Separation of Powers
Governmental powers are separated for several reasons. This entry analyzes the notion and its rationale, discusses the concept of mixed government, assesses the influence of Montesquieu, reviews the American experience, and shows how the separation of powers is actually implemented. Nations may decide that it is necessary to separate functions that are considered unique and exclusive in nature, such as the legislative, executive, and judicial powers. Another motivation is to divide the functions of government to ensure that no one body can accumulate sufficient power to violate the individual rights and liberties of citizens. The first reason is analytical and based largely on experience and practicality. The second is more theoretical and value laden, especially because it involves making judgments about the human tendency to abuse power. To check that inclination, powers are kept separate. The U.S. system of separation of powers draws from both sources. The concept of separation ...