Judicial and actions that violate the Constitution.

Judicial review is the process in which the Supreme Court can interpret and overturn local, state or national laws and actions that violate the Constitution. The Constitution does not specifically mention judicial review. It was first used in 1803 in the case of Marbury v. Madison. This case determined that the Judiciary Act of 1789 gave the Court more power than the Constitution allowed, making the law unconstitutional. It is considered one of the most important rulings in Supreme Court history, elevating the judicial branch to an equal status to the other two branches of government.Some powers exclusively held by the Legislative Branch are the ability of Borrowing money on behalf of the United States. Regulation of commerce amongst states and with foreign nations. Collecting taxes, Providing and maintaining a navy or calling a militia and Declaring war.In order to ensure no one person or small group gained too much power, the structure of the national government was divided into three branches to balance the power. The legislative branch (Congress) makes the laws, the executive branch (the president and administrative departments and agencies) carries out and enforces the laws, and the judicial branch (the federal courts) interprets the laws. The Founders gave different powers to each branch to create a limited government and a way for each to check the powers of the others.The U.S. Congress is the legislative branch of the government and is divided into two houses: the House of Representatives and the Senate. Representation in the House is based on each state’s population and is the voice of the people, directly elected by popular vote. The Senate has the same number of representatives from each state. At first, senators were chosen by state legislatures, but in 1913 the Seventeenth Amendment called for direct election by popular vote like for the House. Congress’ powers are limited and expressed powers, meaning they are directly stated in the Constitution. The enumerated powers are a list of items, found in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, that sets Congress’ authoritative capacity. These include economic powers such as levying taxes, borrowing money, coining money, punishing counterfeiting, and regulating commerce. Also included are issues of national defense like declaring war, raising and supporting armed forces, and organizing militias. Congress also has the power to establish courts and post offices, as well as, naturalize citizens. The elastic clause was set up so Congress could deal with any situation the Founders could not anticipate and allows Congress to stretch its powers.The president heads the executive branch, which is made up of several executive departments. The leaders of these departments report to and advise the president. Some of these departments include the Department of Justice, the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Education. Several federal agencies, boards, government corporations, commissions, and advisory boards are part of the executive branch, including the EPA and NASA. Article II, Sections 2 and 3 of the Constitution grants the president with the power to give pardons, make treaties and appoint ambassadors, Supreme Court justices, and other government officials. The president also has the authority to fire executive branch officials, take emergency actions to save the nation, and make agreements with other nations.The Constitution establishes the Supreme Court, whose members serve for life unless they comment a crime. Congress has the authority to establish the lesser courts. The federal court system deals with cases about the U.S. Constitution, foreign treaties, federal laws, international law, and bankruptcies. The dual-court system allows each court to have authority to hear certain kinds of cases in its jurisdiction, meaning the courts’ limits or territory in which it has authority. Most of the judicial branch’s power is from the court’s ability to interpret the Constitution and overrule laws that are unconstitutional.The three branches of government are significantly different today than when our Founders structured them. Early presidents were not as actively involved as today’s presidents. For example, George Washington had very little to do on some days and put advertisements in the newspapers for times he was available to entertain guests. He had very few advisors and staff. The executive branch also had far fewer departments and agencies. Today’s presidents’ schedules are highly detailed and nearly every minute is planned. There are hundreds of White House staff members, millions in the military, and vast numbers of federal bureaucratic employees.Members of Congress were part-time legislatures with many holding other jobs in the early days. The first Congress introduced only 24 bills in the Senate, and 143 in the House. In contrast, today’s members of Congress live and work pretty much year-round in Washington, D.C. and introduce about 10,000 bills a year. In the first three years of the Supreme Court, almost no cases were heard. The Justices, with little to do, were assigned to travel to various district courts when the Court was not in session. In 1891, Congress established the modern federal court system.The Constitution tried to ensure that the three branches of government would need to cooperate to take action on important issues, but this division of power and checks and balances on each other can and does create conflict. Congress and the president work closely together. Usually, the president suggests legislative agendas and works with Congress to enact it. Congress assigns funds for government function, while the executive branch disburses, or spends, the money. This relationship is meant to make sure the president doesn’t become too powerful. For example, the president has the power to make treaties with other countries, but the Senate must approve the treaties become they become law. Congress’ power is limited, too. When Congress passes a law, the president neither signs or vetoes it. Then, the Supreme Court has the power to interpret the law and overturn it if it is found to be constitutional. This system of checks and balances was put in place to control and limit the powers of government, while also requiring the three branches to share powers.The framers of the Constitution, mindful of “taxation without representation” suffered by colonists under the British crown, took care to specify in the Constitution that the ultimate power to tax and spend resides in the hands of the legislative branch – which is closer to the people – not the executive branch. I feel the legislative branch was the right decision to levy and collect the taxes. Since these are representative of the people from each state it would ensure that not one person is control of the handling of the money. If this were to happen then it could lead to someone who eventually take over the government and the states by enforcing their power (similar to a dictator or out of control monarchy).

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