Separation of powers was an idea accepted by all sides of the writers in the American constitution, though it’s straight to the point meaning remained unclear, at least until its famous publication in the Federalist, the protection of the Constitution written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. The confusion over the meaning of separation of powers arose mainly from the status of the executive’s power, and how powerful it should be. Such a weak executive office couldn’t balance the power of the legislature, however.
So they write up Article 2 to balance and strengthen the executive office. The “federative” power, as John Locke named it. While this federative power was theoretically distinguishable from the executive, in practice it was inseparable from the executive, because it, like the executive, presupposed the united power of society. These circumstances would frequently demand that these powers be in action for good. Locke’s justification for this extra-legal but prudent action was described as the prerogative power, which was necessarily an executive would be.
So in the end it was split into three equally powerful groups, judicial, executive, and congressional. The principle of limited government is idea of popular sovereignty which is the idea that “legitimate political power must derive from the consent of the governed. ” If the people are the real source of the government’s authority, then the government should have only whatever limited power the people want it to have. The Constitution is the place where it states, clearly and explicitly, which powers we choose to give, and which powers we refuse to give.
The Article IV created a trong national government that was powerful enough to take care of business, but also let states run themselves without interference from the government. In old fashioned monarchies, they held all powers of government, the power to make the law, the power to enforce the law, and the power to judge the law with no checks or balances. So when they designed the Constitution of the United States, the Framers insisted for the separation of powers to keep the government in check . The Framers believed the most important action in preventing tyranny in America was to divide the key powers of government amongst the three branches.
They could have stopped there, leaving it up to the officials of the three branches to figure out how to defend their own powers and limit the powers of the others. But that might have led to a conflict between the branches. So the Framers carefully constructed a system of articles of seven divisions, that provided specific power to allow each of the branches of government equal power. Those are called the system of checks and balances. The main ideal of the system of checks and balances was that no branch of government should be able to go rogue without being put in check by the others.
If a president starts trying to act like a tyrant, he can be kicked out by a Congressional vote. If Congress starts trying to pass a series of laws that are down right unconstitutional, Article III gives power to overturn those laws with a Judicial Review in the supreme court. The most important result is that getting anything done within government typically requires a lot of cooperation from more than one branch of government. For example, the president is named by the Constitution as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, giving him an incredibly powerful position in times of war.
The writers of the constitution prevented him from declaring role leaving it up to congress. Another example, is that the president can veto acts of congress. If congress tries to pass laws that the president thinks it’s unconstitutional or just bad, they can just veto it. The veto is perhaps the president’s most powerful method of control in checking and balancing Congress And a third example, is the Supreme Court has the power of judicial review, meaning it can stop laws it thinks is unconstitutional.
Which sometimes creates conflict in the government when trying to pass a law. But, the system instead compromises. Instead they try to avoid such conflicts by monitoring their own policies before ending up in a pickle. Often enough, the mere threat of a veto is enough to get Congress to alter any bill or law to make it good for the president. Or the mere threat of Congress refusing to push military effort is enough to force the president to build up public support before intervening abroad.
Or the mere threat of Senate disapproval may be enough to prevent the president from nominating a judge to the Supreme Court. The last important part of America’s system of limited government is the concept of federalism. In a federal system, some key powers are held by national government while others are forfor the various states government. The American federalist system existed way before the draft of the Constitution. At the time of the Constitutional Convention, when there were already 13 states that had become accustomed to wielding a huge amount of power in managing their own affairs.
They weren’t going to choose give up all their power, in order to give all their powers to one united national government. Furthermore, the Revolution of America had been, a revolt against a very distant and powerful central government. Why would the Writers, and signers of the Constitution want to recreate such a potential tyrannical structure? Still, most of the Writers had come to believe that all the state governments created after the Revolutionary War, and the Articles of Confederation which bound them poorly together, were too democratic and decentralized.
The United States needed a more powerful central government in order to effectively keep the young nation from falling apart. Federalism helped to solve this problem. The division of powers between the states and the central government was a kind of compromise, that let the states continue to exercise local control even while the new central government would take on more responsibilities, Federalism would also provide the checks and balances, as the state government and national government so they would both have certain ways to limit and influence each other.