Week 2 Objectives: In Week 2, we will explore the three branches of government, and differentiate the powers granted to the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the federal government by the U.S. Constitution, as well as the concepts of separation of powers and checks and balances, as established by the U.S. Constitution. These topics are as relevant today as they were when the U.S. Constitution was created.
Post a total of three substantive responses each week. A substantive reply is:
- A minimum of 175 words.
- Notes facts from the materials in the Learning Activities folder with references and citations.
- Includes your thoughts about those facts.
- Includes references in APA 7 format.
- Be nice and don’t talk politics – we’re all on the same side here.
- Your first post is due Thursday and should be a stand-alone post that starts a discussion thread.
- Then between Tuesday and Monday, reply at least once to any instructor post and reply at least once to another classmate.
DISCUSSION TOPICS & QUESTIONS
Choose one topic for your initial main post and then select a different topic for your reply message to a classmate. Your reply to one of my posts can be on any topic (so my response to your initial post or my response to any other classmates’ initial post).
Topic One: The Powers of Congress: Article I, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution provides to Congress “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” Considering that throughout the course of U.S. history, the three federal branches have jockeyed for power via the system of “checks and balances,” analyze why congressional powers were listed first in the Constitution in Article I. After reviewing the readings on this topic in the Week 2 Learning Activities Folder, consider the following:
- How do having two chambers and a committee system affect Congress’s policymaking role?
- Do you see Congress today as still having the most power of the three branches? Why or why not?
- What other continual conflicts do you see between the three branches?
Topic Two: The Powers of the President: Article II, Section 1, Clause 1, of the U.S. Constitution provides to the president that “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” We tend to think of the presidency as a powerful office. After reviewing the readings on this topic in the Week 2 Learning Activities Folder, consider the following:
- How is the president powerful?
- How is the presidency limited in power?
Topic Three: The Powers of the Supreme Court: Article III, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution provides that the “judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” In the Judicial Branch video, we learned about the structure of the court system, how justices are appointed and removed, and how justices interpret the U.S. Constitution using the concept of judicial review. After reviewing the readings on this topic in the Week 2 Learning Activities Folder, consider the following:
- In what ways does the doctrine of judicial review interfere with the right of “we the people” to pass laws that “seem most likely to affect our safety and happiness?”
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of such a doctrine?
Topic Four: Separation of Powers / Checks and Balances: In Week 1, we learned that federalism is a system of shared but separate powers between the federal government and the states; the readings in the Week 2 Learning Activities folder discuss the three branches of the U.S. government (the executive, the legislative, the judiciary) and how they have separate and shared powers that created a system of checks and balances to curb government power overall (preserving the states’ powers) and to prevent one branch from seizing all of the power. After reviewing the readings on this topic in the Week 2 Learning Activities Folder, consider the following:
- What are the three branches of the federal government?
- How is the separation of powers achieved for these three branches?
- What is the purpose of the separation of powers?
- What is an example occurring today that demonstrates one branch of government checking another?