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Old Wednesday, October 14, 2009
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Default Checks and Balances

Checks and Balances


The American constitutional system includes a notion known as the Separation of Powers. In this system, several branches of government are created and power is shared between them. At the same time, the powers of one branch can be challenged by another branch. This is what the system of checks and balances is all about.

There are three branches in the United States government as established by the Constitution. First, the Legislative branch makes the law. Second, the Executive branch executes the law. Last, the Judicial branch interprets the law. Each branch has an effect on the other.


Legislative Branch

Checks on the Executive
Impeachment power (House)
Trial of impeachments (Senate)
Selection of the President (House) and Vice President (Senate) in the case of no majority of electoral votes
May override Presidential vetoes
Senate approves departmental appointments
Senate approves treaties and ambassadors
Approval of replacement Vice President
Power to declare war
Power to enact taxes and allocate funds
President must, from time-to-time, deliver a State of the Union address
Checks on the Judiciary
Senate approves federal judges
Impeachment power (House)
Trial of impeachments (Senate)
Power to initiate constitutional amendments
Power to set courts inferior to the Supreme Court
Power to set jurisdiction of courts
Power to alter the size of the Supreme Court
Checks on the Legislature - because it is bicameral, the Legislative branch has a degree of self-checking.
Bills must be passed by both houses of Congress
House must originate revenue bills
Neither house may adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other house
All journals are to be published

Executive Branch

Checks on the Legislature
Veto power
Vice President is President of the Senate
Commander in chief of the military
Recess appointments
Emergency calling into session of one or both houses of Congress
May force adjournment when both houses cannot agree on adjournment
Compensation cannot be diminished
Checks on the Judiciary
Power to appoint judges
Pardon power
Checks on the Executive
Vice President and Cabinet can vote that the President is unable to discharge his duties

Judicial Branch

Checks on the Legislature
Judicial review
Seats are held on good behavior
Compensation cannot be diminished
Checks on the Executive
Judicial review
Chief Justice sits as President of the Senate during presidential impeachment
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