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power away from a political party at a single election, and this fact is a check on hasty changes in national policy. The President serves a 4-year term; Members of the House of Representatives serve a 2-year term; Senators serve a 6-year term, and only one-third of the Senators are elected at any one national election. Therefore, we cannot have a sudden and complete change of Federal officials at any one time.
Any Federal court, in deciding a law case, may declare that a Federal law is unconstitutional. If the Supreme Court agrees with the decision, the law, although it has been deliberately passed by the Congress and approved by the President, is void and of no effect. By such a decision the Judicial Branch checks the Legislative Branch. It also sometimes checks the Executive Branch by holding that a law-enforcing officer has acted beyond his powers in attempting to enforce the law in an illegal way.
While the President is given the power to appoint judges of the Federal courts and thus to put into important judicial positions men who think as he does about national problems, his appointments must be approved by a majority vote of the Senate an effective check on his appointive power. The Senate can in the same way check other important Presidential appointments, such as those of our ambassadors to foreign countries and the heads of Federal departments and agencies.
The President may negotiate treaties, but they become effective only with the consent of two-thirds of the Senate. He is Commander in Chief of our Army and Navy and may legally do many things which might bring about a war, but both Houses of the Congress must agree to a declaration of war. This joint control of foreign relations is a very important part of our “check and balance” principle.
The President plans a budget of money to be raised and spent in operating the Federal Government and presents it to the Congress. The Legislative Branch may check him by refusing to approve his budget or by refusing to raise the money to meet its requirements. You will recall that all money bills must get their legislative start in the House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives may, through impeachment proceedings, bring charges against any executive or judicial officer of the United States. These charges are presented to the Senate which is authorized to act as judge in all impeachment cases. If the person is found guilty he is removed from office. The power of impeachment gives the Legislative Branch a check on both of the other branches of our Government.
These checks are for the purpose of keeping a balance of power among all the parts of our government organizations. They assure us that no one part will take all the power into its own hands.
THINGS TO DO
Questions to discuss in your study group:
1. When a person becomes naturalized, of what two government units does he or she become a citizen?
2. Why do you think that it was wise to divide the authority of our National Government among three separate branches ?
3. Name some of the principles of our government which have led people to come to this country from foreign lands.
Complete each of the following:
1. Four of the basic principles of the organization of our government are:
2. Two ways in which the Legislative Branch may be checked by the other branches of the Government are:
3. Two ways in which the Executive Branch may be checked by the other branches of the Government are:
4. Two ways in which the Judicial Branch may be checked by the other branches of the Government are:
Some Basic Principles of the United States Government
(2) PRINCIPLES OF THE GOVERNMENT'S
RELATIONSHIP TO THE CITIZEN
"Government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
-Abraham Lincoln. *
We have now discussed all the basic factors of group life-authority, purpose or objective, organization, contacts, and principles and standards—as applied to local, State, and National Government groups in this country. In chapter 29 we considered certain basic principles of government organization which the people of the United States have established for themselves and in which they wholeheartedly believe.
In this last chapter we shall review the basic principles of our Government and Constitution which have to do with the relationship of every citizen and inhabitant of this broad land to the governing organizations and groups in which he or she has membership. We believe that these basic principles are the strong foundation without which successful democracy cannot exist. The details which we give you in describing these principles are in some cases peculiar to the United States, but the principles themselves are the bedrock on which must be built up every “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” (See Figure 60.)
THE PRINCIPLE OF REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT Our Constitution is based on the principle that the people actually take part in government through chosen representatives. It is never possible to get all the people of this great country together in one place to make their own
Some Basic Principles of our
Relationship of the
Supremacy of Law
Government by and
Protection for the