Separation of Powers


Despite the system of federalism created by the framers, there
were still those that feared the power of the national (now called
federal) government. Remembering the lessons taught by the Baron de
Montesquieau, they utilized a system of separation of powers to break
up the power of the federal government. Within the system is what is
called checks and balances. Each branch of the government has the
power to check and balance another. This ensures that no one branch
ever gains too much power.

I. Separation of Powers

A. Separation of Powers – The separation of the power
of government into different parts.

1. Executive Branch – Carries out the law, sign a bill
into law, sign treaties, make appointments,

  • The President and the agencies and departments.

2. Legislative Branch – Makes the law, ratify treaties and

  • Congress – House of Representatives and the Senate

3. Judicial Branch – Judges the law, declare a law

  • The federal court system and Supreme Court

B. Checks and Balances – The system by which each branch of
government is given power over other branches.

1. Congress can:

  • Refuse to pass a bill.
  • Override a veto
  • Refuse to ratify a treaty or Presidential appointment.
  • Impeach a Judge or President.

2. The President can:

  • Veto a law
  • Refuse to comply or enforce a law

3. Judicial Branch can:

  • Declare a law unconstitutional
  • Has a lifetime tenure of office