Checks and balances refer to specific powers each branch of the federal government possess to prevent one branch from becoming too powerful – such as the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review over the legislature and executive, the president’s ability to veto Congress’ legislation and Congress’ power to overridden Presidential vetoes. In order to have ‘effective’ government, the government must carry out some core functions such as legislate, provide effective defense, protect civil liberties and ensure state power and. However, as seen in recent years with the growing gridlock and infringement of civil liberties and states’ rights (according to the right), the system of checks and balances has hindered effective government. One of the roles of the federal government is to effectively legislation, however, with increasing polarization and the 113thCongress going down in history as being the most polarized, the system of checks and balances has allowed for consistent gridlock to a point where 2013 was the least productive legislative year since 1948.
It’s the role of legislature to ‘check’ the power of the executive and ensure it does not become too powerful, however, combined with polarization this has led to consistent gridlock over legislation, particularly with regards to immigration reform. The Obama administration set out their aims in 2009 to achieve comprehensive immigration reform, however, legislating this has been hindered in recent years due to a range of congressional powers such as its ability to launch a filibuster and its ‘power of the purse’. This has led to legislation being slow and failing, as seen from the DREAM Act being filibustered to death in 2010 and the Gang of 8 bill being killed off by the House Speaker. However, the existence of checks and balances does not necessarily lead to in effective government or gridlock because if Congress is gridlocked or obstructionist the President is free to initiate executive orders to circumvent Congress as seen by Obama’s one in November 2014which sought to help five million illegal immigrants. However, even in this case constitutional checks remain and they hinder effective government, for instance, Congress has the ‘power of
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