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POLITICAL SCIENCE COURSEWORK THE SEPARATION OF POWERS It has proved true historically that there is a natural tendency of governments to assume as much power as possible To prevent this from happening in the United States the framers of the Constitution divided the functions of the federal government among three branches the executive branch legislature or the lawmaking branch and the judiciary These should be separate and enjoy equal power and independence This separation of powers is in direct contrast to the government in Britain Their Parliament is the single governing unit Members of the executive--the Cabinet and the Prime Minister--are members of Parliament The highest court of appeal is the House of Lords The separation of powers was also in contrast to the government under the Articles of Confederation The Articles provided for no separate executive branch The president was the presiding officer of the Congress There was no national court system at all The framers of the Constitution decided on a government in which the three main functions would be held by three separate branches The Congress was empowered to make laws The president was empowered through the departments and agencies of the executive branch to enforce the laws The president is thus the head of the bureaucracy--the non-elected officials of government The Supreme Court was established as the highest judicial authority John Adams referred to this three-part arrangement as a system of checks and balances that protect the people from authoritarian or arbitrary rule In addition to distributing power among the three branches of the federal government the Constitution also distributes it among the states and the people The Tenth Amendment specifically reserves all powers not delegated to the
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