Political Science 102
Limiting American Government Power
In 1787, fifty five men met in Philadelphia to help form the great country we live in today, called America. The United States of America is the only country to be created based solely on the advancement of individual freedom. In order to gain freedom, the people had to have their own rights, and the rights given to the people were written on the constitution which was created by the fifty men that met in Philadelphia. The constitution allowed individuals in America to have their own rights as well as limit government power. It was important that the government had limited powers, because with limited power it allowed American citizens to have more freedom. A few doctrines to help reduce the power of the American government are the bill of rights, separation of powers, and checks and balances. The bill of rights, are the first ten amendments in the constitution that allow American citizens certain rights that the government cannot take away. Separation of powers splits the government into three branches and gives them specific powers, these three branches are the legislative branch, executive branch, and judicial branch. While separation of powers separates government into three branches, checks and balances limit the three branches powers so that no branch is stronger than one another. These three doctrines are a few key reasons on how the American government power is limited.
The constitution helps protect American citizens from government power by giving us certain rights that the government cannot take away. This helps reduce government power over American citizens by not allowing the government to fully control what American citizens are allowed to do. The first ten amendments in the constitution are what help protect American citizens from the government; these first ten amendments are what make up the bill of rights. In the bill of the rights, the 9th amendment gives rights to the people that cannot be taken away by the government. This helps give the people more power and limits the powers of the government. Another amendment that limits government power is the 10th amendment that reserves power to the states rather than the federal government, this helps prevent the growth of power for the federal government over state governments. With other amendments, the constitution overall helps protect the American people from federal government as well as ensure the federal government does not take control over the states as the British did with their colonies.
Another doctrine that helps limit government power is the doctrine of the separation of powers. The separation of powers separates the government into three branches and gives them each a specific type of power. The three branches of government are the legislative branch, the executive branch, and the judicial branch. Each branch does a specific job, and no branch is more powerful than another. Responsibilities of the legislative branch are to create laws and use the money appropriately to operate the government. The executive branch is responsible for enforcing the laws created by the legislative branch. And the judicial branch is responsible for interpreting these laws. With each branch taking on different responsibility the government isn’t one big power that can make all the rules and pass every law. These three branches were made to separate powers among the government, but to make sure that no one branch can become more powerful than another, the doctrine of checks and balances help keep all the branches balanced in so that no one branch can rise over any other.
Checks and balances give each branch of government a certain power over another branch in order to balance out government power. The system of checks and balances is somewhat like rock paper scissors in which the cycle revolves in a triangle. If we start with the legislative branch, the congress, they may pass laws, but the president, executive branch can veto those laws. Even if the president veto’s a law, the congress can override that veto with a 2/3rds vote. And also if the president and congress agree on a law, the can be claimed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, judicial branch. Supreme Court judges may have life terms, but president can nominate judges for impeachment, and the Supreme Court can confirm those nominations. The president has many powers to make decisions but can be impeached by the congress. With this cycle of power, it helps keep the three branches of government in balance so that no government branch can overrule any one branch.
The way the American government was created was for the advancement of opportunity for the citizens of America to succeed and be free. With the bill of rights, separation of powers, checks and balances, and other doctrines within in our government, they help limit government power in order to allow us with the rights we have as American citizens and have liberty here in America. Without these doctrines that our founding fathers implemented into our government system we would not be able to live in the amazing country we live in today, with the unalienable rights that are given to us by God himself so that we can live a life of freedom in the United States of America.