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Concept of Checks and Balances: A Real-Life Case

According to Patterson, the division of power into branches is highly important in the prevention of power usurpation, tyranny and totalitarian regimes and for maintenance of the democratic political course in the state (Patterson, 2007, p. 28). The classical concepts of checks and balances were coined by Montesquieu and suggested as a separation of executive, legislative and judicial branches, the first of which execute laws and policies, the second one is responsible for the adoption of relevant laws, whereas the primary goal of the judiciary is checking the appropriateness of the laws to the Constitution or the other major set of laws. The present paper is intended to discuss a real-life case that underlies the importance of power division.

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In the year 2004, George W. Bush was selected by the American citizens as a new President; moreover, Republican representatives received more “seats” in Congress, particularly in the Senate. As the 2004 news article states, “President Bush’s victory in the popular vote, coupled with big gains in the U.S. Senate, may enable the White House to take a more aggressive approach in reshaping the federal courts, including the Supreme Court” (Greenburg, 2004, p.2). Moreover, the new President was entitled in 2004 to propose a candidature of a Supreme Court justice, due to the fact that one of its top leaders had reached the age of 70 by that time. However, the head of the executive branch in fact does not appoint justice but merely nominates them for the Senate-run Confirmation. After choosing the suitable candidates, the President sends this information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which thoroughly scrutinizes their biographies and forwards the results of the analysis to the Senate. Confirmation hearings in Senate imply interviewing the nominee on a wide range of topics, from their qualifications and job experience to their own vision of how to decide law and ensure integrity, objectivity and transparency in the court. Furthermore, the Senate members collegially develop the final verdict by voting for or against the candidate, if the would-be-justice receives the majority of votes, they are entitled to take the position, proposed by the President. However, the 2004 situation shows that the Republican wing managed to seize disproportionately greater power in Senate apart from the fact that George Bush was a Republican President. However, Greenburg’s article suggests that some of Bush’s “protégés” remained unconfirmed because of the Democrats’ rejection. Moreover, beyond some 300 judges, nominated and promoted by the President, hundreds of state Supreme Court, Court of Appeal and Municipal Court justices were chosen directly by the American people in the 2004 elections.

As one can assume the above-described principle of court judge selection and appointment is to great extent consistent with the principle of checks and balances. In particular, President-driven appointments imply the participation of a superior law enforcement agency, the FBI, which reports to and is governed by Congress. Therefore, the President is not likely to influence the process of nominee portfolio examination and the Senate is likely to receive trustworthy and comprehensive information about each prospective judge. The members of the Senate are elected by the population of the corresponding state, so Senators are rather committed to the prosperity, justice and well-being in their territorial unite than to the Republican ideology. As a result, the cooperation between the three bodies which have certain political power ensures a more impartial and objective confirmation procedure. Moreover, the direct participation of the American people in the election of state judges for the courts of various hierarchical levels proves that the nation’s direct will is endorsed, taken into consideration and executed. As one can conclude, the 2004 situation with judge selection proves that the principle of checks and balances was employed in that system and highlighted the necessity of splitting the influence on the appointments so that political and ideological favoritism was avoided.

Reference list

  1. Patterson, T. (2007). The American Democracy. New York: McGraw Hill.
  2. Greenburg, J. (2004). Bush is in a position to reshape the entire federal judiciary. Chicago Tribune, p. A2.

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StudyCorgi. "Concept of Checks and Balances: A Real-Life Case." November 19, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/concept-of-checks-and-balances-a-real-life-case/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Concept of Checks and Balances: A Real-Life Case." November 19, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/concept-of-checks-and-balances-a-real-life-case/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Concept of Checks and Balances: A Real-Life Case'. 19 November.

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