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How The Constitution Guards Against Tyranny

722 words - 3 pages

James Madison once said,” All men having power ought to be distrusted.” Through these words, Madison made the statement that not all government officials use their authority for good; some abuse that power and use it to gain more for themselves rather than vesting it within the people. This issue may lead to tyranny. Tyranny is when all powers belong to only one person or group. In May of 1787, the Constitutional Convention was held in Philadelphia to draft a better constitution. One of the topics that concerned many was how the constitution would guard against tyranny. Madison and the other delegates wanted a Constitution that would be strong enough to unite the states and the people together without letting there be one person or group gain too much power. They achieved this in several ways. Today, the U.S. Constitution guards against tyranny by including a separation of powers, federalism, and the fair representation of states.
The separation of powers keeps any one branch from gaining too much power by creating 3 separate, distinct branches power can be shared equally among. According to Madison, “Liberty requires that the three great departments of power should be separate and distinct.”(Document B) In other words, to avoid tyranny and achieve liberty, the three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial) must be separate and diverse. The purpose of a separation of powers is to divide the powers of the government so there is not only one central source of power. The three branches must be as distinct as possible to avoid falling into the hands of one individual leader. There are also checks and balances between these three branches. Checks and balances are a system of each branch monitoring another, providing stability for the government. In federalist paper #51, Madison stated, “…the constant aim is to divide and arrange the several offices in such a manner as that they may be a check on the other…(the three branches) should not be so far separated as they have no constitutional control over each other.”(Document C) This means that each branch must be capable of checking each other. For example, the legislative branch can check the power of the president by overriding a...

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