United States Supreme Court
United States Supreme Court

The US Capitol, serves as the seat of government for Congress
The US Capitol, serves as the seat of government for Congress


This page explores the concept of separation of powers in American government.

rotating gif.gifFor more information on checks and balances among the branches of the government, see United States History I.15.

external image 200px-Government_icon.svg.pngSee also United States Government 3.3.

primary_sources.PNGTeaching with Documents: Constitutional Issues/Separation of Powers


the_White_House.jpg
The White House, residence of the President



Political_System_of_the_United_States.svg.png
Political Structure of the United States


It was agreed upon that separated powers were needed because many felt that the root to tyranny was concentrated power.

Below are the articles of the Constitution that imply separated powers:
Article 1, Section 1:
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Article 2, Section 1:
The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

Article 3, Section 1:
The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

Last speech on Impeachment of Andrew Johnson
Last speech on Impeachment of Andrew Johnson

Want an inside look at life in each branch? Click for a day in the life of a Congressman, President, and Supreme Court Justice.

Click here for an ehow article that describes the powers each branch has.

Go here for information on the Presidential Impeachment Process from the U. S. House of Representatives.

Floor proceedings, Senate, impeachment trial of Bill Clinton, 1999.
Floor proceedings, Senate, impeachment trial of Bill Clinton, 1999.


Click here for an article on separation of powers.

Click here for five short videos on the separation of powers.

Multimedia.pngClick here for the Schoolhouse Rock song "Three Ring Government"



Multimedia.pngClick here for a "People on the Street" segment asking people what they believe power is and here for one specifically on the power of the President.

Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu

game_icon.svg.pngClick here for a game on separated powers from iCivics.

game_icon.svg.pngClick here for a game on the branches of power from PBS.

game_icon.svg.png Here is another game on the separation of powers.

lessonplan.jpgClick here for a lesson plan on separated powers. Ideally, the lesson plan goes along with the National Constitutional Center's show, Separation of Powers, but the lesson can be completed without it.

See also Montesquieu, Separation of Powers, Influence on US Government.