Top-Rated Free Essay
Checks and Balances
Andrea Metz
POS300 Arizona/Federal Government
December 14, 2009

This essay will discuss the Constitutional principle of Checks and Balances. It will explain the concept and effectiveness of the separation of power. As an example, the case of Brown v. The Board of Education will be used to explain the concept and effectiveness of the separation of power. Brown v. The Board of Education is a famous case that ended segregation in schools in 1954 during the Civil Rights Movement. First, lets start with what the definition of Checks and Balances is as it pertains to the Constitution. The definition according to Merriam-Webster is: “a system that allows each branch of a government to amend or veto acts of another branch so as to prevent any one branch from exerting too much power.”. The legislative power is vested in the Congress, the executive power rests with the President and the judicial power is granted to the Supreme Court and other federal courts. Each branch of government has separate and particular powers as listed in the Constitution, each branch is also given the power, duty and ability to control and balance the other(s) in a system of checks and balances. The Constitution grants all legislative power to the Congress. The Congress is bicameral and a bill has to pass both houses: the House of Representatives and the Senate. In this way the houses check and balance each other. Both the executive and the judicial branch check and balance the Congress ' legislative power. Although only the Congress can make laws, the President has the power to veto bills, in which case the bill can only pass with a 2/3 majority in both houses. Finally, if the Congress and the President agree on a law, the Supreme Court has the power of interpreting the laws and a power of review, i.e. the Supreme Court can declare a law unconstitutional and therefore void. As chief administrator the President is required to see that laws are carried out, to enforce existing politics and to managing the bureaucracy. The president nominates the heads of the executive branch 's departments, but these appointments are subject to the Congress ' approval. The constitution makes the president and Congress share powers in matters such as foreign policy and the US armed forces. In the case of Brown v. The Board of Education, the legal defense of Oliver L. Brown stated, “the discriminatory nature of racial segregation ... "violates the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees all citizens equal protection of the laws,". Because of this Brown v. The Board of Education laid the foundation for shaping future national and international policies regarding human rights. At the time, the state of Kansas had segregated schools, meaning that black and white children could not go to school at the same place. At the end of the case, Brown and his legal defense had argued that it was not fair to the children because they may or may not get the best education if they were segregated. The United States Supreme Court ruled that no state should segregate any child in public schools. White and Black children would go to school together and be offered the same rights. Anything less would be unconstitutional. This is a perfect example of how the state legislature was overturned by the Supreme Court and they were able to keep a check and balance on each other. The state of Kansas did not have a law stating that the schools must be segregated, but they also did not have a law saying that they couldn’t be segregated. The Browns first took their case to the state in 1951. After the case was dismissed, Brown and four other lawsuits made an appeal to the United States Supreme Court were the state ruling was overruled. The Supreme Court had checked and agreed that it was a violation of the Constitution to segregate schools. To this day, a public school can not discriminate against any child, black or white, male or female, smart or special ed. The decision made by the Supreme Court was a unanimous ruling that was issued on May 17, 1954. At that time Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote that "segregated schools are not equal and cannot be made equal, and hence they are deprived of the equal protection of the laws." He continued, "We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of 'separate but equal ' has no place.”. Thank goodness for checks and balances, without them, the country would be a much different place to live.

References: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/checks+and+balances http://brownvboard.org/research/opinions/347us483.htm http://brownvboard.org/summary/ http://www.2facts.com.library.gcu.edu:2048/Popup.aspx?extid=ha00001250

References: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/checks+and+balances http://brownvboard.org/research/opinions/347us483.htm http://brownvboard.org/summary/ http://www.2facts.com.library.gcu.edu:2048/Popup.aspx?extid=ha00001250

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