Separation of Power: Principles, Problem, Solution

Separation of Power: Principles, Problem, Solution

by Bob Greenslade

X Amendment Center

When Americans hear the term separation of power, they usually think back to their high school civics teacher discussing the separation of power between the 3 branches of the federal government. There is another separation of power that, in my opinion, holds the key to understanding the Constitution for the United States because within this separation of power is the original grant of power that created and empowered the federal government. This separation of power is the separation or division of power between the individual States and their federal government.

Unfortunately, this separation of power has been trampled and ignored. If there is any hope of restoring and preserving the federal system of government established by the Founders, then resurrecting and enforcing this separation of power must be the primary focus of the people of these United States and their individual state governments.

The Federal [Constitutional] Convention

In order to understand this issue, it is necessary to review some excerpts from the debates in the Federal Convention.

The delegates to the Convention were scheduled to meet in Philadelphia on May 14, 1787, for the purpose of “revising the federal system of Government” that had been established by the Articles of Confederation.

On May 29, 1787, Edmund Randolph, Governor of Virginia, gave a long and detailed speech in which he enumerated the defects in the Articles of Confederation. He concluded his remarks by introducing a set of fifteen resolutions that he hoped the Convention would adopt as the “leading principles whereon to form a new government.” These resolutions, which were written by James Madison, are known as the Virginia Plan.

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