American Government Term Paper #1. Discuss the theory of Checks and Balances as outlined by the Framers of the Constitution.

Authors Avatar by lmaldjian (student)


Lara Maldjian


Poli Sci 180

S. Frame

October 30, 2012        

American Government Term Paper

#1. Discuss the theory of “Checks and Balances” as outlined by the Framers of the Constitution. Analyze the concept of power in politics and why the Federalists were correct in diffusing the power of government in order to keep one branch or entity from becoming too powerful.  How does this concept help us as a viable democracy?  In addition to the separation of powers delineated in the Constitution, there are additional extraordinary checks on power (such as the media, executive order, staggered terms or political mobilization), explain at least one extraordinary check in detail and discuss its impact on the political process.

“The Framers of the American Constitution were visionaries” (The Framer’s Constitution), or dreamers.  At the time the Framers of the Constitution were in the development stage of forming a government, and they wanted a government that was ruled by the individuals of the country, and they also wanted the Constitution to be able to withstand anything the country faced.  “They sought not only to address the specific challenges facing the nation during their lifetimes, but to establish the foundational principles that would sustain and guide the new nation into an uncertain future” (The Framer’s Constitution).  This type of government would allow for each individual to have an opinion or a vote that counted in what the government planned on doing.

The text of the Constitution reflects the vision the Framers had.  It defines our most essential freedoms in general terms:

“freedom of speech,” “due process of law,” “free exercise” of religion, “equal protection of the laws,” “cruel and unusual punishment.”  The Constitution sets forth governmental powers in similarly general terms:  Congress may regulate “commerce…among the several states,” the president will “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” the courts are authorized to decide “cases” and “controversies.”

These phrases are not self-defining.  The Framers understood that they were trusting the future generations the responsibility to draw upon their intelligence, judgment, and experience to give tangible meaning to these broad principles over time.  As Chief Justice John Marshall observed almost two centuries ago, “we must never forget it is a Constitution we are expounding…intended to endure for ages to come, and consequently to be adapted to the various crises of human affairs” (The Framer’s Constitution).

In order to escape a monarchy like the one they were used to under British rule, the Framers came up with a system of “checks and balances”.  Checks and balances keep one branch of government from having too much power over other branches of government.  The Framers idea when creating the checks and balances system was to keep a balance between the different branches of government, or separation” (We the People).  They did not want the president to have too much control, so the legislative branch looks over the executive branch and also has some say in the actions of the executive branch. “The Framers wanted to be certain that the government they created did not pose even more of a threat to its citizens’ liberties and property rights than did the radical state legislatures they feared and despised” (We the People).

The legislative branch was designed to be the most powerful.

The character of the legislative branch was directly related to the framers’ major goals. The House of Representatives was designed to be directly responsible to the people in order to encourage popular consent for the new Constitution and to help enhance the power of the new government. At the same time, to guard against “excessive democracy,” the Constitution checked the power of the House of Representatives with that of the Senate, whose members were to be appointed by the states for long terms rather than be elected directly by the people.

Join now!

The framers’  organized the legislative branch to “contribute to the governmental power, to promote popular consent for the new government, and at the same time to place limits on the popular political currents that many of the framers saw as a radical threat to the economic and social order” (We the People).

        The framers wanted to ensure the people that the Constitution would not be a danger to them, by stating any power not listed were not going to be granted at all (We the People).  Expressed powers are specific powers granted to the Congress in the Constitution. In order ...

This is a preview of the whole essay