Our Constitution limits political power in another essential way: with a strict separation of powers between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. In the parliamentary system in England, the leader of the executive branch is a member of parliament, and so are his Cabinet members. But in the U.S., there is supposed to be almost no overlap in jobs or activities of the different branches. This separation of powers gives us the “checks and balances” that are unique to the U.S. Constitution. Each branch, to protect its own power, acts to limit expansions in power by the other branches. Our Founders expected the legislative branch, Congress, to be far more powerful than the presidency and the judiciary. Unfortunately, Congress has ceded much of its power to the president and the courts. Since the President appoints justices of the Supreme Court, presidential elections carry more significance than ever before.
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