Discuss in depth the expansion of power obtained by Congress, the presidency and the judiciary paying close attention to the original outlines within the Constitution: Articles I-III. Remember that each branch of government has seen its powers expand beyond what was originally written; what is the genesis of these additional powers? Each branch is different in this regard so be specific: examples should be included to bolster your essay. And most importantly, is this expansion of power (outside of the framework of the formal amendment process) just? Why?
The extent to which one judges the three branches of government as having expanded their powers is dependent, usually, upon one's political orientation and the specific circumstances in which the extension of power is alleged to have occurred. A few examples will clarify this phenomenon as it has taken place at various points in U.S. history.
Especially over the past 70 years many people have perceived that the executive branch has overstepped its bounds with regard to the issue of war. The Constitution assigns to Congress the power to declare war. Yet presidents have repeatedly initiated U.S. military actions without obtaining a declaration of war from Congress. The most blatant instance was probably the Vietnam War in the 1960's. Often such unilateral actions by the President are rationalized by saying that it's not really a "war," but rather, a "police action" or another euphemism to make it seem a more casual situation than it really is. Obviously the public perception, with regard to Vietnam, depended on one's political views. Those who saw "stopping the spread of communism" in Southest Asia as an absolute were in favor of expanded executive power, while other citizens were not. More recently, the George W. Bush administration did ask Congress in 2002 for a resolution supporting its action in Iraq, but it was not an explicit declaration of war. Later, when the Iraq war was not going well for the U.S., many of those in Congress who had voted for the resolution then tried to distance themselves from the war by claiming that it was not a "war resolution" at all, but rather, merely a "process" they had voted for, now asserting that the President had indeed overstepped his bounds (in spite of their having supported him initially).
Conservatives in recent decades have seen the Supreme Court as an "activist" judiciary which has improperly gone beyond the bounds of "judging the laws" and has (from this conservative viewpoint) illegitimately created laws which are supposedly unconstitutional. This is the way anti-abortion activists have viewed Roe v. Wade. Of course, people in favor of abortion rights see it the opposite way. The important thing about the Constitution is that the framers deliberately did not say too much. The fact that the document is so open to interpretation is one of its strengths. The issue on which the power of Congress has been questioned has been (and evidently will be again soon) impeachment. There is no absolute rule by which an action by the president can be judged an impeachable offense. During Andrew Johnson's administration after the Civil War, some senators who were politically opposed to Johnson nevertheless voted not to convict him of the impeachment charges because they believed it would be dangerous to set the precedent of removing the President from office. And, the framers were careful to set the bar high on this issue, requiring a two-thirds vote in the Senate to convict rather than a simple majority.