Checks and Balances
Checks and balances are intended to allow legitimate power to . When employing a system of checks and balances for governmental action to be .. the Railroad (), enabled corporations to achieve indefinite charters. Checks and balances definition is - a system that allows each branch others from exerting too much power — see also separation of powers. The system of checks and balances is an important part of the Constitution. made (see the following page) is a good example of checks and balances in action.
The president nominates federal officials, but the Senate confirms those nominations. Within the legislative branch, each house of Congress serves as a check on possible abuses of power by the other.
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have to pass a bill in the same form for it to become law.
Once Congress has passed a bill, the president has the power to veto that bill. In turn, Congress can override a regular presidential veto by a two-thirds vote of both houses. The Supreme Court and other federal courts judicial branch can declare laws or presidential actions unconstitutional, in a process known as judicial review.
In turn, the president checks the judiciary through the power of appointment, which can be used to change the direction of the federal courts By passing amendments to the Constitution, Congress can effectively check the decisions of the Supreme Court.
Congress considered the branch of government closest to the people can impeach both members of the executive and judicial branches. Checks and Balances in Action The system of checks and balances has been tested numerous times throughout the centuries since the Constitution was ratified.
It was promoted beginning in the s by populists and later by progressives. Populists wanted more direct representation in the Senate, even if that would not be a check against "mobocracy. The idea also interested lobbyists who could concentrate efforts in Washington rather than in all the state capitols. There were numerous instances state legislatures had failed to fill vacancies, and often selection was raucous and contentious.
Populists in Oregon and several other states elected representatives that would push the Amendment, which finally was passed in After the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment,representatives of both houses became elected by the same interest group the citizens and the main difference between Senators and members of Congress was reduced to the size of the population they represented and the length of time they served.
However, these distinctions are minimal and thus, the original reason of founders for the creation of two houses was largely undone. Massachusetts had already tried a similar arrangement in its two houses before the Constitutional Convention ofand there it had been argued that, if such an arrangement were established, the legislative branch might just as well be unicameral.
Today well-funded lobbyists in Washington arguably have greater influence over legislation than the states as a result of the loss of state-appointed Senators.
One reason that the two-house system fails to represent the will of the citizens is a conflict of interest in the way the representatives and senators are paid. Congress has the power to set its own wages and also the power to tax citizens to pay themselves. There is no built-in check and balance.
Once elected, members of Congress feel less obligated to represent the interests of those who elected them, because their financial support is not determined by those they are supposed to be representing.
This issue was also debated at the Constitutional Convention, with several delegates suggesting there should either be no pay, or that salaries should be paid by the states that sent them.
Others, including John Madison, argued that this would not provide the federal government enough independence from the states. He became alarmed about this even before his death. Congress devised ways to attach items to bills that might only be in the interest of one person, and never be approved a majority of Representatives or Senators as stand-alone bills. However, they are attached to bills as "pork" or lumped together in combined bills.
This process, which is a procedural corruption of Congress that the Supreme Court failed to check, undermines the principle that legislation should represent the will of the people. Additional branches of government Some countries take the doctrine further than the three-branch system. The government of the Republic of China, for example, has five branches: Some European countries have rough analogues to the Control Yuan in the forms of ombudsmen, separate from the executive and the legislature.
Due in part to the Republic's youth, the relationship between its executive and legislative branches are poorly defined. An example of the problems this causes is the near complete political paralysis that results when the president, who has neither the power to veto nor the ability to dissolve the legislature and call new elections, cannot negotiate with the legislature when his party is in the minority.
Moreover, semi-independent agencies such as the Federal Reserve or the Federal Communications Commission may be created by the legislature within the executive, which exercise legally defined regulatory powers.
High-level regulators are appointed by the President and confirmed by the legislature, and must follow the law and perhaps certain lawful executive orders. But they often sit for long, fixed terms and enjoy reasonable independence from other policy makers. Civil servants and regulatory agencies promote continuity and resist change, balancing the enthusiasm of many newly elected officials that promise swift and dramatic change, and forcing compromises that blend continuity with change.
The mass culture The press has also been described as a "fourth power" because of its considerable influence over public opinion which it wields by widely distributing facts and opinions about the various branches of government. Public opinion in turn affects the outcome of elections, as well as indirectly influencing the branches of government by, for example, expressing public sentiment with respect to pending legislation. The press is also sometimes referred to as the Fourth Estate, a term of French origin, which is not related to the modern three-branch system of government.
Originally, the First Amendment of the United States Constitution explicitly guaranteed freedom of the press only against interference by the federal government. Later this right was extended by the United States Supreme Court to cover state and local governments. Traditionally, the press has been the "voice of the people" keeping government somewhat in check.
Press reporters are suspicious of any attempt by people with power to conceal information and view each case of secrecy as an opportunity to break a major story. An example of the press checking abuses of power was Watergate scandal ; where two Washington Post reporters exposed government corruption and cover-up at the highest levels. This exposure caused many individuals to either resign, be fired, or prosecuted. However, the freedom of the press, when taken as an absolute right, prevents checks and balances on the "fourth estate.15 Amazing Phone Functions You Had No Idea Existed
This has been accomplished by the mergers and acquisitions of many News entities causing the loss of their autonomy and impartiality. The large conglomerates have lobbyists who favor certain candidates, whose weaknesses and misdeeds they are reluctant to expose. This has caused a deterioration of the role of the media as a "voice of the people. These institutions can help inform citizens when decisions need to be made about what should be done and they can seek to elect candidates that support these reforms.
However, these institutions also have economic needs which are affected by positions they take, so they are not usually neutral. For example, criticism of certain government officials could lead to reduced funding, or promotion of ideas that are not pleasant in movies and books often causes economic failures that can ruin the company. Major cities tend to do so as well, but at the local and regional level governments vary widely.
Because the judicial branch is often a part of a state or county government, the geographic jurisdiction of local judges is often not coterminous with municipal boundaries. In many American states and local governments, executive authority and law enforcement authority are separated by allowing citizens to directly elect public prosecutors district attorneys and state attorneys-general. In some states, judges are also directly elected. Many localities also separate special powers from their executive and legislative branches, through the direct election of police chiefs, school boards, transit agency boards, park commissioners, insurance commissioners, and the like.
Juries groups of randomly selected citizens also have an important role in the check-and-balance system. They have the sole authority to determine the facts in most criminal and civil cases, acting as a powerful buffer against arbitrary enforcement by the executive and judicial branches.
In many jurisdictions they are also used to determine whether or not a trial is warranted, and in some places Grand Juries have independent investigative powers with regard to government operations. However, over the last fifty years lawyers and judges have managed to pass legislation that reduces the role of the jury and leaves court results more up to the skill and financial resources of lawyers. Corporations and banks were looked upon with great suspicion for decades after the American Revolution.
Many states limited corporate charters to twenty years and held them on a tight leash and national banks were not firmly established until the Civil War. The railroad and heavy industrialization during the nineteenth century created financial interests that sought to protect their interests and expand their power through the Republican Party that was formed inwith Abraham Lincolnwho was a lawyer for the Illinois Railroad, one of the chief architects.
Checks and Balances: The Government Shutdown in Perspective
By the s, the Supreme Court was largely composed of former corporate lawyers, favorable to corporate growth. Numerous decisions in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, such as Santa Clara vs. Their increased status led to greater wealth, lobbying power, influence over government policy. Inindustry put pressure on the government to build a navy to protect the shipment of commercial goods and secure overseas markets. There were no checks and balances in place to prevent this arbitrary use of force in U.
Because corporations have been seen as important organs of economic growth, producing abundant goods for people at low prices, they have been often viewed as a new source of human salvation.
This is parallel to the development of the modern statewhich was also viewed as a savior, but unchecked would become a Leviathan.
However, the propensity to accumulate power and the need for checks and balances applies to the commercial sector of society as it does government.
Mergers, acquisitions, stock market speculation, and unbridled greed all work against the free market, protection of workers, and payment of taxes.
After the Stock Market Crash of and the bank failures of the s, the Securities and Exchange Commission SEC was established, and numerous bank regulations and accounting procedures were put into place to check and balance abuses of financial power. The expansion of excessive regulation in the s and s caused economic slowdown and high levels of inflation in the late s. This was followed by deregulation which removed some necessary checks and balances on mergers, acquisitions, accounting standards, conflicts of interest, monopoly, and corporate oversight.
The result was a wave of scandals, like Enron and WorldCom, in which highly paid corporate executives raided, stole, and destroyed companies, employees, and pension funds for short term economic growth or personal financial gain.
Challenges Checks and balances are an essential component to prevent abuse of power in any social institution. They are essential for protecting the freedom of individuals. The success of the Constitution of the United States has led to its being held up as a model for other nations.
Checks and balances - New World Encyclopedia
However, checks and balances, separation of powers, of other features on the U. The president appoints the members of the Supreme Court but only with the consent of the Senate, which also approves certain other executive appointments. The Senate also must approve treaties. From the U. Congress exercised a so-called legislative veto. Clauses in certain laws qualified the authority of the executive branch to act by making specified acts subject to disapproval by the majority vote of one or both houses.
Inin a case concerning the deportation of an alien, the U. The decision affected clauses in some laws covering a wide range of subjects, including presidential war powers, foreign aid and arms sales, environmental protection, consumer interests, and others. Checks and balances that evolved from custom and Constitutional conventions include the congressional committee system and investigative powers, the role of political parties, and presidential influence in initiating legislation.