Mr Archie Sparks Essay

Submitted By sparat
Words: 1249
Pages: 5

‘The constitutional system of checks and balances does not work in practice’ Discuss.

The constitution was drawn up at the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Before the American Revolution in the 1770s, America was a British colony, and the revolution had its origins in what the colonists saw as the oppressive behaviour of the British government. Their discontent culminated in the Declaration of Independence in 1776, which rejected the British monarchy and Parliament, and claimed the sovereignty of a new nation. The founding fathers created a system of Separation of Powers, which is a theory of government whereby political power is distributed among three branches of government; the legislature, the executive and the judiciary, they are acting both independently and interdependently. As applied to the United States government, the theory is better understood as one of ‘shared powers’. It is the institutions of government that are separate, while the powers are shared through an elaborate series of checks and balances. Locke and Montesquieu came up with this idea so that there was no tyranny on government. Very few people were permitted to work in more than one branch of government, except the Vice-President who is in the Executive but goes to congress when there is a 50-50 split and makes the final call. I think that in theory the system of checks and balances does work but in practice it doesn’t work. Given the dangers that legislatures and executives had posed in recent history, checks and balances were incorporated into the powers of both, so that neither should be able to function independently, and each should require the cooperation of the other to carry out its functions; as Madison wrote in Federalist 51, ‘Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.’ It is a system of government in which each branch, legislative, executive and judicial, exercises control over the actions of other branches of government. It is to prevent government tyranny which was achieved not just by separating government branches but by sharing the powers between branches so they had to share. The checks by the executive on the legislature are that the executive can veto acts of congress meaning that it cannot happen. They administer laws by the congress which means that they can send it back to be changed if it is not right. The vice-president decides the vote when senate is tied, this is the only time that one person is part of more than one branch of government. They can recall Congress into a special session. The checks by the executive on the Judiciary is that they can nominate the Supreme Court Justices, which is nine in total, one chief justice and eight associates. They don’t have to listen to the court decisions they can override it. The President can pardon a convicted criminal. The checks by the legislature on the executive are that they can override the President veto with two thirds majority in both of the chambers, which is very difficult. The House of Representatives can impeach and the Senate can convict the President. The senate can reject the Presidential nomination for each of the jobs and make him choose someone else. They can refuse to pass the President’s legislation if they don’t agree with it. They can refuse finding the Prime Minister with the amount of money that he requires. The senate may refuse to ratify treaties. The checks by the legislature on the Judiciary are that they can alter the number of Supreme Court Justices. They can alter the structure of the federal courts. They can reject the Supreme Court nominees. They can impeach the House and convict senate members of the Federal Judiciary. They can propose constitutional amendments with two thirds majority in both chambers. The checks by the Judiciary on the Legislature are that they can judge whether the actions of the President and executive are unconstitutional. Impeachments of proceedings are presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. They