The Separation of Powers devised by the framers of the Constitution was designed to do one primary thing: to prevent the majority from ruling with an iron fist. Based on their experience, the framers shied away from giving any branch of the new government too much power.. This is why they implemented the separation of powers and also the checks and balances system. Three branches are created in the Constitution. The Legislative, composed of the House and Senate, is set up in Article 1. The Executive, composed of the President, Vice-President, and the Departments, is set up in Article 2.
The Judicial, composed of the federal courts and the Supreme Court, is set up in Article 3. Each of these branches has certain powers, and each of these powers is limited, or checked, by another branch. The Executive Branch has veto power over all bills; appointment of judges and other officials; makes treaties; ensures all laws are carried out; commander in chief of the military; pardon power. The Legislative Branch passes all federal laws; establishes all lower federal courts; can override a Presidential veto; can impeach the President.
The Judiciary Branch has the power to try federal cases and interpret the laws of the nation in those cases; the power to declare any law or executive act unconstitutional. All of these checks and balances, however, are inefficient. But that’s by design rather than by accident. By forcing the various branches to be accountable to the others, no one branch can usurp enough power to become dominant. Even with the checks and balances in place, there have still been heated issues in United States history between government branches that have sometimes led to disagreements between them.
Two important events that demonstrate this idea is the impeachment of Andrew Johnson and the impeachment of Bill Clinton. These events have clearly shown how the separation of power and checks and balances of our government function. During the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, two houses, The Executive and The Legislative had a clash over the issue in hand. The legislative branch is the group that created Congress as well as makes and passes laws is also bi-cameral, which means that there are two houses within this branch: The Senate and The House of Representatives.
On the other hand, the executive branch which enforces the laws consists of the President, Vice President and the Departments, such as the cabinet, the Secretary of State, etc…. In the impeachment of Bill Clinton; the legislative and executive branch had a disagreement once again. On April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated and Vice-president Andrew Johnson took his place as president. Johnson had plans of reconstructing our Union but Congress didn’t like his ideas. He wanted to restore the federal system to ensure that states could no longer legalize slavery.
The republicans however, believed that this conflict could not be resolved until it was definite that the southern class could not gain back power. The republicans took essential steps to make sure the Military Reconstruction Act was carried out. This act states that no government existed in any of the Southern states except for Tennessee and that the South will be divided into different regions. In March of 1867, Congress bought in new laws that were made to restrict the president’s authority. It was called The Tenure of Office Act.
It forbids the president from removing any federal administrators without the permission of the Senate. Johnson vetoes this act, declaring that the president should have the power to remove someone without the consent of the Senate. It was then found that Johnson violated the Tenure of Office Act in February 1868. He removed the Secretary of War, Stanton. Therefore he was impeached. On Johnson’s hearing, which was two days after his declared impeachment; the House votes came out to 128 to 47 in result to impeach the president.
They fell one vote short of the two-thirds needed. This definitely showed the type of power the legislative branch has over our government. In January of 1998, rumors started to circulate that Clinton was in a relationship with Monica Lewinsky, a 22 year old intern at the White House. Clinton denied such claims to this scandal. He then refused to discuss the situation in public until August. In August Clinton went in front of a court and admitted that Lewinsky and himself were intimate with one another, but says he didn’t have any sexual relations with her.
After, he went on television and made a speech that asked for forgiveness from the public. Clinton could then, potentially become impeached on eleven counts. The Judiciary Court was the branch that held hearings on the important decision. In February of 1999, Clinton’s counts were dropped as the Senate voted against impeachment on both counts. Clinton said he was ‘profoundly sorry’. This is another instance where the legislative branch had the power to bring change to the government. In conclusion, each branch has its amount of power and is overviewed or under a check and balance by another Branch.
The Legislative branch has the majority of the power. They have the ability to impeach the president if he or she is convicted of breaking the rules or laws. Although the Executive Branch holds the president and his team, Congress can still remove them from office. Our system of checks and balances makes sure that none of the branches are more powerful than the other. Both impeachments have clearly proved this. References: http://www. usconstitution. net/consttop_sepp. html#americae: http://www. suite101. com/content/checks-and-balances-and-the-us-constitution-a89000.