Checks and Balances Essay

This essay has a total of 2280 words and 13 pages.

Checks and Balances



Principles of American Democracy


12/12/03


The ideals of Checks and Balances have existed through many different forms throughout the
century. The definition of Checks and Balances seen by some individuals is said to be
described in this way. The American Government is made up of three separate branches which
are judicial, legislative, and executive. The Judicial is composed of the federal and
Supreme Courts and they could try federal cases and interpret the laws of the nation in
those cases; the power to declare any law or executive act unconstitutional. The
Legislative is composed of the house and senate and they could pass all federal laws;
establishes all lower federal courts; can override a Presidential veto; can impeach the
President. The Executive composed of the President, Vice-President, and the Departments
and they could veto power over all bills; appointment of judges and other officials; makes
treaties; ensures all laws are carried out; commander in chief of the military; pardon
power. To make sure that these branches are co-equal there has to be a system of Checks
and Balances. If any of the branches feel as if the law the other branches make is not
constitutional, the other branches could veto the law. “Each of these branches has certain
powers, and each of these powers is limited, or checked, by another branch. For example,
the President appoints judges and departmental secretaries. But these appointments must be
approved by the Senate. The Congress can pass a law, but the President can veto it. The
Supreme Court can rule a law to be unconstitutional, but the Congress, with the States,
can amend the Constitution.”



Here are some of the effects of the branches on each other. The Legislative Branch checks
on the Executive and has impeachment power, trial impeachments, may override Presidential
votes, and power to declare war. The Checks on the Judiciary are that the Senate can
approve federal judges, power to set jurisdiction of courts, power to alter the size of
the Supreme Court, and power to initiate constitutional amendments. Checks on the
Legislature include all journals to be published, house must originate spending bills, and
bills must be passed by both houses of Congress.



The Executive Branch’s checks on the Legislature hold Veto power, Recess appointments, and
compensation cannot be diminished. The Checks on Judiciary include power to appoint judges
and pardon power. The Checks on the executive is that the Vice President and Cabinet can
vote that the President is unable to discharge his duties.



The Judicial Branches Checks on the Legislature does Judicial Review, Seats are held on
good behavior, and Compensation cannot be diminished. The Checks on the Executive include
Judicial Review and Chief Justice sits as President of the Senate during presidential
impeachment.



“As you can see there are many ways that the Constitution balances power. Real life
conflicts that test the system have occurred throughout history. These checks and balances
are used on a regular basis.”



After the Civil War President Andrew Johnson vetoed over 20 bills.


After the Civil War Congress overrode over 20 Presidential vetoes!


In 1987 President Ronald Reagan appointed Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, his nomination was defeated.


In 1935 and 1936 the Supreme Court declared the NIRA and then the AAA (two New Deal
programs passed during the Roosevelt administration) unconstitutional.



“A government is said to have an effective system of checks and balances if no one branch
of government holds total power, and can be overridden by another. Each distrusts the
others to a degree to improve accountability to the public as a whole.”



All of these Checks and Balances are somewhat inefficient but, this is the way it was
designed. By forcing the branches to become liable to the others, no branch could seize
enough power to become more dominant than the other branches.




“This unique system was seen by the Founding Father’s for the prevention of the majority
from dictating its thoughts and ideas at will to a minority.”(Wood)



This is simply saying that the Checks and Balances system was seen by the Founding
Father’s for the prevention of the greater amount of people who are most likely to be in
charge speaking out their thoughts and ideas at force to a minority or a person that
thinks differently from the majority. Using the system, the Founding Fathers of the
Constitution kept the regular branches in their correct place. The Checks and Balances
system made sure that the power was distributed equally in each branch and made sure that
no branch would over power the other. “By the adoption of the philosophy of Montesqueiu
the framers of the U.S. constitution made sure that not one of the branches of the U.S.
Government would over power another.” (Wood)



The system also made sure that the American Government would be stable and would not fall
apart or become out of hand. Before the Checks and Balances system, a Limited Government
was not listed meaning that the Limited Government was not planned. The Separation of
Powers was also promoted by the system of Checks and Balances. As said that the system has
existed through many different forms throughout the centuries. It was also brought upon
during the Roman Republic during sixth century BC in Rome and evolved through English
history to the government of the United States.



The American constitutional system includes a notion known as the Separation of Powers. In
this system, several branches of government are created and power is shared between them.
At the same time, the powers of one branch can be challenged by another branch. This is
what the system of checks and balances is all about.



“Historically, the concept of Separation of Powers dates back as far as ancient Greece.
The concepts were refined by contemporaries of the Framers, and those refinements
influenced the establishment of the three branches in the Constitution.”



“The Separation of Powers devised by the framers of the Constitution was designed to do
one primary thing: to prevent the majority from ruling with an iron fist. Based on their
experience, the framers shied away from giving any branch of the new government too much
power. The separation of powers provides a system of shared power known as Checks and
Continues for 7 more pages >>




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