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Flashcards in The Constitution Deck (8)
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Is the US constitution unitary or federal?

Under a unitary constitution, such as the United Kingdom's, decision-making power is centralised in one authority, such as the Westminster parliament. Under a federal constitution, such as the United States', quasi-autonomous states are delegated substantial powers to resolve issues in their own ways, with the central government exercising relatively limited power, usually over areas such as defence.


Where and when was the US constitution written?

It was written in 1787, in Philadelphia in the Assembly Room of the Pennsylvania State House. This room is now known as Independence Hall.


How was the constitution a compromise between slave and free states?

The three fifths compromise is reflective of the how the slaves were treated in the Constitution. Under the 3/5th compromise the southern slaves states would receive representation in Congress based on their free population plus 3/5ths of the slave population. Many in the North wanted slavery outlawed under the Constitution.


Which branch of government has the power of impeachment? Give examples.

The House of Representatives 'shall have the sole power of Impeachment'. This would then be forwarded to the Senate for trial, so although the House can impeach, the senate can try those accused.

For example:
Donald Trump was impeached in 2021, on the charge of incitement of insurrection. This was acquitted. Although 57 of the 100 senators voted guilty, a supermajority is needed.

Thomas Porteous was impeached in 2010, on charges of accepting bribes and making false statements under penalty of perjury. He was found guilty; removed from office and disqualified from holding future office.


Which branch of government is in charge of foreign relations?

The executive branch are in charge of foreign relations.


What majority in Congress is needed to overturn a Presidential veto? Give examples.

A 2/3 supermajority is needed in Congress to overturn a Presidential veto.

For example:
In 2016 Obama's “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act” was overwhelmingly rejected. This bill allows relatives of the victims of 9/11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia.

In 2016 Obama vetoed the Restoring Americans' Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, which repealed parts of the Affordable Care Act and ended federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Override attempt failed in House, 241–186 (285 votes needed).


How can a President bypass formal treaties which require congressional approval. Give examples.

Executive Agreement. Though Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution gives the president the power to make treaties subject to Senate approval, the president can bypass the Senate by entering into an executive agreement with another nation.

For example:
After the outbreak of WW2 Franklin D. Roosevelt negotiated an executive agreement that gave the United Kingdom 50 overage destroyers in exchange for 99-year leases on certain British naval bases in the Atlantic.


Why is judicial review such an important power of the Supreme Court? Give example.

Judicial Review is the power of the Supreme Court to review laws and actions from Congress and the President to determine whether they are constitutional. This important as it is part of the checks and balances that the three branches of the federal government use in order to limit each other and ensure a balance of power.

For example:
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954), the Court ruled that U.S. state laws establishing racial segregation in public schools are unconstitutional, even if the segregated schools are otherwise equal in quality.