This essay will cover Mr. W. Cleon Skousen’s seventeenth principle as outlined in his book, The 5, 000 Year Leap: A Miracle that Changed the World ( pp. 205- 215). While James Madison and the other framers of the Constitution agreed that the powers of the government should be divided three ways ( Executive, Legislative and Judicial), they also intended that each division should have a system of checks and balances put in place to curb the powers of the other two divisions ( pp. 205- 07).
These limitations that each branch of government would impose on the other two branches would function as a guarantee that no one branch would be able to interfere with the proper functions of the other two branches. When the system of checks and balances are actively enforced, this will mean that each branch will be able to perform its specified function while leaving the other two branches free to do toe same. When checks and balances are not actively enforced, then the chain of command is disrupted and the effectiveness of all three branches are weakened ( pp. 207- 08).
The failure of our government in recent years to respect the checks and balances provided by the Constitution has seen the steady erosion of not only the functions of government, but also the confidence of the people in that government ( which is actually meant to answer to them). We see the President pass ” Executive Orders” and the Judiciary bypassing Congress altogether in their eagerness to legislate their own laws, thus rendering Congress ( our supposed ” Legislative” Branch) to be little more than puppets of the Executive and Judicial branches, with little say of their own ( 210).
Ultimately, all power is derived from the consent of the people, which is why we send elected officials to Washington, D. C. in the first place. The House of Representatives and the United States Senate serve as the representatives of the people who elected them to their offices and they check each other in the introduction and ratification of laws. The Executive and the Legislature supposedly check each other with built in checks that prevent undue interference of one branch into the other ( pp. 211- 12).
The Supreme Court, our Judiciary Branch, has its own system of checks and balances put in place. I would call it the not inconsiderable ” power of review,” to method through which they determine whether or not the laws they are being asked to confirm are actually in accord with the Constitution or not. The Judiciary itself is checked by the Congressional right to remove from office those Justices suspected of abusing their powers and the right to limit the extent of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. The President, on his part, may appoint certain qualified Justices to the Supreme Court ( 212- 13).
When the government realizes that its checks and balances have been neglected, there is a provision in the United States Constitution for a peaceful transfer of power to those who would be more diligent in protecting our constitutional government from violations that grow ever more flagrant the longer that damaging issues remain unaddressed. President Nixon was impeached and his cronies charged and in many instances imprisoned because they violated their mandates and sought power that was beyond their Constitutional scope ( 214- 15).
To conclude, it’s rather obvious that the government we have now is in serious need of reexamination and overhaul. The decline began during the Clinton administration and has continued at an accelerating pace since. The Constitution of the United States of America is still the Supreme Law of the Land and in that rests our hope for federal reformation and renewal.