poly sci test 2
Terms in this set (68)
Congress is the First Branch
The U.S. Congress is more independent and powerful than legislatures in other industrialized democracies.
the makeup and powers of Congress are outlined in Article I of the Constitution
The Powers of Congress:
Article I, Section 8
Congress is given a vast array of powers:
Power to tax and spend
Power to raise an army/navy & declare war
Power to regulate commerce
Power to coin money (regulate the currency)
Power to make all laws "necessary and proper" (elastic clause)
Today, presidents play a bigger role in each of these areas.
What Congress Does
The creation of policy to address the problems and needs of the entire nation
The efforts of elected officials to look out for the interests of those who elect them
The voters in the area from which an official is elected
House of Representatives
435 House seats are allocated to states based on population.
States are then geographically divided into districts of approximately equal population
Each state has two senators and they run in state-wide elections.
Congress and Representation
Goals of lawmaking and representation often conflict!
A member's primary responsibility is to his or her constituency, the district making up the area from which an official is elected.
Good representation encompasses a wide variety of activities
Models of Representation
Legislators vote according to the preferences of their constituencies.
Legislators vote based on what they think is best for their constituencies.
Legislators are held accountable by their constituents if they fail to represent them properly.
House and Senate:
Differences in Representation
Congress is a bicameral legislative assembly: it is composed
of two chambers, or houses.
The Senate is smaller (100 members) and more deliberative.
The House is larger (435 members), and thus power is more
centralized and the process is more organized.
The Electoral System:
Who Runs for Congress?
Because members of Congress are agents of their constituencies, electoral considerations are very important.
the rationality principle!!
To win, candidates need:
name recognition / strong political base
charisma / strong personal organization
Advantages of Incumbency
Incumbency is holding a political office for which one is running
Advantages of incumbency:
Personal services provided by incumbents to help constituents navigate the federal bureaucracy
The resources available to incumbents to make appointments, confer licenses, grants, or special favors to supporters
Appropriations for local projects that are often not needed but bring money and jobs to an incumbent's home district
Money in Congressional Elections
One of the big reasons congressional incumbents are so safe is that they raise and spend more money than their opponents.
In part, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, as campaign donors want to give only to those they think can win, and incumbents usually win, so they get more money.
But, when incumbents face strong challengers, they are often defeated.
The Electoral System:
Every 10 years, House districts must be reapportioned among the states and lines redrawn to reflect population changes.
There is a lot at stake in how these lines are drawn, as voters can be aggregated within certain districts so as to give an advantage to one political party. This is called gerrymandering.
The apportionment of voters in districts in such a way as to give unfair advantage to one political party
The 114th Congress
U.S. House of Representatives
247 Republicans, 188 Democrats
Speaker of the House: Paul Ryan (R)
Minority Leader: Nancy Pelosi (D)
54 Republicans, 44 Democrats, 2 Independents
Majority Leader: Mitch McConnell (R)
Minority Leader: Harry Reid (D)
Collective Action is Difficult
Cooperation among many members is difficult for several reasons:
Each member has to represent many interests but has only one vote on each issue.
Legislators cannot be experts on every policy area.
Monitoring legislative deals and legislative outcomes requires collective effort.
Members of Congress create institutions to help deal with these problems
party leadership, committee system, procedural rules, staff
Political Parties as Organization
Members organize themselves into party coalitions in the House and Senate called a party caucus (Democrats) or a party conference (Republicans).
Members choose members to hold leadership positions (Speaker, Majority Leader, Minority Leader, Whips).
Members empower party leaders to influence the agenda and manage legislation.
Speaker of the House: chief presiding officer, elected at the beginning of every Congress by straight party vote, most important party and House leader
Majority Leader: elected leader of the party holding a majority of seats in the House or Senate; in the House, the majority leader is subordinate to the Speaker
Minority Leader: elected leader of the party holding less than a majority of the seats in the House or Senate
Whips: elected members of the each party who are responsible for lining up party members on important votes and relaying voting intentions to the party leadership
Legislative Organization: Committees
Members are also organized into standing committees divided by policy jurisdiction.
Permanent legislative committees that consider legislation within its designated subject area
gatekeeping authority: the right to decide if a change in policy will be considered
proposal power: the capacity to bring a proposal before the chamber
Standing committees divided into subcommittees in the House
Staffers and Agencies
Each member of Congress has a large staff that provides assistance on everything from writing legislation to correspondence with constituents.
Congress has also created staff agencies to provide nonpartisan policy advice and expertise to members.
Congressional Research Service (CRS)
Government Accountability Office (GAO)
Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
How a Bill Becomes a Law: Committee Deliberation
Bills must first be introduced by a member of Congress and referred to committee(s).
Most bills "die" in committee.
Some bills are referred to a subcommittee, are amended, and are reported out to the full chamber.
How a Bill Becomes a Law: Debate in the House
Bills reported out of committee first go to the Rules Committee, which determines the rules under which the bill will be debated on the floor.
The Rules Committee may provide
a closed rule: prohibits the introduction of amendments
an open rule: permits the addition of amendments
Debate on House floor is usually limited to the bill's leading sponsor and its staunchest opponent
The Senate has a tradition of unlimited debate. Bills voted out of committee go to the full Senate for a vote.
Recently, greater partisanship has meant that the minority party frequently uses the filibuster to kill legislation.
a delaying tactic in which senators do not allow debate to end
It takes three-fifths of the Senate (60 votes) to invoke cloture (end of debate).
How a Bill Becomes a Law: Reconciling Bills
To become a law, a bill must be passed in exactly the same form in both chambers.
Frequently, the two chambers send the bill back and forth until one chamber passes a version passed by the other.
Sometimes, a conference committee is appointed with members from each chamber to work out differences.
How a Bill Becomes a Law: Presidential Action
The president must either sign or veto legislation.
Congress may override the veto with a two-thirds vote in each chamber.
Presidents generally use the threat of a veto to shape legislation and try to avoid the embarrassment of having a veto overridden.
The Presidency as Paradox
The last eight presidents left office under a cloud.
Yet many aspire to the office, and the president is perceived to be all-powerful.
One explanation for this paradox is that the presidency is the one unitary institution in the federal government.
"I am the decider." - George W. Bush
The Constitutional Basis of the Presidency: Article II
Article II begins by asserting, "The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America."
Two important elements:
What "the executive power" is has remained a matter of dispute.
Power is vested in "a" president, thus establishing the unitary nature of the office.
The Constitutional Powers of the Presidency: Article II
Expressed Powers: Specific powers granted to the president under Article II
Inherent Powers: Powers claimed by a president that are not expressed in the Constitution, but are inferred from it
Delegated Powers: Constitutional powers that are assigned to one branch of government but exercised by another with the express permission of the first
Delegated powers are created by congressional statute
Commander-in-chief of the U.S. military
Forgiveness for a crime and cancellation of relevant penalty
Nominates federal judges (requires Senate consent)
Negotiate treaties (requires Senate consent)
Receive foreign ambassadors
The president "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed."
The president may nominate executive officials.
The president gives information to the Congress and recommends measures through the "State of the Union" address
Pocket veto, line-item veto
Derived from "commander-in-chief" power
Congress hasn't declared war since 1941
Truman dispatched U.S. troops into Korea; Congress authorized later
Set the tone for future president-Congress relations over engaging the U.S. in military action
The War Powers Resolution (1971)
Attempt to reassert Congressional war powers
President must consult Congress re: planned military action
Forces must be withdrawn within 60 days of deployment without congressional authorization
the president's power to bring a legislative agenda before Congress
Inferred from "take-care clause" & state of the union
a rule or regulation issued by the president that has the effect of legislation
usually used to make rules or change organizational structure of executive departments
Inferred from the "take-care clause"
The Legislative Epoch:
Presidential power has varied over time and among particular occupants of the office.
Most of our institutional history (1800-1933) can be described as "the legislative epoch"—an era when Congress dominated national policy making.
The New Deal and the Presidency
The New Deal introduced new interventions in economic life and regulation by the federal government that necessarily meant a larger role in governance for the chief executive.
Delegation of power from Congress to newly created agencies gave president more power.
This larger role for the president has only expanded since the New Deal.
Congress creates agencies by law, and these agencies use discretion in how they carry out their functions.
Department of Homeland Security - 2002
Broad powers in areas of law enforcement, public health & safety, and immigration
The president is sometimes given authority directly and sometimes indirectly through the power to appoint agency officials.
Executive orders also give presidents power to shape agency decisions
Formal Power Resources
Cabinet: the secretaries, or chief administrators of the major departments of government report to the president
VP and heads of 15 executive level departments
White House Staff: analysts and advisers who work directly for the president
Executive Office of the President: permanent agencies that perform defined management tasks for the president
The Contemporary Basis of Presidential Power: Parties
Presidents rely on their fellow party members in Congress for help, but presidents cannot control their party.
In 2009 and 2010, President Obama had large Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress - but couldn't get all policies he wanted!
But, President does not control the party!
Bureaucracy in a Democracy
The executive branch implements policies. It is a bureaucracy.
characterized by specialization of functions, adherence to fixed rules, and a hierarchy of authority.
"Bureaucracy" is frequently used as a pejorative term and is associated with inefficiency and delay.
But bureaucracy is actually employed in the name of efficiency, speed, and equity
What is Bureaucracy?
the complex structure of offices, tasks, rules, and principles of organization that are employed by all large-scale institutions to coordinate the work of their personnel.
The core of bureaucracy is a hierarchical organization that employs a division of labor and specialization.
Why Bureaucracy? 1 and 2
Bureaucratic organization enhances efficiency through division of labor and specialization.
Bureaucracies allow governments to operate by allowing large-scale coordination of individuals working on a task.
Allows complex tasks to be completed faster
Allows for laws to be implemented in an equitable manner (all should have access to gov't services)
Why Bureaucracy? third reason
We've already provided two answers:
A third reason for bureaucracy is politics.
Legislators find it useful to delegate some decisions.
Legislators sometimes lack expertise or prefer that decisions be made by "objective" bureaucrats rather than by interested politicians.
How is the Executive Branch Organized? Cabinet Departments
One of the major subdivisions of the federal government, represented by the president's cabinet
consist of several bureaus with issue-specific jurisdiction
Dept. of Homeland Security, Dept. of Agriculture
How is the Executive Branch Organized? Independent Agencies
Government organizations independent of the departments but with a narrower policy focus
Examples: NASA, Social Security Administration
How is the Executive Branch Organized?Government Corporations
government agencies that operate more like a business and provide a good or service that private enterprise cannot or will not profitably provide
Example: Amtrak, U.S. Post Office
How is the Executive Branch Organized? Independent Regulatory Commissions
government organizations that regulate various businesses, industries, or economic sectors
designed to be independent of political influence
Example: Federal Elections Commission (FEC), FDA, EPA
What Do Bureaucrats Do?
Implementation: the efforts of departments and agencies to translate laws into specific bureaucratic routines
Make and Enforce Rules
Rule making: A quasi-legislative administrative process that produces regulations
Administrative Adjudication: The application of rules and precedents to specific cases to settle disputes
Who are Bureaucrats?
presidents appoint the heads of gov't agencies
serve at the pleasure of the President (president can fire them!)
short-term goals that serve the president's agenda
Career Civil Service
career employees of the government who are selected through a merit system
long-term goals based on agency's mission
knowledge of inner-workings of the department/agency
How Bureaucracy Developed?
Serving Essential Government Functions & Maintaining the Union
Department of State, War & Treasury were first because the activities they handle are fundamental to government functioning.
Internal Security, External Security
Responding to Changing National Needs
Departments and agencies created to meet the changing needs of a growing society
Revenue Agencies, Regulatory Agencies, Agencies of Redistribution (Welfare Agencies
Responding to Demands of Clientele Groups
clientele groups: groups of citizens whose interests are affected by an agency or department and who work to influence policies
businesses, industries, citizen groups, etc.
Dept. of Agriculture was created to assist U.S. farming interests.
Dept. of Veterans Affairs was created to deliver services promised to returning members of the U.S. military.
The Motivation of Bureaucrats
Bureaucrats can be conceived of as rational actors who are budget maximizers.
Greater prestige and responsibility come from running a larger enterprise.
Bureaucrats generally believe in the mission of the agency and want resources to do more.
The relationship between a principal and his or her agent. This relationship may be affected by the fact that each is motivated by self-interest, yet their interests may not be well aligned.
The Problem of Bureaucratic Control
Ultimately, bureaucrats can be thought of as agents with multiple principals
President, Congress, courts, the people
Two potential problems:
Bureaucratic drift: a problem in which implementation is more to the liking of the bureaucracy than faithful to the original intention of the legislation
Coalitional drift: enacted policy changes because the enacting coalition is temporary
Presidential Control of Bureaucracy
Appointment of sympathetic agency heads
Regulatory review prior to final rule enactment
The OMB function of reviewing all agency regulations and other rule making before they become official policy
Changes in budget authority
Bureaucratic reorganization plans
Congressional Control of Bureaucracy
Authorization of agency
Legislative language restricting discretion
Oversight: The effort by Congress, through hearings and investigations to exercise control over the activities of executive agencies
Reforming the Bureaucracy:
Termination and Devolution
One certain way to reduce the size of the bureaucracy would be to eliminate programs and agencies - termination. This is difficult to do, particularly with clientele agencies
Devolution - the policy of removing a program from one level of government and passing it down to a lower level - is another way to downsize the federal government
Privatization—the act of moving all or part of a program from the public sector to the private sector—can also reduce the size of government.
Essentially means that part or all of a public purpose is provided under contract by a private company
Some public responsibilities (like trash collection) can be privatized more easily than others.
Nevertheless, privatization is an increasingly popular policy innovation.
Courts in our Federal System
Courts serve the essential functions of settling disputes and interpreting the law.
The most distinctive feature of the federal judiciary is its independence
it is separate from the other branches
federal judges are appointed for life
The Judicial Process
Because judges have preferences about what government should do, courts are fundamentally political institutions.
While judges are political actors, they are constrained by institutions and norms just as other political actors are.
Constitution & the laws
common law & legal precedents
judicial organization and procedures
Three Broad Categories of Cases
criminal law: cases arising out of actions that violate laws protecting the health, safety, and morals of a community and involve criminal penalties
civil law: cases involving disputes between citizens or between citizens and government that do not involve criminal penalties
public law: cases involving the action of public agencies or officials that involve the powers of government or the rights of citizens. Constitutional claims and settling administrative disputes fall in this category.
Types of Legal Systems
Civil Law Tradition
A legal system based on a detailed, comprehensive legal code usually created by the legislature
Judges have little discretion to interpret what the law means.
Used by most industrialized democracies
Trial procedures designed to determine the truth through the intervention of an active judge who seeks evidence and questions witnesses
Common Law Tradition
A legal system based on the accumulated rulings of judges over time, applied uniformly
Trial procedures designed to resolve conflict through the clash of opposing sides, moderated by a neutral judge
Precedents and Stare decisis
In addition to the law, courts apply legal precedents—prior cases whose principles are used by judges as the bases for their decisions in present cases.
Stare decisis—Latin for "let the decision stand," is a judicial doctrine that a previous decision by a court should apply as a precedent in similar cases until that decision is overruled.
Creating Courts in the U.S.
Only the Supreme Court was established in the Article III of the Constitution.
Founders left the design of "inferior" courts for Congress to establish later
Judiciary Act of 1789
State courts were created by each states' constitution, but looked largely like the federal court system
Organization of the Court System
There are generally three types of courts:
Trial courts: the first court to hear a criminal or civil case
Appellate courts: a court that hears the appeals of trial-court decisions
Supreme Courts: the highest court in a state or the nation, which primarily hears cases on appeal
They are functionally different and hierarchically organized.
The Federal Court System: Jurisdiction
Most cases are heard in state courts (99%).
Cases are heard in federal court if they involve federal laws, treaties, or the U.S. Constitution.
the authority of a court to be the first to hear a case
the authority of a court to review decisions made by lower courts
The Organization of the Court System: Federal Courts
For the most part, Congress has assigned original and appellate jurisdiction to federal courts on a geographic basis:
There are 94 judicial districts, each with a district court
There are 11 regional appellate circuits, plus the D.C. circuit.
There are also several specialized federal courts that have nationwide jurisdiction for particular kinds of cases.
U.S. Tax Court, U.S. Court of International Trade
Federal Trial Courts and Federal Appellate Courts
District judges are assigned on the basis of workload
Currently, there are 663 district judges
The busiest federal district court has 28 judges.
Circuit courts of appeal have between 3 and 28 permanent judgeships, depending on workload.
Appellate courts are collegial courts: hear cases in panels of three judges (sometimes more)
Caseload in Federal Courts
The caseload for federal courts has ballooned in recent decades to more than 450,000 cases per year.
About 80 percent of cases end in district courts (at the trial level).
About 2,000 cases from the appellate courts are appealed to the Supreme Court each year.
The U.S. Supreme Court dismisses most of these cases without a ruling on the merits.
The U.S. Supreme Court
Article III of the Constitution states: "The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court."
By law, the Supreme Court has one Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices.
Justices of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President, confirmed by the Senate and have life tenure.
Supreme Court Appointments
Since the 1950s, nominees to the Supreme Court have been questioned in depth by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Recent nomination fights have been intensely ideological.
Presidents have turned more and more to sitting federal appellate court judges, who have proven records that can be read.
The Power of Judicial Review
the power of the courts to declare actions of the legislative and executive branches invalid or unconstitutional.
Judicial review is not explicitly granted to the Court in the Constitution but was asserted by the Court in Marbury v. Madison (1803).
Marbury v. Madison (1803)
William Marbury had been granted a judicial commission, but the commission had not been delivered in time.
Marbury sued, and the Court ruled that the portion of the Judiciary Act of 1789 that gave the Court power to compel Madison to deliver the commission was invalid.
The Court thus asserted that it had the power to rule a law unconstitutional.
The Use of Judicial Review
The Court did not use the power of judicial review often after Marbury v. Madison, but it has used it more frequently in recent decades.
Judicial review has been used to:
overturn federal law
overturn federal agency actions
challenge presidential executive orders
reverse state actions
The Supreme Court: Access
The Court has discretionary jurisdiction. It chooses which cases to hear based on the preferences and priorities of the justices.
The justices' law clerks review all petitions and generate memos on the various cases, and any one justice can ask that a case be added to the "discuss list".
The nine justices meet in conference to decide which cases will be heard by the Court
Writ of certiorari: a formal request by an appellant to have the Supreme Court review a decision of a lower court
It takes the vote of FOUR justices to grant certiorari.
Generally, certiorari is granted when:
there are conflicting decisions by two or more lower courts
there are conflicts between a lower court decision and a previous Supreme Court decision
Supreme Court: Briefs
Parties to the case file briefs.
Briefs are documents in which the attorneys explain - using legal precedents - why the Court should rule in their favor.
Amicus curiae briefs are filed by those who are interested in the case but not a party to it.
Supreme Court: Oral Arguments
Once all party briefs are filed, a case is scheduled for oral arguments.
Attorneys appear before the Court, present their arguments, and answer questions from the justices.
Each side is given 30 minutes to present their arguments
Oral arguments are often interrupted
by the Justices for questions.
Supreme Court: After the Arguments
Private conference of the justices, usually each Friday
The case is discussed and a preliminary vote taken.
One of the members of the majority is assigned the task of writing a majority opinion
Drafts of the opinion are circulated, and changes may be suggested
Justices in the minority write one or more dissenting opinions