The Federal Government holds great power over our daily lives. The delegates at the Constitutional Convention wanted to divide power within the Federal Government to keep these powers from becoming centralized around a single man or group. To avoid the risk of a such dictatorship or tyranny in general, the founders divided the new government into three parts, or branches known as the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch.
The Legislative Branch
Established by Article I of the Constitution, the legislative branch is composed of the House and Senate, known collectively as the Congress. As the name implies, the legislative branch composes all legislation, while it also maintains the authority to declare war, regulate commerce, and control taxing and spending policies.
The legislative branch was established to ensure the various state government maintain a voice in the federal government. This is the case because each state sends a certain number of delegates to represent the interest of their population. Two senators are elected from each state to ensure that each state maintains equal representation through the Senate. While the House maintains a balance of representation that is directly proportional to the population of that particular state.
So the legislative branch was established to ensure the states maintain a semblance of power in the federal government, but they are not the only branch of government established in the Constitution.
The Executive Branch
The executive branch was established in Article II of the constitution and it’s purpose is to ensure that the legislation established by the legislative branch is faithfully enacted and executed. The executive branch’s power is centralized around the President of the United States, who acts as both commander-and-chief of the armed forces and the head of state.
The President is also tasked with appointing the heads of federal agencies and the Executive Cabinet. These Cabinet and federal agencies, such as the EPA, Justice Department, and Social Security Administration, are responsible for the general administration of federal law and are tasked with enacting legislation as diverse as the country it serves. Including the armed forces, the Executive Branch employs over four million Americans.
So we’ve gone over the fact that the Legislative Branch was established to compose legislation, and its up to the Executive Branch to enforce that legislation, but who will be able interpret this complex legislation to ensure its compliance among the people? We’ll our third branch of government is tasked with doing exactly that.
The Judicial Branch
Established by Article III of the United States Constitution, the Judicial Branch is tasked with the interpretation and application of the laws established by the other two branches of government. This means that it is up to the judicial branch to understand established law so that they can ensure equal enforcement under the law. If the judicial branch was never established, you could imagine the job of judging compliance among the people falling to an elected, or worse yet appointed, member of congress or the executive branch. I can’t picture that going over well among the people.
Cases brought before the judicial branch usually start out in the district court, this is where your initial judge and jury trial is performed to determine guilt of the defending party. If a case is still contested after the original determination, it then proceeds into the appellate courts where it could possibly even find itself before the Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court has ultimate jurisdiction over the federal government and is the last stop for all discrepancies among the people and its determination is usually soon adopted as the law of the land.
As you can see the delegates at the constitutional convention developed a very complex solution to the problem of tyranny developing among centralized governments. While the balance of power among the three branches of government can sometimes prove contentious, it still endures to this day providing our society with a civilized governmental structure on which to develop one of the most affluent and powerful countries on Earth.