Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Does the Federal Government Stilll Have Checks and Balances?

            The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday has to do with the checks and balances system set up by the Founders when they wrote the Constitution. The Founders carefully separated the powers of the federal government between the three branches – Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. However, Congress has been undercutting this system and causing it to lose some of its balance. Jason Pye explains the problem in his article.

The Founders specifically outlined the powers of the legislature in the first Article because they believed that the most power should reside with the people. It was only after they explicated all of the responsibilities of the legislature did they invest power in the executive in Article II. The reversal of this balance deprives the American people of the value of policies informed and shaped by the expertise and local interests of all … our elected representatives.

Many in Congress realize the problem, but too few are willing to take steps to addressed it systematically. For the most part, when Congress does assert itself, it does so only when it is politically convenient, usually when the Executive and Legislative Branches are controlled by opposing parties….

The Constitution gives the Legislative Branch the power to make laws and decide when America is at war. The Executive Branch is to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” … At times, it seems, the hardest thing that Congress can do is take a vote to exercise even some of the powers that Article I of the Constitution delegates to it.

In reality, Congress does make laws, but representatives and senators often prefer to simply provide a framework through legislation and then let administrative agencies in the Executive Branch fill in the details via rulemakings. This allows members to create distance between themselves and actual regulations that may be unpopular in their districts or states. When it comes to war powers and trade, Congress – regardless of which party is in control – has given up much of its authority to the Executive Branch. Taken together, this abandonment of the Legislative Branch’s constitutional role has given the presidency powers far beyond what the Framers of the Constitution intended.

            There is nothing wrong with having a strong President of the United States. In fact, we want our President to stand strong against foreign nations. However, the United States government would run better if Congress did its job to make laws and if the powers were divided more closely to how the Founders originally decided. The Constitution has worked well for over 235 years, and our nation would be better off by getting back to the original intent of the Founders.

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