Gateways Ch. 2

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Why did American colonists move towards independence?

Parliament + King were blocking their participation in govt

Colonists established a new national govt under which documents?

state constitutions + natl Articles of Confederation

What is the constitution?

the fundamental law undergirding the structure of govt

In a modern demo, a constitution sets forth…

basic rules + procedures for how the people shall be governed, including structure of govt + peoples’ rights

Unlike our const, the British constitution is…

a series of documents, beginning with Magna Carta 1215

Post Glorious revolution, when many powers passed to Parliament, King William III acknowledged…

that he didn’t rule by divine right, but by right of contract with his subjects

By the 18th cent, the British believed…

their const guaranteed them certain rights, including the right not to be taxed w/o consent + jury of peers

In terms of British rights, the American colonists believed…

they had all the rights of British subjects

What motivated Britain to impose Acts in the colonies?

attempt to recoup cost of defending colonies in French + Indian War (1754-63)

The Sugar Act

1764; set forth long list of items that could be exported only to Great Britain, limiting competition for the colonists’ goods

The Stamp Act

1765; established a tax on virtually all forms of paper used by the colonists

significance of Stamp Act

first direct tax by Britain on colonists for products made and sold in America

Colonist reaction to Stamp Act

angered, formed trade associations to boycott or refuse to buy British goods, published pamphlets on loss of liberty rioting against stamp act collectors, impossible to enforce

Who led the colonist reaction?

Patrick Henry; "Give me liberty, or give me death"

British reaction to upheaval

repealed Stamp Act in 1766, replaced it with Townshend Acts

Townshend Acts

imposed taxes on various imports

Having successfully fought off the direct internal taxes on paper, in response to the TAs…

colonists, led by Sam Adams, mobilized against the new external taxes

Who declared the TAs unconstitutional? What right did they cite?

the Massachusetts legislature; violated "no taxation w/o representation"

Britain upheld a limited view of what 2 concepts?

participation + representation

Like the colonies, some British cities…

did not have representation in Parliament

Rep in Parliament was based on…

historic population centers; newer cities left out

Although Edmund Burke spoke of Parliament has having "one interest," the colonists…

rejected the views that their interests were one with Britain’s + that Parliament could represent those interests

What act of British Parliament pushed the colonists over the edge, toward violence?

In 1773 Parliament granted East India Company the exclusive right to sell tea to the colonies, which then granted local monopolies in the colonies

How did the British respond to the Boston Tea Party?

implementing the Coercive Acts–gave royal governor the right to select the upper house of MA legislature + denied MA the right to try British officials charged w/ capital offenses

Quartering Acts

required colonists to quarter Brit soldiers in their private homes, even during times of peace

How did Benjamin Franklin attempt to present a united front about colonial grievances?

proposed a Continental Congress in May 1775

The First Congress

Philly 1774; rejected reconciliation plan w/ England + sent King George III list of grievances; established colonies-wide compact not to import any English goods

The 2nd Continental Congress (May 1775) acted as…

the common govt of the states between 1775-1781; Boston

What decision was made by the CC following Lex + Concord?

named GW commander of a new Continental Army

Thomas Paine

influential pamphlet "Common Sense" which called for independence from Britain

Common Sense helped convince Americans that…

independence was the only way they could secure their right to self-govt

Putting off an independence resolution, the CC instructed what prominent figure to do what in June of 1776?

Jefferson + others to draft a Declaration of Independence

Decl approved by Congress…

July 4

What made Jefferson’s Decl radical?

it declared the right of the people to alter or abolish govts that do not meet the needs of the people, it declared the colonies independent from Britain, stirring call for equality, human rights + public participation in govt

Where did the Decl go?

on the list of grievances against King George III

What did the CC advise the colonies to do, even before the Decl?

adopt new constitutions "under the authority of the people"

Describe the purpose of the colonies’ constitutions

severely limited executive but barely limited legislative authority

B/c most Americans considered themselves primarily citizens of the states in which they lived…

Americans made little effort to establish a natl political authority

What was the earliest precursor of our natl govt?

the Article of Confederation 1777

Why did the CC propose the Articles?

the congress needed legal authority for its actions

What was required for the Articles’ adoption?

unanimous consent of the states, not until 1781

Articles formally established…

"the USA"

The states became ______ with centralized_______ + ________.

one nation; control over making war + foreign affairs

What did the Articles emphasize, in reaction to Britain’s violation of fundamental liberties?

freedom from natl authority at the expense of order

The states retained all powers not expressly…

granted to Congress

Powers expressly granted were…

extremely limited

Natl govt powers under Articles:

authority over foreign, military, + Indian affairs, boundary + other disputes btwn states, coin money, establish post office

Congress did not have authority to…

regulate commerce or operate directly over citizens of the US

Congress could only ___________ but not _________ revenues from the states

request; command

Why was governing difficult under the Articles?

each state had 1 vote, needed 9/12 for important decisions, ESP involving money, amending Articles required unanimous consent of the states, no judicial branch

Although there was no separate executive branch under the Articles…

Congress had the authority to establish an exec committee along w/ rotating president

What were the President’s responsibilities under Articles?

manage the general affairs of the US when Congress was not in session

Problems created by deficiencies of Articles govt

nation’s debt went unpaid, hampering its credit; with no centralized authority to regulate commerce, economic growth stunted by states taxing imports from other states; lack of military power allowed Spain to block commercial access to MI River

In terms of power, Madison, Jefferson + others believed state govts…

possessed too much authority

Unfair processes of state govts:

popularly elected legislatures w/ virtually no checks passed laws rescinding private debts + creating trade barriers against other states

States legislature also began taking over both

judicial and executive functions

Though the legislature was chosen by the people, Jefferson firmly believed…

"an elective despotism was not the govt we fought for"

What did Madison propose, during a time of desperate financial straits?

a convention for states to consider granting the natl govt the power to tax + regulate trade

Annapolis Convention

1786; only five states showed up

What event that took place during the AC made the weakness of the natl govt clear? When did it end?

Shays’s Rebellion + several thousand distressed farmers forced courts to close + threatened federal arsenals; not put down until Feb 1787

Revolt helped convince the states that there was too much…and not enough…

freedom…order, which neither the federal nor state govts could ensure

What was issued at the AC?

invitation to all 13 states to meet in Philly May 1787

What task were the delegates for the CC charged with?

amending the Articles so that the natl govt could work more effectively

To complete the newly proposed const, delegates needed to reach compromises…(3)

between large + small states over representation, between north. + south. states over issues related to slavery, between those who favored a strong natl govt + those who favored strong state govts in the balance of power between the two

Constitutional Convention; prominent figures in attendance

1787; 55 delegates; white men; James Madison, GW, Benjamin Franklin

Convention’s rules granted…

each state one vote, regardless of size of state or no. of delegates it sent

What decision was made by the delegates to keep the gateways to compromise open? What gate did this indirectly create?

voted to keep their deliberations secret until they completed their work; limited popular influence

What did Madison propose?

very radical Virginia Plan that included a strong central govt that could operate directly on the citizens of the US w/o the states acting as intermediaries

VA plan legislature

2 chambers: lower chamber elected by the people + upper chamber elected by the lower chamber; both with proportional representation; would have general authority pass laws + veto laws passed by states

VA plan exec + jud

natl executive + natl judiciary, both chosen by legislature; council of revision, composed of the exec + jud members, which held final approval over all legislative acts

NJ Plan

strengthened the Articles by providing Congress w/ authority to regulate commerce + directly tax imports + paper items

NJ Plan exec + jud

natl executive chosen by the legislature + natl judiciary chosen by the executive

NJ Plan legislature

each state would retain equal rep in Congress

Debate/controversy over proportional or equal rep led to the creation of…

the Connecticut Compromise by Roger Sherman; makeup of the House of Reps would be proportional to population but, makeup of Senate would represent each state equally

There was substantial agreement over…

the nationalist platform that Madison supported

Delegates decisions on plans:

rejected NJ plan, VA plan not approved in full but substantially influenced proposed Const

Under the new Const, the govt had the authority to operate directly…

on the citizens of the US

Congress was not granted general legislative power, but rather enumerated powers

list of powers it could employ

Some enumerated powers:

authority to tax to provide for the general welfare; regulate commerce among the states + w/ foreign nations; borrow money; declare war; raise armies; maintain a navy; make all laws "necessary and proper"

Congress did not receive authority to…but they declared…

veto state laws…natl law would be supreme over state law, bound state judges to that decision + created a natl judiciary that would help ensure such rulings

the Convention set explicit limits on…

state authority

the Convention approved…

a natl executive (president) who could serve as a unifying force throughout the land

Overwhelming majority of slaves…

were in southern states (95%)

Although not all northern delegates at the Convention opposed slavery…

those who were abolitionists wanted an immediate ban on importing slaves from Africa, prohibitions against the expansion of slavery into the western territories + the adoption of a plan for the gradual freeing of slaves

Conversely, delegates from GA and SC

would never accept the Const on these terms, wanted guaranteed protections for slavery + the slave trade + no restrictions on slavery in the territories

To secure a Const _________ were necessary


Slave trade compromise prohibited Congress from

stopping the slave trade until 1808

2nd compromise involved how slaves should…

be counted when calculating population for purposes of representation

Northerners opposed rep for slaves, arguing that slave states should not…

benefit by receiving extra representation based on number of slaves that they had

In terms of slaves, the Convention agreed to use the

three-fifths formula for representation as well as whatever direct or population taxes the natl govt might choose to levy

3rd compromise involved slavery in the western territories + came not from the Convention but from the govt under the Articles

Northwest Ordinance passed in July 1787; established the means for governing the western lands north of the Ohio River; prohibited slavery but fugitive slaves in the area must be returned

With the precedent of prohibiting slavery in the Northwest Territory established, the Convention gave Congress…

the right to regulate the territories of the US w/o mentioning whether slavery could be allowed or prohibited

Compared to the British const system, the 1787 Convention provided…

direct + indirect gateways for popular involvement

Const limited popular control in 2 ways:

the election of the president through the Electoral College + the election of the Senate

Electoral College

electors actually choose the president; each state receives a number of electors equal to its number of rep + senators

Today, state govts allow its citizens to ____________ but in the early days of the Republic, many state legislatures ____________

choose that state’s electors; kept that right for themselves

Who originally selected US Senators and why?

state legislatures; the Framers feared that a Congress elected directly by the people would be too responsive to the popular will

What often superseded the common interest + what implications did this have?

"a spirit of locality"; allowed single-chamber legislatures to yield to sudden + violent passions that swept the nation

The indirect election of senators was intended to serve as…

a check on the popular will

In 1913, the 17th Amendment…

granted the people the right to elect senators directly

Despite the urging of George Mason of Va, the delegates chose not to include a…

Bill of Rights–listing of rights retained by the people that Congress did not have the authority to take away (i.e. freedom of speech + freedom of religion)

The delegates already had a method for ratifying the Const, thanks to a…

precedent already established by states for ratifying constitutions

At state conventions, the people’s reps had the exclusive authority…

to establish constitutions

The delegates at the Philly Convention chose to send the proposed Const…

to the states for approval via special ratifying conventions chosen by the people

Const would take effect once

9/13 state approved it

While the Articles had required unanimity of state delegations for amendment the CC sought…

approval from a higher authority: the people of the US

The final doc reflected the Framers’ attempt to establish a govt powerful enough to __________ yet ___________

ensure public order; containing enough gateways to guarantee individual liberty

Legislature established by Const

bicameral Congress

House of Reps

proportioned by population, 2 year terms, directly elected by people


2 senators from each state, state legislatures chose senators until the 17th Amend, 6 year terms

The Senate is designed to…

serve as a check on the popular will, expressed in the House of Rep

Longer Senator term serves to

limit responsiveness to popular whims

Where do Bills originate?

Bills to levy taxes have to originate in the House, but other bills may originate in either chamber

To become law, a bill must

pass each chamber + signed by the President

A President can _______ a bill, but Congress can then ________

veto; override the veto by a 2/3 majority in each chamber

The Const gives the House the authority to…

impeach–to bring charges against the president + other federal officials

The Senate has the sole authority to…

try cases of impeachment, w/ 2/3 vote required for removal from office; ratify treaties, 2/3 vote; confirm exec + jud branch appointments by majority vote

Exec branch consists of

a unitary president, chosen for 4 yr term by Electoral College

If no person receives a majority of the Electoral College vote, the election…

goes to the House, where each state gets 1 vote

Electoral College also chooses a…

vice president who presides over the Senate, casting votes in case of a tie

Why didn’t the Framers enumerate the exec powers, as they did the leg powers?

believed the leg branch would be naturally stronger than the exec branch

Congress does not have a general legislative authority, but only…

those legislative powers granted under the Const

In contrast, the Const provides the president with…

a general grant of "the executive power" + certain specific powers (right to veto + grant pardons + commander-in-chief of armed forces)

Const vests the jud authority of the US in…

1 Supreme Court + other inferior courts that Congress might choose to establish

How does the President appoint judges?

with the advice + consent of the Senate

Justice’s term

serve during "good Behavior"–life term

The Const extends the authority of the federal courts to…

hear cases involving certain classes or parties to a suit–cases involving the US, ambassadors, + other public ministers

Marbury vs. Madison (1803)

Supreme Court took this authority to hear cases arising under the Const to establish the power of judicial review

Judicial review

authority to strike down any law passed by Congress when the Court believes the law violates the Const

2 paths for changing the const/amendment

2/3 vote in each chamber + approval of 3/4 of states; 2/3 of the states to request a natl const convention that could propose amendments that would go into effect when approved by 3/4 of the states

Benefit of complex + difficult amendment process:

prevented Const from being modified over popular but short-lived issues

The states have never ______________________, but Congress has sent ______________________.

called a const convention to amend the 1787 Const; 33 proposed amendments to the states for ratification

Proposed amendments sent directly to __________, except the _____________.

state legislatures; 21st Amendment (repeal of Prohibition) sent to state ratifying conventions

27 of the 33 have received required assent of 3/4 of states, including…

Bill of Rights (1st-10th), 3 Civil War amendments (13th-15th which abolished slavery), 27th Amendment

James Madison wrote Federalist 51 in an attempt to…

explain + justify the const structure; "the necessary partition of power among the several departments as laid down in the const"

Other than with the House, the rest of the govt was chosen indirectly to…

prevent the majority from imposing oppressive laws on the minority

Indirect election examples

the Senate by the state legislatures, the president by the Electoral College, judges by the president w/ advice + consent of Senate

"Auxiliary precautions"

defined by Madison; built in constraints on power in the const to make sure govt could not concentrate power

Federalism (as a precaution)

splits power btwn nation + state

Separation of powers (as a precaution)

divides the powers that remind w/ the natl govt among the 3 branches of govt

Checks and balances (as a precaution)

give each branch some authority over the powers of the other branches


dividing authority btwn natl + state govt was the first means of preventing concentration of power

Const granted Congress…

enumerated powers

All powers not granted to Congress…

remained with the states (protected by 10th Amendment)

In Madison’s opinion, what was the definition of tyranny?

"accumulation of all powers" leg, exec, and jud in the same hands of one or a few

Under the Const, who holds power in each branch?

legislative powers granted belong to Congress, exec power vests in the president, jud authority resides in a Supreme Court

Whose recommendations did the separation of powers follow?

Charles, Baron de Montesquieu

What did balanced + separated powers guarantee?

the freedom of the individual

How was balance among the branches achieved, under the Const?

each branch given some authority to counteract, or check, the authority of the other two

Appellate jurisdiction

Supreme Court’s authority to hear cases on appeal from lower courts + the heart of the Supreme Court’s judicial power

What power of the judiciary has been largely unchallenged, despite not being in the Const?

judicial review

To prevent states from assuming the same authority that they had to pass oppressive laws under the Articles…

the Const limits state authority in several ways: makes federal law supreme over state law; guarantees that the states provide a republican form of govt; sets limits on the sort of legislation states can pass;

What kind of bills can’t states pass?

bills of attainder (legislative acts declaring people guilty of crimes)

States cannot prosecute individuals under…

ex post facto laws, which make behavior illegal after individuals have engaged in it

Just like states, Congress can pass neither…

bills of attainder nor ex post facto laws

Congress cannot suspend…

the writ of habeas corpus–a guarantee that incarcerated people can go before a judge to have the legality of their confinement determined

Most of the ratification debate concerned the extent of…

national power under the Const, including a feared consolidation of federal authority over the states, the scope of executive + legislative power + the lack of a bill of rights

2 distinct camps of state ratifying conventions

Federalists (those who supported the Const); Antifederalist (those who opposed the Const)

Leader of Antifederalists

Revolutionary leader Patrick Henry of VA

Federalist Papers; who wrote them?

collection of 85 essays that attempted to convince the citizens of NY to ratify the Const; Madison, John Jay (1st chief justice of the US), Alexander Hamilton (founded the Federalist Party + served as the first secretary of the treasury)

Antifederalist pen name

Old Whig

How did the CC violate the Articles, in the opinion of the AF?

by moving beyond mere amendment + proposing a new government, 1 that did not require unanimous consent of the states

How did the Federalists respond to the AF’s argument against the Const?

claiming that sovereignty rested not in the legislature–rested in the people (as said in the preamble of the Const)

What did the AF’s fear and why?

president would turn into monarch – no term limits on the executive in original Const

Federalist 10

written by James Madison – argues that in a large republic diverse interests will prevent any faction from gaining a majority

Federalist 51

written by James Madison, discusses the needs for checks + balances in govt

Federalist 69

Alexander Hamilton – response to AF’s argument about executive – explanation of the limits on the executive: elections, impeachment, limited veto power (can be overridden)

Which clauses (concerning the power of Congress) alarmed the AFs?

2 provisions in Article 1, Section 8 –general welfare clause + necessary and proper clause –they thought the Congress had too much power, due to the fact that it could pass any law possible + taxing is at their discretion

What label did the AFs put on the n + p clause?

"sweeping clause"–granted government "absolute + uncontrollable power, legislative, executive, judicial"

Who argued against the sweeping clause and what did he argue?

James Monroe 5th President (1817-25)–Congress is not "restrained or controlled from making any law, however oppressive"

Who responded to AF’s criticism of the general welfare clause and what did he say?

Madison responded in Federalist 41 saying that the g.w. clause was not a general grant of power to tax for any purpose whatsoever but, rather, a power to tax for the enumerated powers that followed"

How did the Federalists defend the n + p clause?

Federalists argued that it was not a general grant of authority to pass all laws that were necessary and proper, but rather, the authority to pass all laws that are among the "foregoing powers" of Congress

Why did the AF’s not support Madison’s defense of the n + p clause?

AFs believed it was a threat to limited govt

How did the Federalists appease the AFs + clarify that the Const did not provide general powers to Congress?

the Federalists agreed to an amendment to the Const that declared that the powers not delegated to Congress are "reserved to the States"

What does this amendment ("reserved to the States") parallel?

provision from the Articles that declared that the states retained all powers not "expressly delegated" to the natl govt

What are implied powers?

powers not explicitly granted to Congress but added through the necessary and proper clause

What was the most serious charge against the Const?

It did not contain a bill of rights

What famous figure criticized the Const for not having a BOR? What did he say and to whom?

Patrick Henry ("give me liberty or give me death") told the VA ratifying convention in 1788 that without a b.o.r. you are disposing of powers to Congress "without check, limitation, or control"

What did the Federalists argue in response to Henry?

the BOR was not necessary b/c Congress had only those powers granted by the Const + the BOR is dangerous b/c listing of certain powers could imply that the rights not listed could be abridged

How was the BOR issue resolved?

the Federalists gave in to the AF’s argument, agreeing that amending the Const to provide a BOR would be among the 1st items of business under a newly ratified Const–states started ratifying the new Const

Why does the BOR contain the Ninth Amend?

to prevent the listing of certain rights to create an assumption that Congress could abridge other rights not listed

Why has the U.S. Const system changed substantially over the years?

fix flaws + respond to new circumstances + developing ideas about the nature of equality

Who had the greatest influence on the BOR? What did he do?

Madison (elected as a member of Congress from VA) selected 12 amendments, states then ratified 10 of the amendments in 1791 as a BOR that became part of the Const

What right did Madison include that was not passed until years later?

congressional pay raise amendment–Gregory Watson revived it nearly 200 years later

What does the 1st Amend do?

guarantees major political rights including freedom of speech, press, + assembly + free exercise of religion

What does the 1st Amend prohibit?

establishing a natl religion or any law "respecting an establishment of religion"

What does the 2st Amend protect?

the right to bear arms

What does the 3rd Amend prohibit?

the quartering of soldiers in one’s home in times of peace

What type of rights do the 4th, 5th, 6th + 8th Amends protect?

rights relating to criminal procedure, including the right at trial to the assistance of an attorney + right to a trial by jury

The criminal procedure amendments also prohibit…

unreasonable searches + seizures (4th), compulsory self incrimination (5th), double jeopardy (5th) + cruel or unusual punishments (8th)

What does the 5th Amendment also prohibit?

deprivations of life, liberty or property w/o due process or law + prohibits the govt from seizing private property for a public use w/o fair or "just" compensation

What 3 Amendments were proposed following the Civil War?

13th, 14th, 15th

13th Amend

1865-prohibits slavery

14th Amend

1868-aimed at protecting newly emancipated slaves, all people born in US are citizens; prohibits states from denying anyone due process of law, equal protection of law + privileges or immunities of citizens

15th Amend

1870-prohibits states from denying anyone the right to vote on account of race or prior status as slaves

What authority do all 3 Civil War Amends give Congress?

authority to enforce the measures by appropriate legislation, thus adding to Congress’s enumerated powers

How did these 3 amendments effect the structure of the fed govt?

radically changed the structure by giving the natl govt authority over internal matters of the states

How did certain Amendments further extend the gateways to public participation in govt?

giving the people the right to vote for their senators directly (17th); guaranteeing women the right to vote (19th); allowing residents of D.C. to vote in presidential elections (23rd); prohibiting states from setting poll taxes as a requirement of voting in federal elections (24th); guaranteeing the right to vote for those age 18 + older (26th)

How has the Const changed through interpretation by the Supreme Court?

the Court has exercised the authority to determine what the Const means (Marbury vs. Madison)–>>> under this authority, the powers of Congress have grown enormously

What specific decision of the Supreme Court strengthened Congress’ power?

During the Great Depression, Court began to interpret Congress’s power to tax to provide for the general welfare as extending beyond the enumerated powers –now Congress can tax + spend for virtually any purpose that is not expressly prohibited

What is the scope of Congress’s authority to regulate commerce between states?

covers virtually all commercial activity

What confirms that the AFs were correct to insist on a BOR?

the major growth of natl authority

What right would the Congress have under current readings of the commerce, taxing, + various other clauses, were it not for the BOR?

the explicit right to abridge freedom of speech or freedom of the press

What are some of the things that the formal changes in the Const since the BOR have centered on?

greater direct participation; direct voting for senators; no poll taxes; no abridgments of rights to vote on account of race, sex, or age so long as one is 18 + no exclusion of residents of D.D. from voting for president

Why doesn’t D.C. have rep in Congress?

the Const declares that "the House shall be composed of Members…of the several States"

Who supports an Amend for D.C. representation and why?

Democratic Party supports such an Amend b/c D.C. overwhelmingly votes for Democrats; Republicans oppose it

How many Amendments are there?


What change of the Const was revived after George W. Bush became president in 2000?

replacement of Electoral College w/ some form of popular vote; Bush became president despite losing popular vote

How else has the Const changed besides occurring via amendment or interpretation?

establishment of new institutions, most notably political parties

What are political parties?

broad coalitions of interests organized to win elections in order to enact a commonly supported set of public policies

Why did Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton push for aggressive use of the sweeping clause? How opposed him?

to allow the natl govt to regulate the economy; James Madison + Thomas Jefferson rose in opposition

What is the significance of these early divisions between political elites?

they laid the groundwork for the emergence of the first set of opposing political parties

What did the rise of political parties mean for the pres + vp?

they had to run as members of a political party, not as individuals

What relationship did Madison envision between the branches of govt, with Congress and the president checking each other?

divided govt; the struggle really exists only when the president and the majority party in Congress represent different parties

When are checks by Congress curtailed?

When Congress + president are of the same party

How do politically parties positively effect the nature of politicians?

they allow for greater responsiveness of politicians to the natl welfare–the reps are more likely to be responsive to the interests of the people

With the creation of political parties, in what ways can voters hold their representative accountable?

not just for the job that the representative is doing for the district, but also for the job that the govt is doing for the nation

What implications do the structure of the Const have for public policy making?

Separation of powers is limited by a system of checks + balances that adds complexity to the policy-making process

What aspect of the Const adds a level of inconsistency? What implications does this have?

the federalism component adds a level of inconsistency by allowing each state, within the bounds of the Const, to pursue its own policies; this generates an inequality in certain cases like in the application of the death penalty

How do the checks + balances complicated the public policy process?

they grant all 3 branches a say in policy making

When does the Executive branch do little policy making?

when the exec has little discretion in carrying out a law, such as deciding the amount paid to Social Security recipients

When does the Exec become a key player in policy making?

where discretion is substantial, such as regarding the death penalty

How does the Exec hold power over the Legislature?

president can set the legislative agenda + veto legislation; if legislation passes, implementation is up to the exec, b/c laws cannot cover every circumstance, the exec usually uses discretion in carrying them out

How do the judiciary hold power over the Legislature?

judiciary can strike laws passed by the legislature if it believes that those laws violate the Const; judiciary can also strike actions the exec takes if those actions violate Const provisions

What implications does Federalism have for the policy-making process?

the fact that each state has its own separate govt + set of laws further complicated the process

In whose control does the Const leave policies, particularly as interpreted by the Supreme Court?

leaves some policies in exclusive federal control, some under exclusive state control + many other under both state + federal control

Why is the death penalty an issue?

the Const contains some degree of ambiguity about it; in several places, it seems to allow capital punishment

Which Amend indirectly supports use of the death penalty?

14th; states may not deprive people of life, liberty, or property w/o due process of law, thus suggesting that these things may be taken 5th; no person shall be held for a capital crime w/o indictment by a grand jury

What does the 8th Amend say + how does the Supreme Court interpret it?

prohibits "cruel + unusual" punishments; interprets that clause to mean that the constitutionality of punishment is to be subject to evolving standards of justice + the death penalty might violate those standards

When did the argument on the death penalty flare up?

1972 Supreme Court put a temp halt to capital punishment, declaring that the process of complete jury discretion was cruel + unusual in that it led to an arbitrary + unequal imposition of the death penalty?

How did states respond to Supreme Court’s ruling on death penalty?

various states responded by requiring juries to follow certain guidelines before imposing the death penalty

How did the Supreme Court rule on the states’ newly imposed guidelines?

1976 Court ruled 7-2 that the death penalty with such guidelines did not constitute cruel + unusual punishment under the Const

How many states permit capital punishment currently?


Federal death penalty?

Congress allows it for certain federal crimes (ex: terrorism, murder for hire, kidnapping that lead to murder, major drug trafficking); can be imposed throughout the country, even in states that do not allow the death penalty for violations of state law

What statistic was found about the current distribution of death penalties by race?

juries are far more likely to impose it when the victim is white than when the victim is black

What limits has the Supreme Court put on the death penalty?

offenders under the age of 18 at the time of the crime + those who commit rape

What right have many states allowed criminals, due to the frequency of reversed convictions?

many states allow convicted criminals access to DNA evidence, though the Supreme Court does not require them to do so

What troubling reality should be noted when considering how well policy making works in the constitutional system?

the inconsistent use of the death penalty across states raises questions about equality under the system + serves as one of the most important examples of the unintended consequences of constitutional design

Government under the 1787 Constitution would today be considered severely lacking in both…

democracy + equality

What were some the prevalent issues of the govt under the 1787 Const, in today’s perspective?

govt allowed some people, mostly white males with property, to choose one chamber of the legislature but did not grant the people a direct vote for the other chamber or for the chief executive; govt allowed slavery; states regulated the right to vote, slaves could not vote, states differed as to whether free blacks, women, + men w/o property could vote

What states had notable restrictions on voting?

1790 GA, SC, and VA prohibited free blacks from voting; SC required voters to believe in God, heaven + hell

What did the 1787 govt allow for its citizens?

a remarkable degree of participation by the common person

What made the 1787 Const a striking break from the past?

it gave voters a direct say in their state legislatures + at least indirect influence in all branches of the natl govt

What statement in the Dec did the Const not live up to?

"all men are created equal"

Today ________ is much more widespread than in 1787.


What have widened the gateways of dem?


What has made the Senate directly responsive to public wishes?

17th Amend–people today directly choose their senators

In what ways is voting equality guaranteed?

poll taxes are illegal (24th); voting rights guaranteed to those 18+ (26th), may not be abridged on account of race (15th) or sex (19th)

Although the Const allowed the natl govt to exercise direct control over the citizenry, what reality existed concerning citizen’s daily lives at that time?

the tiny size of the natl govt left the people w/ far more control over their daily lives than they have today

What has made opps for participation greater than ever?

the Internet capability of relaying information virtually instantly

Explain the ideal, modern relationship between constituents + reps thanks to the Internet

It is much easier for reps to be responsive to their constituents’ desires when they can easily learn what they believe, and constituents can readily learn what their reps have done

Why did the colonists declare independence from Britain?

b/c they believed that the Brit Parliament + king were denying their rights as Brit subjects

What were the main issues with the Articles?

Congress’s powers were limited + the structure it established made governing difficult

Philadelphia Convention

In 1787, delegates from 12 states met + wrote a new Const

How was the assent of all states rep at the CC secured?

the delegates reached compromises btwn large + small states over representation; btwn n + s states over issues related to slavery; btwn those who favored strong natl govt + those who favored strong state govts

What happened once the Const was made?

sent to the states for ratification

What does the Const lay out?

the structure of democratic govt + the means by which the Const can be amended

What does the Const reflect (Framers)?

the Framer’s attempt to establish a govt powerful enough to ensure public order yet restrained enough to guarantee individual liberty

What were the debates over its ratification centered on?

a fear of consolidated fed authority over the states, the scope of exec + leg power + the lack of BOR

How was ratification achieved (AF vs F)?

Federalists gave in to AFs demands for a BOR, passing one as the first 10 Amends to the Const

What positive effects did subsequent Amends have?

ended slavery, protected the rights of blacks, generally extended public participation in govt while expanded fed authority over states

Besides Amends, how has the const system been changed?

by const interpretation + its operated altered by the development of political parties

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