Separation of powers is the act of separating of responsibilities of the three branches of the government. The idea of this separation is not a new one either. John Locke originally talked about it. He stated that the legislative power should be divided between the King and Parliament in England. Another man also spoke about this separation, the French writer Montesquieu, who wrote about it in 1748 in his book De l'esprit des lois. His point was that liberty is most effective if it is safeguarded by the separation of powers.
He highly promoted liberty. As in the Encyclopedia Britannica, it stated that Montesquieu felt that liberty is most highly promoted when there are three branches of government acting independently of each other. Although his model for the three-branch government was for England, it became more important to the United States. His work was most notably shown in America when the Constitution was being created. Finally, Alexander Hamilton raised his point on separation of powers in the series of essays called The Federalist.
The Encyclopedia Encarta said that he wrote this with James Madison and John Jay and that there were 85 essays all together. They were written about how they wanted the new government to run. It was their view as to how each major department in the new central government should run. More specifically, they stated how the three branches of government should run and expounded the idea of judicial review. The way that the power is separated in the United States was that the legislative branch makes the laws, the executive branch executes the laws and the judicial branch interprets the laws.
However, as our book and the Encyclopedia Britannica both state, the executive branch in the United States has gained a lot more power. They both claim this because of numerous changes in social and economic life. The idea of checks and balances is closely related to the idea of separation of powers. Checks and balances is the idea that each branch of the government has ways to make sure that each other branch does not gain too much power. Instead, each branch is encouraged to share power with the other.
Again, our book and the Encyclopedia Britannica both say that the way that this works is that the courts have judicial review, which is the power of the courts to examine both the executive and legislative branches to make sure that they are doing, is constitutional. Congress has the power to impeach people from both the judicial and executive branches. Plus they have the power to appropriate funds. Finally, the executive branch has the power to veto bills passed by Congress. However, this can be overridden by a 2/3-majority vote in Congress.
However, a new concept helps the President, he can line item veto, which means he can blank out certain parts of the bill so it does not have to totally written. The idea of separation of powers is what separates us from Great Britain in the way we run our democracy. In England, the legislative executive branches are integrated. This idea is reinforced with the idea that they should be in constant agreement. It is pretty obvious that they are not in constant agreement here. This can happen because Congress may have a republican majority yet the president and his cabinet may be democratic.
The idea is separation of powers is even related to Federalism as a whole. According to the Grolier Encyclopedia, federalism is directly related to the separation of powers. However, it is related to the separation between the state and national government. It said that each level of government is autonomous from the other. Also, neither is dependent on the other for legislation, taxes or administration. The idea of separation of powers has been around for a long time. Our newly founded government decided to use it as a base when writing the Constitution.
Its main ideas are related to other aspects of our government such as checks and balances. Its ideals have changed a little bit because now the executive branch has a bit more power, but for the most part it has stayed intact. This concept also relates to the separation between the states and the national government. Each state government is separate from the national government. From the original ideas of Hamilton, Locke, and Montesquieu has come the type of government we have today.