The government system comprises of the Judiciary, the Legislature, and the Executive. These are referred to as the arms/branches of the government. The constitution gives powers to these government arms in a complementary way. The government arms are supposed to support each other and check on each other’s excesses. The Legislature is composed of an elected Congress that is given the responsibility of passing laws.
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The Executive enforces these laws and jails convicted people. The Judiciary tries people. The grand jury listens to the facts of every case and issues an indictment, while the trial jury convicts people accused of offenses. Therefore, there are limits to the actions of each government branch. Checks and balances ensure that no government branch misuses its power. This paper is an analysis of the checks and balances set up by the Constitution to protect the citizenry from excesses by the arms of government.
As mentioned above, the Legislature plays the role of making laws in the government. It has also been given certain powers by the constitution in order to check the excesses of the Executive. Such powers include the ability to override vetoes by the President if two-thirds of its members accept the override. The Legislature can also influence the amount of funds given to the Executive for delivering services to the citizenry. It can also impeach the President.
The Senate checks Executive powers by approving treaties and appointments by the President. Legislature can also impeach judges, create low categories of courts, and approve judicial appointments. The Executives’ checks over Legislature include its power to recommend legislation, the President’s veto power, power to ask for special Congressional sessions, and power to seek people’s opinions on certain legislations. It also has checks over the Judiciary.
This is because the President, who also appoints federal judges, is responsible for appointing the Supreme Court. The Judiciary checks the excesses of the Executive because of its independence from the Executive. Courts can declare the unconstitutionality of Executive actions. The Judiciary also checks Legislative excesses by declaring the acts of the Legislature as unconstitutional.
The government can properly address the current issue of lack of proper regulation in the banking industry if it implements proper checks and balances. The Executive can propose legislation for regulation. If this legislation contains excesses by the Executive that are unlikely to solve the problem, the Legislature (Congress) can reject it. Otherwise, if the bill originates from Congress, the President can use his veto power to reject the bill if it is passed by the Legislature with some shortcomings.
If the President misuses his veto power, Congress can override the power by a two-thirds vote. If a defective bill becomes law having been passed by the Legislature without checks by the Executive, regardless of the origin of the bill, the Judiciary can declare the bill as unconstitutional during judicial review. This process is meant to ensure that those with power effectively solve problems without misusing such power.
Checks and balances play an invaluable role in governance. They are necessitated by the likelihood of misuse of power vested upon individuals and institutions. If all the governance power and legislative power was bestowed upon a single entity, the citizenry will lose faith in the individuals and institutions. Actually, division of power and establishment of checks and balances was the reason behind having a government made up of several branches/arms.