The separation of powers may be regarded as one of the most significant concepts of the United States Constitution that aim to guarantee the stability of federal governance and the limitation of all power for one group or individual. Thus, the government is divided into legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The legislative branch is responsible for lawmaking and is represented by Congress comprised of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The executive power, represented by the president and vice-president, the Cabinet, federal agencies, and executive departments, is responsible for the law’s execution and enforcement. Finally, the judicial branch consists of the Supreme Court and federal courts, applies laws, interpret their meanings, and decide whether a law violates the Constitution or not. Although each branch has its functions, they are interconnected and may limit or change acts of one another.
Throughout the history of the United States, the balance of powers has changed significantly. For instance, while Congress was placed at the center of American government by the Constitution and ruled the country, in the present day, it had become substantively deferential to the White House, especially in relation to foreign affairs (Morone and Kersh, 327). Nevertheless, its importance and power extend far beyond lawmaking, and cooperation with Congress is obligatory for presidents. In addition, other branches depend on the legislative ones as it determines and approves federal funding. Thus, if the House of Representatives and Senate cannot reach an agreement concerning the budget, multiple federal agencies, health care officials, police structures, and the education system are forced to wait (Morone and Kersh 329). In addition, the Constitution gives unique authority to Congress, including a right to review presidential appointments. At the same time, the balance is substantially affected by challenging relationships within Congress as its parts reflect opposite national priorities and represent different interests. As a result, their conflicts impact the general efficiency of federal governance.
At the same time, over the decades, the executive branch and the presidency, in particular, have changed the most in comparison with other powers. Regardless of the fact that the duties of the presidency imply the laws’ execution, the president’s position remains fluid. However, in the present day, presidents expand their power predominantly in informal ways through executive orders, agreements, and privileges to increase their influence (Morone and Kersh 366). At the same time, while the country needs a strong leader, it is in fear of a strong one as an imperial presidency may lead to the absence of democracy.
Concerning the judicial branch, its position in the present day may be characterized by the shrinking reputations of the legal system. In other words, citizens have stopped trusting courts as much as before. Once performed as a powerful institution that could define the validity of laws based on the Constitution, the Supreme Court currently remains one of the most powerful and influential in comparison with other democratic societies. However, its power is limited by the necessity of keeping the balance between the Constitution’s enforcement and democratic values.
To conclude, after the analysis of the separation of powers and their current positions, it is possible to say that the roles of branches and the attitude of society to them have substantially changed throughout American history. However, the balance between them exists, and a federal government cannot become tyrannical. While Congress is highly powerful in legislation and has unique opportunities, its power is limited by a lack of civil support and the presidency that gains popularity and strength. Especially in relation to foreign affairs. At the same time, despite its declining popularity, the legal system serves citizens and keeps the exceptional value of the Constitution.
Morone, James A., and Rogan Kersh. By the People: Debating American Government. Brief 55th ed., Oxford University Press, 2019.