New Constitution

The meeting of fifty-five men, who acted as the Constitutional Convention, initiated the process of establishment of power in the United States. Despite different positions, they decided that the fundament of an effective functioning of the government is the balance between liberty and power.

Thus, 4000-word document fixed two main principles, which form limits for the power: federalism (or division of powers) and the “checks and balances” system, which differentiate authorities of branches of the national government. The main aim of these principles is opposition to the misuse of power.

Federalism concerns separation of competence between national government and the authorities of the states. Considering the Articles of the Confederation, the elder document, the national government achieved more authorities. The President as the head of the executive power is responsible for the enforcement of the laws and high command of the military. The Congress due to its position levies taxes, enacts legislation of the supreme force and decides issues of war and peace. The main blow to states sovereignty was barring states from issuing their money and imposing of import and export duties. Despite these strict provisions, the states are responsible for the majority of the cases in different spheres, for example in education and law-enforcement on local level.  Use of the divided sovereignty principle provides delicate balance between different authorities even nowadays.

Another important principle, which limits power of the national government deals with the prevention from domination of any of the branches: the executive, the legislative and the judicial. Complicated mechanism of “checks and balances” is provided by mutual control and limitation of the branches. The legislative branch as represented by the Congress passes the laws, but the President can veto any legislation, which can be overridden by Congress just by the two-third majority. The President nominates federal judges but only with the approval of the Congress. The President’s office is also involved in the system: the Congress can impeach him.

Complicated system of the national government worked out by the Framers in 4 months shows its effectiveness until today.  

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