Explain the most important elements of the separation of powers.
The separation of powers was a concept that emerged through the Founding Fathers in Philadelphia ; known as the second principle. The separation of powers began its life in 1789 with the creation of the U.S Constitution. James Madison ; Clinton Rossiter,ed described the separation of powers: "There can be no liberty where the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person (or) if the power of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers.".
The separation of powers could be argued to be the most important aspect of the U.S Constitution along with Federalism. The three powers are the : Legislature , Executive and judiciary. In theory each power should be equal and were until the introduction of "Legislative supremacy" a decade after the formation of the new constitution , which provides congress with the most power as it controls all money (appropriations) , this acts to intensify the checks made by the other two branches.
The U.S constitution is codified, which means written down in one document ; The Constitution ; an inflexible set of rules and regulations , this could be seen to be an important element contributing to the separation of powers as there is a rigid structure which ensures the three powers remain separated. It has also been said that a certain amount of rivalry exists between the powers, this competition has allowed the separation of powers to function effectively and democratically, proved by its two hundred year existence.
A consequence of having a separation of powers, which in theory could be seen to epitomise democracy is the inevitable "Gridlock" between the powers, especially when one party controls the legislature and the other controls the executive - agreements are difficult to secure. This could lead to stagnation in U.S politics where nothing gets done that means no legislation passed.