The Patriot’s Model for a Republican Form of Government—The Separation of Powers

The three branches of our form of republican government were separated to create a balance of powers.

James Madison

At the Constitutional Convention of 1787, James Madison proposed the plan to divide the central government into three branches. He discovered this model of government from the Perfect Governor, as he read Isaiah 33:22

For the Lord is our judge,
    the Lord is our lawgiver,
the Lord is our king;
    it is he who will save us.

The Lord, the Perfect Governor, embodies all three branches of God’s government but one man given all these powers soon becomes a tyrant.

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A well-known concept [Madison’s plan] derived from the text and structure of the Constitution is the doctrine of what is commonly called separation of powers. The Framers’ experience with the British monarchy informed their belief that concentrating distinct governmental powers in a single entity would subject the nation’s people to arbitrary and oppressive government action.1 Thus, in order to preserve individual liberty, the Framers sought to ensure that a separate and independent branch of the federal government would exercise each of the government’s three basic functions: legislative, executive, and judicial.2 While the text of the Constitution does not expressly refer to the doctrine of separation of powers, the nation’s founding document divides governmental power among three branches by vesting the legislative power of the federal government in Congress;3 the executive power in the President;4 and the judicial power in the Supreme Court and any lower courts created by Congress.5

Although the Framers of the Constitution allocated each of these core functions to a distinct branch of government, the design of the Constitution contemplates some overlap in the branches’ performance of government functions.6 In particular, the Framers favored an approach that seeks to maintain some independence for each branch while promoting a workable government through the interdependence and sharing of power among the branches.7 Moreover, to address concerns that one branch would aggrandize its power by attempting to exercise powers assigned to another branch, the Framers incorporated various checks that each branch could exercise against the actions of the other two branches to resist such encroachments.8 For example, the President has the power to veto legislation passed by Congress, but Congress may overrule such vetoes by a supermajority vote of both houses.9 And Congress has the power to impeach and remove the President, Vice President, and civil officers of the United States.10

Continue reading the full text on this subject from the Congressional website Constitution Annotated: Intro.6.2.2 Separation of Powers Under the Constitution

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Article I of the Constitution describes the Legislative Branch, Article II describes the Executive Branch, and Article III describes the Judicial Branch. Article VI defines the Supreme Law of the Land which emphasizes the constitutional boundaries that keep the roles of the three branches separated.

John White
Rockwall, Texas

Published by John White

A lifetime (over 50 years) of experiences with automation and control systems ranging from aerospace navigation, radar, and ordinance delivery systems to the world's first robotic drilling machine for the oil patch, to process-control systems, energy management systems and general problem-solving. At present, my focus is on self-funding HVAC retrofit projects and indoor air quality with a view to preventing infections from airborne pathogens.

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