The founding fathers created a system of checks and balances that helped to ensure that no individual group was able to control the United States government. This system is often referred to as a separation of powers. The Constitution outlines the roles of three branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial (U.S. House of Representatives, n.d.). According to Charlie Savage, the executive branch has become strong and influential enough to dominate other types of power (Savage, 2008).
For example, many presidents have argued that they have a constitutional power to ignore some Acts of Congress (Savage, 2008). Many academics claim that the executive branch of government is vastly more influential today than it was meant to be (Posner, 2012). They argue that judicial and legislative branches have stayed almost the same as they were at the founding. In courts’ opinion, however, it is the legislative branch that encroaches on the presidency, not vice versa (Posner, 2012). This paper will provide a brief discussion of the ways to achieve a greater balance of power among the three branches of the federal government.
Compromise and Cooperation
The nature of the compromise between two parties dictates that both of them should relinquish some of their goals so that the final solution represents a transformed position of each party but nonetheless it is something that two sides can agree on (College Board, 2008). Usually, it takes a significant amount of time to reach a compromise.
The powers of Congress and the presidency have been apportioned in such a manner that one branch would not be able to dominate over the other (College Board, 2008). Congress is responsible for controlling the budget so if the president wishes to achieve any goals he or she has to reach a compromise with it (College Board, 2008). On the contrary, as ahead of the executive branch of government, the president can veto any legislation. Therefore, both Congress and the president have to work together in order to balance each other’s powers and achieve their respective goals (College Board, 2008).
Presidential signing statements
A presidential signing statement is an official pronouncement issued during the signing of a bill along with the comments that are being used to interpret the statutory language of the law (Kelley, 2006). The unitary executive model of presidential power allows the president to sign a bill and disregard various parts of it.
This means that the president can ignore the legislative branch of government and interpret the law enacted by Congress according to his vision. Congress can counterbalance the executive branch supervised by the president by limiting his or her power to announce presidential signing statements (Kelley, 2006). The Supreme Court can hold a hearing on the subject and rule the issuance of such statements unconstitutional.
War Powers Resolution
The power struggle between the President and Congress has shifted substantially over the past decades. Now the president is able to deploy troops and to start protracted conflicts anywhere on the globe under the protection of the commander in chief clause (Grimmett, 2004). Substantial progress in restoring the balance of branches of power was made in 1973 with the issuance of the War Powers Resolution that required the president to obtain an authorization from Congress for the engagement into a military conflict (Grimmett, 2004).
However, in their struggle over power, many US presidents were able to bypass the law and use force overseas. All post-Vietnam presidents claimed that the War Powers Resolution is unconstitutional and while they mostly complied with it, they, nevertheless, were able to initiate small-scale military interventions in the different regions of the world. Supreme Court has to adjudicate the constitutionality of the law and encourage the vetoing of presidential actions by congressional decision (Grimmett, 2004).
College Board. (2008). AP Government and Politics: United States. Balance of Power Between Congress and the President.
Grimmett, R. (2004). The War Powers Resolution After Thirty Years.
Kelley, C. (2006). Executing the Constitution. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Posner, E. (2012). Balance-of-Powers Arguments and the Structural Constitution.
Savage, C. (2008). Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy. New York, NY: Back Bay Books.
U.S. House of Representatives. (n.d.)