Separation of powers provides our government with a system of checks and balances, a way to prevent one branch from becoming too powerful. This concept was important in the creation of our government because it prevented one central government. Our Framers wanted to avoid a government that was run by one person, or one super powerful group. In order to effectively put their theory to work, they actually separated the powers between each branch of government.
The three branches of our government consist of the Legislative Branch, The Executive Branch, and the Judicial Branch. While each branch does hold some authority over the other two, they are still politically independent of one another. Let me explain further how the separation of powers works.
The Legislative Branch’s powers include passing all federal laws, the ability to override a president’s veto, declaring war, enacting taxes, and it can even impeach the president. The Executive Branch’s responsibilities include veto power over all bills, making treaties, pardon power, and it ensures all laws are carried out. Lastly, the Judicial Branch has the power to try federal cases and it can also rule that laws or executive acts are unconstitutional.
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As stated earlier, each branch has authorities, or checks over the other two. We know that the Executive Branch has the power to carry out laws. The Legislative and Judicial branches check over the Executive Branch in this manner because even though they are enforcing the laws, the Legislative Branch is the one with the ability to fund the laws and other executive actions, while the Judicial Branch interprets them. And, though the Legislative Branch has the power to impeach the president, a Chief Justice (a member of the Judicial Branch) sits as President of the Senate during this time. Each branch works together to ensure the other is doing what it’s supposed to be doing.
I believe the Framers thought separation of powers was so important because their goal from the beginning was to establish a government that was unlike any other. Our Framers wanted to make sure that the government they were creating would be able to withstand itself over time. The Framers wanted to show they had faith (not much, but a little) in their fellow citizens by giving them the power to vote and make decisions. Giving the power to the people was the aim of our new government. By leaving behind countries where dictators ruled the people, and where Kings and Queens passed down authority from generation to generation, our Framers did everything they could to make sure our new government would not become what they disliked so much.
Separation of powers preserves the ideas and wants of our Framers, and that is why I believe a system of checks and balances to be so important.
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