- Slides: 12
Checks and Balances SS 8 CG 1 b Explain the concepts of separation of powers and checks and balances
Checks and Balances: An Overview • Checks and balances, or the separation of powers, is based upon the philosophy of Baron de Montesquieu. In this system the government was to be divided into three branches of government, each branch having particular powers.
Checks and Balances: An Overview • Not only does each branch of the government have particular powers, they also have certain powers over the other branches. This is done to keep them balanced, and to prevent one branch from ever gaining too much power. 1. Legislative Branch-Makes the laws 2. Executive Branch-Enforces & carries out laws 3. Judicial Branch- Interprets the laws
Legislative Branch • Checks on the Executive – Impeachment power (over the President) – Selection of the President (House) and Vice President (Senate) in the case of no majority of electoral votes – May override Presidential vetoes – Congress approves presidential appointments – Approval of replacement Vice President – Congress has the power to declare war – President must deliver a State of the Union address before Congress • Checks on the Judiciary – – – Congress approves federal judges Impeachment power (over Federal Judges) Power to initiate constitutional amendments Power to set jurisdiction of courts Power to alter the size of the Supreme Court
Executive Branch • Checks on the Legislature - Veto power - Vice President is President of the Senate - Commander in chief of the military - Can call an emergency session of one or both houses of Congress - May force adjournment when both houses cannot agree • Checks on the Judiciary - Power to appoint judges - Power to pardon criminals
Judicial Branch • Checks on the Legislature – Can declare laws passed by Congress unconstitutional – Can remove lawmakers from Congress for “bad behavior” • Checks on the Executive – Can declare presidential actions unconstitutional – Chief Justice sits as President of the Senate during presidential impeachment – Inauguration of the President
Most Common Examples 1. Congress may pass laws, but the President can veto them. 2. The President can veto laws, but Congress can override the veto with a 2/3 vote. 3. The President and Congress may agree on a law, but the Supreme Court can declare a law unconstitutional. 4. The President can appoint Judges and other government officials, but Congress must approve them. 5. Supreme Court judges have life terms, but they can be impeached.
Specific Historical Examples 1. After the Civil War President Andrew Johnson vetoed over 20 bills. 2. After the Civil War Congress over rode over 20 Presidential vetoes. 3. In 1987 President Ronald Reagan appointed Judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, but his nomination was defeated. 4. In 1935 and 1936 the Supreme Court declared the NIRA and then the AAA (two New Deal programs passed during the Roosevelt administration) Unconstitutional. 5. In 1918 Congress refused to ratify the Treaty of Versailles, a peace treaty ending World War I that President Wilson had worked very hard on.