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United States Government: A Balancing Act - Essay Example

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The federal government of the United States, as stated in its Constitution, is given by its people certain rights, functions and responsibilities to effectively govern the nation "in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic …
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United States Government: A Balancing Act
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United States Government: A Balancing Act

Hence, this essay aims to shed light on these issues and illustrate how the aforementioned divisions affect the manner the country is governed, with particular regard to balancing the rights and responsibilities of the branches of government as well as between the federal and state government.

The US Constitution has adopted, as a defining aspect of US government, the doctrine of separation of powers. What then, is the rationale of our forefathers for adopting this doctrine This doctrine, as argued by Baron de Montesquieu (1748, p. 5) is a necessary component of democratic nations because "[t]here can be no liberty where the executive, legislative, and judicial branches are under one person or body of persons because the result is arbitrary despotism (tyranny)." In this respect, it is only logical for our forefathers to adopt this doctrine coming out of a civil war where independence was achieved from a colonial government characterized by corruption and oppression of its people. This created a need to protect the nation from the possible abuses that come about from a government's monopoly in the use of power. Ironically, as James Madison (1788b) writes, "ambition must be made to counteract ambition." Thus, dividing the powers of the government into three branches serves as a remedy to prevent oppression brought about by the monopoly of power, characteristic of the British colonial government. It is a tool to ensure that the ideals of democracy, which the nation stands strongly for, are guaranteed through limiting their power, creating a limited constitutional government.

Hence, given that is imperative to ensure the ideals of democracy and safeguard against oppression, how does the doctrine affect the interaction between the three separate branches A concept that cannot be separated from the doctrine of separation of powers is that of checks and balances. In this respect, Madison (1788a) writes that the three branches "should not be so far separated as to have no constitutional control over each other." Thus, our forefathers were careful not to make the separation of powers absolute by ensuring that each branch can serve as a control for the other. This concept of checks and balances, therefore define the manner that the three branches will interact. Article 1 of the Constitution, for example, states that "the House of Representatives; shall have the sole power of Impeachment" (US Constitution, Art. 1 2). In this regard, the Congress serves as a control for both the executive and judiciary branch officials against corruption and other offenses through impeachment. In addition, it also serves as a control for the Executive through the "power of the purse" by virtue of the Constitution, which states that the Congress shall
"make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof." (US Constitution, Art. 1 8).
The executive, on the other hand, by virtue its veto power can serve as a check for the Congress in ensuring sound legislation (US Constitution, Art. 1 7). In addition to its veto power, the Executive is given the power to "grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, ... Read More
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