The Government Class Book eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 319 pages of information about The Government Class Book.

Sec.5.  The executive department is intrusted with the power of executing, or carrying into effect, the laws of the state.  There is in this department a governor, assisted by a number of other officers, some of whom are elected by the people; others are appointed in such manner as the constitution or laws prescribe.  The powers and duties of the governor of a state will be more particularly described in another place.

Sec.6.  The judicial department is that by which justice is administered to the citizens.  It embraces the several courts of the state.  All judges and justices of the peace are judicial officers; and they have power, and it is their business to judge of and apply the law in cases brought before them for trial.  A more particular description of the powers and duties of judicial officers, and the manner of conducting trials in courts of justice, will be given elsewhere. (Chap.  XVII-XX.)

Sec.7.  Experience has shown the propriety of dividing the civil power into these three departments, and of confining the officers of each department to the powers and duties belonging to the same.  Those who make the laws should not exercise the power of executing them; nor should they who either make or execute the laws sit in judgment over those who are brought before them for trial.  A government in which the different powers of making, executing, and applying the laws should be united in a single body of men, however numerous, would be little better than an absolute despotism.

Sec.8.  Again, the legislative department of the civil power is divided.  Under all our state constitutions, the legislature consists of two branches, both of which must agree to a proposed measure before it becomes a law; and in many of the states, it must also be approved by the governor.  This is making the chief executive officer a third branch of the law-making power; and is not in accordance with the principle of keeping the several departments of the civil power separate and distinct from each other.  The reason for this departure from the general principle mentioned, will be stated in another chapter. (Chap.  XI.  Sec.16.)

Chapter IX.

State Legislatures—­how constituted.

Sec.1.  The legislature of every state in the union is composed of two houses—­a senate and a house of representatives.  The latter, or, as it is sometimes called, the lower house, in the states of New York, Wisconsin, and California, is called the assembly; in Maryland and Virginia, the house of delegates; in North Carolina, the house of commons; and in New Jersey, the general assembly.  In most of the states, the two houses together are called general assembly.

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