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International Relations and the Constitutional Separation of Powers

democracy,Parliament,Constitution,checks and balances,republic,Alexander Hamilton,James Madison,George Washington,separation of powers

International Relations and Separation of Powers Activity: Compare Articles of Confederation with U.S. Constitution

Have students work in pairs, small groups, or as a large group to compare excerpts from the Handout A: Articles of Confederation with Handout B: Excerpts from the U.S. Constitution completing the table on Handout C: Compare Articles of Confederation with U.S. Constitution.

International Relations and Separation of Powers Activity: Analyze the President’s Role as Chief Diplomat

Distribute Handout D: The President’s Role as Chief Diplomat and Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution.

Explain that while the phrase, “Chief Diplomat” never appears in the Constitution, several passages in Article II describing the duties of the President effectively give him or her this role. According to one constitutional scholar, the President is “the sole representative of the country when dealing with foreign powers.”

Have students work in small groups to define each phrase and explain how it pertains to the role of a diplomat—a person designated to represent his or her country in official negotiation with other countries.

After allowing a few minutes for students to discuss in their groups, conduct a large group discussion to fill in the blanks on the chart. Use available technology to record responses.

International Relations and Separation of Powers Activity: Pacificus-Helvidius Debate

Have each student work with a partner or two to read the excerpts in order to evaluate both sides in the Pacificus-Helvidius Debate of 1793 using Handout E: Pacificus-Helvidius Debate. Then they will assess the modern relevance of this debate in answering these questions:

According to Pacificus, which branch of government was the proper one to make a proclamation of United States neutrality in the war between France and Great Britain? Why?

According to Helvidius, which branch of government was the proper one to make a proclamation of United States neutrality in the war between France and Great Britain? Why?

With which position do you agree? To what extent, if at all, is this debate about the relative roles of the executive and the legislative branches relevant today?