POS 301 Principles and Articles of the United States Constitution Worksheet

POS-301: Principles and Articles of the United States Constitution Worksheet

Part I: Principles of the Constitution

The constitution consists of some primary principles. Briefly explain the following principles and their significance in shaping American government.


Self-governance can be defined as a system in which persons of a given country are free to control their affairs. There is no interference or external control or any outside political authority (Mason & Stephenson, 2015). This principle can be traced back to 1619 when the states started seeking people approval to the laws that they set. Fisher, L. (2014) goes further to conjecture that this desire to have open democracy led to the 4th July Independence.

Separation of Powers:

The doctrine of separation of powers requires that the arms of government (the legislature, the executive and the judiciary) be as independent as possible. Mason & Stephenson (2015) Observes that the concentration of power in one person can be a serious threat to liberty. The American government has employed this principle to ensure that the powers vested in the president and the legislature have no direct link.

Checks and Balances:

After the emergence of what Mason & Stephenson (2015) refers to a presidential system of government in 1937, there has been a struggle by the Congress and the president to control the national government. However, the check and balance system ensures that the legislature and the executive perform their duties according to the constitutional provisions. Therefore, the judicial system serves as the referees, and it checks on the political as well as personal motives of the other two arms. Also, the Congress checks the president and likewise the president checks the Congress through veto power.

Part II: Balance of Power

In the space below, write an analysis of approximately 250 words on how the system of checks and balances in the federal government helps to limit the concentration of power.

  • Cite specific examples.
  • Defend your rationale.
  • Utilize the required readings, academic websites, and the GCU Library as resources for this assignment.

Part III: The Three Branches of the Federal Government

Answer the following questions. Each response should be 150-200 words.

1. What are the duties and responsibilities of each branch of the federal government?


The legislature deals enactment of laws and apportioning the required finances to the government operations. The Legislative functions are vested in the House of Commons and the Senate. Fisher (2014) states that other than making law, these arm of government is responsible for deliberating on matters of national importance. For example going to war with another country or increasing a certain portion of expenditure on public goods. It also acts as the custodian of the country’s finances. Any money raised and spent by the executive has to be approved by the legislature through a budgetary process.

Other functions include the oversight role of the executive and amending the constitution. Fisher further states that the Congress has the power to confirm or impeach executive appointees including the president. The constitution has bestowed powers to the legislature to investigate high government officials. Lastly, the Congress has the authority to ratify treaties by a two-thirds supermajority.


The president appoints the members of this body of the government. The judiciary system comprises the federal courts as well as the Supreme Court. The Congress has the power to set the jurisdiction of the federal courts. The Supreme Court can overturn the rulings of the federal courts since it is the highest court in the land. Firstly, the Supreme Court is mandated to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. It does this by interpreting the laws based on the controversies before it (Fisher, 2014).

The courts also indirectly participate in the process of making laws while interpreting the constitution. These laws arise from the judicial jurisprudence that is used by judges to make their ruling. This arm of government may also provide an advisory function even though it is not expressly provided for in the constitution. Lastly, the judiciary serves as the protector and custodian of fundamental rights.


The powers of the executive branch are vested in the president although he works in close collaboration with the vice president and other members of the cabinet. According to the US constitution, the president has the power to veto or reject a proposal that is intended to become law. He appoints members of different government agencies and federal judges. He negotiates for treaties and can grant pardons for crimes.

However, the entire executive is charged with the administration and implementing policies that have been passed by the legislature. According to Morone, & Kersh (2013) these administrative functions are carried out by the federal agencies. The vice president should be ready to take up the duties of the president in case the president is unable to execute them. The cabinet, on the other hand, serves as the advisory agency while at the same time playing a critical role in the succession of the president. Finally, the executive office ensures that the policies passed by the Congress are implemented throughout the country through its state agencies.

2. Describe how these three branches are supposed to interact.

These three branches are supposed to work hand in hand to enhance democracy. Even though each division has its designated powers, it should not use them to frustrate the efforts of the other branch. For instance, while appointing judges, the president should keep personal issues aside and choose the most suitable person. The legislature on the other should also approve or disapprove the appointee on technical and not on political affiliation or any other issue other than constitutional.

3. How effectively do you feel the three branches interact with each other today?

Currently, the three arm seem to be interacting properly. Nonetheless, several cases reveal a lag in the system. For instance, President Obama did not seek the approval of the Congress when he announced the “increased involvement in Iraq and Syria (Mason & Stephenson, 2015). This was despite the fact that the Congress is the only body that has the power to declare war. Another example of conflict of interest is the healthcare bill that was genuinely as well as maliciously interrupted.


Davies, J. C., & Mazurek, J. (2014). Pollution Control in United States: Evaluating the System.


Fisher, L. (2014). Constitutional dialogues: Interpretation as political process. Princeton

University Press.

Mason, A. T., & Stephenson, G. (2015). American constitutional law: introductory essays and

selected cases. Routledge.

Morone, J. A., & Kersh, R. (2013). By the people: debating American Government. Oxford University Press.

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