American Government Notes Week 2
American Government Notes Week 2 POLS 1101
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This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Chapman Lindgren on Monday August 29, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to POLS 1101 at University of Georgia taught by James E. Monogan, Anneliese S. Hermann in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 13 views. For similar materials see American Government in History at University of Georgia.
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Date Created: 08/29/16
Political Science Notes Week 2 Lesson Objectives 8/22/16 Explain the causes and reasoning behind the institutions the framers crafted Describe the major provisions of the U.S. constitution What do Constitutions Accomplish? Establish “rule of law” in a society o Manga Carta: even the King must obey laws. No one is “above” the law. This practice was instituted into our constitution. o The constitution decided what the laws were and what types of laws the government can and can’t pass A constitution provides the basics for policy making o How a law is made and by whom? Outlines responsibilities of government institutions o Minting currency, postal service, etc. Determines who is eligible to serve in different positions Articles of Confederation First U.S. governing document. It was ratified in 1781 o Confederation: all power of higher authorities is vested in individual authorities (States were sovereign and held power) Each of the 13 states held 1 equal vote regardless of population States had powers, but no means of enforcement Required unanimous consent among states to amend laws Small states preferred the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution because with the Articles of Confederation they had more power Failures of the Articles of Confederation (AOC) States that didn’t pay their share of taxes couldn’t be punished (free rider problem from week 1). The National government couldn’t raise money which led to them essentially being a “lame duck” government o This couldn’t be amended because all 13 states had to agree to changes which seldom occurred Origins of the Current American System The Articles of Confederation set up a weak national government o Because there was so much sovereignty vested in the states, they were not compelled to pay their share of debts and taxes Revolutionary war debt piled up One year, Virginia was the only state to pay taxes The Articles of Confederstion lacked effective means of enforcement o This lead to the 1 Constitutional Convention Political Science Notes Week 2 1 Constitutional Convention The first Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia in 1787 to consider amendments to the AOC o Rhode Island refused to attend o James Madison elected to scrap the whole AOC Madison wrote a new document. His home state of Virginia voted to use it as a draft for a new constitution moving forward. This draft was called the Virginia Plan. Founders wrestled with how to combine a strong national government that still protected individual liberties. Virginia Plan First proposal at the Constitutional Convention by James Madison o Provisions: Declared the legislative branch the main branch of government Called for legislative representation to be apportioned by state population Called for a bicameral legislature in which the legislature had 2 houses: an upper and lower chamber. The House of Representatives comprises the lower chamber while the Senate comprises the upper chamber. Unicameral Legislature: a legislature with just 1 house The upper chamber in a bicameral legislature is elected by the lower chamber Gave advantage to larger states at the expense of smaller states. This is why smaller states preferred the Articles of Confederation New Jersey Plan The New Jersey plan countered the Virginia Plan and served as a compromise promoted by small states. They called to not trash the Articles of Confederation, only to revise it o Provisions: Compel states to pay taxes Establish an executive branch Equal representation of states in legislature These compromises allowed the convention to succeed but set us on a path to the Civil War because no decision was made on the topic of slavery, a dividing issue at the time Slavery Political Science Notes Week 2 Was a major issue at the time of the convention Northern states favored abolition but they feared southern states would refuse to sign it if slavery were banned or restricted Compromise allowed the convention to succeed, but again, set us on a path to the Civil War Compromises Made at the 1 Constitutional Convention 1. 3/5 Compromise: slaves were regarded as 3/5 a person for representation and taxation 2. Connecticut Compromise (Great Compromise) a. Bicameral legislature b. House representation based on population c. Equal representation in Senate (this is important in the context of the AOC) i. 2 members are elected for each state to serve in the senate d. A unitary, independent executive branch i. Instead of congress electing a president, we vote for the president independently Political Science Notes Week 2 Lesson Objectives 8/24/16 Describe the major provisions of the US Constitution Explain the causes and reasoning behind the institutions the framers crafted Features of the Constitution President as head of executive branch Elected by electoral college to 4-year term Bicameral legislature Independent Judicial branch o Justices serve for life after presidential nomination and Senate confirmation Constitutional Powers Expressed powers specifically described in the Constitution o Article I, section 8, lists powers of Congress Elastic clause is more vague Political Science Notes Week 2 o Allows congress to pass all laws that are “necessary and proper” to carry out enumerated powers Three Branches of Government Separation of powers between executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government Overlapping powers lead to checks and balances between branches Federal Supremacy Supremacy clause of the Constitution states that federal laws trump state and local laws (Article VI) o Major concession by opponents of strong national government States do have explicit protections and reserved powers (Article IV and 10 amendment) Amending the Constitution More flexible process than under AOC Proposal by 2/3 of each chamber of Congress, plus ratification by ¾ of state legislatures 2/3 of state legislatures can call for convention to propose amendments; proposed amendments need ratification by ¾ of state legislatures Ratification also can be done by ¾ of special state conventions Ratification Debate Federalists argued for ratification Federalist papers Political Science Notes Week 2 o Written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay under the name Publius o Outlined arguments that institutions were necessary to solve collective dilemmas o Checks and balances would constrain government Antifederalists urged rejection, thought federal government was too strong o “letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republican” (might have been Richard Henry Lee) Ratification New Hampshire ratified ninth (June 1788) Virginia and New York were big states in doubt; both ratified summer of 1788 Congress and President Washington took office on April 30, 1789 Bill of Rights First 10 amendments Addressed complaints that Constitution did not protect individual rights Provides protections for free speech, right to counsel, and those charged with crimes Major Amendments since the Bill of Rights Slavery was abolished (13 amendment) National power has grown at the expense of state power (income tax: 16 amendment) th Senators directly elected (17 amendment) th th th th th Increase in citizen rights and liberties (13 , 14 , 15 , 19 , 24 , and 26 amendments) Small Group Discussion Notes 8-26 Political Science Notes Week 2 Important to know: The Georgia constitution has had 10 versions, 11 articles, no elastic clause, and the difference between a law and an amendment. Amendments are way harder to change. Laws are much easier.
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