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A Guide to Understanding The Separation of Powers

A Guide to Understanding The 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.