US GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE AND LAWS.



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US GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE AND LAWS.



 

US CONGRESS.

American Constitution created a system of checks and balances between the separate Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches of the federal government. In the Legislative branch, the Senate represents each of the states equally, while the House represents them according to the size of their respective population. Each state has two senators, who will be referred to in the debate as “the senior senator from…” and “the junior senator from…” depending on their length of service.

The Constitution assigns specific powers and responsibilities to Congress to enact legislation necessary to provide for the common defense and the general welfare of the United States. It gives the Senate exclusive authority to advise and consent on all nominations and treaties. The Senate provides a forum where senators, elected by the people, can debate different issues and form the laws under which the nation operates.

The main task of each house of Congress is the same – to make laws. Article I of the US Constitution says that each House may determine the rules of its proceedings. In the Senate, the rules are more flexible and designed to make certain all senators have maximum freedom to express their ideas. For example, the Senate usually allows unlimited debate on proposed legislation, whereas the House limits representatives to speaking for five minutes or less during a debate.

The Senate has a more informal atmosphere. Senators may debate a proposal for weeks or even months. In contrast, the complex rules in the House require that legislation move quickly once it reaches the floor.

 

CONGRESS AND THE PRESIDENT.

When the Founders of the US Constitution established the principle of separation of powers, they did not make the three branches completely independent. Although each branch has its own functions, they are related in a system of checks and balances. As a result, Congress and the President share certain powers. Thus, many of the President’s most important executive responsibilities require congressional cooperation. All bills Congress passes require the President’s signature before they become law. Overriding a presidential veto requires a two – thirds majority in each house of Congress, which usually is difficult to obtain. In domestic as well as in foreign policy, the President must be able to convince Congressmen, the Representatives and Senators, of his point of view.

 

IMPEACHMENT.

Impeachment is the first step in the process specified in the Constitution of the United States for removing the president, vice-president, or other government official from office upon conviction of ‘treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.’ The House of Representatives has ‘the sole power of impeachment,’ that is, the power of bringing charges. A two – thirds vote is required in the Senate for conviction. When the president is to be tried, the chief justice of the United States presides.

 

VOTING IN THE USA.

Voting by the United States citizens is absolutely vital to the success of American democracy – after all, democracy means rule by the people. Through their votes, Americans have the power to select more than 500,000 government officials at all levels of government.

The right to vote, or suffrage, is the foundation of American democracy. Today all the United States citizens over 18 years of age may exercise this right.

Before the American Revolution, the colonies placed many restrictions upon the right to vote. Women and most blacks were not allowed to vote; neither were white males who did not own property or pay taxes.

During the first half of the nineteenth century, state legislatures gradually abolished property and religious tests for voting.

 

PARTIES AND PARTY SYSTEMS.

People rule in a democracy, but the voice and will of the individual citizen can easily be lost in a nation as large and diverse as the United States. One way that government knows their views is for them to organize into groups that wield political power. One example of such a group is the political party.

A political party is a group of people with broad common interests who organize to win elections, control government, and thereby influence government policies. Although most nations have one or more political parties, the role that parties play differs with each nation’s political system.

Only about a dozen nations have systems where only two parties compete for power. Although minor parties may exist in these democracies, two major parties dominate government. In the United States, they are the Republican party and the Democratic party. They had arisen by the end of President Washington’s second term. They were called the Federalists and the Republicans at that time.

 

RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF AMERICAN CITIZENS.

Basic rights are important in American society. The belief in human rights or fundamental freedoms lies at the heart of United States citizenship and enables people to worship as they wish, speak freely, and read and write what they choose.

The Constitution guarantees the rights of United States citizens. Along with the enjoyment of these rights, however, comes a responsibility to ensure their strength and endurance.

The Constitution of the United States guarantees basic rights in the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments, and in several additional amendments. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights inscribe into law those rights that really belong to everybody.

Today the Bill of Rights offers individuals protection not only from congressional actions, but also from acts by state and local governments that may threaten people’s basic rights.

 

FREEDOM OF RELIGION.

The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion in two clauses. The first one states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”. This Amendment officially separates church and state.

Government actually encourages religion in some ways. For example, chaplains serve with each branch of the armed forces. Most church property and contributions to religious groups are tax exempt.

 

FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

Democratic government requires that every person has the right to speak freely. Of course, most people agree in principle with the right of free speech.

The verbal expression of thought and opinion before an audience that has chosen to listen, or pure speech, is the most common form of speech.

Actions such as marching or demonstrating are speech plus. Because speech plus involves actions, it may be subject to government restrictions that do not apply to pure speech.

The third type of speech, symbolic speech, involves using actions and symbols, instead of words to express opinions. For example, protesters burned the American flag to express their displeasure with the government.

 

FREEDOM OF THE PRESS.

Freedom of the press is closely related to freedom of speech. It moves free speech one step further by allowing opinions to be written and circulated. The press is important because it is the principal way people get information. In today’s world the press includes magazines, radio, and television along with newspapers because of their roles in spreading news and opinions.

 

Exercise 1 answer the questions:

1. What branches of government does the Constitution establish?

2. In what way do the Senate and the House represent the states? Explain the difference

3. What is the difference between the rules of procedure in the House and in the Senate?

4. Why are the three branches of government not completely independent?

5. What is impeachment?

6. What are the grounds for impeaching an official?

7. Why is the right to vote so vital for the Americans?

8. why are people organized into parties?

9. What is a political party?

10. How does the Bill of Rights protect the rights of citizens?

11. Do you think religion should be encouraged by government?

12. In which cases do you think freedom of speech should be restricted?

13. What is freedom of the press?

 

 

Exercise 2 Match the columns:

1.Impeachment a. подпись

2. Freedom of speech b. законодательный

3. to make laws c. независимость

4. to provide d. административное правонарушение

5. legislative e. защита

6.Executive f. обеспечивать

7. Chamber g. палата (гос.)

8.Independence h. привлечение к ответственности высших чинов

9. The right to vote i. гарантировать

10.to restrict j. отделять

11. misdemeanor k. право голосования

12. signature l. поощрять

13. to guarantee m. создавать законы

14.Protection n. исполнительный

15. To separate o. ограничивать

16.To encourage p. свобода слова

 

Grammar

The Passive Voice ( Страдательный залог)



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