Checks and Balances System of Government
In the United States, the principle of separation of powers is constitutional. The Constitution restricts each of three branches of state power, providing for a system of checks and balances between them. This principle is realized due to various sources of the formation of branches of power and a system of overlapping powers. For example, the president may recommend certain laws and veto laws enacted by Congress, as well as appoint officials in the federal judicial system. The Supreme Court may recognize the laws adopted by the Congress, as well as the decisions of the president, as contradicting the constitution; in turn, the Congress may not approve appointments to the executive bodies of power, reject international treaties, overcome the president’s veto, and impeach the president and members of the Supreme Court.
The system of checks and balances turns independent branches of government with divided powers into a single system complex, each of which components is involved in the administration of power. No political decision can be made and implemented by any one branch of government.
For example, the president is the supreme commander of the armed forces and bears the main responsibility for the defense of the country, but only Congress has the right to declare war, recruit and support the army, and establish the number of armed forces. It also allocates money for military spending. The system of checks and balances is constantly evolving. The whole history of its evolution is associated primarily with the conflict between the executive and legislative branches of government for the right to play a leading role in the US political system. The general vector of this historical rivalry is directed toward the expansion of the prerogatives of the executive power, which, as a rule, determines the dynamics of the functioning of the entire system of checks and balances.
Separation of Powers
For the reliable protection of society from the danger of establishing tyranny, power had to be distributed among branches of government. At the same time, it must be immediately emphasized that the founders of the US Constitution never thought of creating three completely independent authorities, i.e., of the creation of a certain kind of tri-power, which is possible only in theory. In addition, it was intended to create a system of interdependence that provides mutual control in order to prevent abuse.
The horizontal distribution of powers between the branches of the national government (legislative, executive, and judicial) was complemented by a vertical division of power, which was supposed to be a federal form of government. Everything that was not within the competence of the Union remained with the states and the people.
An analysis of the text of the US Constitution, its numerous comments and interpretations leads to the conclusion that the Constitution does not refer to the classical separation. Power as such is assumed to be unified; only responsibilities are delimited. The unity of power is derived from the concept of unified sovereignty.