Checks and Balances at Work

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Last updated: March 25, 2019

Checks and Balances at Work Our checks and balances system is an endless circle of power. Delegates at the constitutional convention did not want any one man or group of men to have all the power over the United States of America. They were afraid that if they gave too much power to one person or a group of people the United States would end up in a dictatorship. In order to avoid such problem they divided the government into three branches: executive branch, legislative branch and judicial branch.The executive branch was headed by the President and carries out all federal laws, nominates federal judges, may pardon those convicted in courts, directs government, acts as chief law enforcement officer and has the ability to veto laws.

The judicial branch or Supreme Court checks the other branches of government; “its major check on the presidency is its power to declare an action unlawful” (Patterson, 2008, pg. 51) and it has the power to declare laws passed by Congress void when they are not following the Constitution (Patterson, 2008, pg. 0). The legislative branch or Congress “has the power to remove impeach and the president from office and establish the size of the federal court system” (Patterson, 2008, pg. 50-51). The founding fathers developed, built and implemented a system of checks and balances that made three the branches of government equal in power. They did not want any one branch of government to be more or less powerful than the other.

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Each branch of government is limited or restrained by the next.For example, the president of the United States of America can veto any law passed by Congress, then congress can override the president with a vote of two-thirds of both houses, and then the Supreme Court can regulate Congress by declaring a law unconstitutional. The power is balanced. A good example of our system of checks and balances at work is President Bush’s first veto on maintaining limits on stem cell use. In May of 2005, The House passed a bill to finance embryonic stem cell research, even though President Bush had already spoken against the bill.

President Bush stood on his word that it would be unethical, and shortly after exercised his power to veto the bill passed by congress. The House immediately tried to overturn the presidential veto but the vote “235 to 193, fell 51 votes short of the two-thirds majority required” (Stolberg, 2006). In this case we can see how effectively the checks and balances system of the constitution works and that none of the houses have more power over the other.Congress tried to pass the bill even though the President said he would veto it if it got to him. The President vetoed the bill and then Congress tried to go over the president again by not obtaining a two thirds majority vote they failed to overturn the President’s veto. Let’s say that Congress would have gotten the two thirds vote, there was still the chance that the Supreme Court declared the bill as unconstitutional; meaning that the bill would still not get passed because the Supreme Court would have the power and authority to turn it down.Our founding fathers did not want any one person to be more powerful than the next, and that is why they implemented the separation of powers with checks and balances; so, that no branch can make decisions without support or agreement from the other branches (Patterson, 2008).

Reference Patterson, T. E. (2008). The American democracy: Alternate edition. New York, NY: McGraw Hill. Stolberg, S. G. (July 20, 2006).

First Bush veto maintains limits on stem cell use. The New York Times Company, Retrieved May 18, 2008, from http://www. nytimes. com/2006/07/20/washington/20bush.

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