1. Important Works:

M.E. Dimock: American Government in Action

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J.W. Garner: Government of the United States

W.B. Munro: Government of the United States

Burn & Peltason: Government by the people

Ernest Griffih: The American system of Government

H.J. Laski: The American Presidency

The American Democracy

2. Constitution:

Drafted at Philadelphia Convention

i. A written document

ii. Oldest written Constitution

iii. To Gladstone it is β€œthe most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.”

iv. A federal constitution

v. Based on separation of power and check and balances

vi. Presidential form of executive

vii. Rigid Constitution which warrants participation of both sets of government.

viii. Judicial Review

3. The President:

i. Is the real executive

ii. Wields enormous power and influence

iii. Must be a natural born citizen, 35 years of age,

iv. a resident of U.S.A. for 14 years

v. Tenure of 4 years

vi. Eligible for re-election

vii. Cannot be elected more than twice

viii. President Roosevelt was elected four times

ix. Elected by indirect election

x. Removed from office by impeachment on grounds of treason, bribery or other high crimes

xi. In case of Impeachment, the charges are initiated by the House of Representatives and Senate acts as Court of trial

xii. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presides over trial

xiii. Article II deals with the office of the President


Most of the provisions regarding powers of the President are general in terms. As a consequence, it all depends on his personality as to how he deems it fit to carry the administration of the country.

Executive Powers:

1. Ensures the observance, enforcement of laws, treaties and decisions of court and acts as Chief Administrator.

2. Nominates and appoints the ambassadors, ministers, consuls, judges of the Supreme Court and other officers.

3. He is the Commander-in-Chief of army and navy and the State Militia.

4. He can grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States except in case of impeachment.

5. He is the Chief foreign policy maker and accredited official spokesman of U.S.A. in international relations.

Legislative Power:

1. Informs the Congress and recommends measures for consideration.

2. He may convene either of both the Houses of Congress in extraordinary circumstances.

3. Submits the Budget to the Congress.

4. Empowered to issue ordinances.

5. Enjoys the Veto power over legislation passed by the Congress.

4. Congress:

Article I of the American Constitution vests all legislative powers in the hands of the Congress.

It consists of two Houses, viz; House of Representatives and the Senate.

House of Representatives:

i. Also called Lower House

ii. Organized on the basis of population

iii. Normal tenure is of 2 years

iv. A member must not be less than 25 years old, must be citizen of USA, stayed in U.S.A for 7 years and a native of state from which he is elected

v. Exemption from legal cases

vi. A special session can be called by the President

vii. Speaker is the presiding officer of the House


i. Elected from majority party

ii. Acts as leader of the party to which he belongs

iii. Cannot punish a member

iv. Decides the speaker in debates

v. His rulings are not final

vi. Enjoys the same right to participate in debate and vote, as other members

vii. Usually he does not vote except when the House is voting by ballot or when there is a tie

The Senate:

i. Upper House

ii. Most powerful upper chamber in the World

iii. Small body with only one hundred members

iv. Two members are elected from each state

v. Each member is elected for a term of six years, one third retiring every two years

vi. A permanent body

vii. A member must not be less than 35 years of age, an inhabitant of State from where he is elected and a citizen of USA for 9 years

viii. They are elected by the people of the state.

ix. In case of vacancy, a temporary appointment may be made by the Governor of the State

x. Vice President of the USA is the Presiding officer

xi. Vice President votes only in case of a tie


A senatorial device by which measures are delayed by members by participating in debate for longer period


1. Senate confirms the appointments made by the President. It does so by simple majority.

2. All treaties entered into by the American President require ratification from the Senate and a two-thirds vote is necessary.

3. Senate acts as the court of trial for impeachment. Two-thirds vote of the senate is required for conviction.

4. Senate enjoys co-equal power with House of Representative in the matter of legislation.

5. Senate has wide ranging investigative functions.

The disagreement between two Houses is resolved through a Conference Committee.

5. American Supreme Court:

i. Apex Court

ii. Mentioned in Article III of the Constitution Consists of one Chief Justice and eight other judges

iii. Judges are appointed by the President with Senatorial Consent

iv. No prescribed qualification for the Judges continue to hold office for life or during good behaviour Meets in Washington

v. Special session can be called by the Chief Justice.


(I) Original Jurisdiction:

a.Very limited

b. Covers cases involving foreign ambassador, minister or consul

c. also covers cases involving one or more states

(II) Appellate Jurisdiction:

a.Much wider

b. Regulated by Congress

c. It covers

(a) Cases coming from the highest State Courts where a federal question is presented, namely, when the State Court has held that a federal law violates the Constitution.

(b) Cases from the Lower Federal Courts, mainly from the Courts of Appeal.