checks and balances
- Executive - the president
- Legislative - the congress
- Judicial - the court system
- The president, for example, has to get the votes and approval from the congress to pass a bill or law.
- The congress can pass a bill or law; but, the president can veto a law that either the House of Representatives or Senate tries to pass.
- If the legislature doesn't like the way a court interpreted something or doesn't like a "rule" a court created in case law, the legislature can then pass a new law changing the rules (provided they get the support from the president and the legislative branch).
- If a law is passed and someone sues to challenge whether that law is constitutional, the Supreme Court gets to take a look and make sure the law doesn't tread on constitutional rights.
A fundamental principle of American government, guaranteed by the Constitution, whereby each branch of the government (executive, judicial, and legislative) has some measure of influence over the other branches and may choose to block procedures of the other branches. Checks and balances prevent any one branch from accumulating too much power and encourage cooperation between branches as well as comprehensive debate on controversial policy issues. For example, to enact a federal law, the Senate and the House of Representatives must each vote to pass the law. In this sense, each house of Congress can check the other. Furthermore, even if the two houses do agree, the president must sign the law. If he chooses to veto the law, it can still be enacted if two-thirds of the members of both houses vote to override the veto. Under this arrangement, both Congress and the president can check each other. (See also appropriation, impeachment, judicial review, and separation of powers.)
checks and balances - Legal Definition