A Journal for Western Man

 

The Ideas of America's Founders:

The Separation of Powers

G. Stolyarov II

Issue CVII - June 19, 2007

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Principal Index

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Old Superstructure

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Old Master Index

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Contributors

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The Rational Business Journal

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Forum

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Yahoo! Group

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Gallery of Rational Art

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Online Store

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Henry Ford Award

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Johannes Gutenberg Award

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CMFF: Fight Death

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Eden against the Colossus

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A Rational Cosmology

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Implied Consent

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Links

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Mr. Stolyarov's Articles on Helium.com

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Mr. Stolyarov's Articles on Associated Content

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Mr. Stolyarov's Articles on GrasstopsUSA.com

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Submit/Contact

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Statement of Policy

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            In Federalist 47, Publius recognizes that “no political truth is of greater intrinsic value than the separation of powers” and defines as tyranny the accumulation of all power—executive, legislative, and judicial—in the same hands. While separating each branch entirely from every other is impracticable, a just government does achieve a separation of powers wherein the whole power of one department is not in the same hands as those which exercise the whole power of another.

            Publius was particularly concerned about legislative encroachments on the other two departments; its constitutional powers are more extensive and less susceptible to precise limits, and its representatives have greater proximity to and popularity with the people (Federalist 48). The Constitution uses means such as the executive veto and the independent judiciary to keep the legislative within its proper bounds.  

            In Federalist 51, Publius discusses the importance of “so contriving the interior structure of government that its constituent parts may, by their mutual relation, be the means of keeping each other in their proper places.” This separation of powers can be achieved by giving each department “a will of its own” and preventing other branches from having an influence on the appointments in any given branch; however, some exceptions need to be granted—as in the case of the judiciary, where peculiar qualifications render direct derivation of judges from the people impractical. The separation of powers can be secured by keeping the emoluments, salaries, and benefits of each office separate from the influence of the other branches of government.

            The great security, however, consists of giving each department the constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments by the others; the Constitution so structures the government as to “set ambition against ambition” and thus prevent any one branch of government from usurping the functions of the others. Disregarding this constitutional form lets loose all the threats to liberty from ambition that the Constitution was intended to contain and re-direct toward checking the government.

            To maintain the separation of powers in practice, Publius advises against too frequent a recourse to the people themselves or too frequent alterations to the Constitution. In Federalist 49, Publius rejects Jefferson’s proposal for regular recurrence to constitutional conventions; the resulting frequent changes to the fundamental structure of government would cause the people to lose the reverence and veneration on which lasting governments must be founded; reason alone can only support a government in a nation of philosophers, and Publius recognizes the importance of veneration in assisting a just government. Furthermore, Publius perceives the danger of the people’s passions, rather than their reason deciding how the government structure should be altered if constitutional conventions were too frequently resorted to.

G. Stolyarov II is a science fiction novelist, independent philosophical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician, composer, contributor to Enter Stage Right, Le Quebecois Libre,  Rebirth of Reason, and the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Senior Writer for The Liberal Institute, weekly columnist for GrasstopsUSA.com, and Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator, a magazine championing the principles of reason, rights, and progress. Mr. Stolyarov also publishes his articles on Helium.com and Associated Content to assist the spread of rational ideas. His newest science fiction novel is Eden against the Colossus. His latest non-fiction treatise is A Rational Cosmology. His most recent play is Implied Consent. Mr. Stolyarov can be contacted at gennadystolyarovii@yahoo.com.

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.

Click here to return to TRA's Issue CVII Index.

Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here..

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new four-act play, Implied Consent, a futuristic intellectual drama on the sanctity of human life, here.