Constitutional convention. Powers, functions of each branch

Separation of Powers

based on the ideas of Baron Montesquieu of a three-part government
separation of powers between executive, legislative, and judicial branches
all three branches work together in a system of checks and balances

Electoral College

made up of electors from each state who would cast votes to elect the president and VP.
# of electors (538) = # of senators (100) and reps (435) in Congress + 3 electors from Washington, D.C.


The Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787 by 39 delegates
Needed to be ratified by 9/13 states
Federalist Papers - 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay to win support of the Constitution
Debate over a bill of rights

The Articles

2nd part of the Constitution
establish how the government is structured and how the Constitution can be changed through amendments

Legislative Branch

House of Representatives
2-year term
must be 25 yrs old
citizen for 7 years
proposes tax laws
can impeach the pres
6-year term
must be 30 yrs old
citizen for 9 years
approves pres appointments (heads of departments)
ratifies treaties
conducts impea

Executive Branch

President is Chief Executive
4-year term
must be 35 yrs old
native-born citizen
Powers of the President
approves or vetoes laws
conducts foreign relations
makes treaties with foreign governments
nominates cabinet members, ambassadors and federal judges

Judicial Branch

Federal Court System (federal judiciary)- Supreme Court and lower federal courts
interprets the constitution
Called "the guardians of the Constitution"
Federal judges serve for life, unless removed for misconduct
Supreme Court - highest court in the land


division of power between federal and state government

delegated powers

powers granted to Congress (the national government)
borrow and coin money
raise an army and navy
declare war
make treaties
establish post offices

reserved powers

powers not expressly granted to the national government that remain with the states and the people
providing police and fire protection
establishing schools and local governments
regulating businesses within the state

Concurrent Powers

federal and state governments can independently exercise certain powers at the same time
collect taxes
build roads
establish courts
borrow money
make and enforce laws
spend $$ for the general welfare

Supremacy Clause

federal law must be followed in cases involving conflict between federal and state law