Limiting Presidential Power: A Return to Constitutional Balance
Published September 21, 2021
The Constitution includes checks and balances in order to protect individual rights. But since the middle of the 20th century the executive branch has grown in power, creating political and legal instability that threatens our future prosperity and undermines the rule of law. We must restore the checks and balances that are essential for protecting our individual liberties.
- How has the executive branch grown its power since the middle of the 20th century?
- Why is it important to have checks and balances within our government?
The framers of the Constitution built in checks and balances to protect individual rights from being violated by a tyranny of the majority.
They divided federal authority across three branches to limit each branch’s ability to abuse its power. Congress was created to be the deliberative, law-making body. The executive was to be the enforcer of laws. And the judiciary would resolve constitutional issues.
Since the middle of the twentieth century, however, the executive branch has grown in power relative to Congress and the Supreme Court.
Presidents now frequently use executive orders, rather than legislation, to quickly carry out large policy goals.
Executive orders and regulations issued in one administration are quickly repealed by the next. And political parties have fewer reasons to compromise when they believe that the only way to govern is to win the presidency and act unilaterally. The result is political and legal instability that threatens our future prosperity and undermines the rule of law.
Returning each branch to its Constitutional purpose would restore the checks and balances that are essential for protecting our individual liberties and promoting more responsible governance by both political parties.