Integrative Functions

Legislative bodies contribute to the integration of the polity by providing support for the judicial and executive and administrative systems. They provide this support through authorization, legitimization, and representation (Jewell and Patterson, 1986). A characteristic of any constitution is the specific delegation of authority to different components of government. In the United States, the legislative branch is given various kinds of authority over the executive branch. The legislative branch is also the source of power in most instances of administrative agencies. Perhaps the most important of these is the budgetary process through which legislative bodies authorize a particular agency or body to collect taxes and disburse funds. Legislative bodies also authorize the courts to establish jurisdiction, to create their organizational machinery, and to qualify their members. Moreover, legislatures oversee bureaucratic activities and attempt to balance them against prevailing special interests in a community.

The integrative functions of legislatures occur in part because legislative actions lend legitimacy to governmental policies and procedures. This dynamic occurs because the public generally deems legislative decisions and actions to be legitimate. For example, when Congress gives the IRS permission to collect more taxes, its exercise of authority is legitimized in the process, and the IRS has the right (meaning legitimate authority) as well as the power to collect more taxes. Even though many people do not like paying taxes, the fact that Congress determines tax rates and other tax code provisions helps to secure the public’s compliance with paying the taxes they owe.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Source   Next >