Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances
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Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances


– [Instructor] This is a great excerpt from Federalist 51 by James Madison. And just as a reminder,
the the Federalist Papers, which were written by
Hamilton, Madison, John Jay, were an attempt to get
the Constitution passed, to get it ratified. So these were really kind of op-eds that they were publishing
to convince people. But this is a great passage. If men were angels, no
government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal
controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered
by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place
oblige it to control itself. And it goes on to talk about
how we can keep government from becoming too powerful by so contriving the interior
structure of the government as that its several constituent parts may, by their mutual relations, be the means of keeping each
other in their proper places. And so remember, this was in
defense of the Constitution, so arguably this was in place, that somehow this
Constitution had contrived an interior structure so that the several constituent
parts of government, by their mutual relations, would keep each other
in their proper places, or you could even say
keep each other in check. So in line with this passage, there’s really two big ideas
embedded in the Constitution as to how our government is structured. The first is this notion
of separation of powers. We have three branches of government. You have your executive,
headed by the president. You have your legislative
branch, which is Congress. Legislative. And you have your judicial branch, which is the US Supreme Court. And this notion of separation of powers is that you have these fairly independent branches of government, and the idea was to make
them reasonably independent so that one group, one branch, could not take over the others. The legislative branch, Congress, they’re charged with budget, and they’re charged with
creating and passing laws. The executive branch,
headed by the president, is supposed to execute,
run the government, based on the laws that Congress passes. And you have the judicial branch that would decide whether things, say laws that Congress is passing, or actions that the executive’s taking, they say, “Hey, is that constitutional?” Or they can interpret laws. So these different powers are put into these different branches. The powers are separate. Now related to that is
another very powerful idea, and this is keeping each
other in their proper places, and so this is the idea
of checks and balances. Each of these can’t do whatever they want. They’re all balancing each other. They all have checks on each other. For example, the executive can
veto the legislative branch, can veto a law passed by Congress, but then the legislative
branch can override that veto. The legislative branch,
they control the budget, so it’s not like the
president or the executive can do whatever they want, or that they can just spend
as much money as they want, and the judicial branch, in
both cases, can be a check, and they’re saying, “Hey,
you’re doing something “that is unconstitutional,” or, “We’re going to interpret the laws “that the legislature has passed.” The executive appoints the judicial, but even there, you have to
get congressional buy-in. So once again, you have these independent
branches of government, all the power isn’t in one,
and they are interdependent. They provide checks and
balances on each other, and this is all about what
Federalist 51 is talking about, so that by their mutual relations, they are the means of keeping each other in their proper places.

8 Comments

  • George Monteiro

    I am giving here the idea of liberty. Imagine that your mind is a computer and you want to develop a algorithm of search and learning without writing a code line. A summarized example of these algorithms is the one which, using mathematical formulas, is on Google's software. This part of the website program is responsible for the opportunity of tipping a word, for example "news", and, in next moment, the interface is full of the latest most relevant news related to your personal preferences. Let's do this in a very simple way, and without much variables, because if we don't do like this, maybe this could get complicated. Choose, randomly, 10 websites, news' virtual bases and search engines to open in your web browsers. Let's see: Khan academics, CNN, Baidu, Spiegel, Телестудия Роскосмоса, Pravda, Figaro, Al jazeera, Wikipedia and Google (you're free to choose other ones). After opening these pages, give a quick look into them, and that's it, your algorithm was created in your mind. This "engine" inside of you will work better as many times you use it, and using it, here, is meaning repeating the process. Now, you may be thinking, I can't speak these foreign languages. But, remember in sites there are pictures and it speak more then a thousand words. If you like the idea, practice and make singularity .Share this idea and help build a better world. In fact you can predict the future, as well as the google algorithm when you type on your keyboard, it's all a matter of probability using the human mind to process the data in tune with the web. Will you be able?

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