What is Separation of Power?
The founders believed that men were inherently corrupt. They believed that where power concentrates, so does tyranny. To prevent tyranny, they separated our government in two distinct ways:
1. State v. Federal separation.
2. Separation of powers within the above two distinct governments:
The founders also put branches within each government in competition with each other: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. They ensured that each branch had distinct functions that could not be delegated to another branch of government. Each branch would then jealously guard its power and jurisdiction to ensure that it was not invaded or undermined by the other branch. This ensured that there would always be a balance of powers so that the system was self-regulating and the balance of powers would be maintained.
Quoting Montesquieu, the Federalist Papers made the point in the following manner:
"When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person or body," says he, "there can be no liberty, because apprehensions may arise lest the same monarch or senate should enact tyrannical laws to execute them in a tyrannical manner."
Again: "Were the power of judging joined with the legislative, the life and liberty of the subject would be exposed to arbitrary control, for the judge would then be the legislator. Were it joined to the executive power, the judge might behave with all the violence of an oppressor."