Checks and Balances

Checks and balances refers to a system of government in which power is divided between different branches, or parts, of the government. The idea is that the branches will then be able to check and balance each other so that no part of government can become too powerful. The framers of the United States Constitution, for example, all too aware of the threats posed by concentrated power in the monarchy from which they came, chose to divide authority among three independent branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial. The checks and balances built into the U.S. system of government, the Supreme Court has said, “serve not only to make Government accountable but also to secure individual liberty.” Boumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. 723, 742 (2008).