Political Science 3517
With the discontent from Britain’s policies and wanting to find a balance form of government, the Framers of the American Constitution decided on a new federal form of government, and created The Articles of Confederation. Under the Articles of Confederation (1781-1788), it provided the states to retain sovereignty and more power than the central government. Congress had no power to levy taxes or regulate interstate commerce. Areas assigned to the central government were difficult to legislate, as they had to be approved by nine of the thirteen states. States had the power to veto changes made by Congress. States taxed each other’s goods and even negotiated their own trade agreement with other nations (Government by the People pg.13) and unnamed democracies were on the rise in some states (“Pennsylvania’s’ Constitution”) (Prof. Garcia). Biased popular assemblies were against the privileged and believed that wealth undermined equal rights. Since the Articles of Confederation were weak and flawed to successfully govern the new United States; a new federal form of government of federalism was adopted that recognized the idea that people had basic rights that the government must protect along with separation of powers to avoid the conflicts between the states and the national government. The framework included the following: freedom of religion, speech, and the press, as well as the right to trial by jury and to private property (Prof. Garcia). Within this new form of government a three structured branch: judicial, executive, and legislative, would have its forms of checks and balances in order prevents one branch from overall power. Federalism is a form of government that defines the powers given to the national and state government in an effort to protect the rights of its citizens; some aspects of federalism calls for a supremacy clause, checks and balances, and protection of state contracts under full-faith and credit clause.
In Shays Rebellion of 1786, armed men took over the court houses to prevent judges from ordering the seizure of farms for nonpayment of state taxes, and the incarceration of their owners in debtor’s prison (The Struggle for Democracy pg 35). “Shay's Rebellion” realized the worst fears of national leaders about the dangers of ineffective state governments and popular democracy spinning out of control, unchecked by a strong national government. The sentiment was expressed by George Washington who asked “If government cannot check these disorders, what security has a man?”(The Struggle for Democracy pg 36). With the ongoing concerns with the states, the delegates called for a meeting, to attempt to correct the flaws in the Articles of Confederation. The outcome would set precedence and the creation of the new constitution. The new Constitution delineates: laws and treaties of the United States shall be the “supreme law of the land”. However, it also “enumerates what type of laws Congress has the power to pass. The Tenth Amendment states the power not delegated to the central government by the Constitution or prohibited by the Constitution to the states are reserved to the states respectively, or the people- this is known as the reservation clause.” (The Struggle for Democracy Pg63)
Checks and Balances
The framers were worried of tyranny and when the new constitution was drafted, they made sure the powers were separated and a system of checks and balances was created to prevent any branch becoming too powerful and thus making a branch unable to overpower another branch. All branches must rely on another branch. This helps prevent misconduct and helps be aligned with the people to check and control and to make certain no branch could ever dominate. The Legislative Branch (Congress) passes laws, the Judicial Branch (Supreme Court and Lower Courts) interprets laws and the Executive branch (President) enforces laws; all three have some