Saturday, February 4, 2017

US Constitution - Checks and Balances

The United States of America's constitutional system includes a notion known as the "Separation of Powers."  In this system, several branches of government are created and power is shared between them.  At the same time, the powers of one branch can be challenged by another branch.  This is what the system of checks and balances is all about.
    There are three branches in the United States government as established by our Constitution.  First, the Legislative Branch makes the law.  Second, the Executive Branch executes the law.  Last, the Judicial  Branch interprets the law.
    Each governmental branch has an effect on the others.

The Legislative Branch

 1.  Checks on the Executive Branch
     *  Impeachment power (House of Representatives)
     *  Trial of impeachments (Senate)
     *  Selection of the President (House) and the Vice President (Senate) in the case of no majority of electoral votes
     *  May override Presidential vetoes
     *  Senate approves departmental appointments
     *  Senate approves treaties and ambassadors
     *  Approval of replacement of Vice President
     *  Power to declare war
     *  Power to enact taxes and to allocate funds
     *  The President must, from time-to-time, deliver a State of the Union address
 2.   Checks on the Judiciary Branch
     *  Senate approves federal judges
     *  Impeachment power (House)
     *  Trial of impeachments (Senate)
     *  Power to initiate constitutional amendments
     *  Power to set courts inferior to the Supreme Court
     *  Power to set the jurisdiction of courts
     *  Power to alter the size of the Supreme Court
 3.   Checks on the Legislative Branch, itself - because it is bicameral, the Legislature has a degree of self-checking.
     *  Bills must be passed by both houses of Congress - the Senate and the House of Representatives
     *  The House must originate revenue bills
     *  Neither Senate nor House may adjourn for more than three (3) days without the consent of the other
     *  All journals are to be published

The Executive Branch

 1.   Checks on the Legislative Branch
     *  Veto power
     *  Vice President is the President of the Senate
     *  Commander in chief of the military
     *  Recess appointments
     *  Emergency calling into session of one or both houses of Congress
     *  May force adjournment when both houses cannot agree upon adjournment
     *  Compensation cannot be diminished
 2.   Checks on the Judiciary Branch
     *  Power to appoint judges
     *  Power to pardon
 3.   Checks on the Executive Branch
     *  Vice President and Cabinet can vote that the President is unable to discharge his duties

The Judiciary Branch

 1.   Checks on the Legislative Branch
     *  Judicial review
     *  Seats in both House and Senate are held on good behavior
     *  Compensation cannot be diminished
 2.   Checks on the Executive Branch
     *  Judicial review
     *  Chief Justice sits as President of the Senate during a presidential impeachment

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