Separation of Powers

By: The Power of Dylan, Celeste, Lakyn, Megan, and J.C.

Influence of Enlightenment Philosophers (Baron De Montesqieu Pictured Left)

Baron De Montesquieu gave the American government their three bodies of government. He gave us the Legislative, Judicial, and Executive branches that limit total power in one area of government. Montesquieu saw despotism as a danger in government. He said that separate legislative, judicial, and executive powers would be best to prevent abuse of power. This separation of powers had an impact on the ideas of the Framers of the Constitution.

Significance and Purpose of Principle

The founding Fathers wanted a separation of all powers written in the Constitution to prevent any one branch of government from abusing their powers and taking control of the nation. They feared a Monarchy like Britain’s which they had just gained independence from.

Historical Example

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt sought legislative authorization for increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court, or "packing the Court" in order to put together a majority of justices to end the constant rejection of key New Deal measures. The principle of separation of powers was preserved in that the president's bill failed, although it was clear that the president had managed to change the course of Supreme Court adjudication.

Current Example

The president tried using the NSA to spy on citizens but with the separation of powers, the Judicial and Legislative can shut down the president’s efforts by the Judicial branch declaring his acts unconstitutional and Congress can change the laws or impeach him.
Separation of Powers easily explained (explainity® explainer video)