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Doctrine of Separation of Powers Writing Assignment (Other (Not Listed) Sample)
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Assignment Name: Institution Affiliation Assignment Doctrine of Separation of Powers The term “separation of powers” was first used by Montesquieu a French social and political philosopher in his publication “Spirit of the Laws” in the 18th Century. His work inspired the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of the Rights of Man. According to Montesquieu, state authority was to be divided into judicial, legislative and executive powers. He affirmed that for promotion of liberty, it was mandatory for the three arms of government to be separate and to work independently. Essentially, separation of powers refers to the division of the three arms of government based on their responsibilities into different branches to limit any one branch from interfering with the core functions of another. Basically, the intention is to provide checks and balances and to inhibit the concentration of power. The American government is traditionally divided into three branches with specified roles. First, the executive branch has the responsibility of implementation and administration of public policy. Second, the legislative branch has the responsibility of enacting laws and funding government operations. Lastly, the judicial branch has the responsibility of interpreting laws and the constitution. A majority of states’ constitutions in the United States support the division of government into three branches. The American government upholds the separation of powers. However, it is difficult to achieve absolute separation of powers or lack of it in democratic systems because of the complexities and interrelations that exist within government branches. Fundamentally, government responsibilities and powers purposely overlap. Therefore, it is impossible to lack competition and conflict within these branches. Checks and Balances America’s Founding fathers who were also the framers of the constitution intended to form a government that inhibited the authority and control of one individual. During the period of colonization by the British the founding fathers had learnt the limitations of the system. However, they desired a strong centralized government as they had been taught under the Articles of Confederation. All factors considered the framers made the constitution to contain three branches of government therefore providing a system of checks and balances. Basically the branches were to be independent having distinct responsibilities but at the same time working in coordination in order to promote and uphold the rights of citizens. Checks and balances allows a branch of government to utilize its power to check the powers of the others hence maintaining a balance of power. The branches of government are designed in a manner that each one of the branches can limit the powers of another preventing the dominance of any one branch. Different American founding fathers made comments regarding checks and balances at the Constitutional Convention. Alexander Hamilton said,”…The regular distribution of power into distinct departments; the introduction of legislative balances and checks; the institution of courts composed of judges holding their offices during good behavior; the representation of the people in the legislature by deputies of their own election: these are wholly new discoveries, or have made their principal progress towards perfection in modern times. They are means, and powerful means, by which the excellences of republican government may be retained and its imperfections lessened or avoided. To this catalogue of circumstances that tend to the amelioration of popular systems of civil government…” In regard to the same, the words of James Madison explain the need for checks and balances in a government when he said, “…Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself…" How recent Developments in American government have eroded the Separation of Powers Competition and conflict within the three branches of government is inevitable. However, recent events in the United States have put the healthy relationship between government branches in jeopardy. Under Donald Trump’s regime there have been numerous attacks on the judiciary. The President has publicly made verbal attacks against the judiciary and also criticized court verdicts. In February 2017, when a federal judge temporarily blocked an executive order restricting immigrants from Muslim countries to America, in a tweet he referred to the judge as “so called judge”. In another occasion in April 2017, he labeled the opinions of the judiciary as “ridiculous” and referred the judiciary as “sanctuary cities” in a tweet. Such utterances from the head of state impact on the trustworthiness of the judiciary and as result the co-equal branch of government might lose its respect among the citizens. Additionally, in 2007 the head of state lowered the qualification for lifetime appointments and appointed unqualified individuals against the will of the independent American Bar Association. The legislative branch of the American government has also been greatly undermined in the recent times. There has been scraping away of bipartisanism principles and norms and a rise in political polarization. The first year of Trump’s presidency witnessed his contribution to polarization. Also, both houses of Congress have witnessed one-party control. Essentially, the Congress majority have adopted anti-pluralist tactics to approve executive appointments and in legislative progression. In April 2017, Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court Justice. When the Democrats tried to block the move, the majority Senate Republicans amended the rules concerning approval of Supreme Court nominations. In 2013 when the Democrats were the majority they applied similar strategies where they altered rules in approving lower court judges. Eventually, such practices have jeopardized the ability of the legislature in conducting checks on executive power. Political polarizations have inhibited the Congress from acting as a check on possible abuse of power. Importance of Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances In my view it is good to have separation of powers checks and balances in a democracy. Historical events have proven how power vested in one person can be destructive. Basically, separation of powers into; legislative, executive and judicial, ensure that no one individual is bestowed with excess power. Separation of powers promotes power sharing citizens liberty. The different distinct branches of government are mandated to perform different functions. As a result, specialization is established leading to effective service delivery. Additionally, separation of powers provides a platform for checks and balances. While working together, the different branches ensure that none of them exercises excess authority. Checks and balances are a component of separation of powers. The Constitution defines the roles and responsibilities of each branch and their limitations. Each branch, through constitutional specified responsibilities possesses the capabilities to ensure that the other branches are not too dominant and act within their allowed power. The Articles of Confederation Question 1: What events during the Ford, Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations shaped Dick Cheney's views of executive branch powers? Response to Question 1 Dick Cheney has consistently maintained that there is a need to expand presidential powers in the United States. In particular, Cheney holds the view that the institution of the presidency has been weakened by what he terms as unwise compromises that the country had made over the past years (Press, 2008). According to Cheney, the United States presidency had over the years experienced significant erosion of power and authority and as a consequence, there was an urgent need to put in place the necessary mechanisms that would support the restoration and expansion of the lost presidential power and authority (Press, 2008). It is worth pointing out that Cheney has had a distinguished career as a public servant and business man (The White House, 2009). In respect to his career as a public servant, Cheney has worked in the Ford, Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations in different capacities. Cheney served on the transition team when President Ford assumed the Presidency in 1974 and later as Deputy Assistant to the President (The White House, 2009). In November 1975, President Ford appointed Cheney as his Assistant and White House Chief of Staff. During his tenure as President Ford’s appointee, there are certain key events that shaped Cheney’s views on the powers of the Executive branch of government. Specifically, the infamous Watergate Scandal is one major event that influenced Cheney to advice President Gerald Ford the significance of r...
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