Checks and Balances Assignment (Mandatory)
As discussed in the course syllabus, this semester we have an essay assignment worth 10% of the final
course grade. This essay assignment, as outlined below, is due via email by 11:59 PM on Sunday,
4/26/2020. For full credit on this essay assignment submit a typed essay that addresses the following,
emailed to me by the due date, complete with a works cited/references page.
We spent two weeks discussing the Constitution of the United States of America – it’s origins, its content,
and some of its economic interpretations and consequences. An important role of the Constitution is that
it defines and limits the authorities and relationships between the federal government, the state
governments, and individuals. In doing so, it establishes some of the important “rules of the game” that
govern our economy. Two features, the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances, are
designed to limit the accumulation of power within the federal government.
Throughout history we have often seen the three branches of the federal government wield their checks
and balances to help maintain the separation and balance of power between its branches. Today is no
exception. Your task for this essay is to identify and explain three recent instances of the system of checks
and balances being exercised. These three instances must have occurred during either the former Obama
administration or the current Trump administration. For full credit on this assignment, write an essay
addressing each of the following:
1. Begin with a discussion of the separation of powers and system of checks and balances.
Briefly discuss the branches of government, the separation of their powers, and the role of
checks and balances. Discuss how they limit the accumulation of power within the federal
2. For each example you find, explain what happened and why.
This discussion should include (i) which branch exercised what check, along with some
discussion of the context; (ii) exactly where in the Constitution that branch is given that
authority; (iii) why the check was used; and (iv) whether or not the check succeeded in its goal.
3. Conclude regarding the functioning of the federal government.
Given your discussion of these three cases, conclude regarding whether or not you feel that the
system of checks and balances is working as it is supposed to. In other words, does it appear
that the separation of powers being maintained and that the accumulation of power is being
limited within the federal government?
While there is no formal length requirement, I expect that the final product should be anywhere between
3 and 6 pages. Grading will be based upon the accuracy and degree to which you address the criteria
outlined above. Full credit requires a thoughtful and thorough discussion of each. Please use MLA style
for your citations and please double-space your document.
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