The principle behind the separation of power is to limit the powers of
government by separating governmental functions into the executive,
legislative and judiciary. The concept has its fullest practical
expression in the US constitution. James Madison, who was later to
become the fourth US President said:
“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive and judiciary,
in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether
hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the
very definition of tyranny”.
In Madison’s vision, the federal government and state governments, as
well as the legislature, executive and judiciary would be clearly
divided and each would be given a clear motive to check each other.
There are two ways in which power can be separated; horizontally and
vertically. The horizontal separation of powers is where power is
divided between different institutions (the Supreme Court, the Senate
and the White House). The vertical separation of powers is where power
is divided between the central government and the national government.
Political constitutions are incomplete contracts and therefore leave
scope for abuse of power. In democracies, elections are the primary
mechanism for disciplining public officials, but they are not
sufficient. Separation of powers between executive and legislative
bodies also helps to prevent the abuse of power, but only with
appropriate checks and balances. Checks and balances work by creating
a conflict of interests between the executive and the legislature, yet
requiring both bod...
... middle of paper ...
Howard) decision to impose a 15 year tariff on the two boys who killed
two year old James Bulger – Jack Straws intervention was heavily
criticised by the Lord Chief Justice Woolf. The Lord Chancellor
indicated that the Government might occasionally refuse to follow
judges’ rules on cases under the Act – a statement used as evidence
that Mr. Straw might refuse to give us his sentencing power in cases
such as that of Myra Hindley (Straw stated that life should mean life
for Hindley whereas the Lord Chief Justice said that her case had not
been dealt with correctly).
However, UK courts are not directly bound by the judgements of the
European Court of Human Rights. Domestic Courts are only required to
take into account decisions of the European Court of Human rights –
they are NOT bound by the decisions of the ECHR.
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