TheUnited States Government — Response to Questions
Section1: US Government
Theconcept of checks and balances applies to the forms of governmentsuch as the United States, in which powers is limited throughseparation of powers among the three arms of the government:Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. The arrangement is such thatevery government division has defined roles and responsibilities ofexercising checks and balancing the powers (Calabresi23).Thelegislature is essentially the Congress. The Congress is entrustedwith the power of making laws on behalf of the United States. Thenon-delegation doctrine sets out that the Congress cannot delegateits law-making responsibility to any agency or government arm. TheExecutive is essentially under the mandate of the president. As laidout in the Constitution, the president is the Commander in Chief ofthe armed forces and has the power of making certain officeappointments and sign treaties (but with consent and advice of theSenate). He can appoint the public ministers and ambassadors andoversee the implementation of the laws enacted by the Congress. Inessence, the president himself may not enforce the laws, but mayissue enforcement directives to the subordinates. Lastly, thejudiciary has the power of deciding controversies and cases presentedbefore it. The judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court, whichis headed by the judges and Chief Justice who are appointed by thepresident with the approval and advice from the Senate (Dawn67).
Thepresident exercises checks on the Congress through the veto billspower, although the Congress may override them through two-thirdsmajority per vote. Besides, if the Congress houses cannot concur onthe dates of the adjournment, the president can always come in tosolve the disputes. The president can convene either of the housesinto emergency sessions. As earlier noted, the president can appointthe judges and even issue reprieves and pardons. Carrying out theorders of the Supreme Court is not the mandate of the presidentbecause the court lacks the enforcement powers. Ideally, it lies withthe executive. The executive may place checks on the Supreme Court byturning down the court execution orders. The case of Worchesterv Georgia, in which PresidentJackson refused to implement the Supreme Court orders, is perhaps themost notable example of this mandate. The president is the Commanderin Chief of the armed forces, although the Congress may prescribelaws and regulations governing the operations of the military (Connorand Larry 45).
Thejudiciary exercises checks on both the legislative and the executivebranch through the process referred to as the judicial review.Although this concept is not expressly stated in the Constitution,the Federalist are espoused to it. The precedent for theadmissibility of this concept was manifested in the Marburyv. Madison, setting out that theSupreme Court may turn down any type of law consideredunconstitutional. In contrast to the common misconception that onlythe Supreme Court may rule on the Constitutionality of clauses, anycourt can still fulfill this mandate, be it the inferior courts.Nevertheless, it is worth noting that only the Supreme Court rulingsmay be binding across the states. Besides, the power of reviewing theConstitutionality can be limited by the Congress, which is mandatedwith the power of setting the court jurisdictions. Ideally, the onlylimits on the Congress power in establishing the authorities of thejudiciary are the Supreme Court. In this case, the Supreme Court mayonly exercise its power based on the appellate jurisdiction and thecases involving the states and the foreign ambassadors. The ChiefJustice, who is the head of the judiciary, is mandated with the powerof presiding in the Senate during the impeachment trials, althoughthe Senate rules limit these oversight powers.
TheCongress is charged with different roles and responsibilities ofexercising checks and balance of power of other arms by writing andenacting laws, setting budgets and creating tax schemes, declaringwar, conducting investigation against the executive branch andratifying treaties. The Senate oversees the presidentialappointments, including those of the judges and ambassadors. TheHouse of the Representatives has the mandate of impeaching theexecutives and the officials in the judiciary, while the Senate mayremove them, too. The Congress may also establish the federal courts,but not the Supreme Court, and has the power of overriding thepresidential vetos.
TheImpact of the Media in Checking the Power
Apartfrom the three arms of government, thesystem has created an allowance for some powerful groups such as thepress to influence the government hence, safeguard the publicinterests.As special interest groups, the media can be seen as the organizationof people having policy goals and must engage the political processin promoting such goal. The media limit the government excessesthrough lobbying the government, hiring representatives that advocateon behalf of the interest of the groups. Lobbying activities entailcontacting Congressmen to disseminate information to deal withadverse or positive proposed legislation effects, sensitizing thepublic and serving as watchdogs. The media engages electionactivities by setting the agenda. This group attempts at influencingelections to make people support the issues they advocate forre-elected or elected. Some teams participate in electioneeringprocess, which includes campaigning for candidates, endorsement ofcandidates, as well as mobilizing grass root activities. In thisregard, the media mediate between subjects and government agents inthe attempt to change policy outcomes. The groups work hard ineducating the public, their members, staff and the potentiallyinterested members of the team. In trying to achieve this goal, themedia air insights about certain policies and government decision.Additionally, interest groups mobilize various publics to influencepolicy-making by the government. The groups rely on people’seffort, especially those motivated to act on behalf of theorganizations and their causes (Curray34). However, there are concerns thatthe media attempt to influence policiesin leadership, in many ways, including ensuring that theirself-vested, capitalist interests are safeguarded
Federalismis a mixed form of government that spans the general [central]government and the regional governments such as territorial,provincial, or state jurisdictions, which are combined with formssingle political systems. The most outstanding feature of this typeof government is the equality between the two levels of government.In other words, it can be conceived as the kind of government inwhich the power is equally divided between two levels of government.It is worth noting that Federalism should not be mistaken withconfederalism, in which the general government level is subordinateto the regional levels. The United States, in which multiple levelsof government exercises authority and power over the same peoplelying particular territory, is an example of Federation states. Forinstance, the State of Pennsylvania and the Federal government sharecertain skills such as taxing, but certain powers may belong toeither the state or the federal government. The essence of federalismhas been cited as the need for coping with the diversity issues(Henry34).
Thereare three forms of federalism: the dual federalism, the cooperativefederalism, and the New Federalism. In the dual federalism, the powerof the federal government of the state government is limited suchthat certain domains may be seen to be in tension with the governmentof the states. In the cooperative federalism, the federal governmentpower looms over the state government, yet the cooperation isbeneficial to both levels of government. In essence, the dualfederalism describes the form of relationship between the centralgovernment and the state, in which the state is a relatively dominantcomponent of the federal government to the extent that its mandateequals the central government.
Thedual federalism can be seen to be characterized by four elements. Thefirst element is that the Federal government only establishes itsrule based on powers expressly set out in the Constitution. Thesecond element is that the Federal government a has limitedConstitutional mandate. The third part is that each unit ofgovernment, the state, and the Federal government, is sovereign.Lastly, the relationship between the Federal government and the stateis marred with tensions, rather than cooperation. The primary concernfor dual federalism is the rights of the state, in which the statesreserve the rights that are not conferred on the Federal government,which are commonly referred to as the implied powers (Henry45).
Thecooperative federalism, on the other hand, rejects the view that thenation and the state government occupy a same level of the hierarchy.The essence of cooperative federalism is to ensure cooperationbetween the federal government and the state. Cooperative federalismis characterized by three elements. The first element is the stateand the Federal government exercise rule on the subjects throughjoint participation. Secondly, the state and the Federal governmentsshare power. Lastly, power is not always concentrated at any level ofgovernment. Rather, the responsibilities are fragmented in a way suchthat it creates the allowance for subjects to exploit differentinfluence venues. The concept of cooperative federalism was endorsedby President Franklin Roosevelt with the aim of helping speedydevelopment.
TheNew Federalism is a devolution-focused government ideology thatstrives to transfer certain forms of powers from the Federalgovernments to the state governments. The primary goal of the NewFederalism is granting the state certain levels of autonomy andflexibility to make significant decisions. In essence, the NewFederalism seeks to reverse the ingredients of the New Deal signed byPresident Franklin Roosevelt that transferred much of the statepowers to the Federal government. At the core of New Federalism isthe policy theme in which the federal government provides blockgrants to the states with the aim of enabling them to address certainsocial issues. The Federal government further evaluates and monitorsthe progress, but does not set out the conditions on how the stateprograms should be run. The advocates of this government approachrely heavily on the rulings in NewState Ice Co. v. Liebmann by LouisBrandeis. The engineer of new Federalism, however, was PresidentNixon (Kunhardt 78).
Section3: Civil Rights
TheFourteenth Amendment comprises of various concepts that notably touchon the state actions, privileges, and immunities granted to thecitizens, the due processes, and the equal protections, which are setout in Section 1.
However,the civil rights have been changing subject to court interpretationand Congress amendments (Prakash23).One of the areas of change is right to life. While it was previouslyheld that no person (including children in the womb) had right tolife and that abortion was unconstitutional, the subsequentinterpretations have lifted some of these restrictions. Most notableis the case of Roev. Wade, inwhich the court ruled that the issue of abortion was essentially aright of privacy protected by the Constitution, and supports theendeavor for women to choose whether he needs to bear a child or not.Therefore, the ruling expanded the judicial oversight on thelegislations touching on privacy, invalidating the laws thatprohibited abortion. In arriving at a conclusion, the Court hadrecognized the historical medical and legal views on abortion andconsidered that there was a need to implement the change. The Courtnoted that the 14thAmendment recognized personal liberty was broad enough to warrantentitling women the right to self-determination, especially regardingpregnancy and childbearing practices.
Anotherarea of civil right that has changed is the right to life andenjoyment. The clauses in 8thand 14thAmendments restrict jurisdictions from subjecting the offenders tounusual and cruel punishment. However, despite the enactment of thelaws, the capital punishment has prevailed as permissible. One of thenotable landmark rulings is Furmanv. Georgia, inwhich the Supreme Court ruled capital punishment to be permissible.The court has particularly been striving to set out the requirementsfor the death penalty to satisfy the 14thAmendment requirements. However, the severe nature of the deathpenalty has compelled the court processes to strive and expedite highlevel of rationality consciousness. Apparently, the interpretationsin the bill of rights have been changing over time because of thecourt arguments.
Section4: Current Events
Oneof the interesting reports by the media in 2017was the view that President Obama legacies were hurt by his excesses(forexampleThiessen 1). The author says that theHouse has been considered as a mere approver to the regulations bythe executives, instead of exercising checks and balances. Asubstantial amount of power has been delegated to the executive.Indeed, the eventuality has been the creation of the unlimitedprerogatives that are exercised in the name of people when the realsituation is that most decisions are made to protect the self-vestedinterests of those in power. Even as the United States celebratesachievements in democracy, it is still indisputable that thepresident continues to wield a lot of executive powers. Inparticular, this situation has been depicted by Obama administration.For instance, Obama is said to have interrupted a white house meetingby introducing an issue that was never on the agenda, citing that thegovernment required the aggressive utilization of executive powers toovercome the opponents (Thiessen1).
Thissentiment is also echoed by Arend,who notes that inthe recent activities, Obama has earned criticisms for striving toimplement decisions without the approval from the Congress. Some ofthe policies that Obama has adopted include creation of jobs for theveterans, preventing the shortage of drugs, raising the standards offuel economy and preventing domestic violence. Obama has oftenemphasized that he bypassed the lawmakers, asserting that he wouldcontinue implementations by himself even when the Congress declinesto approve. Obama has been widely criticized over his approaches ofconcentrating many powers in his presidential office. Others havecontended that the move by Obama to exercise presidential powers inpassing decision is not new in history (Arend2).
Inlight of the view that the Constitution sets out an elaborateframework that limits the powers of the executive, it is intriguingwhether it could have been possible for President Obama to wieldexcessive power. Were Obama’s powers truly or arbitrary excessive?What does this mean about the United States Constitution? Certainly,the current system is not efficient in exercising balances andchecks. Indeed, it could be argued that it does not represent theactual affairs of the states in the contemporary world. In the realpractices, the balance and check doctrine is increasingly beingundermined by the principles founded on democracy, where the powerfuland most influential are ruling. This arrangement is negating thefact that even the purpose of democracy was to serve as a check inorder to strike a balance that favors individual liberty. One of theexamples to elucidate this is the fusion of the legislative and theexecutive powers. The eventuality is that the modern legislationshave failed to recognize the criteria of for efficient functioning ofthe government. The government is mainly dominated by the regulationsof the executive.
Hispredecessors had used these strategies on various occasions, whichare arguably Constitutional (Arend34).Theexecutive orders are conceived permissible under the United StatesFlag Code. Its provisions entitle the president such powers. Thepresident uses these executive orders in emergency times inoverriding the United States Congress and the Constitution. Forexample, in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson, failed to convinceCongress in helping United States vessels that were playing alonghostile German water. He eventually invoked the executive orderpolicy to implement the plan. The code creates various possibilities.For instance, the president can have the powers that enable him totransfer a whole population from a particular part of the country toany part of the state without seeking the legislature’s approval.President Andrew Jackson executed such powers in forcing thelaw-abiding Cherokee Nation to move from their ancestral lands(Dissch32).Secondly, the president can have the powers that enable him suspendsthe press and force registrations of persons nationwide without theCongress approval. For example, President Franklin Delano Rooseveltusing the presidential powers without consulting the Congress, issuedExecutive in 1941. This order forced 100,000 residents of Japanliving in U.S.A to be rounded up. They were placed in concentrationcamps. Therefore, it is evident that the Constitutional powerswielded by the president are still excessive, implying that theConstitution may need to be reviewed.
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Curray,Mike. HowCan Power Be Limited By The Constitution? 2012.Web. 2016. 16thMarch, 2017. <www.ourcivilisation.com/cooray/btof/chap174.htm>
Dissch,Lisa. Thetyranny of the two-party system.ColumbiaUniversity Press.2012. Web.2016. 16thMarch, 2017. http>//www.historylearningsite.com
Connor,Karen O` and Larry , SabatoAmerican Government continuity and change..New York: Pearson Longman, 2012. Print
Arend,Lijphart. Democracy in Plural Societies: A Comparative Exploration.New Haven CT: Yale University Press, 2012. Print
Henry,Hale. Divided We Stand: Institutional Sources of Ethnofederal StateSurvival and Collapse. WorldPolitics56(2013): 165-193.
DawnBrancati. Peaceby Design: Managing Intrastate Conflict through Decentralization.Oxford: Oxford UP, 2013. Print
Kunhardt,Philip and Kunhardt, Peter. The American President. New York:Penguin, 2013. Print
Calabresi,Steven. "The Great Divorce: The Current Understanding ofSeparation of Powers and the Original Meaning of the IncompatibilityClause". University of Pennsylvania Law Review. 157(2012):134–137.
Prakash,Saikrishna. "Why the Incompatibility Clause Applies to theOffice of President." DukeJournal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy.4(2013):143–151.