Checks and Balance

By Maria Carpenter,2014-05-22 09:37
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Checks and Balance


     Checks and Balance in American Political System

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    This thesis is going to introduce some information of the system of Checks and Balance of the United states. The famous enlightenment thinker Locke and Montesquieu theory in the United States after developing for many years, g eventually becoming the constitution and constitutionalism, the basis of thought and spirit of the United States. The United States constitution and constitutionalism in the "decentralized" and "balance" complement each other: "decentralized" is the basis and the premise of balances ", "balance" is the final purpose of "decentralization". Through the separation of power, it aims to realize the power restriction mechanism of the power of desire. We should be objective to view the dialectic Countries in the constitutional separation of powers mechanism.

    Key words: The United States; The Checks and Balance; The legislative power; The

    executive power; Judicial power.









1. A brief Introduction to Checks and Balance

1.1The originate and development of Checks and Balance

    The theory of Checks and Balance can date back to the Ancient Greece and

    then British and French philosophers got it further developed. Aristotle’s famous

    regime The Three Factors Theory and Polybius’s view of balance of power

    established the theoretical foundation for the Checks and Balance theory. Rocks

    Checks and Balance theory was the direct origin of Montesquieu doctrine.

1.2 The content of Checks and Balance

    Generally speaking, the system of Checks and Balance is implemented the American government. In this system, the national government is divided into three branches, namely legislative, executive and judicial. These three branches are not complemented independent from one another. On the contrary, they are closely linked to help guarantee that no one branch become too powerful.

2. The reasons for applying Checks and Balance to

    American Political System

    There are two main reasons for American separation of the executive, legislative and judicial powers. Firstly, the preferential protection of individual rights. During the American development, the protection of individual rights is always their starting point to safeguard their own right. In their eyes, individual rights is the most basically and also is the legal source of public rights. If someone were deprived of his individual right, all of his other political and economic rights were gone with it and Liberal Democrats would fell through. Secondly, in order to keep the balance of each colonial economy. It implies the equal economic condition of each colony from aspects of economic pattern, population , territory and consider this is one of deep reasons for them to discuss democratically and finally establish the separation of the executive, legislative and judicial powers.

3.The power and functions of different section of


3.1 The power and functions of executive system

     The Congress has the legislative power and the implementation of the law approved by the President and carry out the bicameral legislature. The electoral rules of Senate and the House of Representative are drawn up by the Congress as well.

    Besides, the congress has right to declare war and the President of Senate has the nomination examination and approval power. Whats more, the incumbent shall not

    be the member of Parliament. The head of the American executive branch is the president.

    The president has the executive power and the power of the U.S. president help the federal keep its powerful executive position and its the characteristic of American

    political system. The President of the United States is one of the world's most powerful position, his power is given by the constitution. it comes down to: "protect the federal constitution and execute the laws congress." The President of the United

    States in administrative power mainly for the following: The President has the power

    to manage state affairs and the federal government's various jobs, has the right to retaining all administrative department, the courtyard, department, bureau chief and other administrative authorities (must be approved by the senate approval), the President is commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the United States, they have the right to declare war on congress, but in some cases the President often over the parliament attack without provocation. In war and in an emergency, authorized by congress, the President also can have more power. In foreign affairs, the President is responsible for handling the principal officials of foreign relations. He appointed minister ambassadors, and consular (must be approved by the senate approval), received foreign ambassador and a civil servant. The President has the right to and foreign treaties, but must be approved by the senate approval of the two-thirds majority needed; And the President concluded with foreign countries all administrative agreement, but need not be approved by the senate approval.

3.2 The power and functions of legislature system

    The legislative or lawmaking branch of the government in the United States is the Congress, which is situated in the Capitol Hill. The US Congress has two houses ;

    the Senate, with two senators from each state regardless of the size of its population, and the House of Representatives, consisting of a total of 435 representatives divided among the fifty states by population. In the House, states with large populations have more representatives than those with small populations.

    The Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Senators serve staggered six-year terms. The Senate has several exclusive powers not granted to the House, including consenting to treaties as a precondition to their ratification and consenting or confirming appointments of Cabinet secretaries, federal judges, other federal executive officials, military officers,

    [2][3]regulatory officials, ambassadors, and other federal uniformed officers, as well as

    trial of federal officials impeached by the House. The Senate is both a more deliberative and more prestigious body than the House of Representatives, due to its longer terms, smaller size, and statewide constituencies, which historically led to a more collegial and less partisan atmosphere. The Senate has been described by some members of the American media as the "world's greatest deliberative body.

    While the Senate's more exclusive membership may make it seem the more powerful of the two chambers of Congress, the House is charged with a vital task: the power to raise revenue through taxes. The House of Representatives also has the power of impeachment, in which a sitting president, vice president or other civil official such as a judge may be removed for "high crimes and misdemeanors," as enumerated in the Constitution. The House is solely responsible for calling for impeachment. Once it decides to do so, the Senate tries that official to determine whether he or she should be convicted, which means automatic removal from office. House leadership rests with the speaker of the house, usually a senior member of the majority party. The speaker applies House rules and refers bills to specific House committees for review. The speaker is also third in line to the presidency, after the vice president.

3.3 The roles of the judiciary system

    The American judicial system, constituting of the Supreme Court and the federal courts, is established to fairly and impartially interpret and apply the law, resolve disputes and, perhaps most importantly, to protect the rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and thus often called the "guardians of the Constitution".

    The Judiciary Act of 1789 by the Senate divided the country into 12 judicial districts or "circuits." Each of the 12 regional circuits has one U.S. Court of Appeals that hears appeals to decisions of the district courts located within its circuit and appeals to decisions of federal regulatory agencies. The court system is further divided into 94 eastern, central and southern "districts" geographically across the

    country. Within each district, one court of appeals, regional district courts and bankruptcy courts are established. The 94 District Courts, located within the 12 regional circuits, hear practically all cases involving federal civil and criminal laws. Decisions of the district courts are typically appealed to the district's court of appeals.

    The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate (but largely discretionary) appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases. Both in history and today, justice has played a crucial role in US in fields of sorts, like politics, economy, etc. In United States the person or organization that is accused of wrongdoing has the right to require a trail. After the case is tried, it may be appealed to the higher court, like the federal appeal court or the highest court in that state. Generally, the original decision will not be reversed unless the verdict is clearly erroneous.

    3. The operation of Checks and Balance among the three


    Although the three branches have different powers and functions and play different role in the government affairs, they are not completely isolated from one another.

    Firstly, its the legislative powers control on the executive and judiciary power.

    The federal constitution provided that the highest legislative power belong to the Congress. In special situations, it has the right to decide who to be the president and vice president. The United States Congress to the federal court of jurisdiction

    restricted mainly for two points: the first one is the senate can approve the Congress or veto the President's proposed federal supreme law. The second is the Congress has the power to impeach federal court system of judges.

     Secondly, its the executive powers control on the legislative and judiciary power.

    The most important point of The President's restriction on the Congress is that the President can veto the bill. The President of the court of jurisdiction executive power restriction, mainly in the President have the right to the federal court of the power of appointment and removal and nomination.

    Thirdly, its the judiciary powers control on the legislative and executive power.

    The Supreme Court on the congress restriction mainly displays in two points: one is through the exercise of constitutional interpretation mission cloth legislation in congress and shall be invalidated as unconstitutional; Second, the congress of the senate impeachment court impeachment trial's President, must by the federal Supreme Court chief justice of the court of impeachment Chairman, and on the impeachment

    power of congress to pin down. The Supreme Court on the President .The main power restriction is that the former can be explained by the constitution that the President meaning and government departments of the implementation of the administrative act unconstitutional, because of excessive and shall be invalid, or announced. The president s the legal effect of release of the executive orders unconstitutional valid.

5.The influences of Checks and Balance on American

    political system

5.1 The advantages

    History has proved that although the United States experienced more than the President's congressional power congress made government period and the presidential power the strength of the strengthening President period, the United States government agencies also have had a lot of political corruption, bureaucratic issues, but the separation system is effective to prevent serious autocratic and authoritarian tendencies. Decentralization thought the political system must also guide extent by the young American growth for the effect on world superpower, for the rise of the United States, separation of accomplishments of the system.

5.2 The disadvantages

    The checks and balance also has obvious class limitations and negative effects. (1) The so-called decentralization and balance is to coordinate internal power distribution bourgeoisie a mechanism.

    (2) A system of the separation of powers, the power, the inevitable outcome, are three great authority of each other between dispute over trifles, lead to low efficiency. (3) Principle of separation of political practice to in real implementation. (4)The separation system is essentially a bourgeois democratic system, it effectively maintain asset class rule. But the working people can't get true democracy in this system possesses.


     The American system of Checks and Balance has worked well over the course of America’s history, even though some huge clashes have occurred when vetoes have been overridden or appointees have been rejected, these occasions are rare. The system was meant to keep the three branches in balance, 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.

    In summary, the Checks and Balance play an important role in American political system and it will be improved with the development of its society.



    1820? 英国国王?1760-

    [?] 谭君久?《当代各国政治体制——美国》?兰州大学出版社?19984月版?第222页。


    [?] 杨建英?《政治制度安全?国家安全的核心》?《国家安全通讯》199912期?第32页。


    [?] 吴小娜?《浅析美国的政治制度》?《湖北函授大学学报》20099月?第137页。


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