It took just 88 days in Philadelphia to create “a more perfect union” through heated debate, but what our Founders created was nothing short of a miracle, an enduring promise of liberty, our Constitutional Republic. The U. S. Constitution spells out the fundamental concepts of Constitutional government which are Federalism, Separation of Powers, and Checks and Balances.
Federalism is the foundational concept that defines the relationship between the federal government and the individual state governments. While both the federal government and state governments remain sovereign, or independent, their powers of governance and responsibilities to the citizens are balanced between the two.
The federal government’s powers, as well as the individual states’ government powers, are further divided into separate branches – legislative, executive, and judicial – with the express purpose of protecting the freedoms and liberties guaranteed to individual citizens. This is called Separation of Powers. The National Archives puts it this way, “. . . the way to safeguard against tyranny is to separate the powers of government among three branches so that each branch checks the other two.”
The powers of these separate branches are stated within the first three Articles of the Constitution. Each branch has the power to “check” on the other two to prevent abuses of power by any one of the others. This is called the “System of Checks and Balances.” You see, the main purpose of the Constitution is to protect its citizens’ natural-born rights by limiting government power and our Constitution does this brilliantly through these fundamental concepts.
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