- For Teachers
In Federalist No. 51, James Madison wrote: " 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.How well do you think the Founders did with this daunting task? Be sure to fully explain the reason(s) why you have taken the position you have.Writing a short essay like this will prove more difficult that writing a longer paper. Remember it is not intended to be a research, but more of a "thought piece."
James Madison wrote the Federalist No. 51 to convince Americans that the new government would have a foundation in place to ensure that no one person or group would have too much power. Madison outlined the “checks and balances” portion of the new government which outlined the three branches of government which he believed would ensure that no one group would have over another group.
By creating the three branches of government (the executive, legislative and judicial) the delegates built a "check and balance" system into the Constitution. To implement this means of checks and balances, the three branches of government have certain powers to “check” the other branches and make sure that the power is balanced among them. The Legislative Branch makes and passes the laws while the Judicial Branch interprets the laws. The Executive Branch has the power to veto the law. For example, the president may veto a law passed by Congress. Congress can override that veto with a vote of two-thirds of both houses. Another example is that the Supreme Court may check Congress by declaring a law unconstitutional. Additionally, the president may appoint a Supreme Court Judge but the appointment must be approved by the Congress.
The American Government was designed to protect and represent its people and should be controlled by the people. A limited divided government is imperative to protect the rights of citizens. The founders realized that the division of power and the checks and balances would help maintain the liberties and freedoms of the individual. It is unquestionable that the checks and balances continue to apply in today’s American and are working as originally intended. There are many examples where the checks and balance system has been used in today’s government from the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice to passing laws in Congress. The system of checks and balances has been and will continue to be critical to the success of the American government. Without the checks and balances, there is little doubt that American would not be as strong a county as it is today.
In conclusion, the American system of checks and balances has worked well over the course of America's history. The constitutional system of checks and balances was set up for a reason and has worked for two centuries. The system was meant to keep the three branches in balance to ensure that one branch did not have power over another. Even though there have been times when one branch has risen preeminent, overall the three branches have achieved a workable balance with no one branch holding all the governmental power.