Topic 11. Institutions of the United States, Ejercicios de Derecho. Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF)
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Topic 11. Institutions of the United States, Ejercicios de Derecho. Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF)

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Asignatura: LEGAL ENGLISH, Profesor: Joan Solanes, Carrera: Dret, Universidad: UPF
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Overview

™  Federal level ™  Legislative power: the Congress

™  Senate ™  House of Representatives

™  The executive power ™  President, Vice-President, executive departments ™  Agencies: executive and independent agencies

™  The judicial power: federal law ™  Supreme Court of the United States ™  Federal Courts: district courts, courts of appeals

™  State level: depending on the States

The Congress (I): the Senate

™  Election and composition: a states’ representative chamber ™  100 members: 2 per State regardless the population (50 States) ™  No represented: Washington D.C, Puerto Rico and other territories ™  Mandate: six-year term ™  Electoral system: a majoritarian method ™  The Vice-President is the President of the Senate: tie-breaking vote / casting vote

™  Powers ™  Almost equal role with the House in passing a bill

™  In some cases the House has the monopoly of the legislative initiative: revenue bills and the discussion about appropriation bills

™  Unique functions related to checks and balances in the federal level ™  Advice and consent: secretaries, federal judges, heads of agencies ™  Foreign affairs: treaties, ambassadors ™  Try impeachments of federal officials initiated by the House ™  Election of the Vice-President in case of electoral college deadlock: once in 1837

The Congress (II): House of Representatives

™  Election and composition: the popular chamber ™  435 voting members: each State in proportion to its population ™  5 delegates: District of Columbia, Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, Northern

Mariana Islands ™  1 resident commissioner: Puerto Rico ™  Mandate: two-year term ™  Electoral system: a majoritarian method

™  Powers ™  Almost equal role with the Senate in passing a bill

™  In some cases the House has the monopoly of the legislative initiative: revenue bills and the discussion about appropriation bills

™  Unique functions ™  The impeachment of federal officials (Senate try after them) ™  Election of the President in case of electoral college deadlock: twice (1801-1825)

The President

™  Election ™  Direct democracy legitimacy: electoral college mechanism ™  Requisites: natural-born citizen, at least 35 years old, permanent resident for at

least 14 years ™  Mandate: 4 years-term and term limit of two mandates (XXII Amendment,1947)

™  Powers ™  Legislative role: the veto power and legislative facilitator ™  Executive powers

™  Commander-in-chief: head of the military ™  Direction of the foreign affairs policy ™  Head of the administrative apparatus: departments, executive agencies and

(independent agencies) ™  Nominations of federal judges

Agencies

™  The New Deal and the Regulatory State: the era of agencies and regulations ™  Executive agencies: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ™  Independent agencies: Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Federal Energy

Regulatory Commission (FERC), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), etc.

™  Why agencies? ™  Expertise: non-partisan politics ™  Permanent regulation and supervision ™  Multiple functions: concentration of powers

™  The problems of agencies ™  Democratic legitimacy ™  Undermining the President: lack of coordination ™  Accountability issue: in particular, judicial review

The judiciary (I): Supreme Court

™  The Court ™  Number of justices: Congress duty to establish (currently 9) ™  Chief Justice and Associate Justices ™  Nominee by the President, consented by the Senate ™  Life tenure: resignation, retirement and impeachment ™  Its existence is mandatory (Article III)

™  Functioning ™  Discretionary appellate jurisdiction: 100 over 10000 cases filed annually ™  Writ of certiorari (petitioner/responder), oral argument and decision/judgment ™  Clerks

™  Role in the system ™  Supreme interpret of federal law: legal and constitutional federal issues ™  Precedent / stare decisis

The judiciary (II): lower federal courts

™  In general ™  Not mandatory by the Constitution ™  Nominated by the President, consented by the Senate ™  Life tenure: resignation, retirement and impeachment

™  Original jurisdiction (district courts) ™  General courts: 94 District Courts ™  Specialized courts: bankruptcy, tax, federal claims, etc.

™  Appellate courts (circuit courts) ™  Mandatory appellate court: no discretionary power to select cases ™  11 Courts of Appeals and the District of Columbia Circuit ™  Specialized courts: veteran, armed forces, federal circuit, etc.

The States

™  The state level is very similar to the federal level, there are differences among States ™  50 States ™  Special status: District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and other territories

™  Legislative power ™  Bicameral structure: Senate and House of Representatives/State Assembly/House of Delegates ™  Unicameral structure: Nebraska

™  Executive power ™  Governor ™  “Plural executive”: some officials elected directly from the people (Attorney General, Sheriff, etc.)

™  Judicial power: supreme interpret of state law, subject to federal law and federal courts ™  Original jurisdiction: district courts or superior courts ™  Appellate jurisdiction: courts of appeals and supreme courts

The distribution of powers between the federal government and the States

™  Classical federation ™  U.S. Constitution establishes the powers of the federal

government (enumerated powers): the remain powers are left to the States

™  The issue of the implied powers ™  The Commerce Clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3)

™  Conflict between federal and state law ™  Article VI: supremacy clause ™  Federal courts and the Supreme Court: the final arbiters

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