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A Guide to Understanding The Separation of Powers

Separation Of Powers

As set forth by the United States Constitution, branches of Government have been held separate from each other so as to ensure that no one branch may overtake the others in pursuit of some abuse of overall power. The Government branches that fall under this "separation of powers" include the executive, legislative, and judicial sectors. These branches of Government each have prescribed levels of power has set forth by the Constitution.

In relation to the executive domain of these Government branches, though presidents are granted power to oversee command of military forces as well as the ability to ensure that laws are passed as well as treaties set forth, they do not actually possess absolute power. When referencing the military, the President may place those duties onto other individuals who may devote all their time to such endeavors as the military interest. In addition, Congress may dispute any presidential decisions. Therefore, the President, though possessing certain powers, must actually also adhere to the direction set forth by Congress, which may override decisions made by the Commander in Chief.

The category of Government branches that Congress resides within is that of the legislative branch. Legislative power is totally within the realm of Congress, as Congress assumes exclusive authority in terms of legislation. It may not, under any circumstances, "delegate" its powers to any other branch of Government. This was reiterated in Clinton v. City of New York, where the Supreme Court stated that Congress is not permitted to delegate a "line-item" to the country's President. According to such power Congress attempted to delegate, the President would have the authority to abolish provisions of a bill prior to inputting his signature upon it.

The third member of these branches of Government, the judicial branch, maintains that the Supreme Court, as well as other smaller State and district courts, possess authority over cases brought forth for decision to the court system. The Justices of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President with the support of the Senate. Upon appointment as a Supreme Court Justice, you will remain in that position for as long as you may physically and mentally able to.

In order to ensure the prevention of such abuse of powers by these branches of Government, a system of checks and balances exists. This system allows each branch the power to limit the other, thus allowing self-regulation among the 3 branches of Government. The legislative branch may compose and enact laws while the executive branch may veto laws. The judicial branch has the power to provide determination as to whether or not a law is unconstitutional.

It is a constant checking and rechecking of the acts of each branch that occurs. One criticism of the separation of powers, in terms of branches of Government, includes that it may lead to a less efficient governing process. This is due to the fact that elections bring about constant changes in majority parties within the branches of Government.

NEXT: All You Need To Know About Cruel and Unusual Punishment

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