division of powers

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Division of Powers

Fortunately, under the U.S. federal system of government, the powers of each level of government are clearly defined and understood. The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law of the land. All levels of government must obey it.State constitutions set up rules that govern the people of each state. These state constitutions must not take any of the rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution from the people.

Local units of government have their powers defined for them in charters by the state legislatures. Therefore, each level of government has its own work to do. Each level has the powers needed to do its job.

Writing Activity 15: “What would be the effect?”

Step 1 Background: There are many societies throughout the world where citizens, do in fact, live under rules and laws at national, state, and local levels all considered “supreme.” Imagine being convicted of a crime at a local level without the opportunity to appeal to a higher court to review your case. Think of the confusion that would occur if a local government allowed you to carry a gun for protection and defense against dangerous animals that attack your livestock, but state provincial officers arrest you for having that same gun in your possession. How would you feel if a local ordinance ordered you to keep your lawn consistent in appearance with the rest of the homes in your neighborhood? Failure to comply with this ordinance results in an irrevocable tenant removal. However, you get fined by the state for water usage exceeding “drought rationing limits” that are automatically enforced when drought conditions exist within the state boundaries. You live 200 miles away from the drought stricken location.

Step 2 Question: What would be the most profound effect upon your personal life if all three levels of governments considered themselves “the supreme law of the land”?

Step 3 In a one-page Word document, describe “how and why” three areas of your life would be affected if all levels of government considered themselves “supreme.”


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