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The U.S. Constitution: Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances
Terms in this set (73)
separation of powers
a system in which basic governmental roles are divided between several branches
checks and balances
controls exercised by each branch of government to limit the power of the other branches
Articles of Confederation
Ineffective document that governed the U.S. prior to our current Constitution
First part of Constitution; defines the GOALS of our government
Chief Executive of the United States
1. Great Compromise (House/Senate)
2. 3/5 Compromise (Enslaved People)
3. Electoral College (Select President)
Legislative, Executive, Judicial
Three branches of government outlined in Articles I, II, and III of the U.S. Constitution
Main responsibility of the LEGISLATIVE branch
Main governing body of the LEGISLATIVE branch
The "necessary and proper" clause, (a.k.a. the "elastic" clause)
Gives Congress the power to create laws
Senate and House of Representatives
Two chambers of the U.S. Congress
Number of voting members of the House of Representatives
Proportional by population; bigger states have more representatives
System used to determine representation in the HoR
Minimum age for HoR
Term of office for HoR
Two powers of HoR
1. Initiate (start) all revenue (tax and spending) bills
2. Impeach (formally accuse) public officials
Speaker of the House
Leader of the HoR
Number of members of the Senate
Equal; 2 per state, regardless of population
System used to determine representation in the Senate
Minimum age for Senate
Term of office for Senate
Two powers of the Senate
1. Approve treaties and presidential appointments
2. Try impeachments
Vice President of the United States
President of the Senate
Carry out the laws
Main role of the EXECUTIVE branch
Main players of the EXECUTIVE branch
The President, the Vice President, and the Cabinet
How old must a person be to serve as POTUS?
What is the term of office of a U.S. President?
How many terms is a president allowed to serve, assuming s/he manages to win re-election?
2 terms (22nd Amendment)
What is the main responsibility of the Judicial Branch?
Interpret laws (decide what they mean and how they should be applied)
How many justices serve on the U.S. Supreme Court?
What is the term of office for federal judges?
Life ("during good behavior")
What types of cases are heard by the U.S. Supreme Court?
Cases appealed from lower federal courts; cases appealed from state supreme courts; disputes between states
How can the judicial branch (courts) CHECK the executive branch (president +)?
1. Serve for life (cannot be removed/replaced by president)
2. Declare acts of the president and/or the executive branch to be unconstitutional (judicial review)
How can the executive branch (president +) CHECK the judicial branch (courts)?
Appoint federal judges and Supreme Court justices; grant pardons and reprieves
How can the judicial branch (courts) CHECK the legislative branch (Congress)?
Declare acts of Congress to be unconstitutional (judicial review); serve for life
How can the legislative branch (Congress) CHECK the executive branch (President +)?
1. Override a presidential veto
2. Withhold funding for presidential initiatives
3. Reject appointments and treaties
4. Impeach the president or vice president
How can the legislative branch (Congress) CHECK the judicial branch (courts)?
1. Impeach judges and justices
2. Reject appointments to the federal courts
3. Propose constitutional amendments to override judicial decisions
How can the executive branch (President +) CHECK the legislative branch (Congress)?
1. Veto bills
2. Adjourn (close) and/or recalling congress
Who has the power to impeach public officials?
House of Representatives
Who has the power to TRY impeachments of public officials?
Who presides over the Senate in the case of an impeachment trial for the POTUS?
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
rule by the people; a system in which the government's power is derived from its people
personal liberties and privileges
a system in which the people exercise their political power by electing representatives to protect their interests
restrictions on the authority of government that are designed to prevent an abuse of power
a system of government in which the states and the national government share powers
What is the purpose of the Electoral College?
To choose the president
How many electors make up the Electoral College?
How many votes are required to win the Electoral College?
How is the number of electors per state determined?
# Representatives + # Senators = # Electors
Who has the power to review actions of the federal government to determine whether or not those actions are constitutional?
Federal Courts/Supreme Court
What is judicial review?
The power of the federal courts to review actions of the federal government to determine whether or not those actions are constitutional.
Who has the power to veto acts of Congress?
What do the president, our senators and representatives, and our federal judges all pledge to defend?
The U.S. Constitution
Who nominates ambassadors, judges, and cabinet members?
Who approves presidential nominations?
Who settles disputes between states?
The Supreme Court
Who controls the federal budget?
Where must all tax bills originate (start)?
House of Representatives
Who has the power to declare war?
Who is the Commander in Chief of the U.S. armed forces?
Who presides over the Senate, except during a presidential impeachment trial?
The Vice President
Who has the power to print (coin) money?
What is the main responsibility of the Judicial branch?
To interpret laws
What is the cabinet?
A group of presidential advisers, including the heads of the fifteen executive departments
What is the job of the cabinet?
To advise the president
How many electors represent the state of Washington in the electoral college?
How many separate departments make up the executive branch of our government?
15: State, Treasury, Defense, Justice, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health/Human Services, Housing/Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Education, Veterans, Homeland Security
Who casts the tie-breaking vote in the Senate EXCEPT in the case of a presidential impeachment trial?
Who selects Supreme Court justices?
Appointed by the president; approved by the Senate
Who selects the POTUS?
Electoral College (538 electors from 50 states + DC)
Who selects U.S. Senators?
Voters of each state
Who selects U.S. Representatives?
Voters of each congressional district
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