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Political system of USA


The Us Constitution defines a federal systems of government in which
certain powers are delegated to the national government; other powers
fall to the states. The national government consists of executive,
legislative, and judicial branches that are designed to check and
balance one another; all are interrelated and overlapping, yet each is
quite distinct.

The American Constitution is based on the doctrine of the separation of
powers between the executive, legislative and judiciary. The main text
of the Constitution comprises seven articles.

Article I vests all legislative powers in the Congress- the House of
Representatives and the Senate. Among those powers are the right to levy
taxes, borrow money, regulate interstate commerce, provide for military
forces, declare war, and determine member seating and rules of
procedure. The House initiates impeachment proceedings, and the Senate
adjudicates them.

Article II vests executive power in the president. The president’s
formal responsibilities include those of chief executive,
commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and treaty maker (two-thirds of
the Senate must concur). The powers of appointment of the president are
vast but are subjected to the “advice and consent” (majority approval)
of the Senate (Article II, section 2). The informal responsibilities of
the president have grown to embrace political leadership, including
proposing legislation to Congress.

Article III places judicial power in the hands of the courts. The
Constitution is interpreted by the courts, and the Supreme Court of the
United States is the final court of appeal from the state and lower
federal courts. The power of Us courts to rule on the constitutionality
of laws is known as judicial review. Few courts in the world have that
extraordinary power, which is not explicitly mentioned in the

The Presidency, Congress and the Courts were given limited and specific
powers; and a series of checks and balances, whereby each branch of
government has certain authority over the others, were also included to
make sure these powers were not abused. Government power was further
limited by means of a dual system of government, in which the federal
government was only given the powers and responsibilities to deal with
problems facing the nation as a whole (foreign affairs, trade, control
of the army and navy, ets.). The remaining responsibilities and duties
of government were reserved to the individual state governments. The
governments of the 50 states have structures closely paralleling those
of the federal government. Each state has a governor, a legislature, and
a judiciary. Each state has its own constitution.

Since the Constitution was ratified in 1788, there have been 26
amendments to it. The first 10, known as the Bill of Rights, established
a number of individual liberties. Among them are the freedom of
religion, speech, and the press, the right of peaceful assembly, and the
right to petition the government to correct wrongs. Other right guarded
the citizens against unreasonable searches, arrests, and seizures of
property, and established a system of justice guaranteeing orderly

Notable among the other amendments are the 13th, 14th, and 15th, which
abolished slavery and declared former slaves citizens with the right to
vote; the 17th, which provided for the direct election of US senators;
and the 19th, which effected women’s suffrage.

Executive branch

The executive branch of the government is headed by the President, who
must be a natural-born citizen of the United States, at least 35 years
old, and a resident of the country for at least 14 years. The formal
responsibilities of the President include those of chief executive,
treaty maker, Commander-in-Chief of the army, and head of state. In
practice, they have grown to include drafting legislation, formulating
foreign policy, personal diplomacy, and leadership of his political

The President is elected for a term of four years and can only be
reelected for one more term (22nd amendment – adopted after Franklin D.
Roosevelt’s four successive terms). The President was originally
intended to be little more than a ceremonial Head of State, as well as
Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, but the federal governments
increasing involvement in the nations economic life and its prominent
role in the international affairs, where secrecy and speed are often
essential, has increased the importance of the Presidency over Congress.

The Presidential elections in the USA are held in two stages.

The President is elected on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in
November of a leap year and takes office at noon on January 20. The
President is not elected directly, but by an Electoral College. The
electors who actually choose the President are now completely pledged in
advance to one person and their names have almost entirely disappeared
from the ballot papers to be replaced by the names of the candidates
themselves. The candidates who win the most votes within a state receive
all its Electoral College votes, no matter how small the majority.

The members of the Presidents Cabinet – the secretaries of State,
Treasure, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human
Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Education,
Energy, and Veterans Affairs and the attorney general – are appointed by
the President with the approval of the Senate; they are described in the
25th Amendment as «the principal officers of the executive departments»
, but much power has come to be exercised by presidential aides who are
not in the Cabinet. Thus, the Presidents Executive Office includes the
Office of Management and Budget, the Council of Economic Advisers, and
the National Security Council.

The President now proposes a full legislative program to Congress,
although the President, the Cabinet and staff are not, and cannot be,
members of Congress. This means that the various bills must be
introduced into the House of Representatives or Senate by their members.
The President is consequently completely powerless when faced by an
uncooperative Congress. Given also the difficulties in ensuring that the
laws passed are effectively implemented by the federal bureaucracy, it
has been said that the Presidents only real power is the power to

Legislative branch

The legislative branch of the government is the Congress, which has two
houses: the Senate and the House of Representatives. Powers granted to
Congress under the Constitution include the power to levy taxes, borrow
money, regulate interstate commerce, declare war, seat members,
discipline its own membership, and determine its rules of procedure,

With the exception of revenue bills, which must originate in the House
of Representatives, legislative bills may be introduced in and amended
by either house, a bill – with its amendments – must pass both houses
and be signed by the President before it becomes law. The President may
veto a bill, but a veto can be overridden by a two-thirds vote of both


«Meet the United States of America»

Автори: О. Ф. Вигран, О. М. Константинова, Л.О. Константинова, І. Л.
Крупська, С. І. Теленкова.

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