Please explain why the Constitution is dependent on the principles of a system of separation of powers and checks and balances.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Both concepts are strongly linked to one another.  The Constitution's framers believed that political power resting in one entity could bring the nation closer to the type of rule from which it sought to escape with King George and England.  In this, the notion of separation of powers meant to allocate power to three branches of government, ensuring that power was to be divided amongst different entities and moving one step farther from tyranny.  It is for this reason why the Constitution is dependent on the idea of separation of powers.  The logical outgrowth of this and to make sure that there could be no collusion between the branches or manipulation of the branches to bring about tyrannical rule was the advent of checks and balances.  The idea of each branch having specific powers that can limit the other two branches helped to ensure that compromise would be essential in the policy making initiatives and the notion of governing in the new nation.  The framers were pragmatic enough to understand that it would be better for government to not operate in the ideal, but rather to function in the realm of what can be done and what can be compromised.  To this end, separation of powers and checks and balances become principles upon which the Constitution is dependent and elements that form the basic composition of American democratic government today.

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