Constitutional Principle

Separation of Powers/ Checks and Balances

How Separation of Powers in applied in the U.S.

In the American Government, the power is split up into three branches: The Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch and the Judicial Branch. This was to prevent tyranny in the government. Each branch of government has certain powers over the other two that keeps each branch in check.

Why did the Founding Fathers Include the Separation of Powers into the Constitution?

The Founding Fathers included the Separation of Powers into the Constitution because people were very scared of having their new government eventually turning into a tyranny like the one they just escaped from. The separation of powers helped to ensure that no one branch of power would be able to have too much control.The Founding Fathers decided to borrow Montesquieu's ideas and incorporate them into the Constitution
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Separation of Powers/ Checks and Balances In the Constitution

Executive Branch:

Article II, Section. 1:
"The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America."

This means that the elected president holds all executive power.

Legislative Branch:

Article I, Section. 1:

"All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives."

Article I, Section. 7:

"All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills. Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States."

This means that the elected representatives of the Legislature hold all of the power of the Legislative Branch. They have the power to propose Amendments and laws, but all bills passed by the Legislature must be agreed on by the President before becoming a law.

Judicial Branch:

Article III, Section. 1:

"The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish."

This means that the power of the Judicial Branch will be divided into one Supreme Court and many, smaller states courts that will be established by Congress.

Influence from Enlightenment Philosophers

Baron de Montesquieu created the principle of Separation of Powers, which he modeled after the British Constitutional system of Monarch, Parliament, and Courts of Law. Montesquieu believed that that best form of government was one in which power was equally distributed among three groups of officials. According to Montesquieu, a strong government was one in which each branch could limit the power of the others, and no branch could take away the freedom of the people.

Separation of Powers in our World Today

President Obama's recent actions have tried to override the system of separation of powers. When Congress is deadlocked, President Obama plans to achieve higher power in Congress.