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Definition

A federal government is the common government of a federation. Examples include: * Government of Australia* Government of Canada* Government of Germany* Government of Switzerland* Government of the United States

VII. United States Government  

Much admired in most parts of the world, the system of government devised by Americans over nearly four centuries is integral to the American experience. Like all societies, Americans have wrestled with timeless questions: What is the proper source of political authority? Who has the power to make and enforce rules by which all must live? Over the course of human history, people around the globe have invented many forms of government to answer these questions: monarchy, aristocracy, fascism, communism, democracy, and even anarchism. The American government is based on democracy—a word that is easier to use than to implement effectively.

Democracy begins with the idea that government exists to serve the people and that as the source of governmental authority, the people have the right to change the government if it does not serve them justly. The people are sovereign. From that pivotal idea flow a number of complementary principles: commitment to majority rule, protection of the rights of the minority, acceptance of a rule of law, and equality of all citizens before the law. Also, democracy requires safeguarding liberties such as the free exchange of ideas and opinions, freedom of religion, freedom to assemble, and the right to be tried by a jury of one’s peers.

The article United States (Government) describes how a nation of immigrants, of many nationalities, religions, and creeds, has attempted to form one nation through the political system, emphasizing civil liberties, equality of opportunity, and equal justice before the law. Americans have disagreed sharply, and even violently, on how to interpret or achieve liberty, equality, and justice. But their political system, under the Constitution, provides mechanisms for reconciling differences and for achieving goals derived from the nation’s civil creed.

Sections of the Government article give overviews of the Constitution of the United States and provide basic information on how the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government operate. Other sections discuss the election process, political parties, state and local government, the law and courts, and crime and safety.

The United States government cannot be fully understood without knowledge of the nation’s history. Both the Government and History articles show how democracy has been an evolving concept based on political institutions that have been refurbished and modified generation by generation. At first the “we” in “We, the people” did not generally include women, Native Americans, black Americans, immigrants from Asia, 18- to 21-year-olds, or even white males who owned no land. Nearly a century and a half would pass before all of these groups gained basic civil rights through amendments to the Constitution and laws passed by Congress.

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History

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United States (Government), the combination of federal, state, and local laws, bodies, and agencies that is responsible for carrying out the operations of the United States. The federal government of the United States is centered in Washington, D.C.

The institutions of all governments emerge from basic principles. In the United States the one basic principle is representative democracy, which defines a system in which the people govern themselves by electing their own leaders. The American government functions to secure this principle and to further the common interests of the people.

Democracy in America is based on six essential ideals: (1) People must accept the principle of majority rule. (2) The political rights of minorities must be protected. (3) Citizens must agree to a system of rule by law. (4) The free exchange of opinions and ideas must not be restricted. (5) All citizens must be equal before the law. (6) Government exists to serve the people, because it derives its power from the people. These ideals form the basis of the democratic system in the United States, which seeks to create a union of diverse peoples, places, and interests.

To implement its essential democratic ideals, the United States has built its government on four elements: (1) popular sovereignty, meaning that the people are the ultimate source of the government’s authority; (2) representative government; (3) checks and balances; and (4) federalism, an arrangement where powers are shared by different levels of government.

Every government has a source of its sovereignty or authority, and most of the political structures of the U.S. government apply the doctrine of popular sovereignty. In previous centuries the source of sovereignty in some countries was the monarchy-the divine right of kings to rule. Americans place the source of authority in the people who, in a democratic society, reign. In this idea the citizens collectively represent the nation’s authority. They then express that authority individually by voting to elect leaders to represent them in government. “I know no safe repository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves,” wrote Thomas Jefferson in 1820, “and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion.” This was an experimental idea at the time, but today Americans take it for granted.

The second principle of U.S. democracy is representative government. In a representative government, the people delegate their powers to elected officials. In the United States, candidates compete for the presidency, the Senate, and the House of Representatives, as well as for many state and local positions. In turn these elected officials represent the will of the people and ensure that the government is accountable to its citizens. In a democracy, the people exercise power through elections, which allow adult citizens of the United States the chance to have their voices heard and to influence government. With their vote, they can remove officials who ignore their intentions or who betray their trust. Political leaders are accountable as agents of the people; this accountability is an important feature of the American system of representative government.

In order to truly work, however, representative government must represent all people. Originally, the only people allowed to vote, and thus to be represented, were white men who owned property—a small percentage of the population. Gradually, voting rights were broadened to include white men without property, blacks, Native Americans, naturalized immigrants, and women.

The third principle of American democracy is the system of checks and balances. The three branches of government—the legislative, the executive, and the judicial—restrain and stabilize one another through their separated functions. The legislative branch, represented by Congress, must pass bills before they can become law. The executive branch—namely, the president—can veto bills passed by Congress, thus preventing them from becoming law. In turn, by a two-thirds vote, Congress can override the president’s veto. The Supreme Court may invalidate acts of Congress by declaring them contrary to the Constitution of the United States, but Congress can change the Constitution through the amendment process.

The fourth principle of democracy in the United States is federalism. In the American federal system, the states and the national government divide authority. This division of power helps curb abuses by either the national or the state governments.

 

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Articles of Confederation

Throwing off the British monarchy on July 4, 1776, left the United States with no central government. It had to design and install a new government–and quickly. As early as May 1776, Congress advised each of the colonies to draw up plans for state governments; by 1780, all thirteen states had adopted written constitutions. In June 1776, the Continental Congress began to work on a plan for a central government. It took five years for it to be approved, first by members of Congress and then by the states. The first attempt at a constitution for the United States was called the Articles of Confederation.

This first constitution was composed by a body that directed most of its attention to fighting and winning the War for Independence. It came into being at a time when Americans had a deep-seated fear of a central authority and long-standing loyalty to the state in which they lived and often called their "country." Ultimately, the Articles of Confederation proved unwieldy and inadequate to resolve the issues that faced the United States in its earliest years; but in granting any Federal powers to a central authority–the Confederation Congress–this document marked a crucial step toward nationhood. The Articles of Confederation were in force from March 1, 1781, until March 4, 1789, when the present Constitution went into effect.

Weaknesses

Strengths

The Articles of Confederation had many strong ideas and spurred many great concepts. The idea of equality is seen throughout the Articles; the Articles also place in mind the idea of equal power. Strong points in the Articles were land distribution, the strong central authority with strong central ideas, and the all important legislation requiring a two-thirds vote of the states.

While the Articles of Confederation were not very effective, they did establish some ideas that continue today. Little known and most important were the Land Ordinance of 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. These two ordinances helped to divide the newly acquired public land in the Northwest Territory, the land east of the Mississippi River and north of the Ohio River.

Limitations of all authorities happens to be the greatest central idea of The Articles of Confederation here are some of the limitations and definitions that were later transposed into the Constitution; states to conduct foreign relations and to declare war, rules for new states requiring nine state approval, Defines the rights of the central government: to declare war, to set weights and measures (including coins), and for Congress to serve as a final court for disputes between states, Anyone can pass freely between states (excluding fugitives) and be entitled to the rights established by the state into which he or she travels. If a crime is committed in one state and the perpetrator flees to another state, he will be transported to and tried in the state in which the crime was committed, and Defines a Committee of the States to be a government when Congress is not in session.

The Committee of the States along with many other ideas, concepts, and points made The Articles of Confederation Strong. The Articles could be considered the first draft of the Constitution setting the scene for more great ideas.

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Constitution
Full Text | Pictures

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  XI. Text of the Constitution  
  A. Preamble  

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

  B. Article I  

Section 1. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Comment: Congress controls all power to write legislation, and has two chambers—the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Section 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

Comment: The House is directly elected by the people, and its members serve two-year terms.

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

Comment: Members of the House of Representatives must be 25 years old, a citizen of the United States for at least seven years, and live in the state that elects them to the House.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to choose three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

Comment: House seats are assigned according to a census conducted every ten years, initially using a formula that counted African American slaves as three-fifths of a person and excluded Native Americans who were not considered part of white society. The 14th Amendment abolished the rule counting African Americans as three-fifths of a person, but it did not end the exclusion of most Native Americans. Native American citizenship rights were gradually extended in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall choose their speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Comment: The House manages itself and has the power to impeach senior government officials.

Section 3. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

Comment: Each state has two senators, and they serve six-year terms.

Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.

Comment: One-third of the Senate faces election at a time.

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

Comment: Senators must be 30 years old, a citizen of the United States for at least nine years, and live in the state that elects them to the Senate.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

Comment: The vice president presides over the Senate but can cast a vote only in case of a tie.

The Senate shall choose their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

Comment: The Senate is usually presided over by a temporary leader, the president pro tempore, who fills in for the vice president of the United States.

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present.

Comment: The Senate tries impeachment cases against senior federal officials after the House has voted to impeach. A conviction requires the support of two-thirds of the Senate members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to law.

Comment: Anyone convicted of impeachable offenses can be removed from office and can be barred from serving in other senior government posts. The convicted person can also be tried in the courts.

Section 4. The Times, Places, and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of choosing Senators.

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.

Section 5. Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns, and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.

Comment: The House and the Senate each monitor the elections of their own members. The chambers cannot take official action unless a majority of members are present.

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two-thirds, expel a Member.

Comment: The House and the Senate discipline their own members.

Each House shall keep a journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the journal.

Comment: Congress must maintain a public record of its work except in matters that it decides should be kept secret.

Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

Section 6. The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

Comment: Congress makes a law that sets the salaries of senators and representatives.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

Comment: Unlike most parliamentary systems, members of the House and Senate cannot hold other government offices, including positions in the president’s cabinet.

Section 7. All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

Comment: Bills to impose taxes originate in the House. This provision is not always followed in practice.

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two-thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two-thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two-thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

Comment: After a bill passes both the House and the Senate, the president has ten days to decide whether to sign it into law or veto it. If the president does nothing, the bill becomes law automatically, unless Congress is not in session. If Congress is out of session and ten days lapse after Congress has submitted a bill to the president, then it is automatically vetoed. Congress can pass a law over a president’s veto through a two-thirds vote of each chamber.

Section 8. The Congress shall have Power

To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the Credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;—And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Comment: Congress has broad authority, including the power to impose taxes, maintain a military, declare war, manage a postal system, create a judicial system, and borrow money. In addition, Congress has sweeping power to enact laws to provide for the general welfare of the country, and to pass any law that it regards as necessary to carry out its other duties.

Section 9. The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

Comment: Citizens cannot be arrested and jailed arbitrarily except in extreme circumstances.

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

Comment: Congress cannot pass a law that declares a person guilty of a crime or that makes an action in the past illegal.

No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

Comment: Congress cannot impose direct taxes except in proportion to population. The 16th Amendment superseded this clause, but only as it pertains to income tax.

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

No preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.

Comment: Congress cannot create laws that arbitrarily favor the ports of some states over others.

No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

Comment: The government can only spend money if Congress has approved the expenditure by law, and the government must maintain public records of all revenues and spending.

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Comment: The United States cannot name a king or other royalty, and U.S. officials cannot accept payments or royal titles from other countries without congressional approval.

Section 10. No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Control of the Congress.

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

Comment: Congress has powers over the states in many areas. The states are barred from encroaching on most congressional duties, including the issuing of money, entering into alliances with other countries, and imposing duties on imports from other countries.

  C. Article II  

Section 1. The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same term, be elected, as follows

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

Comment: The president ensures that the nation’s laws are carried out and enforced. The president serves a four-year term, and is formally elected by electors of the Electoral College. Originally the state legislatures chose the electors, but since the 1820s they have been chosen through direct elections.

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be no more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately choose by Ballot one of them for President: and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner choose the President. But in choosing the President, the Votes shall be taken by the states, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two-thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall choose from them by Ballot the Vice President.

Comment: Congress formally counts the presidential election ballots from the electoral college. If no presidential candidate receives a majority of votes in the electoral college, the House chooses the president. Originally the second place winner in the electoral college became the vice president, with ties decided in the Senate. This section was amended by the 12th Amendment, which specified that the vice president be chosen on a separate ballot.

The Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

Comment: The president must be at least 35 years old, a United States citizen born in the United States, and a resident of the country for at least 14 years.

In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.

Comment: This section was amended by the 25th Amendment. If the president dies, resigns, or becomes unable to carry out the responsibilities of the job, the vice president steps in. If there is no president or vice president, Congress has the power to appoint someone to fill the position. Currently the line of succession after the vice president is (1) the Speaker of the House, (2) the president pro tem of the Senate, and (3) a sequence of cabinet officials.

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

Comment: Congress sets the president’s pay rate, and the rate cannot be changed once the president takes office. The president cannot accept other payments from the federal or state governments.

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Comment: On inauguration day the president takes an oath of office, traditionally administered by the chief justice of the United States.

Section 2. The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

Comment: The president has wide authority in the executive branch. These powers include serving as commander in chief of the military, supervisory responsibility for executive branch departments, and the power to grant pardons in criminal cases.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

Comment: The Senate acts as a check on some presidential powers. The president makes treaties with other countries, but they take effect only if two-thirds of the Senate approves. The president’s nominations of ambassadors, federal judges, cabinet members, and other top government officials require the approval of a majority of the Senate.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

Comment: The president can make appointments without Senate approval if Congress is not in session. These so-called recess appointments expire at the end of the next congressional term.

Section 3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

Comment: The president must periodically issue a State of the Union statement, usually a speech delivered in person, in which the president explains the condition of the country and offers legislative suggestions. The president can also call a joint session of Congress, or call a session of either of the houses separately. The president may decide when Congress should adjourn for a recess, although presidents rarely do so.

Section 4. The President, Vice President, and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Comment: The president, vice president, and other top officials can be removed from office if they commit serious offenses.

  D. Article III  

Section 1. The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

Comment: The Supreme Court has some administrative control over the legal system, but Congress decides the number of courts that are necessary and many other important issues. Supreme Court justices and other federal judges hold their appointments for life unless they violate significant laws. Their salary cannot be reduced while they are serving on the Court.

Section 2. The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;—to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;—to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;—to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;—to Controversies between two or more States; between a State and Citizens of another state;—between Citizens of different States;—between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

Comment: The Supreme Court has jurisdiction in seven types of cases: (1) cases raising issues involving the Constitution, federal law, or treaties; (2) cases affecting ambassadors; (3) maritime cases; (4) controversies in which the United States is a party; (5) controversies in which two or more states are parties; (6) controversies involving residents of different states; and (7) controversies in which residents of the same state make a claim on land in another state.

In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

Comment: Only in cases involving ambassadors, or if a state is a party, does the Supreme Court have original jurisdiction to conduct a trial to determine the facts of a case and issue a judgment. The Supreme Court hears only appeals in all other types of cases. Congress can limit the Court’s appellate jurisdiction.

The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

Comment: Americans have a right to a jury trial in significant cases, and the trial must be held in the state where the crime is alleged to have occurred. Congress can enact laws to handle the rare cases that involve offenses occurring outside of the states.

Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

Comment: Congress can only define a few types of offenses as treason. A person accused of treason can only be convicted if there are two witnesses to the crime, or if the person confesses in court.

The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Comment: Congress can impose punishments and fines and can confiscate property from those convicted of treason. The heirs of the convicted person retain a right to inherit any estate, however.

  E. Article IV  

Section 1. Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

Comment: States must accept most laws and legal decisions made in other states.

Section 2. The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.

Comment: The states must offer most fundamental legal rights to both residents and nonresidents of the state.

A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.

Comment: People accused of serious crimes cannot take refuge in other states.

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.

Comment: The Fugitive Slave Clause barred states from passing laws that freed escaped slaves and required that such slaves be returned to their owners. The 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, made this clause obsolete.

Section 3. New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

Comment: Congress controls the admission of new states. Congress and the legislatures of the states involved must approve the merger of two states or the creation of a new state within the boundaries of an existing state.

The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

Comment: The government has the right to use federal buildings, lands, and property in almost any way it sees fit.

Section 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

Comment: The federal government has an obligation to protect the political and physical integrity of the states. The federal government must take responsibility for stopping invasions and, if the states ask, to squelch domestic unrest.

  F. Article V  

The Congress, whenever two-thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two-thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One Thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

Comment: Both the states and Congress can propose amendments to the Constitution. It takes two-thirds of the states to call a constitutional convention to propose amendments, which must then be approved by state legislatures in three-quarters of the states. Congress can propose amendments to the Constitution if two-thirds of the members in both chambers vote to support the amendment. After Congress proposes an amendment, it then requires approval by three-quarters of the state legislatures, or three-quarters of special state conventions, whichever Congress specifies.

  G. Article VI  

All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

Comment: All laws in the United States—federal, state, and local—must be consistent with the Constitution. All judges must hold the U.S. Constitution above all other law.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Comment: Members of Congress, the state legislatures, state and federal judges, and state and federal executive officials must agree to support the Constitution. This clause was intended to bind all government officials, including those at the state level, to support the Constitution and federal laws.

  H. Article VII  

The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.

 

Full - Constitution Text

The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription

Note: The following text is a transcription of the Constitution in its original form.
Some Items have since been amended or superseded
.

 

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

 

Article. I.

Section. 1.

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Section. 2.

The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Section. 3.

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Section. 4.

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.

Section. 5.

Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.

Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.

Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

Section. 6.

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

Section. 7.

All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

Section. 8.

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;--And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Section. 9.

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another; nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Section. 10.

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

 

Article. II.

Section. 1.

The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.

The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Section. 2.

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

Section. 3.

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

Section. 4.

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

 

Article III.

Section. 1.

The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

Section. 2.

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;--to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;--to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;--to Controversies between two or more States;-- between a State and Citizens of another State;--between Citizens of different States;--between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

Section. 3.

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

 

Article. IV.

Section. 1.

Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

Section. 2.

The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.

A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.

Section. 3.

New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

Section. 4.

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence.

 

Article. V.

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

 

Article. VI.

All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

 

Article. VII.

The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.

The Word, "the," being interlined between the seventh and eighth Lines of the first Page, the Word "Thirty" being partly written on an Erazure in the fifteenth Line of the first Page, The Words "is tried" being interlined between the thirty second and thirty third Lines of the first Page and the Word "the" being interlined between the forty third and forty fourth Lines of the second Page.

Attest William Jackson Secretary

Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,

G°. Washington
Presidt and deputy from Virginia

Delaware
Geo: Read
Gunning Bedford jun
John Dickinson
Richard Bassett
Jaco: Broom

Maryland
James McHenry
Dan of St Thos. Jenifer
Danl. Carroll

Virginia
John Blair
James Madison Jr.

North Carolina
Wm. Blount
Richd. Dobbs Spaight
Hu Williamson

South Carolina
J. Rutledge
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
Charles Pinckney
Pierce Butler

Georgia
William Few
Abr Baldwin

New Hampshire
John Langdon
Nicholas Gilman

Massachusetts
Nathaniel Gorham
Rufus King

Connecticut
Wm. Saml. Johnson
Roger Sherman

New York
Alexander Hamilton

New Jersey
Wil: Livingston
David Brearley
Wm. Paterson
Jona: Dayton

Pennsylvania
B Franklin
Thomas Mifflin
Robt. Morris
Geo. Clymer
Thos. FitzSimons
Jared Ingersoll
James Wilson
Gouv Morris

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Amendments

The Bill of Rights:

Note: These amendments were ratified December 15, 1791, and form what is known as the "Bill of Rights."

 

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

 

Amendment II

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

 

Amendment III

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

 

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

 

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

 

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

 

Amendment VII

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

 

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

 

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

 

Constitutional Amendments 1-10 make up what is known as The Bill of Rights.
Amendments 11-27 are listed below.

 

AMENDMENT XI

Passed by Congress March 4, 1794. Ratified February 7, 1795.

Note: Article III, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by amendment 11.

The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.

AMENDMENT XII

Passed by Congress December 9, 1803. Ratified June 15, 1804.

Note: A portion of Article II, section 1 of the Constitution was superseded by the 12th amendment.

The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate; -- the President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted; -- The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. [And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. --]* The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.

*Superseded by section 3 of the 20th amendment.

 

AMENDMENT XIII

Passed by Congress January 31, 1865. Ratified December 6, 1865.

Note: A portion of Article IV, section 2, of the Constitution was superseded by the 13th amendment.

Section 1.
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

 

AMENDMENT XIV

Passed by Congress June 13, 1866. Ratified July 9, 1868.

Note: Article I, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of the 14th amendment.

Section 1.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2.
Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age,* and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3.
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4.
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5.
The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

*Changed by section 1 of the 26th amendment.

 

AMENDMENT XV

Passed by Congress February 26, 1869. Ratified February 3, 1870.

Section 1.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude--

Section 2.
The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

 

AMENDMENT XVI

Passed by Congress July 2, 1909. Ratified February 3, 1913.

Note: Article I, section 9, of the Constitution was modified by amendment 16.

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

 

AMENDMENT XVII

Passed by Congress May 13, 1912. Ratified April 8, 1913.

Note: Article I, section 3, of the Constitution was modified by the 17th amendment.

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

 

AMENDMENT XVIII

Passed by Congress December 18, 1917. Ratified January 16, 1919. Repealed by amendment 21.

Section 1.
After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.

Section 2.
The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Section 3.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

 

AMENDMENT XIX

Passed by Congress June 4, 1919. Ratified August 18, 1920.

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

 

AMENDMENT XX

Passed by Congress March 2, 1932. Ratified January 23, 1933.

Note: Article I, section 4, of the Constitution was modified by section 2 of this amendment. In addition, a portion of the 12th amendment was superseded by section 3.

Section 1.
The terms of the President and the Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.

Section 2.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.

Section 3.
If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.

Section 4.
The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.

Section 5.
Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article.

Section 6.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission.

 

AMENDMENT XXI

Passed by Congress February 20, 1933. Ratified December 5, 1933.

Section 1.
The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Section 2.
The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or Possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

Section 3.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

 

AMENDMENT XXII

Passed by Congress March 21, 1947. Ratified February 27, 1951.

Section 1.
No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President when this Article was proposed by Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.

Section 2.
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.

 

AMENDMENT XXIII

Passed by Congress June 16, 1960. Ratified March 29, 1961.

Section 1.
The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as Congress may direct:

A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.

Section 2.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

 

AMENDMENT XXIV

Passed by Congress August 27, 1962. Ratified January 23, 1964.

Section 1.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay poll tax or other tax.

Section 2.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

 

AMENDMENT XXV

Passed by Congress July 6, 1965. Ratified February 10, 1967.

Note: Article II, section 1, of the Constitution was affected by the 25th amendment.

Section 1.
In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

Section 2.
Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

Section 3.
Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

Section 4.
Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

 

AMENDMENT XXVI

Passed by Congress March 23, 1971. Ratified July 1, 1971.

Note: Amendment 14, section 2, of the Constitution was modified by section 1 of the 26th amendment.

Section 1.
The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

Section 2.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

 

AMENDMENT XXVII

Originally proposed Sept. 25, 1789. Ratified May 7, 1992.

No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened.

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VIII. Government and the Economy  

Although the market system in the United States relies on private ownership and decentralized decision-making by households and privately owned businesses, the government does perform important economic functions. The government passes and enforces laws that protect the property rights of individuals and businesses. It restricts economic activities that are considered unfair or socially unacceptable.

In addition, government programs regulate safety in products and in the workplace, provide national defense, and provide public assistance to some members of society coping with economic hardship. There are some products that must be provided to households and firms by the government because they cannot be produced profitably by private firms. For example, the government funds the construction of interstate highways, and operates vaccination programs to maintain public health. Local governments operate public elementary and secondary schools to ensure that as many children as possible will receive an education, even when their parents are unable to afford private schools.

Other kinds of goods and services (such as health care and higher education) are produced and consumed in private markets, but the government attempts to increase the amount of these products available in the economy. For yet other goods and services, the government acts to decrease the amount produced and consumed; these include alcohol, tobacco, and products that create high levels of pollution. These special cases where markets fail to produce the right amount of certain goods and services mean that the government has a large and important role to play in adjusting some production patterns in the U.S. economy. But economists and other analysts have also found special reasons why government policies and programs often fail, too.

At the most basic level, the government makes it possible for markets to function more efficiently by clearly defining and enforcing people’s property or ownership rights to resources and by providing a stable currency and a central banking system (the Federal Reserve System in the U.S. economy). Even these basic functions require a wide range of government programs and employees. For example, the government maintains offices for recording deeds to property, courts to interpret contracts and resolve disputes over property rights, and police and other law enforcement agencies to prevent or punish theft and fraud. The Treasury Department issues currency and coins and handles the government’s revenues and expenditures. And as we have seen, the Federal Reserve System controls the nation’s supply of money and availability of credit. To perform these basic functions, the government must be able to shift resources from private to public uses. It does this mainly through taxes, but also with user fees for some services (such as admission fees to national parks), and by borrowing money when it issues government bonds.

In the U.S. economy, private markets are generally used to allocate basic products such as food, housing, and clothing. Most economists—and most Americans—widely accept that competitive markets perform these functions most efficiently. One role of government is to maintain competition in these markets so that they will continue to operate efficiently. In other areas, however, markets are not allowed to operate because other considerations have been deemed more important than economic efficiency. In these cases, the government has declared certain practices illegal. For example, in the United States people are not free to buy and sell votes in political elections. Instead, the political system is based on the democratic rule of “one person, one vote.” It is also illegal to buy and sell many kinds of drugs. After the Civil War (1861-1865) the Constitution was amended to make slavery illegal, resulting in a major change in the structure of U.S. society and the economy. see Slavery in the United States.

In other cases, the government allows private markets to operate, but regulates them. For example, the government makes laws and regulations concerning product safety. Some of these laws and regulations prohibit the use of highly flammable material in the manufacture of children’s clothing. Other regulations call for government inspection of food products, and still others require extensive government review and approval of potential prescription drugs.

In still other situations, the government determines that private markets result in too much production and consumption of some goods, such as alcohol, tobacco, and products that contribute to environmental pollution. The government is also concerned when markets provide too little of other products, such as vaccinations that prevent contagious diseases. The government can use its spending and taxing authority to change the level of production and consumption of these products, for example, by subsidizing vaccinations.

Even the staunchest supporters of private markets have recognized a role for the government to provide a safety net of support for U.S. citizens. This support includes providing income, housing, food, and medicine for those who cannot provide a basic standard of living for themselves or their families.

Because the federal government has become such a large part of the U.S. economy over the past century, it sometimes tries to reduce levels of unemployment or inflation by changing its overall level of spending and taxes. This is done with an eye to the monetary policies carried out by the Federal Reserve System, which also have an effect on the national rates of inflation, unemployment, and economic growth. The Federal Reserve System itself is chartered by federal legislation, and the president of the United States appoints board members of the Federal Reserve, with the approval of the U.S. Senate. However, the private banks that belong to the system own the Federal Reserve, and its policy and operational decisions are made independently of Congress and the president.

  A. Correcting Market Failures  

The government attempts to adjust the production and consumption of particular goods and services where private markets fail to produce efficient levels of output for those products. The two major examples of these market failures are what economists call public goods and external benefits or costs.

  A.1. Providing Public Goods  

Private markets do not provide some essential goods and services, such as national defense. Because national defense is so important to the nation’s existence, the government steps in and entirely funds and administers this product.

Public goods differ from private goods in two key respects. First, a public good can be used by one person without reducing the amount available for others to use. This is known as shared consumption. An example of a public good that has this characteristic is a spraying or fogging program to kill mosquitoes. The spraying reduces the number of mosquitoes for all of the people who live in an area, not just for one person or family. The opposite occurs in the consumption of private goods. When one person consumes a private good, other people cannot use the product. This is known as rival consumption. A good example of rival consumption is a hamburger. If someone else eats the sandwich, you cannot.

The second key characteristic of public goods is called the nonexclusion principle: It is not possible to prevent people from using a public good, regardless of whether they have paid for it. For example, a visitor to a town who does not pay taxes in that community will still benefit from the town’s mosquito-spraying program. With private goods, like a hamburger, when you pay for the hamburger, you get to eat it or decide who does. Someone who does not pay does not get the hamburger.

Because many people can benefit from the same pubic goods and share in their consumption, and because those who do not pay for these goods still get to use them, it is usually impossible to produce these goods in private markets. Or at least it is impossible to produce enough in private markets to reach the efficient level of output. That happens because some people will try to consume the goods without paying for them, and get a free ride from those who do pay. As a result, the government must usually take over the decision about how much of these products to produce. In some cases, the government actually produces the good; in other cases it pays private firms to make these products.

The classic example of a public good is national defense. It is not a rival consumption product, since protecting one person from an invading army or missile attack does not reduce the amount of protection provided to others in the country. The nonexclusion principle also applies to national defense. It is not possible to protect only the people who pay for national defense while letting bombs or bullets hit those who do not pay. Instead, the government imposes broad-based taxes to pay for national defense and other public goods.

  A.2. Adjusting for External Costs or Benefits  

There are some private markets in which goods and services are produced, but too much or too little is produced. Whether too much or too little is produced depends on whether the problem is one of external costs or external benefits. In either case, the government can try to correct these market failures, to get the right amount of the good or service produced.

External costs occur when not all of the costs involved in the production or consumption of a product are paid by the producers and consumers of that product. Instead, some of the costs shift to others. One example is drunken driving. The consumption of too much alcohol can result in traffic accidents that hurt or kill people who are neither producers nor consumers of alcoholic products. Another example is pollution. If a factory dumps some of its wastes in a river, then people and businesses downstream will have to pay to clean up the water or they may become ill from using the water.

When people other than producers and consumers pay some of the costs of producing or consuming a product, those external costs have no effect on the product’s market price or production level. As a result, too much of the product is produced considering the overall social costs. To correct this situation, the government may tax or fine the producers or consumers of such products to force them to cover these external costs. If that can be done correctly, less of the product will be produced and consumed.

An external benefit occurs when people other than producers and consumers enjoy some of the benefits of the production and consumption of the product. One example of this situation is vaccinations against contagious diseases. The company that sells the vaccine and the individuals who receive the vaccine are better off, but so are other people who are less likely to be infected by those who have received the vaccine. Many people also argue that education provides external benefits to the nation as a whole, in the form of lower unemployment, poverty, and crime rates, and by providing more equality of opportunity to all families.

When people other than the producers and consumers receive some of the benefits of producing or consuming a product, those external benefits are not reflected in the market price and production cost of the product. Because producers do not receive higher sales or profits based on these external benefits, their production and price levels will be too low–based only on those who buy and consume their product. To correct this, the government may subsidize producers or consumers of these products and thus encourage more production.

  B. Maintaining Competition  

Competitive markets are efficient ways to allocate goods and services while maintaining freedom of choice for consumers, workers, and entrepreneurs. If markets are not competitive, however, much of that freedom and efficiency can be lost. One threat to competition in the market is a firm with monopoly power. Monopoly power occurs when one producer, or a small group of producers, controls a large part of the production of some product. If there are no competitors in the market, a monopoly can artificially drive up the price for its products, which means that consumers will pay more for these products and buy less of them. One of the most famous cases of monopoly power in U.S. history was the Standard Oil Company, owned by U.S. industrialist John D. Rockefeller. Rockefeller bought out most of his business rivals and by 1878 controlled 90 percent of the petroleum refineries in the United States.

Largely in reaction to the business practices of Standard Oil and other trusts or monopolistic firms, the United States passed laws limiting monopolies. Since 1890, when the Sherman Antitrust Act was passed, the federal government has attempted to prevent firms from acquiring monopoly power or from working together to set prices and limit competition in other ways. A number of later antitrust laws were passed to extend the government’s power to promote and maintain competition in the U.S. economy. Some states have passed their own versions of some of these laws.

The government does allow what economists call natural monopolies. However, the government then regulates those businesses to protect consumers from high prices and poor service, and often limits the profits these firms can earn. The classic examples of natural monopolies are local services provided by public utilities. Economies of scale make it inefficient to have even two companies distributing electricity, gas, water, or local telephone service to consumers. It would be very expensive to have even two sets of electric and telephone wires, and two sets of water, gas, and sewer pipes going to every house. That is why firms that provide these services are called natural monopolies.

There have been some famous antitrust cases in which large companies were broken up into smaller firms. One such example is the breakup of American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) in 1982, which led to the formation of a number of long-distance and regional telephone companies. Other examples include a ruling in 1911 by the Supreme Court of the United States, which broke the Standard Oil Trust into a number of smaller oil companies and ordered a similar breakup of the American Tobacco Company.

Some government policies intentionally reduce competition, at least for some period of time. For example, patents on new products and copyrights on books and movies give one producer the exclusive right to sell or license the distribution of a product for 17 or more years. These exclusive rights provide the incentive for firms and individuals to spend the time and money required to develop new products. They know that no one else will copy and sell their product when it is introduced into the marketplace, so it pays to devote more resources to developing these new products.

The benefits of certain other government policies that reduce competition are not always this clear, however. More controversial examples include policies that restrict the number of taxicabs in a large city or that limit the number of companies providing cable television services in a community. It is much less expensive for cable companies to install and operate a cable television system than it is for large utilities, such as the electric and telephone companies, to install the infrastructure they need to provide services. Therefore, it is often more feasible to have two or more cable companies in reasonably large cities. There are also more substitutes for cable television, such as satellite dish systems and broadcast television. But despite these differences, many cities auction off cable television rights to a single company because the city receives more revenue that way. Such a policy results in local monopolies for cable television, even in areas where more competition might well be possible and more efficient.

Establishing government policies that efficiently regulate markets is difficult to do. Policies must often balance the benefits of having more firms competing in an industry against the possible gains from allowing a smaller number of firms to compete when those firms can achieve economies of scale. The government must try to weigh the benefits of such regulations against the advantages offered by more competitive, less regulated markets.

  C. Promoting Full Employment and Price Stability  

In addition to the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve System, the federal government can also use its taxing and spending policies, or fiscal policies, to counteract inflation or the cyclical unemployment that results from too much or too little total spending in the economy. Specifically, if inflation is too high because consumers, businesses, and the government are trying to buy more goods and services than it is possible to produce at that time, the government can reduce total spending in the economy by reducing its own spending. Or the government can raise taxes on households and businesses to reduce the amount of money the private sector spends. Either of these fiscal policies will help reduce inflation. Conversely, if inflation is low but unemployment rates are too high, the government can increase its spending or reduce taxes on households and businesses. These policies increase total spending in the economy, encouraging more production and employment.

Some government spending and tax policies work in ways that automatically stabilize the economy. For example, if the economy is moving into a recession, with falling prices and higher unemployment, income taxes paid by individuals and businesses will automatically fall, while spending for unemployment compensation and other kinds of assistance programs to low-income families will automatically rise. Just the opposite happens as the economy recovers and unemployment falls—income taxes rise and government spending for unemployment benefits falls. In both cases, tax programs and government-spending programs change automatically and help offset changes in nongovernment employment and spending.

In some cases, the federal government uses discretionary fiscal policies in addition to automatic stabilization policies. Discretionary fiscal policies encompass those changes in government spending and taxation that are made as a result of deliberations by the legislative and executive branches of government. Like the automatic stabilization policies, discretionary fiscal policy can reduce unemployment by increasing government spending or reducing taxes to encourage the creation of new jobs. Conversely, it can reduce inflation by decreasing government spending and raising taxes.

In general, the federal government tries to consider the condition of the national economy in its annual budgeting deliberations. However, discretionary spending is difficult to put into practice unless the nation is in a particularly severe episode of unemployment or inflation. In such periods, the severity of the situation builds more consensus about what should be done, and makes it more likely that the problem will still be there to deal with by the time the changes in government spending or tax programs take effect. But in general, it takes time for discretionary fiscal policy to work effectively, because the economic problem to be addressed must first be recognized, then agreement must be reached about how to change spending and tax levels. After that, it takes more time for the changes in spending or taxes to have an effect on the economy.

When there is only moderate inflation or unemployment, it becomes harder to reach agreement about the need for the government to change spending or taxes. Part of the problem is this: In order to increase or decrease the overall level of government spending or taxes, specific expenditures or taxes have to be increased or decreased, meaning that specific programs and voters are directly affected. Choosing which programs and voters to help or hurt often becomes a highly controversial political issue.

Because discretionary fiscal policies affect the government’s annual deficit or surplus, as well as the national debt, they can often be controversial and politically sensitive. For these reasons, at the close of the 20th century, which experienced years with normal levels of unemployment and inflation, there was more reliance on monetary policies, rather than on discretionary fiscal policies to try to stabilize the national economy. There have been, however, some famous episodes of changing federal spending and tax policies to reduce unemployment and fight inflation in the U.S. economy during the past 40 years. In the early 1980s, the administration of U.S. president Ronald Reagan cut taxes. Other notable tax cuts occurred during the administrations of U.S. presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson in 1963 and 1964.

  D. Limitations of Government Programs  

Government economic programs are not always successful in correcting market failures. Just as markets fail to produce the right amount of certain kinds of goods and services, the government will often spend too much on some programs and too little on others for a number of reasons. One is simply that the government is expected to deal with some of the most difficult problems facing the economy, taking over where markets fail because consumers or producers are not providing clear signals about what they want. This lack of clear signals also makes it difficult for the government to determine a policy that will correct the problem.

Political influences, rather than purely economic factors, often play a major role in inefficient government policies. Elected officials generally try to respond to the wishes of the voting public when making decisions that affect the economy. However, many citizens choose not to vote at all, so it is not clear how good the political signals are that elected officials have to work with. In addition, most voters are not well informed on complicated matters of economic policy.

For example, the federal government’s budget director David Stockman and other officials in the administration of President Reagan proposed cuts in income tax rates. Congress adopted the cuts in 1981 and 1984 as a way to reduce unemployment and make the economy grow so much that tax revenues would actually end up rising, not falling. Most economists and many politicians did not believe that would happen, but the tax cuts were politically popular.

In fact, the tax cuts resulted in very large budget deficits because the government did not collect enough taxes to cover its expenditures. The government had to borrow money, and the national debt grew very rapidly for many years. As the government borrowed large sums of money, the increased demand caused interest rates to rise. The higher interest rates made it more expensive for U.S. firms to invest in capital goods, and increased the demand for dollars on foreign exchange markets as foreigners bought U.S. bonds paying higher interest rates. That caused the value of the dollar to rise, compared with other nations’ currencies, and as a result U.S. exports became more expensive for foreigners to buy. When that happened in the mid-1980s, most U.S. companies that exported goods and services faced very difficult times.

In addition, whenever resources are allocated through the political process, the problem of special interest groups looms large. Many policies, such as tariffs or quotas on imported goods, create very large benefits for a small group of people and firms, while the costs are spread out across a large number of people. That gives those who receive the benefits strong reasons to lobby for the policy, while those who each pay a small part of the cost are unlikely to oppose it actively. This situation can occur even if the overall costs of the program greatly exceed its overall benefits.

For instance, the United States limits sugar imports. The resulting higher U.S. price for sugar greatly benefits farmers who grow sugarcane and sugar beets in the United States. U.S. corn farmers also benefit because the higher price for sugar increases demand for corn-based sweeteners that substitute for sugar. Companies in the United States that refine sugar and corn sweeteners also benefit. But candy and beverage companies that use sweeteners pay higher prices, which they pass on to millions of consumers who buy their products. However, these higher prices are spread across so many consumers that the increased cost for any one is very small. It therefore does not pay a consumer to spend much time, money, or effort to oppose the import barriers.

For sugar growers and refiners, of course, the higher price of sugar and the greater quantity of sugar they can produce and sell makes the import barriers something they value greatly. It is clearly in their interest to hire lobbyists and write letters to elected officials supporting these programs. When these officials hear from the people who benefit from the policies, but not from those who bear the costs, they may well decide to vote for the import restrictions. This can happen despite the fact that many studies indicate the total costs to consumers and the U.S. economy for these programs are much higher than the benefits received by sugar producers.

Special interest groups and issues are facts of life in the political arena. One striking way to see that is to drive around the U.S. national capital, Washington D.C., or a state capital and notice the number of lobbying groups that have large offices near the capitol building. Or simply look at the list of trade and professional associations in the yellow pages for those cities. These lobbying groups are important and useful to the political process in many ways. They provide information on issues and legislation affecting their interests. But these special interest groups also favor legislation that often benefits their members at the expense of the overall public welfare.

  E. The Scope of Government in the U.S. Economy  

The size of the government sector in the U.S. economy increased dramatically during the 20th century. Federal revenues totaled less than 5 percent of total GDP in the early 1930s. In 1995 they made up 22 percent. State, county, and local government revenues represent an additional 15 percent of GDP.

Although overall government revenues and spending are somewhat lower in the United States than they are in many other industrialized market economies, it is still important to consider why the size of government has increased so rapidly during the 20th century. The general answer is that the citizens of the United States have elected representatives who have voted to increase government spending on a variety of programs and to approve the taxes required to pay for these programs.

Actually, government spending has increased since the 1930s for a number of specific reasons. First, the different branches of government began to provide services that improved the economic security of individuals and families. These services include Social Security and Medicare for the elderly, as well as health care, food stamps, and subsidized housing programs for low-income families. In addition, new technology increased the cost of some government services; for example, sophisticated new weapons boosted the cost of national defense. As the economy grew, so did demand for the government to provide more and better transportation services, such as super highways and modern airports. As the population increased and became more prosperous, demand grew for government-financed universities, museums, parks, and arts programs. In other words, as incomes rose in the United States, people became more willing to be taxed to support more of the kinds of programs that government agencies provide.

Social changes have also contributed to the growing role of government. As the structure of U.S. families changed, the government has increasingly taken over services that were once provided mainly by families. For instance, in past times, families provided housing and health care for their elderly. Today, extended families with several generations living together are rare, partly because workers move more often than they did in the past to take new jobs. Also the elderly live longer today than they once did, and often require much more sophisticated and expensive forms of medical care. Furthermore, once the government began to provide more services, people began to look to the government for more support, forming special interest groups to push their demands.

Some people and groups in the United States favor further expansion of government programs, while others favor sharp reductions in the current size and scope of government. Reliance on a market system implies a limited role for government and identifies fairly specific kinds of things for the government to do in the economy. Private households and businesses are expected to make most economic decisions. It is also true that if taxes and other government revenues take too large a share of personal income, incentives to work, save, and invest are diminished, which hurts the overall performance of the economy. But these general principles do not establish precise guidelines on how large or small a role the government should play in a market economy. Judging the effectiveness of any current or proposed government program requires a careful analysis of the additional benefits and costs of the program. And ultimately, of course, the size of government is something that U.S. citizens decide through democratic elections.

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Political Parties

VIII. Election Process and Political Parties  

Elections are a fundamental part of the American system of government, which was founded on the principle that the power to govern resides in the people. Elections provide the means by which the American people delegate this power to elected representatives. By voting for government officials, the public makes choices about the policies, programs, and future directions of government action. At the same time, elections make government officials accountable to their constituents. Elected officials must conduct themselves in a responsible manner and take into account popular interests and the wishes of those they represent. Otherwise they risk being voted out of office. This system depends primarily on the voters. The electoral process can only work if people participate.

  A. Responsibility for Elections  

In the United States, elections are held at regular intervals. National presidential elections take place every four years. Congressional elections occur every two years, and state and local elections usually coincide with national elections. In addition to elections for office, many state and local ballots include referendums and initiatives, which allow the people to directly determine a government policy.

State and local governments are largely responsible for organizing elections. State, county, and municipal election boards administer elections. These boards establish and staff polling places and verify the eligibility of individuals who come to vote. State laws specify the qualifications of candidates and how elections are to be administered, including registration procedures, the location of polling places, and even the kind of ballots used.

More importantly, states also determine the boundaries for congressional and state legislative districts. In the past, because many legislative districts were drawn based on area and not on population, regions with small populations had substantially more representation per person than did regions with large populations. Thus in the allocation of seats in the state legislature, rural districts were overrepresented in relation to their population. For example, in Vermont in the 1960s, the small town of Stratton, with a population of 38, had the same number of representatives in the state legislature as Burlington, with 40,000 residents. The U.S. Supreme Court in a series of decisions beginning in 1962 mandated that each elected official must represent roughly the same number of people.

Many people also debate whether the state legislatures should be allowed to gerrymander, or draw legislative lines to favor a special interest. In the early 19th century, to further his own and his party’s interests, Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry encouraged the legislature to design a district so as to contain as many of his party’s opponents as possible. By doing this he hoped that his party would lose that district by a large majority but would then be able to win all the other districts by small majorities. The district Gerry created was so convoluted that it was described as being shaped like a salamander, and it is from this that the term “gerrymander” derives.

Gerrymandering has also occurred on racial lines, both to prevent and to ensure minority representation in government. After the Voting Act of 1965 made it possible for blacks to vote, racial gerrymandering that favored whites was instituted to prevent blacks from being adequately represented. In recent years, however, gerrymandering has been used to facilitate the election of members of minority groups, such as blacks or Hispanics, by creating a district in which such a group holds the majority. This process—sometimes called “loading a district”—has been used by some legislatures such as that of North Carolina to attempt to assure the election of a black representative. The intent of such districts is to adequately represent the diversity of the United States population in Congress. Opponents of this process claim that such procedures are unfair, that they create resentment against blacks and other minority groups, and that they produce racial segregation. Whatever the outcome, it is clear that the states’ ability to set legislative and congressional boundaries is a powerful tool in the determination of public policy.

  B. Political Parties  

Political parties are the most representative, inclusive organizations in the United States. They are made up of citizens who may differ in race, religion, age, and economic and social background, but who share certain perspectives on public issues and leaders. Parties are the engines that drive the machinery of elections: They recruit candidates for office, organize primary elections so that party members can select their candidates for the general election, and support their candidates who reach the general election. Parties also write platforms, which state the direction that party members want the government to take. Parties have traditionally played a crucial role in educating Americans about issues and in getting out the vote.

For most of America’s history, a competitive two-party system has prevailed, and third parties have been the exception. This is a result of the U.S. electoral system in which the winner takes all. Since there is no proportional representation, losers get nothing. Thus a vote for a third party is usually a lost vote.

Originally the Founders opposed political parties, believing them to be factions intent on manipulating the independent will of voters. But by the early 19th century political parties had become the most important political organizations in the United States. They made certain that their members got to the polls. They also organized members of Congress into stable voting blocs based on party affiliation. These blocs united the legislators and helped the president create a party alliance between the executive and legislative branches. Since the mid-1850s, when the Republican Party was formed, the two major parties in the United States have been the Republican and the Democratic parties. The Democratic Party traces its beginnings to the Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans.

In the 19th century, political parties were powerful enough that they could often motivate voting turnouts of over 80 percent. Today, parties are less important. Slightly more than one-third of all Americans call themselves independents with no party affiliation, and voting in presidential contests—which traditionally have the highest turnout—has declined to 50 percent. At the same time, the platforms of the two major parties have shifted towards vague, moderate positions in order to appeal to the largest number of voters. As a result, the major parties may appear so similar that many voters lose interest.

  C. Role of the Media in the Electoral Process  

The media, especially television, have played a role in the increasing cost of campaigns because candidates spend a large amount of money on advertising. Today individual candidates spend more money on media advertising than ever before. In 1860 the Republicans spent only $100,000 on Abraham Lincoln’s presidential campaign and on those of all Republican House and Senate candidates. In 1988 Republican candidate George Bush spent $70 million, just on the presidential race. During the 1998 elections, a 60-second spot on prime-time television cost as much as $100,000 every time it ran. As a result, campaigns have become more expensive, forcing candidates to concentrate more on fund-raising and less on presenting issues to voters.

The media have also played a role in the declining importance of political parties because the media permit candidates to present themselves to the electorate without any aid from their political parties. Candidates running for office use the media to gain popularity. By appealing to the public through the media, candidates erode the authority of political parties. National party conventions, which officially nominate candidates for president and vice president, used to be exciting meetings where the party leaders decided who would receive the nomination. Today presidential hopefuls have become independent political entrepreneurs who go to the people rather than to party leaders. Although candidates still rely on parties for campaign money to a certain extent, the power of the media has focused attention much more on individual candidates rather than on the parties they represent. This has made personal campaign organizations more efficient moneymaking tools than the national parties. This individualism tends to undermine loyalty to the powerful and historically significant institution of political parties, which many now believe to be a broken branch of government.

  D. Current Trends and Issues  

Democrats and Republicans face significant challenges in the future. Traditional means of campaigning have been changed drastically by technology and by increasing media coverage. Politicians spend less time on grassroots campaigning, such as visiting neighborhoods. Instead they employ several elements to enhance their chances of election; some of these elements were unheard of as recently as the 1950s. These include short television advertisements that cost as much as $100,000 for a minute, polls, direct mail, and political consultants who offer advice on how to shape a campaign.

Parties need to rethink how they can use a system that depends on professional public relations firms rather than on party leaders, and on direct mail advertising rather than grassroots party workers. Furthermore, party leaders need to consider how they can prevent campaigns from deteriorating into mudslinging: negative advertising about what an opponent has done wrong, rather than a presentation of what a candidate will do right. Meanwhile proposed policies have been reduced to slogans, as the brevity of television spots has limited viewers’ abilities to make choices based on information. Because they see little difference among candidates, voters often fail to cast a ballot, and election turnouts have declined.

Modern campaigns are expensive propositions, and Americans are increasingly dissatisfied with the way they are financed. Politicians depend on huge campaign contributions from corporations and powerful special interest groups. One answer to this problem is to rely entirely on public financing. Another is to limit the amount that any candidate can spend on a campaign, rather than control the amount that any individual or group can give. Yet in 1976 in the case of Buckley v. Valeo, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress cannot limit campaign spending because spending money on politics is a form of constitutionally protected free speech. Today there are no limits on how much money a candidate or party can spend, and no limits on how much a wealthy candidate can donate to his or her own campaign.

There are, however, limits on some kinds of contributions. For instance, $2,000 is the most any individual can give to any one candidate in any single election. A limit of $5,000 is placed on the amount that can be given to a political action committee, which then redistributes the funds to various candidates. The top amount that can be given to a national party committee in a federal election is $25,000.

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Branches

In 1787 leaders of the states gathered to write the Constitution-a set of principles that told how the new nation would be governed.

The leaders of the states wanted a strong and fair national government. But they also wanted to protect individual freedoms and prevent the government from abusing its power. They believed they could do this by having three separate branches of government: the executive, the legislative and the judicial. This separation is described in the first three articles, or sections, of the Constitution.

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Executive

The president and vice president are the only officials elected by all citizens of the United States; both serve four-year terms. Although the president shares power with Congress and the judiciary, he or she is the most powerful and important officeholder in the country. The president has no vote in Congress but proposes much of the legislation that becomes law. As the principal maker of foreign policy, the president of the United States has become one of the world’s most important leaders in international affairs.

  A. Background  

At first, the Founders were uncertain about the kind of executive power they desired for the United States. In 1787 they debated at length about how to choose a president and how much authority to give such a person. The drafters of the Constitution gave the president fewer specific powers than they extended to Congress because they were worried about placing too much power in the hands of one individual. The Founders then created an electoral college as the means of selecting the executive of their new country.

The electoral college is composed of presidential electors representing each state. The number of electors per state is equal to the sum of the state’s senators and representatives in Congress. The Founders intended these electors, chosen as each state thought best, to meet and vote according to their individual preferences. This process excluded the influence of Congress as well as that of voters, who in these early days of the United States were not believed to be competent to choose a president.

This system depended on states to determine how electors would be chosen, an arrangement that removed the choice of the president from the direct vote of the people. Even today Americans do not vote directly for a presidential candidate. Instead, if a presidential candidate receives a majority of the state’s popular vote, a slate of electors pledges to cast all that state’s electoral votes for that candidate. Two exceptions are Maine and Nebraska, where electoral votes can be divided among candidates depending on the proportion of votes the candidates received.

Such a process makes some Americans fear the possibility of a presidential candidate winning the popular vote and losing the electoral vote. Since the system works mostly on a winner-take-all basis, the electoral vote of most states is always unanimous, but the popular vote may be very close. It is possible for a candidate to garner a majority of the popular vote but then, by losing certain key states with large numbers of electoral votes, to fail to win a majority in the electoral college. In 1888, for example, Democrat Grover Cleveland received 5,540,000 votes to Republican Benjamin Harrison’s 5,444,000 but lost the electoral college 233 to 168. More recently, in 2000, Democrat Al Gore won 50,994,082 votes to 50,461,080 for Republican George W. Bush, but Bush won the presidency by capturing 271 electoral votes to Gore’s 266 (see Disputed Presidential Election of 2000).

Of the three branches of government, the presidency has changed the most in the last 200 years. At first, presidents mostly served as administrators carrying out the laws passed by Congress. But in time they have come to stand at the center of the national government. In fact, presidential power had increased so much by the middle of the 20th century that in 1951 the states ratified the 22nd Amendment, which limited the presidency to two terms.

  B. Responsibilities of the President  

In the United States today, the chief executive has many responsibilities. The president appoints personnel—including ambassadors, White House staff, and members of various boards and commissions—to more than 3,000 positions; oversees the many components of the executive branch of government; and proposes legislation to Congress—including the yearly federal budget. The president also directs foreign policy, commands the armed forces, negotiates and signs treaties, and serves as a symbol of the nation and a head of state with ceremonial duties.

  B.1. Executive Agencies  

The increasing power of modern presidents does not violate the Constitution by encroaching on the other branches of government. Rather, executive authority has expanded because of the loosely defined nature of the president’s powers in the Constitution. In Article II of the Constitution, the president is charged with seeing that “the Laws be faithfully executed.” It would be difficult for one individual to oversee all aspects of a modern industrialized society like that of the United States. Thus the executive branch has established a large number of agencies that carry out some of the executive functions of the government. Many full-time government employees participate in defining, regulating, and carrying out the various functions of the executive branch.

There are 15 departments of the executive branch. The heads of these departments, called secretaries, make up the Cabinet, a body that advises the president on matters of policy and government administration. There are also more than 140 executive agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the National Labor Relations Board, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the United States Postal Service.

The difference between departments and executive agencies is both historical and functional. Departments, many of which were created in the 19th century, are authorized by Congress; their chiefs sit in the Cabinet, and they often deal with large policy issues. Executive agencies, on the other hand, are usually designed to carry out specific tasks. Most executive agencies are contained within departments, as one part of a larger organization. For example, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is an agency within the Department of the Treasury that fulfills the highly specialized function of regulating taxation. However, a few executive agencies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), are independent.

Executive agencies have expanded in the 20th century to keep pace with a changing society and its growing needs. Large programs, such as Social Security, have grown to require more government workers to administer them. National security needs have also grown as the United States has taken a more active role in the world. The CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA) were created to protect Americans and maintain the security of the United States.

Many executive agencies establish safety standards. For instance, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, issued rules in 1998 requiring drug companies to conduct wider testing of drugs in order to have more precise information about the use of medications on children. While drug companies challenged these regulations as burdensome, consumer and parent groups praised them as important safeguards.

Americans sometimes complain about the size of the federal government and especially that of the executive branch, which employs 98 percent of all national government personnel. This impression, however, should be measured against the growth of the American work force and the increases in state and local bureaucracies. In 1998 nearly 4.2 million people worked for the executive branch: 1.4 million were uniformed military employees and 2.7 million were civilians. However, the proportion of federal workers to the total American work force has not increased since 1950 and in fact has been declining since the 1980s. It has also declined relative to the number of local public employees, suggesting that although the number of federal employees is large, if measured against the general population, its growth has not been disproportionate.

  B.2. Foreign Policy  

In addition to authority as head of the many executive departments and agencies, the president also has primary responsibility for making foreign policy. The Constitution established the president as commander of the armed forces and gave the president the authority to make treaties “with the Advice and Consent” of Congress. As a result, both Congress and the courts have generally supported energetic presidential action in the area of foreign policy. The president has the power to recognize new governments, to attend summit meetings with the heads of other nations, and to make executive agreements with foreign governments. Executive agreements have the force of law, but unlike treaties, they do not require congressional approval. Most Americans consider it in their best interests to allow the president some freedom of action in foreign affairs, recognizing that the president may be required to respond quickly to international challenges.

In conducting foreign policy, the president is helped by professionals at the State and Defense departments, by the National Security Council, by foreign affairs advisers in the White House, and by experts in the NSA and the CIA. In fact, one of the reasons that the president has dominated the direction of foreign policy in the late 20th and early 21st centuries has been this access to intelligence information, which allows the president to make rapid and informed decisions. Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, however, a crisis of confidence in U.S. intelligence agencies led to the creation in 2004 of a director of national intelligence to oversee the work of the CIA, the NSA, and other intelligence agencies. The crisis resulted after the CIA had assured the president that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. Following the invasion, however, no such weapons or programs to develop them were found.

  C. Limitations on Presidential Power  

Despite their wide-ranging authority, presidents have limits on their power. While the Supreme Court, the media, and public opinion can affect presidential actions, Congress has the greatest ability to limit the president’s power. Congress can check presidential power by refusing to appropriate funds for a presidential initiative, whether domestic or international. It can also refuse to confirm presidential appointees, such as ambassadors or Supreme Court justices. And ultimately only Congress can write and pass the laws that the executive branch is constitutionally obligated to implement.

  D. Current Trends and Issues  

It has always been necessary for presidents to work with Congress, but in the second half of the 20th century, relations between the two have often been strained and divided by political-party affiliation. Until after World War II (1939-1945) most presidents worked with a government in which their political party also controlled the House and Senate, making relations smoother. But since 1952 presidents have often confronted a Congress where the opposition party has a majority in at least one House. Such circumstances have limited the effectiveness of presidential leadership.

In an age when presidents initiate more legislation and relations with Congress are often chilly, the chief executive’s public image and persuasive abilities have become more important. Because the one voice of the president commands attention in a way that the 535 voices of Congress cannot, the president often uses public opinion to gain support for his or her agenda. Presidents distribute news releases, give favored reporters and journalists anonymous news leaks, and send their advisers to talk on news shows. Increasingly in the 20th century the voice of the people has come to be heard in sophisticated polls and interviews conducted by the media, which in turn influence the way that presidents respond to specific issues.

The presidency also needs to find a way to deal more effectively with the large numbers of administrative agencies that exert influence over legislative policies. Over the years, Congress has given broad authority over certain public issues to regulatory agencies. In turn, these agencies make regulations that frequently affect the way laws are carried out. These regulations have the force of law, though there is no review of them. Often, administrative orders read like acts of Congress or executive orders, despite the fact that no elected official had anything to do with them. Sometimes these regulatory agencies have better relationships with Congress than with a president who may not agree with their policies. This closeness diminishes the authority of the president over the bureaucracy.

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Legislative

Congress is the legislative branch of the government of the United States. The Constitution divides Congress into two structures—a House of Representatives and a Senate. These structures are jointly assigned “all legislative powers” in the national government.

The Founders expected Congress to be the dominant branch of the national government. In the early 1800s, James Monroe, the fifth U.S. president, said, “The whole system of national government may be said to rest essentially in powers granted to [the legislative] branch.” In fact, Congress was the center of government until the power of the presidency began to increase in the 20th century. However, from the start the Founders also felt that it was important to retain some control over the powers of Congress. As a result, the Constitution specifically enumerates ten things, some no longer relevant, that Congress may not do. Among other prohibitions, Congress cannot imprison people without due process of law, except in emergencies; Congress cannot pass laws that retroactively make a crime of what was legal when committed; and Congress cannot tax interstate commerce. In addition, the Bill of Rights forbids Congress from abridging rights held by individuals.

  A. Structure of the House  

The House of Representatives is made up of 435 representatives—the number per state varies by population—elected every two years. Demonstrating the growth of the United States, today’s congresspersons represent more than 20 times the number of constituents as their predecessors did in the late 18th century. Today there is one representative for approximately every 621,000 residents, a much larger figure than the 30,000 residents the Constitution originally required for a congressional district. The framers of the Constitution intended that the congressional districts, which are usually substantially smaller units of representation than a state, would assure that all interests in the nation would be adequately represented. Thus these units reflect the geographic, social, and economic diversity of the American people.

The internal organization of the House is based on a system of committees and subcommittees. All representatives serve on several committees, and these committees consider all legislation before it is presented to the House as a whole. The committees work to transform ideas into detailed, complex bills.

The most important House committees are the Rules Committee, which decides when and for how long every bill will be debated and whether or not it can be amended; the Ways and Means Committee, which studies the president’s budget proposals and demands that administrative agencies justify their requests for money; and the Appropriations Committee, which allots money from the federal budget to support approved measures. Frequently the jurisdictions of committees and subcommittees overlap so that several subcommittees might examine a bill before it is voted on. For example, a single energy bill may be considered by the subcommittees on public works and transportation; science, space, and technology; and energy and commerce.

Because the committee process is very important, committee chairmen and chairwomen are some of the most powerful people in the House. In the past, committee chairs could prevent legislation supported by a majority from reaching the floor of the House. Chairs could either refuse to let a bill out of the committee or they could allot very little or no time for the committee to consider a bill. While committee chairs still retain some powers that regular committee members do not have—such as controlling when bills will be taken up and the hiring of committee staff—committee members are more likely to challenge chairs’ rulings. Until the 1970s representatives obtained committee chair positions through seniority—how many terms they had served. When the committees’ seniority rules were dismantled, committee members gained more freedom. Now committee chairs are elected by party caucuses.

Party caucuses (or conferences, as they are called by Republicans) are made up of all the House members of a party. At the beginning of each session of Congress, each caucus meets to select its officers and its nominees for House leadership positions. Caucuses also occasionally meet during a session to discuss the policies of the party and significant legislation. Caucuses can have significant influence on lawmaking, as the choice of a committee chairperson sympathetic to a certain piece of legislation often changes the fate of a particular bill.

The most powerful individual in the House is the Speaker of the House, who presides over the chamber, refers bills to committees, appoints representatives to special committees, and grants representatives the right to speak during chamber debates. The Speaker of the House is elected by the entire body and is always a member of the party with a majority of seats in the House. Other important posts in the House are the majority and minority floor leaders and their assistants, called whips. The floor leaders and whips are influential members whose function is to try to have representatives vote the way their political party suggests on key issues. Each party chooses its own floor leader and whips.

  B. Structure of the Senate  

The Senate is composed of 100 members—two each from the 50 states—who serve six-year terms. The procedures and workings of the Senate are similar to those of the House, though because of its smaller membership there are fewer committees and subcommittees. The most important committees of the Senate are the Appropriations, Budget, Finance, Foreign Relations, and Judiciary committees.

The Founders designed the Senate to be a deliberative national body, more stable and insulated from popular sentiment than the House. That is why senators serve six-year terms (as opposed to the two-year terms of the House) and why, until the passage of the 17th Amendment in 1913, senators were elected by the state legislatures rather than directly by the people. The Founders also designed the Senate to protect the interests of the states, especially states with small populations, by giving each state the same number of representatives in the Senate. In the House, states with larger populations have more representatives. In addition, unlike the House, the Senate does not limit the amount of debate on any bill or for any one senator. This privilege allows Senators to filibuster, or make unlimited speeches, to block action on a bill or to delay a vote for an extended period of time. A filibuster can be ended only through a vote of 60 senators.

The vice president of the United States serves as the president of the Senate. One of the few designated duties of the vice president is to break tie votes in the Senate. However, because the vice president has such a limited role in the Senate, he or she rarely attends its sessions. The Senate selects a president pro tempore (temporary president), who is usually the senior senator of the majority party. He or she supervises the Senate most of the time.

Besides the vice president, the leadership in the Senate consists of majority and minority leaders, who schedule bills for consideration, and whips, who gather information about their colleagues’ views on specific bills. The policy committee, which advises the Senate leadership on legislative priorities, is also influential in the workings of the Senate.

  C. Responsibilities of Congress  

Congress has many powers and responsibilities. The most important of these is lawmaking. Lawmaking is a long and complicated process, and takes up a large portion of representatives’ and senators’ time. Only a small percentage of the bills introduced to Congress actually become law.

  C.1. The Legislative Process  

The legislative process begins when a member of Congress introduces a bill—a proposed law—to the House or the Senate. When a bill is introduced in one of the houses of Congress, it is assigned a number and forwarded to an appropriate legislative committee. The committee decides whether a need exists for such legislation and whether the bill fits the need. The committee discusses the bill and may conduct hearings or consult outside experts. After considering the bill, the committee may approve or amend it and pass it on to the full House or Senate. If the committee fails to approve the bill or votes to take no action on it, the bill dies. The majority of bills that are introduced to Congress die in committee.

If the committee approves the bill, it is placed on the calendar of the house where it was introduced and debated according to the rules of that chamber. During the debate, amendments may be suggested and voted on. After the debate, a vote is taken. If a majority votes for the bill, it then goes to the other house of Congress, where it is considered under the same basic procedures.

If both houses pass the bill in the same form, it is submitted to the president, who may either sign or veto it. Usually, however, Senate and House bills differ somewhat because of amendments added by either chamber. In this case a conference committee made up of both senators and representatives settles the differences. The revised bill is then sent back to the House and the Senate. If both houses approve it, the bill is sent to the president.

If the president signs the bill, it becomes law. If the president vetoes it, it can become law only if both houses of Congress again pass it—this time by a two-thirds majority. Any bill that has not been passed by the end of each session of Congress is considered dead and must be reintroduced in the next Congress.

  C.2. Other Responsibilities  

In addition to its sole power over lawmaking, Congress has the authority to initiate bills to fund federal programs, to set tariffs and taxes, to provide for the national defense (including funding for things such as fortifications and defensive weaponry), to control immigration, to establish post offices, to raise and support a military force, and to declare war. Congress can also impeach (see impeachment) and remove federal officials, including the president, from office.

Congress is also responsible for congressional investigations. Congress has the authority to investigate and oversee the executive branch and its agencies, such as the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice. As part of this responsibility, which is known as oversight, Congress can summon senior officials to answer questions, can order audits of agencies, and can hold hearings to air grievances of citizens. Congress can also hold hearings on matters of general public concern. Sometimes members of Congress conduct these hearings to identify problems that create a need for new laws. In other cases Congress holds hearings to raise public awareness about an issue. Some congressional investigations, such as those into Watergate and the Iran-Contra Affair, were efforts to limit the growing authority of the executive branch. Despite these high-profile examples, however, most investigations are little-known efforts.

  D. Related Groups and Agencies  

As congressional work has grown and become more complex, Congress has come to rely on the advice and assistance of a large number of auxiliary agencies. One of the most important of these agencies is the Congressional Budget Office, a group of experts in economics and statistics. This office provides the information necessary for legislators to respond to the president’s budget proposals and to reconcile estimated tax revenues with projected expenses.

In order to participate actively in government and be well informed, Congress has a large congressional staff. Many of these men and women serve as personal assistants to representatives and senators. Others are on the staffs of the numerous committees—for example, 30 staff members work for the House Committee on the District of Columbia alone. Many members of the congressional staff work for support agencies such as the General Accounting Office, which tracks the funding and expenditures of the federal government. In 1997, 31,400 people worked for the legislative branch.

In addition to the auxiliary congressional agencies, both the House and Senate depend on what is sometimes called the third house of Congress—the lobbyists (see lobbying). Lobbyists are usually employees or representatives of companies or interest groups who try to influence votes on legislation and to gain publicity for their causes. With at least 1,800 associations located in Washington, the causes that are represented by lobbyists run the gamut from labor unions, the National Association of Manufacturers, and large corporations to citizens’ groups promoting environmental issues and health concerns.

In some instances, lobbyists specialize in a field such as agriculture or taxation and become experts who provide technical information to legislators on a variety of subjects. Lobbyists may even draft legislative bills. Full-time lobbyists are required to register and are regulated by laws that restrict their contributions and gifts to legislators. Their public image, however, remains that of people who affect the outcome of legislation and elections by contributing money to politicians. In 1998 special interests represented by 14,484 lobbyists (27 for each member of Congress) reported spending $1.17 billion to lobby Congress, the White House, and the federal agencies.

  E. Current Trends and Issues  

The relationship of Congress with the executive branch is critical to the workings of the government. Friction often develops between presidents, who want swift action, and Congress, whose machinery makes movement slow. Congress reflects national diversity and mirrors the nation in its fragmentation and lack of central control. The conflict between the executive and legislative branches is accentuated if different political parties control the two branches. The American people need to decide whether a Congress of one party fighting the presidency of another is a separation of powers that produces effective government. While this circumstance diffuses power, it can run counter to the public interest if important issues are not dealt with because of partisan disagreements. In 1995, for example, the president and Congress were unable to agree on a federal budget, and without congressional appropriations there was no money to pay federal employees, resulting in a brief government shutdown.

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Judicial

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States. Litigants dissatisfied with a lower court decision may appeal to the Supreme Court, although very few cases ever reach the court. A ruling of the Supreme Court cannot be appealed. As Justice Robert Jackson once explained: “The [Supreme] Court is not final because it is infallible; the court is infallible because it is final.” There are currently nine Supreme Court justices, who, like all federal judges, are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

  A. Responsibilities of the Supreme Court  

An important feature of the American legal system is the practice of judicial review. The most important exercise of judicial review is by the Supreme Court. The court can determine whether a statute or executive action conforms to the rules and principles laid down in the Constitution. It can strike down laws that it considers unconstitutional. Judicial review does not belong exclusively to the Supreme Court; in appropriate cases, every court may strike down laws that violate the Constitution. Although judicial review adds flexibility to the Constitution—allowing it to be interpreted for changing times—this power is not explicitly stated in the Constitution.

In the years following the adoption of the Constitution, the Court and Congress debated whether the judiciary actually had the power of judicial review. The issue was resolved in 1803, when in the case of Marbury v. Madison, the Court firmly established the power of the judiciary to review acts of Congress and decide if they were constitutional. Chief Justice John Marshall reasoned that the Constitution was the highest law of the nation, and that with respect to congressional legislation, the Constitution was “superior…law, unchangeable by ordinary means.” Consequently, Madison argued, if the judiciary interpreted a law or statute as contradicting the Constitution, the courts could nullify it.

Marshall established the common-sense view that within the three branches of government, courts are especially qualified to rule whether legislation is constitutional. Marshall held that judicial power resided in the court’s authority to interpret the Constitution. This principle has been accepted ever since. Although the judicial override has more often been a threat than a reality—by 1998 the Supreme Court had struck down federal laws and executive orders only 127 times—it still is a powerful tool. However, as with all federal courts, some Americans have questioned whether the Supreme Court should have that power without its members being elected by the people.

The Supreme Court decides appeals and constitutional issues. It also has jurisdiction over various kinds of other cases. These cases include those involving public officials such as ambassadors or consuls, or those where a state is a party in the case.

  B. Influences on the Supreme Court  

Despite its authority on paper, the Supreme Court is influenced by certain factors. When a vacancy occurs because of death, retirement, or impeachment of a Supreme Court justice, the president appoints a new justice who then must be confirmed by a majority of the Senate. As a result, the president and the Senate can affect the composition and sentiment of the court. For example, the court changed dramatically during the American Civil War (1861-1865), when President Abraham Lincoln appointed five justices to a body that had been controlled before the war by Southerners. Individual justices are also influenced by personal background, political views, relationships with other judges, and even by the clerks who assist them.

The Solicitor General, who represents the federal government at the Supreme Court, also shapes the court’s agenda. As the chief government lawyer in cases before the courts of appeals, the Solicitor General decides which cases the government should ask the court to review and what the government’s position will be in them. The Solicitor General’s power to petition the court to review cases is important because the Supreme Court can rule only on cases that are brought before it. The court cannot simply choose to examine a law or case of its own accord.

Finally, the Supreme Court is influenced by what it believes the majority of American people support. This influence of public opinion was evident in the 1930s, when a conservative court at first opposed the agricultural policies of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. These polices, which curtailed farm production in an effort to stabilize the agricultural economy, expanded the power of the federal government by giving it a much larger role in regulating agriculture and commerce. After Roosevelt won substantial majorities in the presidential elections of 1936 and 1940, however, the same justices accepted legislation similar to what they had earlier called unconstitutional. Another example is the 1972 decision Roe v. Wade, in which the Supreme Court ruled that a woman has a constitutional right to an abortion during the first six months of pregnancy. This ruling is often seen as a judicial response to a significant change in the people’s attitudes toward women and their right to privacy.

  C. Current Trends and Issues  

Presently the judiciary has several challenges. The first involves a debate over the proper limits of the Supreme Court’s activism. This debate pits judicial fundamentalists, or strict constructionists, against judicial activists, also known as loose constructionists.

Strict constructionists believe the Supreme Court should interpret the Constitution using only its specific wording and the original intentions of its authors. In this way, they argue, the court would serve as a gatekeeper, maintaining the balance between the separate powers of government and adhering to established precedents. Strict constructionists believe that changes should come through executive and legislative actions and through the states.

Loose constructionists favor a liberal interpretation of the Constitution. They hold that the authors of the Constitution did not intend to preserve an unchanging society, but instead meant the Constitution to adapt as the needs of the nation changed. Thus, they argue, the court should be free to clarify the vague language of statutes and to interpret rules for practical application. In this view, the Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of important public issues in a society that is much different than it was when the Constitution was written.

Loose constructionists also believe the judiciary stands as the primary protector of minority rights and unpopular viewpoints. Judicial activists look to the courts to protect rights and opinions that are not widely accepted and that might be trampled by a legislative majority. By adopting a flexible view of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has often upheld the rights of minority groups, such as the Amish or Jehovah’s Witnesses. For example, the Amish have used the First Amendment to challenge the application of states’ school laws to their children. Members of Jehovah’s Witnesses have challenged the right of the state to draft them for military service and have refused to allow their children to salute the national flag or say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. They have turned, often successfully, to the Supreme Court to sustain their constitutional right to dissent.

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