Checks And Balances


College of Political Knowledge

Subject:  American Government

This could be a humorous post on the aftermath of the Christmas season, but sense I have NO sense of humor that I am aware of….it probably is not what this post is about.

A new year and time to examine the government as we know it… is obvious that it is not working as well as the founders intended (or is it?)………

In the beginning of this country our forefathers brought forth a unique idea, well to them it was unique, that we should have three (3) branches of government because this would keep any one branch from becoming more powerful than the others and they called it the American “checks and balances”.

But what does this mean?  By creating three branches of government, the delegates built a “check and balance” system into the Constitution. This system was built so that no one branch of our government could become too powerful.

Each branch is restrained by the other two in several ways. For example, the president may veto a law passed by Congress. Congress can override that veto with a vote of two-thirds of both houses. Another example is that the Supreme Court may check Congress by declaring a law unconstitutional. The power is balanced by the fact that members of the Supreme Court are appointed by the president. Those appointments have to be approved by Congress.

The process goes thusly……..

The system of checks and balances is an important part of the Constitution. With checks and balances, each of the three branches of government can limit the powers of the others. This way, no one branch becomes too powerful. Each branch “checks” the power of the other branches to make sure that the power is balanced between them. How does this system of checks and balances work?

The process of how laws are made (see the following page) is a good example of checks and balances in action. First, the legislative branch introduces and votes on a bill. The bill then goes to the executive branch, where the President decides whether he thinks the bill is good for the country. If so, he signs the bill, and it becomes a law.

If the President does not believe the bill is good for the country, he does not sign it. This is called a veto. But the legislative branch gets another chance. With enough votes, the legislative branch can override the executive branch’s veto, and the bill becomes a law.

Once a law is in place, the people of the country can test it through the court system, which is under the control of the judicial branch. If someone believes a law is unfair, a lawsuit can be filed. Lawyers then make arguments for and against the case, and a judge decides which side has presented the most convincing arguments. The side that loses can choose to appeal to a higher court, and may eventually reach the highest court of all, the Supreme Court.

If the legislative branch does not agree with the way in which the judicial branch has interpreted the law, they can introduce a new piece of legislation, and the process starts all over again.

Now that you have a grip on exactly what the term means…let’s move on to the meat of the subject……

If you stop and think about the subject there is a case to be made that it is time to dump the idea and start fresh…….why on earth would I make such an assertion?

Easy….look at DC today….it is solidly cemented into place by gridlock….each branch is busy covering their own butts for any worthwhile legislation to move forward……and Peter Aldhous agrees with me in a recent article……

– The political gridlock in DC can’t seem to get much worse, and public opinion polls about Congress can’t get much lower. At Medium, Peter Aldhous runs through the usual explanations—partisan media outlets, campaign donations run amok, gerrymandering, to name a few—but he thinks those fed up with the gridlock must ask a more fundamental question regarding the Founding Fathers: That would be “whether a band of eighteenth-century revolutionaries who had just thrown off the yoke of colonialism really have the answers we need for effective government today.” In short, we should think about whether the age of “checks and balances” has run its course, argues Aldhous. He acknowledges it’s a “radical” idea, but allowing the majority party to have its way, at least temporarily, might be the only real solution. That might mean scrapping midterm elections, for example, which often result in a House dedicated solely to undermining the president’s agenda. “Yes, what I’m proposing would mean accepting that sometimes we have to give those whose views we oppose a few years to put their ideas into practice,” he writes. But we’d still be in a democracy, meaning voters can still “vote the bums out” as needed. Click for his full column.

I think no matter which side of the spectrum you decide to reside you can still see the necessity for progress….and at the same time you can see that gridlock is preventing anything worthwhile from getting accomplished……so I ask… is time to dump the concept of ‘checks and balances’?  Or should we proceed as usual and hope for the best?

You will not be graded on your answers…….whatcha think?

What Is In A Constitution? | In Saner Thought

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A continuation of my Constitution Week…….does our constitution meet all the necessities for a successful government?

What Is In A Constitution? | In Saner Thought.

The secret history of the Bill of Rights –

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An interesting perspective for Constitution week……..

The secret history of the Bill of Rights –

The Bill of Rights: Its History and its Significance


For those that would like to explore the Constitution or learn a little more than they know now….this article can help…..enjoy!

The Bill of Rights: Its History and its Significance.

Why Was Bill Of Rights Added?


College of Political Knowledge

Subject:  Early American History/Government

Today is the most important day in our history and we observe it not…..17 September 1787……this document gave birth to a nation….

All of us learned about the forming of the US Constitution….all the debate, the convention and then the ratification process…but how many people know that the Bill of Rights were not part of the original Constitution… was added in 1791……

The origins of the Bill of Rights…..were they original thoughts?

The Virginia Bill of Rights (proclaimed in 1776, only days before the Declaration of Independence) was the first of ten such declarations by the states during the Revolutionary War period (1775-83). All of these declarations contained provisions that eventually found their way into the national Bill of Rights. Major portions of the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth amendments, for example, can be traced directly to the Virginia Bill of Rights.

The origins of many of the other rights and liberties contained in the Bill of Rights can be found in the English tradition, dating as far back as Magna Carta (1215), a document that marked the first step toward constitutional law in England. For example, the clause in the Fifth Amendment, which declares that individuals cannot be deprived of their “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” is rooted in Chapter 39 of Magna Carta.

England’s Petition of Right (1628) and Bill of Rights (1689) further expanded individual liberties and placed increased limitations on the ruler’s powers and authority. English liberties and rights, such as trial by jury and protection against self-incrimination and unreasonable search and seizure, were, in fact, included in the charters establishing the American colonies. They were considered to be the “rights of Englishmen.”

Then we ask, why were they introduced after the ratification of the Constitution?

At the Constitutional Convention of 1787, delegates rejected a motion made by George Mason, author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776), to preface the Constitution of the United States with a bill of rights. The failure to mention basic rights soon became a major issue in the subsequent debates over whether or not the proposed Constitution would be ratified, or approved.

When the Constitutional Convention ended, delegates went back to their respective states to hold their own ratifying conventions. Each state would decide for itself whether or not to approve the new framework for the American government.

The debate over the need for a bill of rights was sparked by a proposal made by a dissenting minority in the Pennsylvania ratifying convention. Some delegates believed that guarantees of certain basic rights and liberties were missing from the proposed Constitution. They called for a number of amendments that would secure a wide range of liberties, such as the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech and press, and protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. Majorities in the ratifying conventions of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina also called for numerous amendments to the proposed Constitution. Although the substance of these recommended amendments differed from state to state, most contained provisions that would limit the powers of the new federal (national) government and protect the people from inconsistent and oppressive rule.

The Anti-Federalists (those who were opposed to ratifying the Constitution) argued that the broad powers of the new federal government would threaten the powers of the individual states and the liberties of the people. However, the Federalists (those who supported ratification) argued that a bill of rights was unnecessary. Alexander Hamilton, for example, maintained that because the proposed federal government would possess only specifically assigned and limited powers, it could not endanger the fundamental liberties of the people. “Why,” he asked, “declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why, for instance, should it be said that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed?”

Nevertheless, the Federalists had to pledge their support for the addition of a bill of rights to the Constitution once the new government began operations. Otherwise they would risk endangering the Constitution’s ratification in certain key states and face the possibility of another constitutional convention.

The inclusion of the BoR was part of the compromise between all parties to keep the union together after the country began is young existence…….The Constitution was more about property rights not individual rights…basically, the people demanded a statement of rights to be included……It was an after thought that got its day.

Constitution Is Not A Buffet!


This week is what I call “Constitution Week”… is the week of 17 September which is Constitution Day…..In my opinion this olds more prominence than the DoI……why?  It laid the groundwork for the laws at the birth of a nation.  So this week if nothing major happens that I feel necessary to wrote about, I will be posting several post concerning the Constitution and its implementation….

For many years I have been talking and writing about our Constitution and its relevancy…….it usually gets more intense when I am having to deal with the 2nd amendment….but there other parts that need to be talked about in some depth…

As my title indications I do not think that we should pick and chose parts of the Constitution that we like and disregard those parts that we may find distasteful…….in other words, the document is not a buffet….it is the law by which we are supposed to live…like it ot not.

Take a good look at the voting rights amendment………we have all the misdirection on voter IDs…..I do not think that anyone is against voter ID as long as everyone has the same ID and it is not open to interpretation.  But since the SCOTUS decision there has been a wealth of voter suppression bills under the title of Voter ID……..many red states have attacked the rights of voters by making it harder to act….like shortened times, closing polling stations, eliminate weekend voting, eliminate same day registration, etc….and all this is to prevent “Voter Fraud”… does that happen?

And then we can look at the NSA thing….a violation of our rights?  Yep, but it has been going on for 30 years maybe more and no one was concerned but now… is an attack on our rights!

Now I will write on the 2nd amendment….this one ought get some attention……..Missouri has a new law!

The legislation would make it a misdemeanor for federal agents to attempt to enforce any federal gun regulations that “infringe on the people’s right to keep and bear arms.” The same criminal charges would apply to journalists who publish any identifying information about gun owners. The charge would be punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Missouri is just the latest state to try this…..I believe something similar was tried in Montana recently…….The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals  ruled against a series of laws enacted in Montana that attempt to declare that federal firearms regulations don’t apply to guns made and kept in that state.

All this illustrates what I am talking about…..if these measures pass what is to keep states from nullifying other parts of the Constitution?  What is there to keep another state from basically outlawing a part that their legislature does not like?

May I suggest that if one does not appreciate federal law then go back to the way if was during the Articles of Confederation……we can do away with the Constitution and allow all states to do as they see fit…..

Like I said…..the Constitution is not a buffet”!


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Go Figure

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WMDs in America

2nd Is Here To Stay


College of Political Knowledge

Subject:  Early American History

This is my final paper (for now) on the 2nd amendment to the US Constitution….I have looked at historical events that lead to the inclusion of the 2nd into the Constitution……we have the first person to mention the guns, the events that lead to the inclusion and a look into the use of the word, ‘militia’ in the writing of the document…….and finally my conclusions on this part of the Constitution…….

Hopefully, my readers will remind themselves that my research was along historical lines, not from an ideological or judicial perspective……so there will be NO emotional ramblings, just historical facts and events……and I pray that the reader will read this for the historical content and not as a diatribe condemning or condoning………

Let’s look at the republican (small “r”) thinking of the day…….as it pertains to guns……”standing armies are dangerous and should be avoided.”  As the Constitution is being written the ideas put forth in 1787 were…….1) separation of powers, 2) authority of Congress to declare war, 3) guarantee the legality of slavery, 4) creation of electoral college, 5) provision for impeachment, 6) presidential state of the union message, 7) provision for ratifying the Constitution, 8) federalism, 9) bicameral legislature, 10) enumeration of powers of Congress, 11) finally, the 3/5ths compromise……and when it was ratified there is NO inclusion of an arms provision….that would come later, 1791 to be exact…….

At the time of the ratification of the Constitution there was NO American standing army to speak of, however each state had its armed factions that we call militias…..back in the days between the 7 years war and the revolution states had border skirmishes with neighbor states and even skirmishes  within the borders of a single state had its share of in fighting…Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island quickly come to mind…… other words arms were necessary to protect ones self from ones neighbor.

The only mention of ‘arms’ in the constitution is the 2nd amendment……I believe that the key words in that amendment is “a well regulated militia”…………because of the always present conflicts between states and groups and the lack of a standing army… was necessary to keep a militia on stand by to help quell any and all uprisings…..I continue to believe that it was not included because the founders were concerned that government might intrude on the people but rather to keep the people from intruding on government.

The two leading thinkers of the constitutional era were Jefferson and Hamilton……different sides of the same coin, if you will…… far as the document goes….Hamilton favored an interpretive approach to the constitution and then there is Jefferson who believe in a strict interpretation of the document…..

If the constitutional convention had taken more time to write and ratify I believe that it would have been substantially different in its make up……..with more time from inception to ratification the constitution would have had a different feel about it…….why do I say that?  Look at some of the items NOT included in the final draft……1) 2 term limit for prez, 2) universal manhood suffrage, 3) presidential cabinet, 4) direct election of senators, 5) political parties……..most of these became part of the laws of the country and if there had been more time in the drafting of the document they might have been included………… since there are NO founders left alive we are left with what others tell us the content of the constitution means…….and few of these analysis are from a historical perspective but rather from an emotional, ideological and judicial point of view……..the 2nd is here to stay…..and NO amount of scrutiny will change that and NO amount of debate will ever venture beyond the emotional or the ideological…….personally, it is something that the founders NEVER intended…..

“A Well Regulated Militia……….”


College of Political Knowledge

Subject:  Early American History

Part 3 of my series on the 2nd amendment of the US Constitution… look at historical events that could have led to the inclusion of the 2nd into the Constitution……may I emphasize the words “historical events”?  Try to leave your emotions and your ideology on the curb and think independently……..

When I was in grad school my studies were basically the era in American history, 1750-1815, this was a most fascinating time in the colonies…….and the Constitution…..I have attempted in some small way to get into the minds of our Founders…..we can read what they wrote but we cannot speak with them to see what they were thinking at the time……I looked at situations and issues and feelings of the time to try and explain why they felt it necessary to write parts of the Constitution……..this part is the examination of the term “a well armed militia” was placed into the document that set up the United States of America.

I have looked into the reason behind the 2nd amendment…….I have looked at the necessity for the inclusion and I have researched who thought it necessary……..and now I will write on the whole “militia” thing……..

The 2nd amendment states……..”A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  First what was the militia?

From Old English milite meaning soldiers (plural), militisc meaning military and also classical Latin milit-, miles meaning soldier.

The Modern English term militia dates to the year 1590, with the original meaning now obsolete:  “the body of soldiers in the service of a sovereign or a state”.   Subsequently, since approximately 1665  militia has taken the meaning “a military force raised from the civilian population of a country or region,  especially to supplement a regular army in an emergency,  frequently as distinguished from mercenaries or professional soldiers.”

For me, the term “a well regulated militia” is the key to the amendment…….more so than the right to keep and bear arms……..why?  First, we look at the founding document the Articles of Confederation……..article 6 paragraph 4…..

No vessels of war shall be kept up in time of peace by any state, except such number only, as shall be deemed necessary by the united states in congress assembled, for the defence of such state, or its trade; nor shall any body of forces be kept up by any state, in time of peace, except such number only, as in the judgment of the united states, in congress assembled, shall be deemed requisite to garrison the forts necessary for the defence of such state; but every state shall always keep up a well regulated and disciplined militia, sufficiently armed and accoutered, and shall provide and constantly have ready for use, in public stores, a due number of field pieces and tents, and a proper quantity of arms, ammunition and camp equipage.

This document was the set of governing laws during the war and was replaced by the Constitution in 1789 when it was ratified by 11 states……..keep in mind the the Bill of Rights, which includes the 2nd, was added to the Constitution in 1791…….in the original document in amendment 1 section 8 states……..

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress

During the debate for the new laws of the land a point was made in Federalist #29……….

If there should be an army to be made use of as the engine of despotism, what need of the militia? If there should be no army, whither would the militia, irritated by being called upon to undertake a distant and hopeless expedition, for the purpose of riveting the chains of slavery upon a part of their countrymen, direct their course, but to the seat of the tyrants, who had meditated so foolish as well as so wicked a project, to crush them in their imagined intrenchments of power, and to make them an example of the just vengeance of an abused and incensed people? Is this the way in which usurpers stride to dominion over a numerous and enlightened nation? Do they begin by exciting the detestation of the very instruments of their intended usurpations? Do they usually commence their career by wanton and disgustful acts of power, calculated to answer no end, but to draw upon themselves universal hatred and execration? Are suppositions of this sort the sober admonitions of discerning patriots to a discerning people? Or are they the inflammatory ravings of incendiaries or distempered enthusiasts? If we were even to suppose the national rulers actuated by the most ungovernable ambition, it is impossible to believe that they would employ such preposterous means to accomplish their designs.

In times of insurrection, or invasion, it would be natural and proper that the militia of a neighboring State should be marched into another, to resist a common enemy, or to guard the republic against the violence of faction or sedition. This was frequently the case, in respect to the first object, in the course of the late war; and this mutual succor is, indeed, a principal end of our political association. If the power of affording it be placed under the direction of the Union, there will be no danger of a supine and listless inattention to the dangers of a neighbor, till its near approach had superadded the incitements of self-preservation to the too feeble impulses of duty and sympathy.

The Continental Army was disbanded in 1783 after the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781……..the Constitution was ratified in 1789 and the United States had been without a standing army for 6 years…..that made the necessity for the different state militias to be used in the case of invasion, rebellion or war…… a well regulated and armed militia would have been a dire necessity until the re-establishing of a standing army……….for the protection of the nation.

The facts and the events of history lead me to believe that the second was included into the Constitution to benefit the government/country……not necessarily for the people……

Once again I would like to remind the reader that this is a historical analysis….and is in NO way a pro or con look at the second amendment…..only a look at why it would be included in the Constitution…..what made the authors feel it necessary to include it…….if it cannot be read with an objective eye then I prefer that it not be read………

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