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Peter Berkowitz On The Prevention Of Abuses Of Power

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A well-designed constitution protects individual freedoms by preventing the abuse of power by the government. Each branch of government acts to check and balance the other branches of government. The real protection of our freedoms is the prevention of abuses of power through the wise structure of the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary.

This video’s audio is excerpted from Peter Berkowitz’s 2017 Hoover Institution Summer Policy Boot Camp lecture. 

The Hoover Institution’s Summer Policy Boot Camp an intensive, one-week residential immersion program in the essentials of today’s national and international United States policy for upperclassmen and recent graduates. To learn more, click here.

Additional Resources

  • Read Constitutional Conservatism: Liberty, Self-Government, and Political Moderationby Peter Berkowitz, available here.
  • Listen as Peter Berkowitz discusses the constitutional safeguards that help protect the United States from bad governance, regardless of who holds office, available here.
  • Read Renewing the American Constitutional Tradition, edited by Peter Berkowitz, available for free on Scribd here.
  • Read “Confronting the Administrative Power Grab” by Peter Berkowitz, available here.
View Transcript

Justice Scalia said if you were exiled by some terrible misfortune what he would look for in the first place is a well-designed Constitution. 

He’d looked for the structure of the Constitution, the relationship between the various offices, the branches of government. He would look for separation of powers and checks and balances, and the bicameral legislature, and the unitary executive, and an independent judiciary, and federalism, and an extended republic.

This is not to say that he would look for an exact image of the American Constitution. It is to say here Justice Scalia, as you probably realize, is echoing Alexander Hamilton’s observations in Federalist No. 84.

The real protection of our freedoms is the prevention of abuses of power through the wise structure of the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary.