Ideals and Principles of American Democracy

There are many ideals and principles of American Democracy. Just to name a few would consist of popular sovereignty, rule of law, separation of powers and federalism. To start, popular sovereignty is the idea that people are the ultimate source of authority of government. Events like free elections and different forms of participation are essential to democracy because elected officials are always accountable to the people they serve. It is effective because with the majority vote, citizens have a voice to decide who is going to govern them.

Next is rule of law which means that no one is above the law and no one should break the law or try to escape from it. These laws are based on the constitution and is protected by the courts.

This is effective because it treats each individual on equal terms according to the law despite their social class?? Separation of powers was founded by the founding fathers because they feared that one person or one group could gain too much power.

With this, they divided the government into 3 parts named legislative, executive and judicial branches. This provides an important system of ‘checks and balances’ in our government which ensures that the different branches are able to control one another. It’s effective because it divides the power and makes sure no one party is in control over the others. Lastly, there’s federalism which means that the powers of government are divided among the USA as a whole and all of the fifty individual states.

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Powers that are given to the federal government are called enumerated or expressed powers, the powers given to the states are called reserved powers.

It’s effective because the head of central government is limited and many of the decisions are made by state governors depending on how much autonomy some states have. Two very important supreme court cases are without a doubt Roe v. Wade and Miranda v. Arizona. Roe v. Wade consisted of Norma McCorvey, known in court documents as Jane Roe, whom sued Dallas County District attorney Henry Wade over a law that made it a crime to have an abortion unless the mothers’ life was in danger. Roe argued that the constitution protects her right to chose to have an abortion if she had chosen to do so. This was a very significant case because the court had ruled that abortion was made legal in many circumstances, making it the woman’s right to decide what to do with the unborn child she was carrying. This has greatly impacted law and our society for better and for worse.

This decision has divided the nation into two different groups being pro-life and pro-choice; making it still a controversial topic to this day. However, abortion is still legal in the United States under certain conditions thanks to this case. In the case of Miranda v. Arizona, Ernesto Miranda had been arrested in his home and was taken to the police station. He was being questioned by officers about a connection with a kidnapping and rape that had taken place. After two hours of interrogation, Miranda had given a written confession to the police about what he had done. The confession was then admitted as evidence in trial, despite the fact that the officers had not reminded Miranda of his right to have an attorney present during the interrogation. The supreme court in a 5-4 vote favored Miranda, partly because the prosecution could not present Miranda’s confession as evidence in a criminal trail. His sentence was therefore cut in half and was basically a slap on the back compared to his original sentence.

This case is important because it ruled that a defendant’s statements are not accepted in court unless they have been informed of their rights to an attorney present as well as anything they say can and will be held against them. This case has impacted the way law enforcement handles criminal investigations daily. Two executive actions that I believe had an important impact on our society has to be the Emancipation Proclamation and the New Deal. President Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1st, 1863. Which meant that all slaves living in states not under Union control during the civil war were freed, as well as declaring the acceptance of black men into the Union army and navy. Nearing the end of the war, about 200,000 black recruits had fought for the Union. Although it did not entirely end slavery in the nation, it was a massive first step to fight for the freedom of thousands of African American men and women.

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