The American government as a democratic government functions under the guidance of three government arms. The role of each arm of government is clearly spelt under the doctrine of power separation that sought to offer clear guidelines to allow the smooth and effective execution of government affairs. Bernas (1997) however claims that there are several government departments within these separate arms of government that have overlapping roles and that one certain issues it is hard to decide which arm the jurisdiction of such a controversial issue falls.
However, it is argued that the founders of the nation sought to ensure the independence of all branches to ensure their supremacy in dealing with their particular spheres. However, it is necessary to note therefore that the functions of these arms of governments must adhere strictly to the constitution raising the question of who should be charged with the responsibility of enforcing those provisions. The executive arm of the government is fundamentally important to carry out the day to day running of the country. This power is usually vested upon the president and any person that the president deems fit to have power delegated to him.
Therefore, the constitution mandates a duly elected president to appoint such individuals as he may see fit subject to the approval of congress. This paper in essence tries to focus on this relationship whereby a particular of the government is subject to the oversight of another in carrying out its duties. It therefore becomes necessary for the president to appoint such individuals as qualified to handle their respective duties and such individuals must hold high integrity for them to get the necessary legislative backing.
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The president enjoys immense powers under the constitution among which includes the responsibility of defending the constitution and protecting the United States from attacks. For this purpose it is important that his powers be subject to some form of oversight in order for it not to be misused to the detriment of ordinary Americans. The legislature is a basic necessity in any democratic nation and the United States is a pillar of freedom and hence the United States congress is the custodian of law formulation in the nation.
The legislative wing consists of two separate houses expected to ensure effective and just formulation of laws to the benefit of society. The legislature is also charged with the responsibility of formulation laws regarding tax and authorizing various government expenditures. Furthermore the senate has complete authority to authorize the signing of treaties involving the nation bringing to the question of whether the executive has any true autonomous powers. It is also important to note at this juncture that it is not only congress that has influence on the executive but also the executive has considerable influence over the legislature.
Most committee chairmen are appointed by party leaders, plus the fact the party leader also appoints a majority leader in congress to spear head party agendas in congress. In this regard the executive has considerable influence on the direction of congress even in ignoring the fact that the president has veto power over bills passed in congress. The other arm is the judiciary charged with the administration of justice based on equality, equity and integrity. The courts are the grounds through which conflicts are to be resolved and injustices either compensated or punished.
In these solemn corridors of justice civil and criminal proceedings are initiated and the process of establishing guilt or innocence cleverly and impartially established. The court is also charged with the important duty of interpreting the constitution and establishing whether certain statues are constitutional or not. The appointment of judges is however left to the hands of the executive on the confirmation of the legislature. The judiciary is also charged with the duty to protect the rights and freedoms of the American citizens against the exploitation of both the executive and the legislature.
In this regard, the court is mandated to provide guidance and authority to the executive on the application of certain statutes that might infringe on the rights of the citizens. In this regard the court acts as the oversight authority on the excesses of the both the executive and the legislature by putting the interest of the citizens before all else. There are those who feel that oversight over government branches should be left to the masses. However, such a claim becomes rather untenable since there are no clear mechanisms to identify breach of constitution since most people lack the technical expertise to interpret the constitution.
Furthermore, even when such a breach might be on the public domain there are no mechanisms for the public to stop legislation or the enforcement of the same. There fore, it becomes necessary to allow the court since it has been charged with matters pertaining to the administration of justice and the upholding of the constitution. The court has the technical and legal mandate to interpret the constitution and therefore has the moral authority to rule on matters regarding the constitutionality of matters pertaining to changes or issues related to the constitution (Coxe, 2005).
Opponents of the judicial power of review would seem to be lost in the fallacious belief that the authority of the judiciary to review legislations enacted by congress and senate as an interference of the role of the legislature. It can be argued if the status of other countries like the U K that bars courts from reviewing primary bills was to be taken into consideration that indeed the judiciary might have exceeded its jurisdiction. However, it is necessary and the constitution clearly stipulates that any law that is contrary to the constitution is null and void.
Therefore, it is simply logical that the judiciary in exercising its role of constitutional interpretation make rulings on the constitutionality of bills passed by the legislative wing of government. This is because law makers might if no oversight exists make laws that are in their favor even if they are in contravention of the constitution. This is possible since the constitution might be subject to misinterpretation and due to its impartial nature, the judiciary can be trusted to enforce the provisions of constitution against the partisan interests of politicians.
The status quo has not always been so since the various arms of government did not infringe on the operations of the other. The courts oversight on the constitutionality of legislations emanated from the ruling of the case, William Marbury v. James Madison, secretary of state of the United States. The court had ruled that Marbury’s petition to the court under the judicial act of 1789 to compel the secretary of sate to deliver his commissioning document was unconstitutional (Marshal, 1803). However, it is clear that since the three branches serve as one government, they cannot function without relating and providing oversight to each other.
This creates accountability and checks against power abuse which might disadvantage the very people they are sworn in to serve. The legislator serves as an oversight against the executive and so the court must serve as and oversight on the legislature. Therefore, the present relation ship between the three branches is vital for the necessary functioning of the country and in the observance of the supremacy of our constitution.
- Bernas, J. (1997). Constitutional structure and powers of Government. Manila: Rex books. Coxe, B.(2005). An essay on judicial power and unconstitutional legislation 2005.
- Da carpo press. Marshal, C. J. (1803). William Marbury V. James Madison, Secretary Of State Of The United States . Retrieved 1 May 2009, from http://www. law. umkc. edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/marbury. HTML.
- The United States Constitution. (2009). The executive: presidential powers. Retrieved 2 May 3, 2009 from http://www. usconstitution. net/const. html. Steven, S. (1999). The American Congress: Roles of the legislature. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
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