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The Theory Elaborated and Implemented
The doctrine of separation of powers, as implemented in drafting the Constitution, was based on several principles generally held:
the separation of government into three branches, legislative, executive, and judicial; the conception that each branch performs unique and identifiable functions that are appropriate to each; and
the limitation of the personnel of each branch to that branch, so that no one person or group should be able to serve in more than one branch simultaneously.
To a great extent, the Constitution effectuated these principles, but critics objected to what they regarded as a curious intermixture of functions. For example, the veto power of the President over legislation is often argued to be an infringement on the powers of the legislature. Because the President has power to veto he(she) has the ultimate power of legislation.
The most common response to this line of argument is that the veto power is not absolute. In other words, while the President has a right to veto any bill coming from Congress there is an equal right with Congress to override the veto. Thus, the ultimate authority over the creation of law rests with Congress. By default, this "check and balance" allows for the full separation of powers while still providing a means of curtailing an overzealous Congress.
The Theory in Practice Today
One need merely look at the Congressional Record or other government reporting services to see how the theories of Separation of Powers is at work. Simply stated, the powers delegated by the Constitution are steadily at work in Washington and evidence of the "grand plan" for our government is clearly seen each legislative session.
For more information on how Congress operates visit the following sites:
1. United States House of Representatives -- Has roll call votes, weekly calendar, and access to information about bills and resolutions being considered in the Congress.
2. United States Senate -- Has information on bills, votes, members, and committees within the Senate.
3. The White House - features statements and press releases by the President as well as documents, an index of government information, history, and tour information.
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