Separation of Powers (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
The division of state and federal government into three independent branches.
The first three articles of the U.S. Constitution call for the powers of the federal government to be divided among three separate branches: the legislative, the executive, and the judiciary branch. Under the separation of powers, each branch is independent, has a separate function, and may not usurp the functions of another branch. However, the branches are interrelated. They cooperate with one another and also prevent one another from attempting to assume too much power. This relationship is described as one of checks and balances, where the functions of one branch serve to contain and modify the power of another. Through this elaborate system of safeguards, the Framers of the Constitution sought to protect the nation against tyranny.
Under the separation of powers, each branch of government has a specific function. The legislative branchhe Congressakes the laws. The executive branchhe presidentmplements the laws. The judiciaryhe court systemnterprets the laws and decides legal controversies. The system of federal taxation provides a good example of each branch at work. Congress passes legislation regarding taxes. The president is responsible for appointing a director of the INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE to carry out the law through the collection of taxes. The courts rule on cases concerning the...
(The entire section is 475 words.)
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