Essay: Concise Analysis of The Relationship between Democracy and the Constitution

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[. . .] Such a back-and-forth arrangementaims at restraining government, and preventing one entity from exerting domination over others. This concept was born directly from the founding fathers' fear that a democratic system could lead to the creation of a dictatorial majority.

The US balances and checks system has been efficient throughout the US history. Major clashes due to appointment rejections or veto overriding have seldom been witnessed. This system intended to balance the three governmental branches. Despite occasions wherein one branch appeared to have acquired preeminence, the three have, on the whole, attained an effective balance. No single branch holds absolute governmental authority (Frost & Lindquist, 2010; Mount, 2010).

Unelected Courts

The courts of a few democracies are run by elected individuals. But the American Constitution requires Supreme Court justice appointments by the nation's president and appointment confirmation by the Upper House. This is particularly important as the President and Senate constitute the least democratic American government branches, owing to neither having been originally established to be voted for directly by citizens. Mistrust of democracy led to the policy of court oversight of these branches (Mount, 2010). According to the Founders, excessive popular force on courts would lead to ineffective decision-making by judges when meting out justice. Hence, justices were shielded from popular interest as it was believed to hamper unbiased, impartial justice.

The Constitution and American Democracy

The US constitution incorporates a "Separation of Powers" concept wherein different governmental branches are instituted, with power-sharing required of them. Concurrently, one governmental branch can challenge another's powers, which is basically what the balances and checks system implies. The US Constitution has created three governmental branches (Frost & Lindquist, 2010), namely, the Legislature which is the law-making branch, the Executive which is the law-implementing branch and the Judiciary, which is the law interpreter. All branches influence one another.

The American Constitution has been purposefully made inefficient. The constitution framers''Separation of Powers' idea is chiefly aimed at ensuring the majority would never be able to rule oppressively. Drawing from their individual experiences, the constitution framers refused to accord undue authority to any particular governmental branch. The policy of power separation gave rise to a power-sharing system labeled as balances and checks (Prakash, 2009). As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the Constitution created three governmental branches for America: the Senate and House of Representatives made up the Legislature; the President, Departments and Vice-President made up the Executive; and the Supreme Court and federal courts made up the Judiciary. Individual branches have specific, though individually-limited, powers (i.e., another governmental branch is authorized to keep individual powers in check). For instance, while the President is tasked with appointing department secretaries and judges, the Senate has to approve these appointments. While the Congress makes laws, the President has the authority to veto those laws (Frost & Lindquist, 2010). While the Supreme Court is allowed to rule laws as unconstitutional, the States and the Congress have constitutional amendment authority. But all the above balances and checks prove to be inefficient, not accidentally of course, but deliberately. By ensuring accountability of the different governmental branches to others, the founders ensured no single branch would be able to usurp sufficient power and dominate over the nation.


Calabresi, Steven G. (2008). "The Great Divorce: The Current Understanding of Separation of Powers and the Original Meaning of the Incompatibility Clause." University of Pennsylvania Law Review. 157: 134 -- 137.

Frost, A., & Lindquist, S. A. (2010). Countering the majoritarian difficulty. Virginia Law Review, 719-797.

Mount, S. (2010). Constitutional topic: due process. Retrieved February 17, 2017 from

Prakash, Saikrishna Bangalore (2009). "Why the Incompatibility Clause Applies to the Office of President." Duke Journal of Constitutional Law & Public Policy. 4: 143 -- 151.

Rakove, J.N. (1997). Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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