Checks and Balances | Teen Ink

Checks and Balances

June 3, 2017
By victoria_kapusta PLATINUM, Ridgewood, New York
victoria_kapusta PLATINUM, Ridgewood, New York
20 articles 0 photos 7 comments

In the United States Federal Constitution, there is a system specifically designed to limit the three separate branches (legislative, executive, and judicial) from gaining too much power/control. This is known as checks and balances in which each branch plays some role in the actions of others to protect individual rights. The founders wanted to include “checks and balances” into the government in order to prevent tyranny and prevent the abuse of power from the national government. The founding fathers had to go through many obstacles to escape the clutches of a tyrannical British colonial government, and they did not want to have a home grown tyranny as well, so they put in many safeguard prevent government corruption. Since there are 3 branches of government they all have some power to correct abuses or intervene by the other two branches to keep everything even and fair. An example of “checks and balances” is the issue, “Supreme Court Upholds Federal Domestic Violence Gun Restriction Status”  which discusses about 2 branches bonding on a federal law that restricts gun ownership which some found to be unconstitutional, came out to still be fair and constitutional so the law was upheld by the Supreme Court. The system of “checks and balances” works in many ways and can be shown in an example that proves that it is still current in our modern government today.

To begin with , the three branches (executive,legislative,and judicial) consist of different people with different duties that incorporates “checks and balances”. The first branch is known as the Executive Branch which consists of the President and the Vice President.The President’s task is to either sign legislation into law or veto the bills enacted by Congress, as well as the executive branch conducts diplomacy with other nations and has the power to negotiate as well as sign treaties, that must be ratified.Next, there is the legislative branch which consists of congress that divides into the house of representatives (435 elected members), which is divided by total population of state and the senate (100 senators) which include 2 for each state. The Legislative Branch’s duty is to vote on laws by the President or confirm the President’s appointment that require consent and to ratify treaties, in which in order to pass legislation so it can be sent off to the President, both the House as well as Senate need to pass the same bill with the majority vote. Last of all, there is the Judicial Branch which consist of 9 justices appointed by the President and is confirmed by the Senate to serve until their death.The way they serve is doing Judicial Review which is reviewing the laws that were passed by congress or the executive branch to see if they are fair or unconstitutional. Each branch “checks and balances”  each other by having the Executive Branch in charge of the administrative aspect by supervising operations and being able to veto or sign legislation into law, have the Legislative be able to override a veto with a ? majority vote or impeach the president and the judicial branch to vote on if the law is constitutional. For example, the Legislative makes the law while the Executive Branch enforces the law so if the Legislative Branch makes a law and the Executive Branch will not enforce it, that demonstrates checks and balances.In the end , each branch has powers exclusive to their branch, creating a “seperation” of the government’s powers so that they can check on each other and balance the amount of power.

Secondly, there is a specific example from the issue, “Supreme Court upholds Federal Domestic Violence Gun Restriction Statute” that proves that there still is “checks and balances” in the modern government today. The law passed was known as restricting the possession of firearms by individuals convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence which was passed by Congress.The two branches that were involved was the Legislative and Judicial Branch, which is proven when the article says, “The Justices considered whether a “reckless” act is actually a use of force under the federal law….Congress’s definition of a ‘misdemeanor crime of violence’ contains no exclusion for convictions based on reckless behavior.” This shows that since they are talking about “Justices” who are in the Supreme Court are part of the judicial branch while “congress” is known as the legislative branch. Next , the issue discussed in this article is that a man believes that it was unconstitutional to take away his gun for beating up his girlfriend based because“domestic assault” is a broad term. This is shown when in the article it states, “The Voisine case was about the ability to restrict gun ownership for someone previously convicted of a misdemeanor crime of recklessness.” This expresses the fact that he believes that domestic assaults should have punishments that distinguish from knowingly or intentionally from those committed recklessly because the 2nd amendment allows him to own a gun. Well, most of the judicial and legislative branch want to still agree on enforcing the law because its not illegal to take someone’s gun no matter if the domestic assault is reckless (since it shows that they are not responsible) or on purpose (since it shows that they are violent) because they cannot be trusted to own one by any means. These two branches use the check and balance power on each other because the judicial branch sided with congress by voting to uphold the law. For example, in the article, it says, “In a majority 6-2 decision on Monday, the Supreme Court upheld a federal law that restricts gun ownership for a person convicted of reckless domestic assault.” This indicates that although two justices disagreed, most of the justices still wanted to keep the law because in their perspective, it was seen as fair and not unconstitutional.Another way they could use checks and balances is by having congress pass another bill that gets a ? override or has it passed by the president that is similar to the one that they passed before as an alternative as well. Finally, these branches both have the power to use checks and balances on each other as seen in this case where they were able to both agree on a topic.


Throughout America today, these three branches work separately and have their own individual powers, but have to rely on other branches in order to accomplish their goals.By having the legislative make the laws, the executive enforce the laws and the judicial branch interpret the laws, it helps make America become more sound.The example used on domestic assault with gun ownership relates to “checks and balances” because the Legislative checks by having the senate approve federal judges and the power to initiate constitutional amendments as well as the Judicial Branch be able to check with Judicial Review (through votes) and making sure that the seats taken by Congress are held on good behavior. The president is elected by the people and in order to prevent the regression to a monarchy or getting trapped into a dictatorship is why “checks and balances” was incorporated into the constitution (too much power given to one person so there should be a balance), they had a vision of a free America which would be ruled by the people and for the people, something that has still lived on to the modern government today. Not only have they used “checks and balances” on each other  but it made a stronger democracy because the dispute drew interest from advocates for victims of domestic abuse, who also agreed with the judicial / legislative branch that the law applies to reckless behavior as well as intentional misconduct proving that even the majority of citizens agreed/supported this decision even though there were some gun right groups that argued that the men should not lose their constitutional right to bear arms because of misdemeanor abuse convictions.America has shown its finest by having these learned individuals make their highest immediate priority be the establishment of separate branches, that can individually do little to subvert the democratic system created and collectively provide the basis of a secure / safe representative form of democracy.

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