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Importance Of Checks And Balances In American Government

1388 words - 6 pages

During those hot months in the summer of 1787, the founding fathers had a problem. They had to create a government that not only ensured the well-being of its people but also to fairly represent them without corruption. Therefore, they divided the main governmental powers into three branches, each independent of the other. However, to prevent one from becoming too strong, each branch had to have checks over the others. While this violates the key principle of keeping each branch separate, it is a necessity that the American government could not be without.First, the founding fathers found it absolutely necessary to separate the powers of the government, both from the failed Articles of ...view middle of the document...

..unfit to be the ruler of a free people" (Declaration of Independence). So when Madison writes, "What is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? (Madison #51), he is directly referring to the oppression and despotism imposed upon America in the mid-to-late 1700's. He views George III as a tyrant, and the way he tried to rule America is reflected in his tyrannical archetype. By saying he is unfit to rule free people Madison implies that the British are not free under his rule. The House of Lords and the House of Commons were meant to appease those who weren't in power, but George III's word was law, and according to Lord Acton, "absolute power corrupts absolutely" ( So the founding fathers needed a way to fairly represent the people in equal branches of government. Because these failed and oppressive forms of government were not what America wanted, the founding fathers needed a way to balance the amount of power in the government.Consequently, when they wrote the Constitution, they kept the idea of separate but equally powerful branches in mind. Each branch would have its own powers; the legislature to make the laws, the executive to enforce the laws, and the judiciary to interpret the laws. They would work together, but stay separate. In an ideal world, this would work, but as Madison said, "If men were angels, no government would be necessary" (Madison #51). Therefore, to prevent men from being corrupt and evil, each branch needed checks over the others. The branches would have their own independent powers and responsibilities, but to ensure that one did not become more influential than the others, the checks and balances were put in place. For example, the legislative branch can impeach the President, can override Presidential vetoes, can declare war, can set court jurisdictions, and the Senate must approve all federal judges. Second, the Executive can veto bills and is commander-in-chief of the military. Also the Vice-President is President of the Senate. The Executive has the power to appoint judges and to grant pardons. Thirdly, the judicial branch has the power of judicial review and the Chief Justice takes the place of the Vice-President atop the Senate during Presidential impeachment hearings. All of these checks and balances are necessary and have been invaluable in the development of the United States.This system of checks and balances not only safeguards the functionality of the law, but it provides a system to ensure that the public trust is kept. Both the Legislative and Executive branches are voted on by the people, while the Judiciary is appointed. Because of the frequency of the voting, if the people aren't satisfied with their elected officials, they can chose not to vote for them. With the checks and balances in place, each branch makes sure the other is working towards the greater good, for as...

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