The Separation of Powers in the United States Political System
In the 18th Century, the French philosopher Montesquieu, who had been
one of the inspirations behind the French Revolution, argued that
limitation would be necessary within government within government in
order to avoid tyranny. He identified the Executive, the Legislature
and the Judiciary as the four braches of government which needed to be
separated. To do this, he suggested the 'Separation of Powers', a
mechanism built internally into government where each branch would
have powers enabling it to limit those of another so no one branch
becomes too powerful.
The Founding Fathers of the American Constitution agreed with
Montesquieu's ideas and introduced a system of checks and balances
into the Constitution to support the Separation of Powers.
There are several ways in which Separation of Powers is achieved by
the Constitution. If we take the Executive and Legislature first, the
Executive in the US government is the Presidential Office and the
Legislature is the two Houses of Congress - the House of
Representatives being the Lower House and the Senate being the Upper
House. The Senate has the power to confirm all major presidential
appointments. The combined Houses of Congress controls the Executive
budget and appropriation (expenditure), passes/rejects all legislation
requested by the President and can impeach and remove the President
for 'high crimes and misdemeanours'. In addition, the Senate ratifies
foreign treaties signed by the President with a two-thirds majority.
On the other side, the Executive also has powers to limit the
Legislature and so complete the...
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...heat for not
providing satisfactory Separation of Powers because some have observed
how since the 19th Century right up to the modern day, the
presidential authority seems to dominate in government. They observe
how President Thomas Jefferson in 1803 authorised the 'Louisiana
Purchase' without the consult of Congress. This more than doubled the
size of the US and used up funds in the US budget therefore Congress
is shown as weak for not forcing itself to take part in this crucial
decision. Another example can be seen where President Abraham Lincoln
ordered the blockade of southern ports and increased the number
enlisted in the army again without Congressional authorisation during
the Civil War. By the 1960's too, during the Vietnam War, the
Presidents had undoubted primacy/hegemony in the handling of defense