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Social Studies help for American History, Economics and AP Government. There are class notes, numerous Supreme Court case summaries and information on how to write a research paper inside.


Despite the system of federalism created by the framers, there were still those that feared the power of the national (now called federal) government. Remembering the lessons taught by the Baron de Montesquieau, they utilized a system of separation of powers to break up the power of the federal government. Within the system is what is called checks and balances. Each branch of the government has the power to check and balance another. This ensures that no one branch ever gains too much power.

I. Separation of Powers

A. Separation of Powers - The separation of the power of government into different parts.

1. Executive Branch - Carries out the law, sign a bill into law, sign treaties, make appointments,

  • The President and the agencies and departments.

2. Legislative Branch - Makes the law, ratify treaties and appointments.

  • Congress - House of Representatives and the Senate

3. Judicial Branch - Judges the law, declare a law unconstitutional.

  • The federal court system and Supreme Court

B. Checks and Balances - The system by which each branch of government is given power over other branches.

1. Congress can:

  • Refuse to pass a bill.
  • Override a veto
  • Refuse to ratify a treaty or Presidential appointment.
  • Impeach a Judge or President.

2. The President can:

  • Veto a law
  • Refuse to comply or enforce a law

3. Judicial Branch can:

  • Declare a law unconstitutional
  • Has a lifetime tenure of office

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