Include definition of the separation of powers – the SOP is the separation of the leg, exec and judicial functions of governments
Mention that the use of checks and balances created by the US Constitution has dissolved an element of the SOP – separate institutions sharing powers Political power in the United States is distributed between the various institutions that exist at the federal level. Power is exercised at the state as well as the federal level of government. Each article of the US Constitution enumerates the powers of the various federal institutions, as well as the implications for the power of the various states in the Union. Candidates will be expected to demonstrate an understanding of the distribution of powers as outlined in the US Constitution, and might include an explanation of the manner in which these separated powers are interrelated. Candidates will be able to identify one or more of the following:
the power of Congress to pass or reject legislation the power of the president to veto legislation passed by Congress the power of the Supreme Court to uphold the rights of citizens the powers of the states to exercise controls within their own jurisdictions.
Candidates should be able to conclude that such a separation of powers, combined with the checks and balances outlined above, makes it potentially difficult for government to move forward with its political agenda. This is clearly going to be the case when a Republican president has to work with a Congress dominated by the Democrats, as was the case after the 2006 mid-term elections. Even when the president’s own party are dominant in Congress, there is no guarantee of the presidential policy agenda succeeding, as Bill Clinton found when his own party’s Congressmen and Senators helped defeat his healthcare reforms. Barack Obama only managed to get his reforms through on this issue after making big concessions in the face of fierce criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike. clear distinction with the UK political system, where there is no codified constitution and where, it may be argued, too much power resides in the hands of the party in government that controls a majority of MPs in the House of Commons. In this sense, there is no hindering of effective government in the United Kingdom.
The Constitution is, in parts, very specific about the powers of the various political institutions in the United States. There are very clear