each state would have electors equal to the number of Senators and Representatives it had in Congress.Each state was left to decide how it would select persons to serve as “electors” in the college. The person who received the majority of votes in the electoral college would become President.We still have the electoral college today but it works very differently from the way it was originally established. If the Framers were living today they would be surprised by how we select a President. They never thought that having a
What ideas about a national court system did most of the Framers agree on?Judges should be independent of politics so they can use their best judgment to decide cases & not be influenced by political pressures. The best way to do this was to have judges appointed & serve for life.A national judiciary was needed to decide disputes between states, between citizens from different states, and between the national govt & a state or a citizen.There should be a single Supreme Court with two types of jurisdiction:
Original jurisdiction in cases involving a state government—these types of cases would go directly to the Supreme Court & not be tried first in a lower court.
Why do you think the Framers wanted to protect the judicial branch from political influence?The Congress was made up of elected representatives who would be easily influenced by politics, and the President was selected by the electoral college, so he, too, would be influenced by politics.
We need one branch of government that is independent and not influenced by political pressures, a branch that can act without being pressured by anyone
“This Constitution, and the laws of the United States…shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby….”
The Framers intended to give the Supreme Court the power to overrule state laws that violated the Constitution or laws made by the national government. The supremacy clause gives the SC this power.What is the supremacy clause in Article VI of the Constitution?
How was the new national government different than the government under the Articles of Confederation?The Constitution gave the national government the right to act directly on the people.
This is different than the Articles of Confederation, which gave the national government very little power to act on the states, and no power to act directly on the people.
What does the Constitution say about national government laws versus state government laws?The Constitution says that the national government is For example, suppose a state passes a law that is in conflict with a law passed by the national government. Since the national government is supreme, its law would have to be obeyed over the state law.supreme in those areas where it has been given the right to act.
According to the Constitution, what is the supreme law of the land? Whose responsibility is it to enforce, or carry out, the laws of the US?The Constitution and the laws of the United States (laws made by Congress)
It is the President’s job to enforce the laws and make sure they are executed, or followed.
It is the judicial branches job to interpret the laws and settle disputes about the laws.
Homework for TonightRead lessons 16 & 17 (pp.66-74)
Answer the study guide questions for lessons 16 & 17