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Separation of Power in the United States Essay

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Updated: Apr 19th, 2022

The division of power in the USA is primarily aimed at assuring the balance of power and preventing the dominance of one governmental institution over others. In other words, it is believed to be critical that the power capacity is equally spread within the country, and the minority has the same right to shape the decision making process as the majority. For this reason, there are some exclusively and concurrently held powers.

Among the powers that the Federal Government holds exclusively, there are such important powers as regulating interstate and international trade and making treaties and conducting foreign policy (Hall & Feldmeier, 2016). The exclusive character of the former seems to be reasonable as the foreign policy is supposed to guard the national interests and pursue the single policy. Therefore, sharing this power with the states would lead to confusing results and reduce the efficiency of the foreign policy, in general.

In the meantime, the question of regulating interstate trade is more ambiguous. It might be assumed that sharing this power with the State Government could make the trade more productive and flexible within the country. Thus, the relevant problem has been widely debated. Some analysts presume that an exclusive power of the Federal Government to impose regulations on interstate trade creates a conflicting environment unfavorable for effective performance. It is suggested that states’ participation in trade regulation could be productive in terms of finding timely solutions and managing cooperative relations (Johnson, 2004).

One of the most important powers that the State Government holds exclusively are regulating intrastate businesses and ratifying amendments to the Constitution (Hall & Feldmeier, 2016). The fact that the former power is held exclusively by the State Government is determined by the size of the territory under control. Within such a big country as the USA is, it seems to be reasonable that the State Government should perform the controlling function of the business run beyond its borders. As to the power to ratify amendments, this aspect is more questionable. Thus, the Constitution is supposed to be the document that unites all the states and provides a consistent legislative framework for their activity. Therefore, the question arises whether states should anyhow participate in its shaping. Practice shows that there have been numerous cases when the procedure of ratifying amendments was significantly complicated by the lack of agreement between the states (Proposed amendments not ratified by the States, 2008). Therefore, there are grounds to assume that sharing this power with the Federal Government will simplify the procedure of implementing changes in the constitution.

Apart from the exclusive powers of the Federal Government and the State Governments, there are also those that are held concurrently. For example, both governments share the power of collecting taxes and establishing courts. It is critical that these powers are held concurrently, as it helps to fulfill the initial aim of power’s division – the assurance of equal authoritative capacities. The tax and the court aspects are one of the most important elements of the governing structure; therefore, it would be risky to supply one of the governments with an exclusive right to exercise these powers. On the one hand, the Federal Government should necessarily participate in decision making in terms of tax and courts. On the other hand, it is convenient that some of the problems might be resolved at the local level.

Reference List

Hall, D.J., & Feldmeier, J (2016). Constitutional Law: Governmental Powers and Individual Freedoms. New York, New York: Pearson Education.

Johnson, C.H. (2004). The Panda’s thumb: the modest and mercantilist original meaning of the commerce clause. Web.

(2008). Web.

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