Separation of Powers

Since we have been discussing Presidents (and perhaps precedents?) today, how about a little history? We have recently been hearing a lot of talk about one branch of the government having too much or too little power. Wisely, the founding fathers tried to keep this all in balance by having a separation of powers; a system of checks and balances.

The doctrine of the separation of powers was described by Montesquieu in his L’esprit des Lois in 1748. He said that a nation’s liberty depended on the separation of the three types of power, legislative, judicial and executive with each having their own separate institution. Originally, President Madison, during the framing of the Bill of Rights, wanted to include an amendment spelling out the separation of powers. This amendment was rejected by the Congress, however, because the separation of powers is implied in the Constitution by the enumeration of each branch’s powers. So what we have today is a system not designed to maximize efficiency but to maximize freedom.

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