It’s March 14, 1789, the Constitution has just been written and put into effect, it’s only about a decade since the start of the American Revolution and the last thing the newly found country wants is to face tyranny. But just how did the Constitution protect us against giving a person or group of people too much power? The answer to this question is in four main categories; Federalism, Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances, and Big States vs. Small States. As stated above one of the ways the Constitution protects against tyranny is through federalism.
Federalism is a system of government in which power is divided between a central authority (central government) and constituent political unit (states). For example the Constitution gives states the rights to set up local governments, hold elections, establish schools, and pass marriage and divorce laws (Document A). Because of these powers Constitution allows states to have, along with the central government, it helps to balance out the power. If only the Central Government was allowed to make decisions the the politicians could vote for things that only benefit them even if it is at the expense of the central government.
However, by giving states the right to make decisions as well is very beneficial because it puts power into the hands of the citizens of the states and not just the politicians. Another vital way the Constitution protects against tyranny is through the Separation of Powers. Separation of powers is a way of describing the three branches of government; Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branch. In Article I Section I of the Constitution it is said that, “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives” this is the Legislative Branch.
The legislative branch is responsible for passing laws, approve presidential nominations, override a president’s veto and has the ability to impeach judges and remove them from office (Document C) The second branch is the Executive branch. In Article II Section I Clause I it is stated “The executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States. He shall hold his office during the term of four years, and, (serve) together with a Vice-President, chosen from the same term…” The Executive branch is responsible for nominating judges and has the right to veto Congressional legislation (Document C).
The final branch is the Judicial Branch. In Article III Section I of the Constitution it declares “The judicial power of the United States shall be invested in one Supreme Court…” The Judicial Branch has the capability to declare laws and presidential acts unconstitutional (Document C). By allowing the Government to be ran in three branches and not just one, it assures that no great amount of power is vested in only branch of the government. This allows every branch of government to have an authority over another branch and vice versa helping to safeguard against any chances of tyranny.
In addition to using Separation of Powers to guard against tyranny, the government uses another way very similar, the Checks and Balances System. Although the term “Checks and Balances” is never stated in the Constitution it is the name we have given to our government’s system. For example in Article III Section II the Constitution gives the president the power to, “… appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court…” But although the President is allowed to appoint judges of the Supreme Court, the Supreme court is allowed to declare the President’s acts unconstitutional.
This is the same for every branch of government, for each power a branch has it has another branch with a power going back to it. By doing this it stops from giving one branch too much power over the others, which in the big picture, protects us against tyranny. The final way the government protects against giving one person or group of people too much power is through giving each state fair representation.
Under the law of the Constitution, “Representatives… shall be appointed… according to…(population)… The number of representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand but each state shall have at least one representative” (Article I Section II) On top of this “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two senators from each state, chosen by legislature thereof for six years; and each senator shall have one vote” (Article I Section III) By having this law in place it gives each state fair representation based on population but does not allow too many representatives per state.
This cap on the amount of representatives per 30,000 people is a sure way that the big states are not the only states that have a say in how our country is run but gives the smaller states an equal opportunity to voice their opinions. But why are all of these measures to protect against tyranny so stressed throughout the Constitution?
The answer is simple, the people of the newly found America just fought a brutal war and lost many lives to get out of their tyrannical situation and did not want it to occur again. All of these measures stated above the Constitution takes to guard against tyranny may not seem to do much alone, however when all of the laws stated above are in effect simultaneously it proves as a very efficient way to shield against any acts of tyranny.