That is simple but complex for both Congress and the Courts have abdicated their jurisdiction and responsibility so frequently and the President usurped their powers to the point that we have in many respects our system has been virtually dismantled. Even when the SCOTUS rules against this administration, this president has chosen to ignore them for the most part and has frequently thumbed his nose at Congress badgering, bullying and manipulating them so they are impotent figureheads more than legislators.
The founding fathers were deliberate and clear in their desire to prevent any branch of government from being too powerful. The three branches devised by the Constitution are: The Legislative (House of Representatives & Senate). The Senators were originally appointed by State Legislatures but have since become elected by statewide popular vote. The Executive (President, Vice President, & Departments under their authority and oversight). The Judicial (SCOTUS and federal courts). Each has enumerated powers, responsibilities and limitations and each branch was designed to provide a check and balance to the others.
The Executive: Was given veto power over all bills; appointment of judges; can make treaties; ensure laws are carried out; commander in chief of the military and has the power of pardon. The Legislative: Was given power to pass all legislation; establish all lower federal courts; override a presidential veto; impeach a president. The Judicial: Was given the power to try federal cases and interpret the laws of the nation in those cases; the power to declare any law or executive act unconstitutional. These all have specific guidelines and those lines have be so blurred through the years they hardly exist and each branch tramples on the authority of the other but none more so than the Executive under this current administration.
Separation of Powers was not a totally new concept devised by our founding fathers but has existed at least as far as ancient Greece. Aristotle called for a mixed government made up of the monarchy, aristocracy and democracy for he felt that none were ideal in and of themselves. John Locke presented his idea in his 1690 “Civil Government” treatise and separated powers between executive and legislative. Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brede et de Montesquieu or Montesquieu expanded on Locke’s formula and included a judiciary to the mix. The framers took all those ideas and melted them into what became the American Constitution with a few twists and tweaks.
If we look at some of the examples of other national governments and their separation of powers we view the British and their Parliamentary system where there are two houses of the legislature (House of Lords and House of Commons). Although, this is possibly changing with regard to the House of Lords it basically affords the House of Lords the judicial responsibility where they are the final appeal but have almost no authority legislatively. The House of Lords can delay legislation but cannot veto it. The House of Commons or Members of Parliament are elected representatives of the various districts. The majority party makes all the laws and the minority frequently has little voice. The Prime Minister the nearest to the American President is a Member of Parliament chosen by the majority. The judiciary has no power to review legislation as does the U.S. Supreme Court.
The French example reveals the President is elected for a five year term and can dissolve Parliament and call for new elections. He appoints the Prime Minister. The President and PM head the executive branch. The President does not have veto power over legislation but can ask Parliament to reconsider. There are two houses of Parliament and a Constitutional Council made up of nine members but with only a fraction of the SCOTUS. The Canadian example is very similar to the British system and until 1982 Canada did not have power over its own constitution. The judiciary is far more powerful in Canada than Britain or France and their judiciary has nine members that serve for life or until age 75. Then we turn south to Mexico and it is so convoluted that I dare not go into it. There are numerous similarities and significant differences in each.
I read a discussion asking the question, “Is the United States system superior?” The conclusion was depending on who you ask. The article suggested that the French and British would scoff at the American head of state would have no power to make laws but would shudder to think of judges determining that the expressed will of the people is null and void calling it unconstitutional. The Canadians would probably feel that all state powers should be fully detailed and enumerated and the Mexicans would likely be surprised at the longevity of American politicians. Americans, on the other hand, are often amused by a monarchy and its figurehead control and even theoretical hold on Canada. Americans express concern over the French Presidency having tyrannical emergency powers.
That being said, our framers designed a system in which the three branches of government were to provide legitimate checks and balances thus preserving the constitution and Republic with the ultimate power being WE THE PEOPLE. Today, none of the three consider WE THE PEOPLE of any particular consequence and treat us as pawns rather than overseers. Thus, a reason for WE THE PEOPLE to be resurrected in our involvement and reclaim our constitutional authority as owners of the federal government. If we do not virtually or literally clean house in Washington this can never become a reality.
God bless you and God bless America.