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Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances

So how does the U.S. Constitution provide for a system of separation of powers and check and balances? According to our lesson 3 Congress lecture, our Founding Fathers foresaw that the Congress would be the most central branch of government, even if our U.S. Constitution provides for “separation of powers” and “checks and balances”. In addition, James Madison and others who feared that the Congress would have too much power, decided to settle on the proposal of having a “bicameral” legislative branch, in which created a House of Representatives and a Senate (Soltero).
Let me begin with a little bit of history, according to Onecle, Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances online article, “When the colonies separated from Great Britain following the Revolution, the framers of their constitutions were imbued with the profound tradition of separation of powers, and they freely and expressly embodied the principle in their charters. But the theory of checks and balances was not favored because it was drawn from Great Britain, and, as a consequence, violations of the separation-of-powers doctrine by the legislatures of the States were common-place events prior to the convening of the Convention. Theory as much as experience guided the Framers in the summer of 1787” (Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances).

In able to prevent the majority from ruling with an iron fist, the framers of the Constitution created the Separation of Powers. With regards to the history and the framers experiences, they devised a plan to ensure that not one branch of the new government is given too much power. “The separation of powers provides a system of shared power known as Checks and Balances” (Constitutional Topic: Separation of Powers).
The Legislative in which includes the House and Senate, the executive in which composes of the President, Vice-President, and the Departments and the Judicial where the federal courts and the Supreme Court resides are the three branches that was created in the constitution in hope for separation of powers and checks and balances. All three branches of the government have certain powers and each of these powers is limited or checked by another branch. “The doctrine of separation of powers, as implemented in drafting the Constitution, was based on several principles generally held: the separation of government into three branches, legislative, executive, and judicial; the conception that each branch performs unique and identifiable functions that are appropriate to each; and the limitation of the personnel of each branch to that branch, so that no one person or group should be able to serve in more than one branch simultaneously” (Separation of Powers and Check and Balances). Let me expand on how separation of powers between the three branches of U.S. Government is ensured.

I’ll begin with the Legislative Branch. This branch is able to check on the Executive Branch by having the power to impeach. In addition, the Senate is able to hold trial of impeachment. In the case of no majority of electoral vote, this branch is able to select the U.S. President and the Vice-President. They can also override the President’s vetoes. Moreover, specifically the Senate section of the Legislative Branch, they approves departmental appointments, treaties, ambassadors, and replacement of the Vice-President. Additionally, they have the power to declare war, enact taxes and allocate funds. From time to time, the U.S President must also deliver a State of the Union address. The Legislative Branch also has duties to checks the Judiciary Branch of the government. They approves federal judges and has the power to initiate constitutional amendments, to set courts inferior to the Supreme Court, to set jurisdiction of courts, and to alter the size of the Supreme Court. Lastly, due to the Legislative Branch being a bicameral it also has responsibility and a way to check itself. Bills must be approved/passed by both chambers, neither house may adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other house, and all journals have to be published (Constitutional Topic: Checks and Balances).

The Executive Branch also has the powers to check the other branches of the government. This branch is able to check on the Legislative Branch by having veto power. Additionally, the Vice-President is the President of the Senate. Furthermore, the President is the Commander in Chief of the military. They can also recess appointments, have an emergency calling into session of one or both houses of Congress, and able to force adjournment when both houses can not agree on adjournment. In regards to checking the Judiciary Branch, they have the power to appoint judges and the power to pardon. Within itself, the Vice President and Cabinet can vote that the President is unable to discharge his duties (Constitutional Topic: Checks and Balances).

The Judicial Branch can check on the Legislature by having the judicial review, and checking that the Congress seats are held on good behavior. In regards to checking on the Executive Branch, they also have the power to judicial review. In addition, the Chief Justice sits as President of the Senate during presidential impeachment (Constitutional Topic: Checks and Balances).

As I discussed above, the Framers created a system of government of granting adequate/separate powers to each branch to govern but at the same time preserving the ability to of each one to check and balances one another. With this type of system, our government guaranteed that no one individual or one group could ever hold too much power.

Bibliography
Constitutional Topic: Checks and Balances. (n.d). Retrieved March 31, 2013, from U.S. Constitution: http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_cnb.html
Constitutional Topic: Separation of Powers. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2013, from U.S. Constitution: http://www.usconstitution.net/consstop_sepp.html
Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2013, from Onecle: http://law.onecle.com/constitution/article-1/01-separation-of-powers.html
Soltero, C. (n.d.). Week 3: Congress. Retrieved from https://edge.apus.edu/xsl-portal/site/215414/page/4efab4e-aa91-4413-af5c-9c691f2a3e38

Bibliography: Constitutional Topic: Checks and Balances. (n.d). Retrieved March 31, 2013, from U.S. Constitution: http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_cnb.html Constitutional Topic: Separation of Powers. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2013, from U.S. Constitution: http://www.usconstitution.net/consstop_sepp.html Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2013, from Onecle: http://law.onecle.com/constitution/article-1/01-separation-of-powers.html Soltero, C. (n.d.). Week 3: Congress. Retrieved from https://edge.apus.edu/xsl-portal/site/215414/page/4efab4e-aa91-4413-af5c-9c691f2a3e38

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