Тема: Американское правительство
The United States is a representative democracy. All government power rests ultimately with the people who direct policies by voting for government representatives. The nation's Constitution defines the powers of national and state governments, the functions and framework of each branch of government, and the rights of individual citizens.
The principle of limited government is basic to the Constitution. When the Constitution was first written, many Americans feared that government power could become concentrated in the hands of a few. Several features were created to guard against this possibility: 1) the federal organization of government; 2) the separation of powers among different branches of government; and 3) a system of check and balances to restrict the powers of each branch.
Under federalism, the principle of limited government was achieved by dividing authority between the central government and the individual states. The federal (national) government has powers over areas of wide concern. For example, it has the power to control communications among states, provide for the national defense and declare war. The states possess those powers which are not given to the national government. For example, each state establishes its own government and criminal justice system, conducts elections, establishes public schools, and marriage and divorce laws. There are certain powers, called concurrent powers, which both the federal and state governments share. Examples include the power to tax and set up courts.
Besides the division of power between state and national governments, power is also limited by the separation of power among three branches — legislative, executive and judicial.
The legislative branch is made up of representatives elected to Congress, which consists of two Houses: the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The Senate is not elected nation-widely. Each state, regardless of population, sends two representatives to the Senate. Every two years 1/3 of the Senate stands for election. The vice-president presides over the Senate. However, he may vote only in the event of a tie.
The members of the House of Representatives are elected in proportion to the population, thus the most heavily populated states have more representatives than the sparsely populated states. Each representative is elected to a two-year term. The official presiding in the House is called a speaker.
The main function of the legislative branch is to make laws. Congress has also the power to tax people, to create a courts system and to declare a war. But the power of Congress is limited. The Supreme Court has the power to declare a law made by Congress unconstitutional.
The executive power is vested into the President and his Cabinet that has 14 executive departments and independent government agencies. The President is elected to a four-year term and can be re-elected to a second term. The Constitution gives the President many important powers and duties. As chief executive, the President appoints heads of federal departments and federal judges, puts into life laws made by Congress, calls sessions and delivers messages to Congress. He can veto any bill adopted by Congress. As head of state, the President represents the country abroad, entertains foreign leaders and addresses the public. The President also serves as commander-in-chief of the armed forces and as head of his political party. The President starts his duties after the inauguration day that takes place at the end of January.
In the USA the President and Congress are elected separately, housed separately, and they operate separately.
The judicial branch is headed by the Supreme Court, whose nine members are appointed for life. Under the Supreme Court there are many state and federal courts. An important function of the judicial branch is to determine whether laws of Congress or actions of President violate the Constitution. The decisions in the Supreme Court are taken by the simple majority, but it's necessary that six judges should be present. The decisions of Supreme Court are final and are not subject to appeal.
The division of government power among three separate but equal branches provides for a system of checks and balances. Each branch checks or limits the power of the other branches. For example, although Congress makes laws, the President can veto them and the Supreme Court checks whether they are constitutional. But even if the President vetoes a law, Congress may check the President by overriding his veto with a two-thirds vote. The Supreme Court can overturn laws passed by Congress, but the selection of federal and Supreme Court judges is made by the other two branches. With this system no branch of government has superior power.