Constitutional Restriction of Government Power


In order to guard against what one of the Founding Fathers
called an "excess of democracy," the Constitution was built
with many ways to limit the government's power. Among these
methods were separating the three branches, splitting the
legislature so laws passed are carefully considered, and
requiring members of Congress to meet certain criteria to
qualify for office 

Separation of power was very effective; The three branches
of government (executive, legislative, and judicial) are
kept separate, and each has different powers. Congress has
legislative, or law making, powers; the President has the
power to carry out, or execute, the laws; and the Judicial
branch had the judging power, used to interpret the laws.
In addition, each branch is able to restrain or balance the
powers of the other two branches upon power abuse. If the
President is suspected of unlawful acts, he can be
impeached, or tried by the House and Senate for misusing
his power. If he is found guilty, he can be thrown out of
office, unless two thirds of Congress agrees with a treaty
he proposes. Furthermore, if the President wants to spend
money, his request must pass through Congress, since it has
control over spending. Lastly, Congress can re-pass a
vetoed bill. Congress also has checks and balances against
itself. The president can veto a bill from Congress, and
although Congress can override a veto, obtaining a
two-thirds vote is very difficult. Public speeches by the
President may also concern the public with an issue,
putting pressure on Congress to act upon it. 

The limitations on and difficulties of law passing are
very, very important. The split legislature creates a more
complicated maze through which laws must find their way
before being passed. First, a law must be introduced in
either the House of Representatives or the Senate, the
former having sole power to introduce laws concerning
revenue. After the law is introduced, it must be approved
by the other house, who may agree with, amend, or discard
the law. Once both houses have agreed on the law, however,
the President must approve it. If he does not, he may also
amend it and return it to its originating house for
reconsideration. If both houses then agree on the amended
bill by a two thirds vote, it can be passed. The bill also
becomes a law if the President does not return it to
Congress within ten days (except Sundays) of his receiving
of it. The labyrinth of Clerks, which is not even mentioned
in the Constitution, makes law passing far more difficult,
resulting in only the passing of laws that have been
extremely carefully considered. 

Only allowing qualifying Congressmen and Senators to run
for office allows for a more mature Congress, which will be
more careful about its actions. A Representative must be at
least 25 years old and a US Citizen for 7 years. That he
must be a resident of the state in which he is elected
means that he will be more attuned to the needs of the
state he represents. A Senator must be at least 30 years
old and a citizen for 9 years. He must also be a citizen of
the state which he represents. 

In the Constitution, the Founding Fathers limit the power
of government in many, many ways - many more than even the
aforementioned. Their most important intent was to make the
nation less democratic and to keep the government small.
The Constitution has accomplished the Founding Fathers'
goal until now, and will hopefully continue doing so in the


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