Electoral college/ Supreme Court/ Amendments

Electoral College Today
– 538 total electors/270 needed to win
– States electoral votes= members of congress
– State by state election (federalism)
– Every ten years reapportionment, change in some states numbers
– Winner take all in most every state- Bush wins N.C. by 1 vote, gets all 15 Electoral College votes
-Example- each party in N.C. ballot chooses 15 electors (13 representatives, 2 senators)/ public votes in November/ candidate with most votes in NC wins the state and his partys electors gote for NC in the electoral college.
Problems with Electoral College
1. “Unpopular President”- President can lose the total popular vote in the country, but win the electoral college
2. “Faithless Elector”- electors who don’t vote for the candidate they are pledged to
3. No third party representation
6 Themes Evident Throughout Constitution
– Each principle illustrates how this document is a document of limitations
>> shows distrust of government
– Colonists fearful of powerful government because of England
Six Basic Principles of the Constitution
1. Popular Sovereignty
2. Limited Government
3. Separation of Powers
4. Checks and Balances
5. Federalism
6. Judicial Review
1. Popular Sovereignty
– All power held by the people- Government rules only with the consent of the people
– Voting = Power
– Popular Sovereignty has evolved over time
>> 1700’s- rich, white men who owned property
>> By 1850- White men over 21, no property
>> 1870- 15th Amendment added black men
>> 1920- 19th Amendment added women
>> 1964- 24th Amendment banned poll taxes, literacy tests
>> 1971- 26th Amendment lowered age to 18
2. Limited Government
– Because the people hold the power, government can do only what the people allow it to do.
– Change may not be instant. Through elections people can altar government elections
– Constitutionalism- Government must obey the laws established by the constitution
– Government is NOT all powerful, there are limits on what it can do
– Constitution is the supreme law of all land and all government officials are subject to the document (rule of law)
– Evident throughout the constitution, use of negative language throughout
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3. Separation of Powers
– Framers worried about government that was too powerful
– Dive powers and responsibilities within government into 3 branches
– *Legislative*- congress- law making, makes laws, coins, money, taxes, borrows money, declares war
– *Executive*- president- law enforcing, commander in chief, appoints judges, pardons, vetoes,
– *Judicial*- Supreme Court- law interpreting
4. Checks and Balances
– Way to limit power of each branch in government
– Each branch has powers (checks) that limit the other branches
Ex. Legislative makes a law- Executive can veto
Ex. Executive vetoes- judicial can override veto
Ex. The judges make a law unconstitutional- legislative can make an amendment to the constitution (judicial review)
Ex. The Executive appoints a judge- legislative must confirm or reject
5. Federalism
– Shared powers between national and state governments
– National government not to strong, like England, but strong enough to be effective unlike the Articles of Confederation
6. Judicial Review
– Supreme Courts (judicial branch) most important power
– The power to review any action taken by government and declare it unconstitutional. Since the constitution is the supreme law in the country any action found unconstitutional is thrown out- not to be allowed or enforced
– This allows the Supreme Court to check the power of congress and the president
– Only way to change decision- amend the constitution
Marbury v. Madison
– Case that established the courts right to use judicial review
– President Adams loses the election of 1800 to Thomas Jefferson, but before he left office he appointed many new federalist judges- “midnight judges”. Jefferson takes over power and finds commissions for new judges on his desk. Ordered Secretary of State James Madison not to deliver them. John Marbury one of the appointed judges sues Madison to get his commission.
– Congress had passed a law- the judiciary act of 1789 that gave the Supreme Court the power to make Jefferson and Madison turn over the commissions.
– The Supreme Court led by John Marshall, agreed with Marbury and said he should have gotten his commission, BUT, they ruled the judiciary act was unconstitutional because congress could not give them powers they did not get from the constitution.
– Threw out judiciary act , and proved the power of judicial review.
Amendment Process
1. Amendment is proposed by congress by a 2/3 vote in both houses
2. Amendment is ratified by the state legislatures of 3/4(38) of the states
1st amendment
Freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition
-Freedom of religion, speech, press, petition, and assembly
2nd amendment
Bearing arms
-Right to bear arms
3rd Amendment
Quartering of troops
– No quartering of troops
4th amendment
Searches and seizures
– Police must have a search warrant and reason to come into house
– Exclusionary rule
5th amendment
Criminal Proceedings
– Grand Jury-issue indictment
– No double jeopardy
– Not incriminating yourself- don’t have to testify against uself
– Due process- fairness system
– Eminent Domain- Government may take property
6th amendment
Rules for trials
– speedy trial
– told of charges
– confront witness
– lawyer
– court order- subpoena
7th amendment
Civil trials
– 20$
8th amendment
Punishment for crimes
– Bail
– Cruel or unusual punishment
9th amendment
Unenumerated rights
– People’s rights
– Any other rights
– Ex abortion/gay marriage
10th amendment
Powers reserved to the states
– Sates rights
– Any powers not given to federal government, are state powers
Supreme Court basics
– Made up of members- the Chief Justice and 8 other justices
– “Guardians of the Constitution” – only hear cases concerning constitutional issues
– Members are appointed for life
If you don’t like the result of your case you can appeal
– Appeal- a higher court may uphold, overrule or in some way modify the decision appealed from the lower court
>> the higher court, however, doesn’t always have to hear your case
– Cases must make their way through the court system before they got to the Supreme Court otherwise they are not considered ripe
How Cases Reach the Supreme Court
– 8,000 plus cases appeared to court each year
– Court agrees to hear less than 200,000 cases a year, full opinions on less than 100
– “Rule of four” – Four justices must want to hear a case
– Most cases sent to,Supreme Court by writ of certiorari- order for lower court to send a case up to Supreme Court
How the Supreme Court Opperates
– Term runs from first Monday in October through early summer- October 5, 2009
– *Is not a normal trial- no witnesses, or defendant*
– Briefs- detailed, written explanation of the case filed by each side before oral arguments
– Oral arguments- each side limited for 30 minutes
– Conference- Justices meet privately to debate and vote on case
– Decision announced weeks/months after case is heard
Decisions/ Opinions
– Majority Opinion- written explanation of the court decision, the “winning side”, establishes a precedent
– Precedent- Rulings establish a law for all similar cases to follow, court will not rule on other similar cases- refer to precedent
– Concurring opinion- written also by the majority want to add or emphasize a point not included in the majority opinion
– Dissenting Opinion- “losing side”, written by those disagreeing with the majority decision
– Decisions- 9-0, 8-1, 7-2, 6-3, 5-4 (usually)