The Weaknesses and Loops in the Articles of Confederation

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The governmental system that would work best for America in 1790, would depend on how a constitution organizes power between the central and subnational governments, a country may be said to possess either a unitary or a federal system. I believe America in 1790 would be federalism because it took the spotlight on May 25, 1787, when 55 delegates representing 12 of the original 13 U.S. states gathered in Philadelphia for the Constitutional Convention. New Jersey was the only lone state that chose not to send a delegation. When the nation’s first written constitution, was the Articles of Confederation it had provided for a decidedly weak federal government with more significant powers granted to the states. Some of those weaknesses were:

  • Each state — regardless of its population — got only one vote in Congress.
  • There was only one chamber of Congress rather than a House and Senate.
  • All laws required a 9/13 supermajority vote to pass in Congress.
  • Members of Congress were appointed by the state legislatures rather than elected by the people.
  • Congress had no power to levy taxes or regulate foreign and interstate commerce.
  • There was no executive branch provided to enforce laws passed by Congress.
  • There was no Supreme Court or a lower national court system.
  • Amendments to the Articles of Confederation required a unanimous vote of the states.

As one of the most impactful aspects of the Constitution, the concept of federalism was considered extremely innovative, and controversial in 1787. Federalism’s sharing of powers by both the national and state governments was viewed to be in stark contrast to the “unitary” system of government practiced for centuries in Great Britain. Under such unitary systems, the national government allows local governments very limited powers to govern themselves or their residents. The Articles of Confederation had unequivocally stated, “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.” On March 4, 1789, is when the United States officially became governed by the provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

The Fourth Amendment applies to governmental searches and seizures, but it does not apply to searches and seizures done by private citizens or organization’s not acting on behalf of a government. The Fourth Amendment means that a warrant must be judicially sanctioned for a search or an arrest. For a warrant to be considered reasonable, it must be supported by a probable cause. The protection of private conversations has been held to apply only to the conversations where the participants have manifested a reasonable expectation that no other party is listening to the conversation. While, the Fourth Amendment does not apply in the absence of such as a reasonable expectation, and surveillance without a warrant doesn’t violate it. Although, privacy is not a reasonable expectation in many countries where the governments openly intercept electronic communication and is reasonability in countries against which the United States is waging war.

The law on surveillance begins with the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which states clearly that Americans’ privacy may not be invaded without a warrant based on probable cause. Although, the government isn’t allowed to wiretap American citizens without a warrant from a judge. There are still plenty of legal ways for law enforcement, from the local sheriff to the FBI to the Internal Revenue Service, to snoop on the digital trails you create every day. Authorities can often obtain your emails and texts by going to Google or AT&T with a court order that doesn’t require showing probable cause of a crime. Once an American’s communications have been collected, they’re no longer protected by the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement, which requires the government to show probable cause before searching your communications. The NSA, CIA and FBI are all permitted to warrantlessly search those communications using Americans’ names, phone numbers, email addresses and other identifiers.

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