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| |-+  U.S. General Discussion (Moderators: True Federalist, Former Moderate, Badger)
| | |-+  Which branch of government is most powerful?
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Question: What is the current hierarchy of the 3 branches of government (from most powerful to least powerful)?
Executive, Judicial, Legislative   -2 (7.7%)
Executive, Legislative, Judicial   -3 (11.5%)
Judicial, Executive, Legislative   -4 (15.4%)
Judicial, Legislative, Executive   -2 (7.7%)
Legislative, Executive, Judicial   -4 (15.4%)
Legislative, Judicial, Executive   -0 (0%)
Executive, other two about equal   -3 (11.5%)
Judicial, other two about equal   -1 (3.8%)
Legislative, other two about equal   -0 (0%)
other two about equal, Executive   -0 (0%)
other two about equal, Judicial   -2 (7.7%)
other two about equal, Legislative   -1 (3.8%)
all about equal   -4 (15.4%)
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Total Voters: 26

Author Topic: Which branch of government is most powerful?  (Read 3615 times)
Jim Valvano
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« on: January 04, 2006, 04:39:06 pm »
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The founding fathers designed a system of checks and balances to insure that the 3 branches would be about equal. Sadly, all three branches have gone beyond these checks and balances to try to establish domination over the other two. I'm curious as to what the forum believes is the current hierarchy of power among the 3 branches and why.
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bgwah
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« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2006, 04:42:31 pm »
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I think Congress (legislative) is the most poweful, although they can't always get stuff done.
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riceowl
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« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2006, 04:44:03 pm »
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i think Legislative and executive are about equal, then the judiciary (barely)...

They're really all pretty close, actually.  But since I think the J is a LITTLE weaker, I'll pick that option.
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A18
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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2006, 05:02:32 pm »
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Legislative is the most powerful, but the president is more powerful than a member of Congress.
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MODU
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« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2006, 05:09:58 pm »
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Legislative is the most powerful, but the president is more powerful than a member of Congress.

I'm close in agreement.  Generally, the Legislative has more outward power, but the executive has more influential power to guide the Legislative.  The Judicial has never really been a constant powerhouse (which it really shouldn't be), but has it's moment in time where it exerts their power over the other two branches.
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Dave from Michigan
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« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2006, 05:11:09 pm »
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legislative, but the supreme court can also  be very powerful
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« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2006, 05:11:18 pm »
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No, I just mean the president is the most powerful figure in government, not because the executive branch is the most powerful, but because it's the only branch vested entirely in one person.
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Judäischen Volksfront
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« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2006, 05:15:19 pm »
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In Canada and other Westminster governments the legislature reigns supreme, while the executive hardly exists independently. The court system is a bit too activist for my tastes.x
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David S
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« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2006, 05:31:31 pm »
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If you include the presidents ability to manipulate congress then I say the executive.
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Emsworth
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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2006, 05:34:43 pm »
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Theoretically, Congress has more power than any other branch. If we look at the system of checks and balances, we will find that the final check is always held by Congress. The President may veto a bill, but Congress may override the veto. The Supreme Court may declare a bill unconstitutional, but Congress may change the Court's jurisdiction and prevent a bill from being subject to judicial review. Congress can remove a President or a Supreme Court Justice, but neither the President nor the Supreme Court can remove a member of Congress.  In all of these cases, Congress has the final word (although a two-thirds majority is sometimes needed).

In practice, matters have been a little more complicated. As a result of political considerations, Congress has not necessarily always been the most influential branch of government.

During the earliest part of the nation's history, Congress was certainly the most important branch of government, but it was not completely dominant. Presidents such as Washington and Jefferson maintained a fair degree of influence. This was, in my opinion, a result of circumstances (men like Washington were greatly respected), not a result of the powers of their office. The early Presidents used their veto very sparingly.

Andrew Jackson and John Tyler increased the practical extent of executive power, as they were more willing to veto bills than many of their predecessors. However, most of Jackson's successors were not very strong leaders. Between Jackson and Lincoln, not a single President was elected to more than one term. The weak personalities of these Presidents lead to a crescendo in the power of Congress.

Lincoln, as we all know, briefly stopped this trend, but it continued unabated after his death. Under Andrew Johnson, for example, Congress became imperial and dictatorial. All power was concentrated on Capitol Hill during much of the latter nineteenth century. The Republican Presidents of this era were little more than servile, obedient dogs. Grover Cleveland, however, did try to restore the dignity of the White House. He actually stood up to the legislative branch, vetoing over 500 bills.

The twentieth century saw an end to congressional hegemony. Under Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, presidential influence grew significantly. Of course, these Presidents were not always able to bend congressional will; note the failure of Wilson's League of Nations and of the second Roosevelt's court packing plan. On the whole, however, it is obvious that the Presidents of the first half of the twentieth century were much stronger than their late nineteenth century counterparts.

Since FDR's time, a balance has been maintained between the legislative and executive branches, the former being slightly stronger. In recent years, congressional influence has slightly increased. The President's powers, for example, have been curtailed by the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act and the War Powers Resolution.

At every point in American history, the judiciary remained the weakest branch of the federal government. There is no time at which they have risen from their number 3 slot. They have, no doubt, become more active in the past fifty years, but on the whole they remain significantly less powerful than the other two coordinate branches.
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Gustaf
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« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2006, 07:36:01 pm »
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Depends on the definition, but considering the fact that the judicial overrides and can't be tossed out in an election, I say that. Then legislative, seeing as how they can override presidential vetoes and, once again, are harder to get rid of.

I'm basically thinking that a president is gone after max eight years, a congressional majority often stays for at least a decade while a SCJ lasts for life.
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« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2006, 03:44:21 am »
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Executive, in of itself.
Judicial, when it needs to be.
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Brandon H
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« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2006, 03:40:02 pm »
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The Judicial is suppose to be the weakest of the three, but since the Legislative and Executive Branches do not uphold their part of checks and balances, they have in effect made the Judicial Branch the strongest.
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