Sample Free Response Questions
1. The framers created a bicameral legislature because of the Great Compromise at the Constitutional Convention which stated that one house’s representation will be based on a state’s population and the other would have equal representation. Another reason is that it would help prevent tyranny because both houses can “check” each other to make sure one does not get to powerful. One power unique to the House of Representatives is that revenue bills must originate from the House; the framers gave this power to the House because the House of Representatives is more representative of the entire population than the Senate is. One power unique to the Senate is that they are the ones that try the President for impeachment; the framers gave this power to the Senate because they reflect the state’s interests and also because they are more “mature” than the House of Representatives since the required age is higher.
2. Federalism divides the power between national and state governments, which in return, limits the power of the national government. Checks and balances is a way that limits the power of each branch of government by not allowing one branch to have too much power which in return limits the power of the national government. The Establishment Clause prevents the national government to discriminate others based on their religion and/or prevents them to show preferential treatment for one religion over another. Guarantee of public trial means that trials must be open to the public which limits the government’s ability to violate the rights of citizens.
3. A Senate filibuster allows a senator to delay action on a certain bill. The House Rules Committee manages the flow of legislation which can make it easier or more difficult for a bill to pass. The Conference committees settle any differences that the House and the Senate may have over a bill. Congress exercises oversight of the federal bureaucracy mainly through their Standing Committees. Casework affects members’ attention in legislation because it takes time, resources, and staff which reduces member’ ability to focus on what’s going on in the House and/or Senate.