Учебное пособие для студентов четвертого курса специальности 032301. 65 Регионоведение Чита 2011 (075)



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Министерство образования и науки

Государственное образовательное учреждение

высшего профессионального образования

Читинский государственный университет

(ЧитГУ)

И.Н. Соловьева


Presidency of the United States of America

Учебное пособие для студентов четвертого курса

специальности 032301.65 – Регионоведение

Чита 2011

УДК 42-1 (075)

ББК 81.2 - Англ я7

ББК Ш 13 (Англ) я7

С603
С603 Соловьева, И.Н. Presidency of the United States of America: учеб. пособие / И.Н. Соловьева. – Чита: ЧитГУ, 2011. – 134 с.

Табл. 7 Ил. 8 Библ. 17 наим.

В учебном пособии представлены тематические тексты с упражнениями для развития навыков устной речи по теме Институт президентства США.

Учебное пособие предназначено для студентов 4 курса специальности 032301.65- Регионоведение

УДК 42-1 (075)

ББК 81.2 - Англ я7

ББК Ш 13 (Англ) я7

С603

Печатается по решению редакционно-издательского совета ЧитГУ



Ответственный за выпуск: зав. кафедрой регионоведения Северной Америки Т.Б. Макарова
Рецензенты:

1. к. филол.н., зав. кафедрой иностранных языков ЗабГГПУ им. Н.Г. Чернышевского Е.Б. Жавкина

2. к. филол.н., доцент кафедры иностранных языков ЧИБГУЭП Т.Ф. Ермакова

© Читинский государственный университет, 2011

© И.Н. Соловьева

Предисловие

Данное учебное пособие предназначено для студентов 4 курса специальности 032301.65- регионоведение, составлено в соответствии с требованиями к курсу «Язык изучаемого региона» этой специальности, и может применяться на практических занятиях по данному курсу в рамках тем «Конституция США» и «Институт президентства США». Цель данной работы – помочь студентам понять особенности структуры и функционирования исполнительной власти США через рассмотрение языковых единиц, которые являются носителями страноведческой информации.

Подготовка специалистов - регионоведов требует формирования и развития у них широкого круга навыков основных видов речевой деятельности в различных коммуникативных сферах на языке изучаемого региона, а также навыков реферирования и аннотирования материалов средств массовой информации и специальной литературы на соответствующем языке. Данное учебное пособие разработано в полном соответствии с данными требованиями.

Учебное пособие представляет собой сборник аутентичных статей и текстов, посвященных содержанию статей и поправок конституции США, полномочиям и административному аппарату главы исполнительной власти США, системе выборов и избирательной кампании президента США. После каждой статьи представлены вопросы на проверку понимания содержания текста, а также упражнения, направленные на формирование и совершенствование навыков, необходимых для построения собственных высказываний по изучаемой теме. К наиболее интересным, широким или актуальным проблемам, затронутым в

Introduction

Possibly no political office in history is more known or visible than the President of the United States. Often in the study of US History, we find ourselves reflecting on the American story in terms of presidential administrations (Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal combated the problems of the Great Depression; President Richard Nixon's administration was shattered by Watergate; the Civil War was fought during Abraham Lincoln's term of office; etc.) Since the presidency is such an important part of American culture and history, it is important for our students to understand the office, the men who have held the office, and how the office is obtained.

Since the United States Constitution officially took effect in 1788, very few changes to the document have been made; yet in spite of the relative static nature of the document, the power of the American presidency has increased. And rather than fight against the expanding authority of the president, the American public seems to embrace an ever-enlarging assumption of power by the president. Americans want their president to be strong but not overreaching, decisive but inclusive, commanding but not overbearing. These kinds of demands on the American chief politician have stretched the powers of the presidency. Today, the office has grown to immense proportions not just in the United States, but also in the eyes of the entire world.

This was partly a result of Constitutional provisions for the executive. The framers of the Constitution did not intend to create an “imperial presidency”. Distrustful of executive power as a result of their experience with royal mandates and colonial governors, a majority of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention expected Congress to be the heart of the new government. They spelled out in considerable detail the powers of the legislative branch, while the presidency was left in wholesome ambiguity. Yet, if the framers did not grant many specific powers to the executive, neither did they withhold any.

The growth of presidential power since 1900 has been due to several factors, ranging from broad historical factors to the political socialization of the American people, but four of them have been especially important.

First: the office itself has been democratized. The election of presidents in the early years of the Republic was removed from the people. With the rise of democratic sentiment that accompanied the Jacksonian period, however, the choice of electors was turned over to the populace, and the convention system replaced “King Caucus”.

Second: with the advent of the New Deal and widespread federal involvement in domestic affairs, the president acquired a new job – that of “manager of the national prosperity”.

Third: since the president has chief responsibility under the Constitution for the conduct of foreign affairs, the emergence of the United States as a world power assured the growth of presidential prerogatives.

Fourth: the mass media have given the president a sophisticated means of influencing public opinion; no one has more power over the airwaves than the president of the United States.

Historical factors aside, the centrality of the presidency in the American political system is due to the factor of leadership. The president has prime responsibility for setting the national agenda and for acting on national problems in the name of a national constituency.

Nonetheless, it is best to speak of the presidency as an office of potential power. Each president has at his disposal certain resources which, if used skillfully, can transform potential power into actual power. But the resources themselves make a president no more than a clerk – the choice depends on the personality that occupies the Oval Office.

The Meaning of Democracy

Throughout the centuries, thinkers in many different cultures contributed to the development of democratic government. Early Greek philosophers contributed the word democracy, which means "rule by the many." But there is no single definition of democracy, nor is there a tightly organized system of democratic thought. It is better, perhaps, to speak of democratic traditions than of a single democratic ideology.

Unfortunately, the looseness of the term democracy allows it to be perverted by antidemocratic governments. Hardly a nation in the world exists that does not claim to be "democratic." Governments that outlaw political opposition, suppress dissent, discourage religion, and deny fundamental freedoms of speech and press still claim to be “democracies,” "democratic republics," or "people's republics" (for example, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the official name of Communist North Korea). These governments defend their use of the term democracy by claiming that their policies reflect the true interests of their people. But they are unwilling to allow political freedoms or to hold free elections in order to find out whether their people really agree with their policies, in effect, they use the term as a political slogan rather than a true description of their government.

The actual existence of democratic ideals varies considerably from country to country regardless of their names. A meaningful definition of democracy must include the following ideals: recognition of the dignity of every individual; equal protection under the law for every individual; opportunity for everyone to participate in public decisions; and decision making by majority rule, with one person having one vote.



Individual Dignity The underlying value of democracy is the dignity of the individual. Human beings are entitled to life and liberty, personal property, and equal protection under the law. These liberties are not granted by governments; they belong to every person born into the world. The English political philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) argued that a higher "natural law" guaranteed liberty to every person and that this natural law was morally superior to all human laws and governments. Each individual possesses "certain inalienable Rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and Property".

Individual dignity requires personal freedom. People who are directed by governments in every aspect of their lives, people who are "collectivized" and made into workers for the state, people who are enslaved – all are denied the personal dignity to which all human beings are entitled. Democratic governments try to minimize the role of government in the lives of citizens.



Equality True democracy requires equal protection of the law for every individual. Democratic governments cannot discriminate between blacks and whites, or men and women, or rich and poor, or any groups of people in applying the law. Not only must a democratic government refrain from discrimination itself, but it must also work to prevent discrimination in society generally. Today our notion of equality extends to equality of opportunity – the obligation of government to ensure that all Americans have an opportunity to develop their full potential.

Participation in Decision Making Democracy means individual participation in the decisions that affect individuals' lives. People should be free to choose for themselves how they want to live. Individual participation in government is necessary for individual dignity. People in a democracy should not have decisions made for them but by them. Even if they make mistakes, it is better that they be permitted to do so than to take away their rights to make their own decisions. The true democrat would reject even a wise and benevolent dictatorship because it would threaten the individual's character, self-reliance, and dignity. The argument for democracy is not that the people will always choose wise policies for themselves but that people who cannot choose for themselves are not really free.

Majority Rule: One Person, One Vote Collective decision making in democracies must be by majority rule with each person having one vote. That is, each person's vote must be equal to every other person's, regardless of status, money, or fame. Whenever any individual is denied political equality because of race, sex, or wealth, then the government is not truly democratic. Majorities are not always right. But majority rule means that all persons have an equal say in decisions affecting them. If people are truly equal, their votes must count equally, and a majority vote must decide the issue, even if the majority decides foolishly.

Direct Versus Representative Democracy

In the Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln spoke about "a government of the people, by the people, for the people," and his ringing phrase remains an American ideal. But can we take this phrase literally? More than 265 million Americans are spread over 4 million square miles. If we brought everyone together, standing shoulder to shoulder, they would occupy 66 square miles. One round of five-minute speeches by everyone would take 5,000 years. People could be born, grow old, and die while they waited for the assembly to make one decision.



Direct democracy (also called pure or participatory democracy), where everyone actively participates in every decision, is rare. The closest approximation to direct democracy in American government may be the traditional New England town meeting, where all of the citizens come together face to face to decide about town affairs. But today most New England towns vest authority in a board of officials elected by the townspeople to make policy decisions between town meetings, and professional administrators are appointed to supervise the day-to-day town services. The town meeting is rapidly vanishing because citizens cannot spend so much of their time and energy in community decision making.

Representative democracy recognizes that it is impossible to expect millions of people to come together and decide every issue. Instead, representatives of the people are elected by the people to decide issues on behalf of the people. Elections must be open to competition so that the people can choose representatives who reflect their own views. And elections must take place in an environment of free speech and press, so that both candidates and voters can freely express their views. Finally, elections must be held periodically so that representatives can be thrown out of office if they no longer reflect the views of the majority of the people.

No government can claim to be a representative democracy, then, unless

1. Representatives are selected by vote of all the people.

2. Elections are open to competition.

3. Candidates and voters can freely express themselves.

4. Representatives are selected periodically.

So when we hear of "elections" in which only one party is permitted to run candidates, candidates are not free to express their views, or leaders are elected "for life," then we know that these governments are not really democracies, regardless of what they may call themselves.

Comprehension Check


  1. Define democracy. Explicate the democratic ideals you have included into your definition.

  2. Dissenters contend that U.S., Great Britain, France and other countries in Western Europe appear to be democracies because they hold free elections, but that they actually are run by elites for the elites’ benefit. Do they have any grounds for saying so?

  3. Try to perceive flaws and merits of representative democracy.

Vocabulary

  1. Provide synonyms and derivatives for the words.

Verbs: contribute, claim, ensure.

Nouns: dissent, dignity


2. Supply Russian and English equivalents for (pay attention to prepositions)

        1. in effect;

        2. to be entitled to;

        3. to refrain from;

        4. to deny smb. smth. / deny smth. to smb.;

        5. to have an equal say in; to have a say in;

        6. on behalf of.

3. Give English equivalents for (see the families of words in task 1)

Жертвователь, спонсор; предъявляющий права, претендент; оскорбление, унижение; негодование, возмущение; лицо, занимающее высокий пост; обладающий чувством собственного достоинства; инакомыслящий, диссидент; голос "против".


  1. Paraphrase using your topical vocabulary

  1. The law which guaranteed the public right to express its disagreement with the government policy war ratified unanimously.

  2. Some high-ranking officials had a hand in this legislation.

  3. Democracy provides a guarantee that each citizen can express his/her opinion and thus influence governmental decisions.

  4. Only 62-year-olds are eligible for Medicaid.

  5. Virtually those who disagreed were refused to hold the meeting.

  6. “Sometimes you just can’t keep from misusing the power you have,” confessed one of government officials.

  7. They are the first ten amendments to the Constitution that provide and guarantee basic civil liberties to American citizens.

  8. In truth the whole situation was plain humiliation.

  9. I’m here to talk to you as a representative of the entire team.

  10. Discrimination in employment refers to cases when an employee is not given a promotion because of his/her race, ethnicity, sex, religion.

  11. Democracy gives everyone an opportunity to influence policymaking in one’s country.




  1. Render in English

Представительная демократия — политический режим, при котором основным источником власти признается народ, но управление государством делегируется различными представительными органами, члены которых избираются гражданами. Представительная (репрезентативная) демократия является ведущей формой политического участия в современных государствах. Её суть заключается в опосредованном участии граждан в принятии решений, в выборе ими в органы власти своих представителей, призванных выражать их интересы, принимать законы и отдавать распоряжения.

Представительная демократия необходима особенно тогда, когда из-за больших территорий или вследствие других причин затруднено регулярное непосредственное участие граждан в голосованиях, а также когда принимаются сложные решения, труднодоступные для понимания неспециалистов.

Принципиальным недостатком представительной демократии является формирование властных органов посредством выборов, во время которых избиратели вынуждены голосовать за малознакомых им кандидатов, не представляющих интересы всех слоёв населения.
The Articles of Confederation

Having declared their independence, the colonies needed to establish a governmental structure. In November of 1777, the Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union – the United States’s first written constitution. Although it was not ratified by all the states until 1781, it was the country’s operative constitution for almost twelve years, until March 1789.

The Articles of Confederation was a constitution concerned primarily with limiting the powers of the central government. The central government, first of all, was based entirely in a Congress. Since it was not intended to be a powerful government, it was given no executive branch. Execution of its laws was to be left to the individual states. Second, the Congress had little power. Its members were not much more than delegates or messengers from the state legislatures. They were chosen by the state legislatures, their salaries were paid out of the state treasuries, and they were subject to immediate recall by state authorities. In addition, each state, regardless of its size, had only a sin­gle vote.

The Congress was given the power to declare war and make peace, to make treaties and alliances, to coin or borrow money, and to regulate trade with the Native Americans. It could also appoint the senior officers of the United States army. But it could not levy taxes or regulate commerce among the states. Moreover, the army officers it appointed had no army to serve in because the nation's armed forces were composed of the state militias. Probably the most unfortunate part of the Articles of Confederation was that the central government could not prevent one state from discriminating against other states in the quest for foreign commerce.

In brief, the relationship between the Congress and the states under the Articles of Confederation was much like the contemporary relationship be­tween the United Nations and its member states, a relationship in which vir­tually all governmental powers are retained by the states. It was properly called a "confederation" because, as provided under Article II, "each state re­tains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every Power, Jurisdiction and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled." Not only was there no execu­tive, there also was no judicial authority and no other means of enforcing the Congress's will. If there was to be any enforcement at all, it would be done for the Congress by the states.

Provisions of the Articles

In light of these sentiments, it's hardly surprising that our first constitution creat­ed a nation that was hardly a nation at all. The Articles created in law what had existed in practice from the time of the Declaration of Independence: a loose con­federation of independent states, with little power in the central government, where most of the decisions about the issues of the day took place in the state legislatures (see Figure 2.1). Like member states of the United Nations today, each state jealously guarded and exercised its independence during the war, while the Continental Congress tried to coordinate their efforts. As historian Gor­don Wood describes it,

The states not only jealously guarded their independence and sovereignty by repeated assertions and declarations, but in fact assumed the powers of a sover­eign state ... making war, providing for armies, laying embargoes, even in some cases carrying on separate diplomatic correspondence and negotiations abroad.


Figure 1. The design of the Articles of Confederation
If the objective was to preserve the independence of the separate states, then the provisions of the Articles accomplished their objective. While there was a central government of sorts – there was a Congress, for instance – it had little to do and had virtually no power. It could make war or peace, but it had no power to levy taxes (even customs duties) to pursue either goal. It could not regulate commerce between the states or deny states the right to collect customs duties. It had no independent chief executive to ensure that the laws passed by Congress were enforced, nor a national judiciary to adjudicate disputes between the states. Legislating in the few areas of responsibility assigned to the central govern­ment – to establish a postal service, to set uniform standards of weights and mea­sures, and to manage affairs with Native Americans – was almost impossible in light of the rule that all congressional legislation had to be approved by 9 of the 13 states. Finally, any defects in the new constitution were difficult to remedy in light of the provision that amendment of the Articles required the unanimous approval of the states.

Unsolved Problems

The Articles did what their authors wanted them to do: preserve the power, independence, and sovereignty of the states, and ensure that the central govern­ment did not encroach on the liberty of the people. Unfortunately, there were also many problems that the confederation was ill-equipped to handle.

The new government was unable to get its finances in order. The central government was forced to rely on each state's willingness to pay its annual tax assessment. Few states were eager to cooperate, many paying less than 10 per­cent of what was owed. As a result, the bonds and notes of the confederate gov­ernment – which, for the most part, were for debts incurred during the war – became almost worthless (giving rise to the saying "not worth a Continental"), and the government's ability to borrow was stymied.

The central government was also unable to defend American interests in foreign affairs. Without a chief executive, with veto power in the hands of the states, and devoid of a standing military, the confederation lacked the capacity to reach binding agreements with other nations or to deal with a wide range of problems. These included the continuing presence of British troops in western lands ceded to the new nation by the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolu­tionary War, violent clashes with the Native Americans on the western frontier, and piracy on the high seas.

Finally, the government was unable to prevent the outbreak of commercial warfare between the states. Being virtually independent nations, with the power to levy customs duties, many states became intense commercial rivals of their neighbors and sought to gain every advantage that they could against the prod­ucts of other states. New York and New Jersey, for instance, imposed high tariffs on goods that crossed their borders from other states. This hindered the develop­ment of stable regional and national markets, slowed the rate of economic growth, and threatened financial chaos.

By 1787, most of America’s economic, social, and political leaders were convinced that the new nation and the experience in self-government were in great danger of failing. This helped convince the state governments to select 73 delegates to attend the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia (55 showed up for its deliberations) the goal was to create a new government capable of providing energy and stability.



Comprehension

  1. What was the title of the first American Constitution? When was it adopted? How long was it the operative constitution of the USA?

  2. What were the provisions of the Articles?

  3. What problems did the young United States of America face? Why?

Vocabulary

  1. Provide English equivalent from the text for the following.

Провозгласить независимость; действующая конституция; состоять из; предотвратить, предупредить; сохранить свободу, суверенитет и независимость; делегировать, передавать власть, полномочия; тема дня; преследовать цель; достичь цель; исправлять недостатки; единогласный; покушаться, посягать на свободу; исполнительная власть; законодательная власть; препятствовать развитию;


  1. Provide synonyms for the following verbs and then paraphrase the sentences.

Retain, enforce, pursue, encroach, prevent, hinder, appoint

  1. The U.S. President appoints Supreme Justices.

  2. The U.S. Constitution prohibits the Congress to encroach on fundamental civil liberties: freedom of speech, press, religion.

  3. One of the many President’s jobs is to enforce laws and regulations passed by Congress.

  4. Theу U.S. National Security failed to prevent terrorist attacks on World Trade Center.

  5. Nothing could prevent the accident.

  6. The Articles pursued the goal of limiting the powers of the central government.

  7. According to the Articles each state retained its sovereignty.

  8. Unwise rule is likely to hinder the country’s economic growth.




  1. Make up a speech calling for a Constitutional Convention, make use of the following words and expressions.

To claim, to hinder, operative constitution, to pursue, to delegate, to enforce, to ensure, to refrain from, to exercise power, to encroach, to handle, to be devoid of, to be composed of, to remedy.
The Constitution

In particular, the framers sought a new government that, first, would be strong enough to promote commerce and protect property from radical state legislatures such as Rhode Island's. This became the constitutional basis for national control over commerce and finance, as well as for the establishment of national judicial supremacy and the effort to construct a strong presidency. Second, the framers sought to prevent what they saw as the threat posed by the "excessive democracy" of the state and national governments under the Articles of Confederation. This led to such constitutional principles as bicameralism (division of the Congress into two chambers), checks and balances, staggered terms in office, and indirect election (selection of the president by an electoral college rather than by voters directly). Third, the framers, lacking the power to force the states or the public at large to accept the new form of government, sought to identify principles that would help to secure support. This became the basis of the constitutional provision for direct popular elec­tion of representatives and, subsequently, for the addition of the Bill of Rights to the Constitution. Finally, the framers wanted to be certain that the govern­ment they created did not pose even more of a threat to its citizens' liberties and property rights than did the radical state legislatures they feared and de­spised. To prevent the new government from abusing its power, the framers incorporated principles such as the separation of powers and federalism into the Constitution. Let us assess the major provisions of the Constitution's seven articles to see how each relates to these objectives.



The Legislative Branch

The Constitution provided in Article I, Sections 1-7, for a Congress consist­ing of two chambers – a House of Representatives and a Senate. Members of the House of Representatives were given two-year terms in office and were to be elected directly by the people. Members of the Senate were to be ap­pointed by the state legislatures (this was changed in 1913 by the Seventeenth Amendment, which instituted direct election of senators) for six-year terms. These terms were staggered so that the appointments of one-third of the sen­ators would expire every two years. The Constitution assigned somewhat dif­ferent tasks to the House and Senate. Though the approval of each body was required for the enactment of a law, the Senate alone was given the power to ratify treaties and approve presidential appointments. The House, on the other hand, was given the sole power to originate revenue bills.

The character of the legislative branch was directly related to the framers' major goals. The House of Representatives was designed to be directly re­sponsible to the people in order to encourage popular consent for the new Constitution and to help enhance the power of the new government. At the same time, to guard against "excessive democracy," the power of the House of Representatives was checked by the Senate, whose members were to be ap­pointed by the states for long terms rather than be elected directly by the peo­ple. The purpose of this provision, according to Alexander Hamilton, was to avoid, "an unqualified complaisance to every sudden breeze of passion, or to every transient impulse which the people may receive." Staggered terms of service in the Senate, moreover, were intended to make that body even more resistant to popular pressure. Since only one-third of the senators would be selected at any given time, the composition of the institution would be pro­tected from changes in popular preferences transmitted by the state legisla­tures. This would prevent what James Madison called "mutability in the public councils arising from a rapid succession of new members." Thus, the structure of the legislative branch was designed to contribute to governmental power, to promote popular consent for the new government, and at the same time to place limits on the popular political currents that many of the framers saw as a radical threat to the economic and social order.

The issues of power and consent were important throughout the Constitution. Section 8 of Article I specifically listed the powers of Congress, which include the authority to collect taxes, to borrow money, to regulate commerce, to declare war, and to maintain an army and navy. By granting Congress these powers, the framers indicated very clearly that they intended the new government to be far more influential than its predecessor. At the same time, by defining the new government's most important powers as be­longing to Congress, the framers sought to promote popular acceptance of this critical change by reassuring citizens that their views would be fully rep­resented whenever the government exercised its new powers.

As a further guarantee to the people that the new government would pose no threat to them, the Constitution implied that any powers not listed were not granted at all. This is the doctrine of expressed power. The Constitution grants only those powers specifically expressed in its text. But the framers in­tended to create an active and powerful government, and so they included the necessary and proper clause, sometimes known as the "elastic clause," which signified that the enumerated powers were meant to be a source of strength to the national government, not a limitation on it. Each power could be used with the utmost vigor, but no new powers could be seized upon by the na­tional government without a constitutional amendment. In the absence of such an amendment, any power not enumerated was conceived to be “reserved” to the states (or the people).

The Executive Branch

The Constitution provided for the establishment of the presidency in Article II. As Alexander Hamilton commented, the presidential article aimed toward "energy in the Executive." It did so in an effort to overcome the natural ten­dency toward stalemate that was built into the bicameral legislature as well as into the separation of powers among the three branches, The Constitution afforded the president a measure of independence from the people and from the other branches of government – particularly the Congress.

In line with the framers' goal of increased power to the national govern­ment, the president was granted the unconditional power to accept ambas­sadors from other countries; this amounted to the power to "recognize" other countries. The president was also given the power to negotiate treaties, although their acceptance required the approval of the Senate. The president was given the unconditional right to grant reprieves and pardons, except in cases of impeachment. And the president was provided with the power to ap­point major departmental personnel, to convene Congress in special session, and to veto congressional enactments. (The veto power is formidable, but it is not absolute, since Congress can override it by a two-thirds vote.)

The framers hoped to create a presidency that would make the federal government rather than the states the agency capable of timely and decisive action to deal with public issues and problems. This was the meaning of the "energy" that Hamilton hoped to impart to the executive branch. At the same time, however, the framers sought to help the president withstand ex­cessively democratic pressures by creating a system of indirect rather than di­rect election through a separate electoral college.



The Judicial Branch

In establishing the judicial branch in Article III, the Constitution reflected the framers' preoccupations with nationalizing governmental power and check­ing radical democratic impulses while guarding against potential interference with liberty and property from the new national government itself.

Under the provisions of Article III, the framers created a court that was to be literally a supreme court of the United States, and not merely the highest court of the national government. The most important expression of this in­tention was granting the Supreme Court the power to resolve any conflicts that might emerge between federal and state laws. In particular, the Supreme Court was given the right to determine whether a power was exclusive to the national government, concurrent with the states, or exclusive to the states. In addition, the Supreme Court was assigned jurisdiction over controversies be­tween citizens of different states. The long-term significance of this provision was that as the country developed a national economy, it came to rely in­creasingly on the federal judiciary, rather than on the state courts, for the resolution of disputes.

Judges were given lifetime appointments in order to protect them from popular politics and from interference by the other branches. This, however, did not mean that the judiciary would remain totally impartial to political considerations, or to the other branches, for the president was to appoint the judges, and the Senate to approve the appointments. Congress would also have the power to create inferior (lower) courts, to change the jurisdiction of the federal courts, to add or subtract federal judges, and even to change the size of the Supreme Court.

No direct mention is made in the Constitution of judicial review – the power of the courts to render the final decision when there is a conflict of interpretation of the Constitution or of laws between the courts and Congress, the courts and the executive branch, or the courts and the states. The Supreme Court eventually assumed the power of judicial review. Its assump­tion of this power was not based on the Constitution itself but on the politics of later decades and the membership of the Court.

National Unity and Power

Various provisions in the Constitution addressed the framers' concern with national unity and power, including Article IV's provisions for comity (reci­procity) among states and among citizens of all states. Each state was prohib­ited from discriminating against the citizens of other states in favor of its own citizens, with the Supreme Court charged with deciding in each case whether a state had discriminated against goods or people from another state. The Constitution restricted the power of the states in favor of ensuring enough power to the national government to give the country a free-flowing national economy.

The framers' concern with national supremacy was also expressed in Article VI, in the supremacy clause, which provided that national laws and treaties "shall be the supreme law of the land." This meant that all laws made under the "authority of the United States" would be superior to all laws adopted by any state or any other subdivision, and the states would be expected to respect all treaties made under that authority. The supremacy clause also bound the officials of all state and local as well as federal govern­ments to take an oath of office to support the national Constitution. This meant that every action taken by the United States Congress would have to be applied within each state as though the action were in fact state law.

The Seven Articles of the Constitution


  1. The Legislative Branch

House: two-year terms, elected directly by the people.

Senate: six-year terms (staggered so that only one-third of the Senate changes in any given election), appointed by state legislature (changed in 1913 to di­rect election).

Expressed powers of the national government: collecting taxes, borrowing money, regulating commerce, declaring war, and maintaining an army and a navy; all other power belongs to the states, unless deemed otherwise by the elastic ("necessary and proper") clause.

Exclusive powers of the national government: states are expressly forbidden to issue their own paper money, tax imports and exports, regulate trade out­side their own borders, and impair the obligation of contracts; these powers are the exclusive domain of the national government.



  1. The Executive Branch

Presidency: four-year terms (limited in 1951 to a maximum of two terms), elected indirectly by the Electoral College.

Powers: can recognize other countries, negotiate treaties, grant reprieves and pardons, convene Congress in special sessions, and veto congressional enact­ments.



  1. The Judicial Branch

Supreme Court: lifetime terms, appointed by the president with the approval of the Senate.

Powers: include resolving conflicts between federal and state laws, determin­ing whether power belongs to the national government or the states, and set­tling controversies between citizens of different states.



  1. National Unity and Power

Reciprocity among states: establishes that each state must give "full faith and credit" to official acts of other states, and guarantees citizens of any state the "privileges and immunities" of every other state.

  1. Amending the Constitution

Procedure: requires approval by two-thirds of Congress and adoption by three-fourths of the states.

  1. National Supremacy

The Constitution and national law are the supreme law of the land and can­not be overruled by state law.

  1. Ratification

The Constitution became effective when approved by nine states.

Comprehension
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