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Describe how the three branches of government are supposed to interact.

The three branches of government are supposed to interact through checks and balances, a system in which the branches can interfere in the authority of the other branches. Additionally, the executive and legislative branches work together to create laws.

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The Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution in 1787 with three distinct branches of government in mind: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. Americans had rebelled against England because of its tyrannical king, so the new country did not want a monarch. Power was to be separated among the branches,...

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The Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution in 1787 with three distinct branches of government in mind: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. Americans had rebelled against England because of its tyrannical king, so the new country did not want a monarch. Power was to be separated among the branches, and there were to be checks and balances to prevent any one branch from becoming too powerful. The system does this well: there is often gridlock in the federal government due to the three discrete branches.

The Founding Fathers were reluctant to have a strong presidency. But their reservations gave way to practicality. The government under the Articles of Confederation had not had a chief executive, and it was too weak. Also, it was widely and correctly thought that George Washington would be the first president, and his rectitude was beyond reproach.

The president is Commander in Chief of the armed forces. They carry out laws and supervise executive appointments. They can veto Congressional actions. Also, the president conducts diplomacy.

The powers of the presidency have evolved over time. For example, initially, only Congress was to have the power to declare war. But the United States has since entered many military conflicts without a declaration of war. This has been especially true since World War II. The United States has fought numerous wars since 1945, but not one of them has been formally declared.

In addition to the power to declare war, Congress has the power to overturn executive vetoes with a two-thirds majority—an example of checks and balances. Congress also makes laws—its most important power. It can impeach both presidents and judges. No president or Supreme Court judge has ever been removed by impeachment, but some federal judges have successfully been impeached. Congress also accepts or rejects the president's selections of judges. And finally, it has the power to ratify treaties that were negotiated by the executive branch.

In the early days of the nation, the judicial branch was weaker than the other two. Its relative weakness stemmed from the fact that its powers were not explicitly enunciated in the Constitution. But this situation changed when John Marshall became Chief Justice in 1801. In 1803, the Supreme Court established its right of judicial review. Judicial review—and the fact that its judges are appointed for life—helped make it an equal third branch of government.

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The three branches of government are supposed to interact with one another through checks and balances.  The three branches each have their own distinct powers through the idea of separation of powers.  However, they also share in one another’s powers so that it will be possible for them to check and balance one another.

In a sense, the three branches are not supposed to really interact.  Each is supposed to have its own set of powers.  The legislature is supposed to make the laws while the executive branch enforces the laws and the judicial branch interprets the laws.  If this were how things worked in reality, there would be little interaction between the two branches.

However, the Framers of the Constitution also inserted checks and balances into the Constitution.  They did not want any branch of government to be able to gain too much power.  Therefore, they gave each branch ways to interfere in the others’ powers.  This means that the various branches need to interact to some degree.  This is particularly true of the legislative and executive branches.

The legislative and executive branches are supposed to work together to some degree.  Because the president has the power to suggest laws and to veto laws he does not like (as well as to do things like proposing budgets), the executive plays a role in making laws.  The president and Congress are supposed to work together to make laws.  Because the Congress has the power of the purse and the power of oversight over the executive branch, it has a role in determining how the laws are to be carried out.  This means that the president and Congress are supposed to work together to execute the laws.

However, this does not mean that the legislative and executive are always supposed to be in accord with one another.  The Framers built in the possibility of dissension between the two branches because they wanted it to be hard to make major changes in the law.  They did not want a system of government in which one person or group could easily get their agenda passed.  Because of this, the legislative and executive are supposed to have an ambiguous relationship, one in which they sometimes work together and sometimes work against one another.

The judicial branch is largely exempt from the explicit give and take that the other two branches engage in.  The judicial branch can overturn decisions of the other branches, but it is not consulted in the decision-making process and does not really interact with the other branches.  This is true because the judicial branch needs to maintain its non-partisan, unbiased image.

Because the Framers worried about excessive government power, they set up a system where the legislative and executive branches are supposed to work together to some degree, but are also supposed to be in opposition to one another at times.

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