Assess the positive and the negative aspects of the United States political framework based on the ‘separation of powers’.
The United States is a presidential democracy; its political framework is based on the separation of powers between the executive, the legislative and the judicial branches of government. This is in contrast to a parliamentary democracy where there is a fusion of powers between branches of government 1. It is often argued that a parliamentary system of government based on a fusion of powers is a more effective form of government, particularly when legislating. Although this may be the case, the US political system has overcome issues faced by most parliamentary ...view middle of the document...
This division of power naturally created a system of checks and balances between the three branches of government. The separation of powers in the US has prevented the executive from becoming too powerful and over interventionist. For example, when a bill is passed through congress, it must be signed by the president in order for it to become law. The president can however, veto a piece of legislation by refusing to sign it. In a situation where the president refuses to sign a bill that has the approval of both the electorate and congress, congress has the power to override a presidential veto. This can only be achieved by a two thirds majority vote in both houses of congress. Although this is hard to achieve in practice, it is an effective restraint on a domineering president.
1 DALTON, R., J., STROM, K., POWELL, G., B., (2012). Comparative Politics. Custom book ed. Great Britain: Pearson Education Limited. Pg. 330.
2 Hillsdale College, (2003). Separation of Powers: Preventing Tyranny. [Online] Available at: https://constitution.hillsdale.edu/page.aspx?pid=1264. [Last accessed: 13/01/2013].
3 MCKAY, D., (2001). American Politics & Society. 5th ed. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Limited. Pg. 45.
4 Hillsdale College, (2003). Separation of Powers: Preventing Tyranny. [Online] Available at: https://constitution.hillsdale.edu/page.aspx?pid=1264. [Last accessed: 13/01/2013].
5DALTON, R., J., STROM, K., POWELL, G., B., (2012). Comparative Politics. Custom book ed. Great Britain: Pearson Education Limited. Pg. 330.
The Judicial branch of the government is argued to be the most effective restraint on the power of Congress. The Supreme Court in the United States has the power to strike down a law passed by the legislature by declaring it unconstitutional. This exclusive power given to Supreme Court means that Judicial Independence is extremely important. The US political framework, based on the separation of powers, has helped to ensure this vital element of Judicial Independence. The United States constitution states that there should be no overlap of power between the three branches of government, and most importantly no overlap in personnel. Article I, section 6 states ‘No person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a member of either House during his Continuation in Office’ 6. Each branch of government is operated by individuals entirely distinct from the other two branches of government. In the US political system members of the executive cannot have additional roles in the legislature also, unlike parliamentary systems of government where there is a fusion of powers and personnel. When Barack Obama campaigned for presidency in 2008, he resigned from his role as Senator of Illinois. It is extremely important that Supreme Court justices in the United States are completely free from influence from the other two branches of government. They hold a unique position in the US political system and are an...