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Check and balances - Essay Example

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The federal government of the United States of America is composed of all the three branches which are the executive (president and cabinet), the legislative (the US Congress of both upper and lower houses – which are the Senate and the Congress) and the judiciary…
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Political Science: Checks and Balances ID Number: of School Teacher's Word Count: 739 The federal government of the United States of America is composed of all the three branches which are the executive (president and cabinet), the legislative (the US Congress of both upper and lower houses – which are the Senate and the Congress) and the judiciary. It is a complex set-up designed to prevent one person from controlling all the political powers of the government through the so-called separation of powers concept (Hargrove, 2000, p. 8). The legislative branch of the government crafts and enacts the laws of land while the executive branch implements (or enforces) the laws passed by the US Congress. A judiciary interprets laws by helping define meaning and intent of the law when there is a question or a doubt about what the law is really intended for. All the three branches must work in harmony in order for the government to have a smooth functioning in serving the American citizenry. Needless to say, each branch can question or challenge the powers of another branch and this is what is meant by the system of checks and balances. The effect on the bureaucracy is to prevent abuses and excesses which will be detrimental to representative democracy. The intent is that each branch watches out for the other two branches and put some brakes if ever there is any incipient abuse of political power inherent or granted to each branch. However, it is often unavoidable that conflicts between the branches will occur but these can be resolved. The framers of the US constitution made sure that democracy will work by using this system. Executive Branch – the president has been granted the power to veto the laws passed by the legislative branch but his veto can be overturned by a majority of Congress. Presidents also have the power to force Congress to an adjournment if the congress cannot agree on it. A president can check on the judiciary through a power or authority to appoint judges based on an appointee's political views that closely hews or adheres to the political principles of either the president or the party in power. Additionally, the president can issue a pardon to criminals or grant executive clemency. Lastly, the president is the commander-in-chief of the military. Legislative Branch – it checks on the executive by its power to initiate impeachment to remove a president, the trial of a president at the US Senate, it has the sole power to pass a new tax, approve the budget submitted by the executive branch, the sole power to declare war on another country, approves departmental and ambassadorial appointees and the sole power to decide the eventual winner of an election if there is a tie in the electoral votes. Legislators check on the judiciary by approving the appointments of federal judges, determine the entire jurisdiction of the courts, to set up new courts lower than the US Supreme Court and the sole power to introduce amendments to the US Constitution itself (Bardes et al., 2010, p. 55). Judicial Branch – a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court sits as the de facto president of the Senate whenever a president is impeached and accused of charges inimical to interests of the government such as betrayal of public trust. The judiciary also checks on the executive and legislative branches of the government through judicial reviews it conducts on occasion. Techniques – the legislative branch often uses its power to approve the appointments of a president's departmental and ambassadorial appointees to block their being approved by rejecting their appointment papers during deliberations at the Commission on Appointments. This effectively blocks the president from achieving his political agenda as he cannot have an ally in the executive department who will carry out his vision for the government. This power has been used and abused too often such that some departments do not have designated head. The legislative branch likewise exercises approving authority with regards to appointments to the US Supreme Court and can block or refuse to confirm an appointee during the hearings. The executive branch can check and balance the powers of the legislature by vetoing the laws it had passed although his veto can be overturned or overridden by a majority vote. Presidents can check on the judiciary by appointing judges who have the same political views as him or a judge who is either conservative or liberal while the judiciary can declare a law as illegal. References Bardes, B. A., Shelley, M. C. & Schmidt, S. W. (2010). The essentials: American government and politics today. Boston, MA, USA: Cengage Learning. Hargrove, J. (2000). Judicial branch of the government. Dayton, OH, USA: Lorenz Educational Press. Read More
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