Branches of Government
Branches of Government
The US Constitution was created by our Founding Forefathers to be the supreme law of the United States of America. The Constitution outlines organization of the government, the relationship that the federal government has with the states, and rights of the citizens. It is vitally important to discuss why the three branches of government were created in the Constitution, each branch of government’s power, obstacles that the division of power created, and the conflict between federal versus state power, in order to understand how the power and structure of our government impacted the formation of our country today. Philosophers and the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches In 1787, America’s forefathers came together to create the most important document in history, our Constitution. Some of the Framers goals in the Constitution were to establish a government strong enough to meet the nation’s needs, to establish a government that would not threaten the existence of separate states or the liberty of the nation, and to establish a government based on popular consent (Patterson, 2009, pg. 38). There were many philosophers with different philosophies on how a government should be structured and they inputted those philosophies into the Constitution. There are five main philosophers that have impacted the government’s structure and their impact has created a balanced government. These philosophers who heavily influenced the structure of the Constitution are Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Baron De Montesquieu, and Voltaire. During the period of Enlightenment, intellects spent their time trying to inject science, logic, and human characteristics into how the people would best be served (Gahr, 2011). Thomas Hobbes wrote Leviathan (1651), which outlines a social contract of appropriate behaviors and expectations of a government and its people. John Locke wrote Two Treatises on Government (1690) outlining natural rights of life, liberty, and property. Voltaire wrote of freedom of religion, free speech and tolerance. Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote The Social Contract (1762) where he outlines that free individuals who create a government that responds to the people’s will, is the only legitimate way to earn the consent of the people to be governed (The Enlightenment and Democratic Revolutions, 2011). The Philosopher who made a huge influence in the formation or structure of our Constitution is Baron De Montesquieu. Montesquieu published The Spirit of the Law (1748) stating that the best way to safeguard liberty is by a separation of powers, which he suggested an outline that divided the government into three separate branches (The Enlightenment and Democratic Revolutions, 2011). These philosophies significantly structured our Constitution into a more organized government. The influence these philosophers had on the Founding Fathers is the framework of the United States Government, and outlined in the first three articles of the Constitution. Article I establishes the powers and limitations of the Legislative Branch of Congress, consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The number of House representatives is in ratio to population of the states and the Senate consists of two representatives from each state. Article II establishes the powers and limitations of the President. Article III establishes the powers and limitations of the judicial branch, which is made up of The Supreme Court and lower courts as created by Congress (The United States Constitution, 2011). In the creation of these three, separate, and distinctive powers, our Founding Fathers were making sure no branch of government could overpower the other. Three branches of government form a system of checks and balances and they were not designed to be equal. The legislative branch has the highest amount of power, followed by the executive and judicial...
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