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CHAPTER 7

The Separation of Powers

§7.1 INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW

The Constitution of the United States is the instrument by which “We the People” created a new national government. One of our great fears as a people, however, was that the authority of this new government might be abused by those who would handle the reins of power. The Founders therefore sought to structure the national government in such a way that no one person or group would be able to exercise too much authority. To this end, the Constitution apportions or divides the powers of the national government among three different branches—the legislative (Congress), the executive (the President and those appointed to assist him or her), and the judicial (the federal courts). This is the principle of separation of powers.

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