powers, separation of


powers, separation of

      division of the legislative, executive, and judicial (judiciary) functions of government among separate and independent bodies. Such a separation, it has been argued, limits the possibility of arbitrary excesses by government, since the sanction of all three branches is required for the making, executing, and administering of laws.

      The doctrine may be traced to ancient and medieval theories of mixed government, which argued that the processes of government should involve the different elements in society such as monarchic, aristocratic, and democratic interests. The first modern formulation of the doctrine was that of the French writer Montesquieu (Montesquieu, Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de) in De l'esprit des lois (1748), although the English philosopher John Locke had earlier argued that legislative power should be divided between king and Parliament.

      Montesquieu's argument that liberty is most effectively safeguarded by the separation of powers was inspired by the English constitution, although his interpretation of English political realities has since been disputed. His work was widely influential, most notably in America, where it profoundly influenced the framing of the Constitution. The U.S. Constitution (Constitution of the United States of America) further precluded the concentration of political power by providing staggered terms of office in the key governmental bodies.

      Modern constitutional systems show a great variety of arrangements of the legislative, executive, and judicial processes, and the doctrine has consequently lost much of its rigidity and dogmatic purity. In the 20th century, and especially since World War II, governmental involvement in numerous aspects of social and economic life has resulted in an enlargement of the scope of executive power. Some who fear the consequences of this for individual liberty have favoured establishing means of appeal against executive and administrative decisions (for example, through an ombudsman), rather than attempting to reassert the doctrine of the separation of powers.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • separation of powers — 1: the constitutional allocation of the legislative, executive, and judicial powers among the three branches of government 2: the doctrine under which the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government are not to infringe upon each… …   Law dictionary

  • separation — sep·a·ra·tion /ˌse pə rā shən/ n 1: cessation of cohabitation between a married couple by mutual agreement with intent that it be permanent; also: legal separation compare divorce ◇ In some cases in which the estrangement is extreme, a separation …   Law dictionary

  • Separation of powers under the United States Constitution — This article refers to the separation of powers specifically in the United States. For the article on the theory of separation of powers, see: Separation of Powers Separation of powers is a political doctrine under which the executive,… …   Wikipedia

  • SEPARATION OF POWERS — SEPARATION OF POWERS, a fundamental principle of Public Law, which seeks to distinguish between the roles and powers of a number of different public authorities operating in tandem, such as the legislative, executive, and judicial authorities. On …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Powers of the President of the United States — Powers of State= Because the United States is a presidential system, the President fulfils the roles of both chief of state and head of government. As chief of state, the President of the United States represents the nation at home and abroad. In …   Wikipedia

  • Powers — might refer to:People;Surname * Ed Powers, director * Gary Powers, pilot * Hiram Powers (1805 1873), American sculptor * J. F. Powers, writer * John A. Powers, USAF Lt. Col., NASA Mercury Mission Control * John R. Powers, writer * Johnny Powers,… …   Wikipedia

  • Separation of duties — (SoD) is the concept of having more than one person required to complete a task. It is alternatively called segregation of duties or, in the political realm, separation of powers.General descriptionSeparation of duties is one of the key concepts… …   Wikipedia

  • separation — early 15c., from O.Fr. separation, from L. separationem (nom. separatio) noun of action from pp. stem of separare (see SEPARATE (Cf. separate)). Specific sense of sundering of a married couple is attested from c.1600. Separation of powers first… …   Etymology dictionary

  • separation of powers — separation of authority, distribution of power, basic democratic principle in which every government department has independent authority and curbs the power of other departments …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Separation of powers — Balance of powers redirects here. For other uses, see Balance of power. The separation of powers, often imprecisely used interchangeably with the trias politica principle,[1] is a model for the governance of a state. The model was first developed …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.