October 22 Lecture POL327
US constitution: system of checks and balances that divides authority- executive/legislative..
Legislative (congress) makes the law, generally considered the most dangerous component of
government. This creates the possibility of dominating minorities. Congress is divided against
itself to make it more difficult to pass anything that would hurt minorities. Minorities usually
meant religious, like Quakers. Quakers were viewed as enemies because they didn’t support the
revolution, made it worry some to be thrown into a democracy where they represented a tiny
minority. “Faction” group of people motivated by a passion, they are not problematic if they
represent a minority they become a problem when they become a majority. Most common cause
of faction is unequal distribution of wealth this means key minority to become is wealthy.
Charles Beard picked up on this who argues the constitution is best understood if you look at it
from the view of protecting the ruling minority.
Congress was the most dangerous because it passes the laws, the laws are the biggest threats to
minorities because they are most likely to threaten the rights. Executive branch: domestic politics
was to see if the laws were executed, unimportant takes direction from Congress and enforces it.
foreign policy- checks and balances that was designed for domestically now refers also to
foreign. Checks and balances congress was given the right to declare war, appointment of
cabinets, treaties. The president was given the power of commander and chief in the arm forces,
beyond that he sends and receives ambassadors, what that indicates is a set of institutions sharing
power. Every power in the congress there Is an equivalent in executive, only works effectively
when it works together. It also provided for the possibility, power could shift to the executive.
Globalization caused power to shift towards the executive branch, although the president is the
commander and chief of armed forces. Didn’t have a large functioning army, it had a “minute
man approach” – largely safe, long supply lines. If tensions rose, they would have enough time
to mobilize an army due to the geographical location. The role of commander and chief was only
effective when their was a declaration of war. 250 occasions of using soliders on foreign
territory, not big but the role of commander and chief only relevant during periods of war
became a central role in the executive branch. Calculated ambiguity: intentional in allowing
people with different people opinions to vote for the same document for different reasons, where
does the constitution power from. If the states give up power, they have the right to take it back.
Foreign policy- allowed US flexibility in evolving over time, evolution has generally
domestic/foreign policy tended to favor the executive branch. Expansion of federal government
let them regulate commerce between the states, federal government can’t do things within the
state- outlaw slavery, child labor, wages. Though 19 century this distinction was changed that it
could regulate interstate commerce, it required goods to pass from one state to another where the
quality of goods is important the president could argue he should know how these protocols went
about Foreign policy- end of ww2 permanent defense establishment empowered the president to the
extent which was previously unknown. Powers of negotiating treaties
Three branches judiciary: important role in foreign policy. Core institution includes all the
federal boards, appeals, core institution is supreme court- consists of 9 judges, all of which who
are appointed by the president, with consent of the senate, for life only impeachment. Judicial
duties (ambiguity). Basic idea, but not spelt out in constitution, role to keep eye on other
branches, to make sure they won’t over step. Certain circumstances they should over rule if they
conflict with constitution. Why would judges who are appointed be able to overrule elected
officials? It is a power that the courts have.
Marbury vs. Madison: early days of the republic, where first instance that a party was replaced
by opposition. Federalist was replaced by the anti-federalists. Anti-Federalists viewed as extreme
radical, outgoing Adams sought to replace their policies through the judiciary, where they
stacked the courts with reliable federalists who would stand in the way of the new president to
pass anything. “Marbury” Jefferson could refuse to hand over the judge paper, and if the court
passes they can ignore it they don’t have their own police. On the other hand if the court decides
not to initiate it, they would give Jefferson a huge victory where the federalists were not inclined
to do that. 1789 judiciary unconstitutional, supreme court had the right to overrule presidents and
congress pleased Jefferson didn’t have to hand over, defeat for federalist.. but favored the court.
1980s aftermath of Vietnam, would burn USA flags, Reagan tried to outlaw this, passed the law
and someone burned an American flag and was arrested. Only when a case comes to the supreme
court can it be replaced. Power they have used number of occasions.
“Dreadsock” was slave taken from the south to the north, Michigan whichever rights my owner
had no things over it. Courts overruled Missouri compromise, declared any state north of the
Dickson line were free. Though they thought this made no sense so they took it to the Supreme
Court. Supreme Court overruled it because he was a considered a slave and slaves were
Courts have tried to stay out of foreign policy, courts are legal institution not political, foreign is
not legal questions, proper place of checks and balances tends to be in the executive branch and
legislative branch. Political questions doctrine: if president does something that someone doesn’t
like, they can’t take it to the courts, they take it to congress against an unpopular policy. Stay out
of political foreign policy issues. 2 ) argue that when the president does something, the soldiers
sent into conflict, those can’t sue president; the court thinks the congress has given them
complied consent. All 3) courts have generally acknowledged executive privilege: accounting
office requested information on formulation of energy policy. Dick Chaney made an energy
panel, never said who was on it guessed it was those in the oil industry, Chaney said he would
not give access, was to get opinions and if they don’t make public who these people are.
Supreme Court agreed with bush administration, early 1970s similar case, in New York Times vs. US- Pentagon Papers document that put together intelligence reports history of foreign policy
in south East Asia, secret document leaked to press by Daniel Elsberg. Showed Nixon
administration had secret war in Cambodia, bombing. Nixon called editors to stop them from
reporting it, sued them where they decided in favour of New York times, not in favor of
executive privilege, vital to make public make informed decisions.
Water gate scandal, Nixon campaign 1972 broke into democratic campaign and stole their plans,
some got caught, Nixon administration was involved, tapes revealed installed white house tapes
to record what were said in each office, prosecutors wanted to gain access to these tapes, to kn