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Study Notes

Unit 4 Essay Advice: "Limited Government Is ensured by the Constitution. Discuss"

AQA, Edexcel, OCR

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

This Study Note lists many of the key terms you would need to understand and use if you answered this question in the exam, and also 10 super examples to help you gain the highest possible marks.

As a starting point, make sure you can explain each of the key terms and phrases given below:

  • US Constitution
  • Limited Government
  • Separation of Powers
  • Checks and Balances
  • Executive Power
  • Legislative Power
  • Judicial Review
  • Power of the Purse
  • Elastic Clause / Necessary and Proper
  • Tenth Amendment
  • Bill of Rights
  • First Amendment
  • Divided Government
  • Term Limits
  • Presidential Power
  • Impeachment

Contemporary Examples

Limited government is ensured by the Constitution:

  1. The Senate confirms executive appointments such as the Supreme Court confirmations of Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor during the Obama administration.
  2. The Constitution states people can’t serve in more than one branch continuously, so Barack Obama had to leave the Senate to become President, and Hillary Clinton left to become Secretary of State.
  3. The Power of the Purse ensures Congress can defund programmes such as the Vietnam War in 1973.

Limited government is not ensured by the Constitution:

  1. The role of the Federal Government is always expanding, such as with the requirement of citizens to purchase health insurance under the Affordable Care Act 2010, and reinforced in the Supreme Court case in 2012.
  2. New cabinet departments can be created at will such as the Department for Homeland Security, created in 2002
  3. The Presidential veto could be too powerful as in the entire Obama Administration he has not had a single veto overridden by Congress.

Historical Examples

Limited government is ensured by the Constitution

  1. After the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt term limits were introduced for Presidents in the form of the Twenty Second Amendment in 1951.
  2. Judicial power can also ensure limited government such as in United States v Nixon 1974 which limited the claim of executive privilege.

Limited government is not ensured by the Constitution:

  1. The Executive Office of the President when created in 1939 was done so without any constitutional basis at all and members are not Senate confirmable.
  2. Presidents can also issue Executive Orders with Franklin Roosevelt issuing 6500 of them. These orders have no constitutional basis, but can be quite significant like Japanese Internment in 1942

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