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Definition Of:

checks and balances

Bible DictionaryDictionary of Political Economy
A fundamental principle undergirding the design of American government is that of the separation of powers, which prescribes the parcelling out of the various powers and functions of government to separate and relatively independent levels and branches of the federal system in order to prevent their all being controlled at the same time by any potentially tyrannical political faction. But, to the way of thinking of the Framers of the Constitution, the long-term survival of free popular government would require more than simply a purely formalistic separation of governmental functions and powers into completely independent organizational jurisdictions. Ambitious and unscrupulous office holders in one or another of the various branches and levels of government could be expected to encroach upon the powers and authority of the other branches and levels from time to time, and this would gradually bring about a tyrranical concentration of powers unless the leaders in the other parts of the government could be given the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist the encroachments of the others. "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man [the officeholder] must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place." From this the Framers concluded there was a need for the Constitution to include a built-in set of "checks and balances" -- the necessary legal weaponry for each branch to defend itself against encroachments on its independence and authority by the others. In most cases, this contervailing power is purely negative, usually taking the form of some special constitutional grant of authority for one branch to say "no" to at least some of the specific decisions of the other branches in their own fields of specialization and then make it stick. (Some examples: The two houses of Congress may finally agree on a compromise to pass or repeal a law, but the President can veto it. President and Congress can agree on passing a law, but if the federal judiciary declares it to be unconstitutional the courts will refuse to treat the law as valid or enforceable. The courts can issue orders and injunctions for particular individuals to act or refrain from acting in particular ways, including public officials, but the power of the law enforcement agencies in the executive branch is needed to enforce them if the individuals in question decide to disobey. The Congress cannot control the way a judge will rule in a particular case before him, but Congress has the power to define and redefine the jurisdiction of the various federal courts. The President has general supervision of the conduct of foreign policy and military policy, but his treaties must be ratified by the Senate before they enter into force, and only Congress can appropriate public money to pay for such things as the raising of an army or the dispensing of foreign aid.) More...
Bible DictionaryDictionary of National Standards for Civics and Government
Constitutional mechanisms that authorize each branch of government to share powers with the other branches and thereby check their activities. For example, the president may veto legislation passed by Congress, the Senate must confirm major executive appointments, and the courts may declare acts of Congress unconstitutional.
See also: FASB , BOA , Jambes , LEGITIMACY , quadrelle

 

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AAGRA
AAR
ABOLFAZL SHADVAR
ABSOLUTE POVERTY
ACCRUED INTEREST
ACHIEVED STATUS
ACID RAIN
ACUTE DISEASE
ADAPTATION
ADJUSTED GROSS ...AERO
AFFIRMATIVE ACT...
AG
AGE GRADES
AGE STRUCTURE
AGEISM
AGENCIES OF SOC...AGRA
AGRARIAN SOCIET...AGRIBUSINESS
AIDS (Acquired ...
AIR POLLUTION
ALAA
ALIENATION
ANDROGYNY
ANIMISM
ANOMIA
ANOMIE
ANOMIE THEORY
ANTHROPOLOGY
APARTHEID
APEC
APG
APPROPRIATE TEC...ARMS RACE
ARMS TRADE
ARRANGED MARRIA...ASCRIBED STATUS
ASSET PROTECTIO...
ASSETS
ASSIMILATION
AUTHORITARIAN P...
AUTHORITY
AUTOCRATIC RULE
AUTOMATION
Abatement
Abbey
Abbot
Ability-to-Pay ...Ablutophobia
Absolute Advant...
Absolute advant...Abundance
Acarophobia
Accelerator
Acceptance
Acceptance-reje...
Accolade
Accoutrement
Acerophobia
Acheronophobia
Achluophobia
Acid Rain
Acousticophobia
Acquired Endowm...Acquittal
Acre
Acrophobia
Act of Parliame...
Acting Speaker
Active Alumni M...Adaptive Expect...
Additive
Address in Repl...Administrator o...
Admiral
Adoubement
Advance estimate
Adventurous Shi...Adverse Selecti...Aeroacrophobia
Aeronausiphobia
Aerophobia
Affection
Agency problem
Agency problem ...Agency problem ...
Aggregate Deman...Aggregate Expen...Aggregate Suppl...
Aggregate demand
Aggregate supply
Aggression
Agincourt, Batt...Agliophobia
Agoraphobia
Agraphobia
Agrizoophobia
Agyrophobia

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