US Government

     The framers of the Constitution had a vision for a new nation, and a new
government to regulate it. They saw the conditions in which England existed
under the monarchy, and decided to construct a different kind of government in
which no one faction could hold too much power. Thus, they developed a system of
checks and balances to prevent any one of the three separate branches of the
government from becoming dominant. Today, the three branches still remain
intact, and no single branch has enough power to completely nullify the
decisions and rulings of the other two. However, even though the Executive,

Judicial, and Legislative branches are fundamentally comparable in their command
of the nation, today the Legislative branch exercises the greatest extent of
power. Each of the three branches serves a different function. The Legislative
branch, which consists of Congress, makes laws for the nation to follow.

Congress also creates federal programs and agencies, and appropriates funds to
carry them out. The Executive branch, composed of the President and Vice

President, most accurately carries out the laws of the nation. This branch is
responsible for appointing Supreme Court Justices and other federal judges. The

Judicial Branch is made up of the Supreme Court and other federal courts, and is
responsible for interpreting the laws passed by Congress. This branch is endowed
with the power to declare laws and other executive actions unconstitutional. The

Legislative branch has the upper-hand from the beginning of the process, due to
the fact that Congress develops and passes laws initially. Congress does not
have free reign to pass any laws it pleases, however, because the President has
the power to veto a Congressional bill before it becomes a law. Many presidents
have used their veto power to prevent the passage of bills which they did not
like, whether for moral reasons or for personal convictions. One example of a
president using this power was during the presidency of Andrew Jackson. Jackson
vetoed a record twelve acts of Congress during his presidency, at the same time
setting an example which other presidents would follow. The veto is where a
large part of the President's power lies. However, even if the President vetoes
a bill initially, that does not mean the bill cannot become a law. This is
because Congress has the power to override a veto with a two- thirds majority
vote. A good example of this occurred in 1973, when Congress passed the War

Powers Act over a presidential veto. This act placed limitations on the

President's ability to use military force. Another important power of the

Legislative branch is Congress's ability to impeach the president, and possibly
have him removed from office. A famous example of this power was the resignation
of President Richard Nixon in 1973. Nixon resigned to avoid almost certain
impeachment by Congress, concerning his involvement in the Watergate scandal. A
more recent example was the 1998 impeachment of President William Jefferson

Clinton. President Clinton endured the impeachment proceedings and Congress
voted not to remove him from office. The Judicial branch's power lies within its
ability to declare laws and executive decisions unconstitutional. This power
allows the federal court system to nullify certain decisions made by the other
two branches. However, it is clear that the Judicial branch does not exercise
the greatest extent of power due to the fact that it is not directly involved in
the creation and passing of laws. It can only deal with them if a situation
arises after they have already been set in motion by the Executive and

Legislative branches. Individual judges within the Judicial branch may appear to
be above the law in many ways, in that they are appointed for life and are above
executive control. However, this is not the case. Congress has the ability to
impeach federal judges just as it can impeach a President. In fact, fifteen
federal judges have been impeached by Congress up to date. Also, the very
structure of the federal court system makes it extremely difficult for the

Judicial branch to enforce its decisions in many cases. It has no armed forces
or police at its disposal, so Judicial decisions are sometimes simply ignored.

For example, school systems throughout the country remained segregated long
after the courts had ruled segregation to be unconstitutional. In closing, it
can clearly be seen that while the three branches of the United States
government are essential equal in power, the Legislative branch has the ability
to use the powers it has most effectively. Congress gives birth to new ideas and
laws constantly, and while the Executive checks protect against the passing of
outrageous laws, they still cannot prevent the passage of laws in every case.

Yet, even though the Legislative branch does exercise the greatest extent of
power, it is far from in control of the government system. The checks and
balances included in the Constitution ensure that the government will never
become too centralized. Thus, it is obvious that the very foundation upon which
our nation was constructed, the Constitution, blocks any of the three branches
from dominating the other two. And while it is true that government has become
more centralized than the framers of the Constitution had probably planned, it
is still far from the monarchy of England. For in truth, Congress relies heavily
on the general populous for its decisions. Public opinion will always have a
major impact on the way our government runs. So long as the government is
working for the people, as it is now, it is in line with the original vision of
our nation which was developed by the founding fathers.