The Constitutional Authority of the Federal Government

Louis Henkin

in Foreign Affairs and the United States Constitution

Published in print November 1996 | ISBN: 9780198260981
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682193 | DOI:
The Constitutional Authority of the Federal Government

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The United States constitution established a ‘more perfect Union’ based on pillars of federalism and the separation of powers. It delegated authority and function to the federal government by vesting legislative powers in Congress, the executive power in the president, and the judicial power in a federal judiciary. From the beginning, it was clear, this ‘more perfect Union’ was one sovereign nation, and from the beginning the federal government has maintained the relations of that nation with other sovereign nations. However, the constitution does not declare the United States a single sovereign nation, expressly or even by indisputable implication. Indeed, where foreign relations are concerned the constitution seems a strange, laconic document: although it explicitly lodges important foreign affairs powers in one branch or another of the federal government and explicitly denies important foreign affairs powers to the states, many powers of government are not mentioned.

Keywords: United States; constitution; federalism; separation of powers; federal government; sovereign nations; foreign relations; Congress; judiciary; executive

Chapter.  4310 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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