The United States government consists of three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The Constitution’s separation of powers was established to ensure a checks and balances system. This way, the power is not concentrated in the hands of a few, and the entire political system is not monopolized. The purpose of this essay is to examine the role of each branch in the present-day U.S. government.
The legislative branch in the U.S. consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate that form the Congress. The Congressional elections often become the focus of attention in numerous studies, concerning the factors that influence the outcome of the vote. Ferguson, Jorgensen, and Chen (2016) conducted profound research on the correlation between funds spent on Congressional campaigns and their results. They concluded that the U.S. exhibits what they call “a money-driven political system” (Ferguson et al., 2016, p. 26). Therefore, the correlation is direct, so it is usually the candidate willing to spend more money that is elected, which may hurt representation in Congress.
While its primary purpose is to enact legislation, Congress also oversees the executive branch, limiting the power of the president. Nevertheless, the U.S. leaders have been able to conduct their policy, despite the constraints. Goldgeier and Sanders (2016) say that the system of checks and balances is not as strong as it used to be. The main reasons for that are the polarization of Congress, as well as the decline of its expertise in foreign affairs.
Furthermore, polarization has influenced the third branch of the government. The Supreme Court is the final judicial arbiter in the U.S., and it consists of nine Supreme Court Justices nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Devins and Baum (2016) say that political polarization has an impact on identifying Court nominees and shapes the public view on crucial matters. These factors affect the decisions made by the Supreme Court.
All in all, all three branches of the U.S. government are interdependent and impose limits on one another. These limits were created to make sure that the branches work together on topical issues. However, the system of checks and balances now faces new challenges caused by the polarization of Congress. While each branch has its distinct role, changes in one of them affect the others.
Devins, N., & Baum, L. (2017). Split definitive: How party polarization turned the Supreme Court into a Partisan Court. The Supreme Court Review, 2016(1), 301-365. Web.
Ferguson, T., Jorgensen, P. & Chen, J. (2016). How money drives U.S. congressional elections. Institute for New Economic Thinking Working Paper Series, 48, 1-44. Web.
Goldgeier, J.M., & Saunders, E.N. (2018). The unconstrained presidency: Checks and balances eroded long before Trump. Foreign Affairs (Council on Foreign Relations), 97(5), 144-156.