Homework Help

When we read the U.S. Constitution, there is something very striking about the first...

user profile pic

ziendj33 | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted March 24, 2013 at 3:41 AM via web

dislike 2 like
When we read the U.S. Constitution, there is something very striking about the first three articles. The first article that deals with the legislative branch is the longest. The second article that deals with the executive branch is shorter and has the middle amount of length. The third article that deals with the judicial branch is the shortest of the three and only has a few sentences that relate to the Supreme Court in particular. How do you think we should interpret the different lengths of the articles in relation to the separation of powers?

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 24, 2013 at 4:01 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

We should interpret this to mean that the length of the article is commensurate with the importance of the branch in the Framers’ eyes.  The Framers clearly meant to have the legislative branch be the most important, with the executive next and the judicial last.

The Framers did not want a very strong president.  They did not want to risk having another king.  They felt that the Congress was the branch that was most representative of the people and that it should have the most power.  This is why they paid so much attention to Congress and its powers in Article I.   This attitude towards presidential power was largely accepted by Congress and by presidents for most of the first century after the Constitution was ratified.  Presidents generally deferred to Congress during that time.

The Framers also felt that the judicial branch would be the least important.  It would not have the power to legislate or the power to carry out the laws.  Alexander Hamilton described it as the “least dangerous branch” of the government.  He felt that it, unlike the other branches, would be unlikely to infringe upon anyone’s rights.

Thus, we should take the lengths of the articles as a hint about the degree of power that the Framers wanted each branch to have.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes