Principles of the US constitutionWatch
Question: "Explain and analyse three principles of the US constitution"
One principle of the US constitution is separation of powers. This is the theory whereby political power is distributed equally among the three branches - executive, legislature and judiciary - acting both independently and interdependently. It was decided that no person could be in more than one branch at the same time in order to prevent tyranny - something we might call a 'separation of personnel'. For example, in 2008, when Barack Obama was elected as President, he had to resign from the senate as did his newly elected Vice President Joe Biden. This is significant to the US constitution because the premise behind separation of powers is that when a single person or group has a large amount of power, they can become extremely dangerous to its citizens. Unlike the UK however, this principle protects the citizens of the US and keeps it in line with democracy by removing ultimate power from being in the hands of one and instead distributed equally among the three branches, thus removing any sort of tyranny.
While the founding fathers envisioned that the branches remained separate, they also had the idea that each of these three independent branches, should check the powers of others. This became ingrained as another principle of the US constitution called Checks and Balances. It allowed each branch to partially control the power of the other branches, largely to resist encroachment on its own powers and to maintain a democratic government where they are held accountable. For example, Congress is able to check the power of the executive by overriding the president's veto. This means that it can amend, block and even reject items of legislation recommended by the president. As such, in 2007, Congress overrode President Bush's Water Resource Development Bill. The vote in the house was 381-40 which was 100 votes over the 281 required for a two-thirds majority. This is significant to the constitution as a whole because it strengthens the idea of a representative democracy. By stopping the president's administration from being the only branch that has the ability to make decisions on behalf of all citizens, congress ensures that all voices are heard during the legislative process.