Government, Law and Citizenship Essay

Separation of power, one of the four features under the American system of government policymaking, refers to the division of labor given to the three branches of the government in America. Guided by the majority rule, the doctrine of the separation of powers divides the institutions of government into three branches: legislative, executive and judicial: the legislature makes the laws; the executive put the laws into operation; and the judiciary interprets the laws (Spindler, 2000). All branches are co-dependent with each other judging from the work they need to fulfill in order to put laws into action. Most importantly, the separation of powers was devised to prevent the majority from ruling with an iron fist (Mount, 2001). The second feature, federalism, in America is the division of power between the individual, sovereign states and the national government created by the Constitution of 1787 (The Abortion Law Home Page, 1996). The third feature, judicial review, grants the power to American courts to determine whether the acts of government branches and government officials follow the U.S. Constitution (Wipf, et al, 2007). The last feature, freedom of speech, is a civil right enjoyed by all, where the Bill of Rights states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” This provides the majority the freedom to choose on the account of religion, speech, media, association and petitions. The Bill of Rights also encourages and protects minority rights for the vast number of the minority population in the country.

            This clearly demonstrates the usage of the majority rule in favor of the minority rights wherein the legislators passed a bill through majority vote pushing for minority rights. Separation of power, the meaning itself depicts the example. Where the legislature makes the laws; the executive put the laws into operation; and the judiciary interprets the law. Federalism can be observed when the national government for example approves a certain drinking age limit, and the different sovereign states and local governments shall abide by it. Judicial review can be exercised once a law is needed to be strike down or be reviewed. Freedom of speech can be best elaborated given the example of the press, where the press expresses their opinions and report everyday news through writing. Effects toward the policymaking in America can be brought about by these four features. For instance, separation of powers and separation of purpose constitute abstract constructs, steps from game theoretic variables, to the empirical application to actual policies (Spiller, et al, 2003). Federal arrangements on the other hand, may enhance the political influence of formerly sovereign governments, both by facilitating coordination, and by giving these sub-units influence or even veto over policy making, rather than remaining mere policy takers (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2006). Judicial reviews are not just fragmented government but, increase of separate administrative agencies and programs to service popular and interest group demands. And the increasing distrust of government results to policymaking (Barnes, et al, 2004). And lastly freedom of speech, freedom of speech can influence policymaking since the masses become the judge whether the law passed is beneficial or not.

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            In adversarial systems, parties on either side of a legal action take the position of opponents or adversaries before the court which decides the winner of this legal conflict (Texas Politics, 2006). Separation of power, where the three branches function in order to come about a law that aid adversarial systems in giving the appropriate sentence to the one found guilty. In the case of federalism, since local governments are given power by the national government, adversarial systems in these areas can give the appropriate punishment for the one found guilty. Judicial reviews can aid adversarial systems in better understanding the case presented before the court. And finally, attorneys can justify the actions of their clients through the freedom of speech.

Adversarial systems are set to work usually in personal and social policy arenas. One example is the case of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, where he is on trial for getting too “physical” towards several young boys. Until now his case has not been resolved. Even hotel heiress Paris Hilton, is not getting any special treatment from the law. For she now faces 45 days in jail for alcohol-related reckless driving. And the infamous court trial of Saddam Hussein, former Iraq president, was sentenced to death under the U.S. government.

An adversarial system is not a good system in government policymaking. Since, adversarial systems tend to be based on the attorney’s ability to defend their clients leaving the truth unraveled, thus, defeating the purpose of seeking truth and justice. In systems like these, policies are less likely credible.

In conclusion, America need not change their system of government policymaking. Although adversarial systems have its share of disadvantages its advantages are also undeniable. Adversarial systems shed light to cases which can result to its conclusion and the triumph of truth and justice.


Barnes, Jed & Miller, Mark C. 2004. “MAKING POLICY MAKING LAW: AN INTERBRANCH PERSPECTIVE”. Online. June 22, 2007.

Mount, Steve. Nov 2001. “Constitutional Topic: Martial Law”. Online. June 22, 2007. 30.

Spiller, Pablo T., Stein, Ernesto & Tommasi, Marianno. March 28, 2003. “Political Institutions, Policymaking Processes, and Policy Outcomes AN INTEMPORAL TRANSACTIONS FRAMEWORK”. Online. June 22, 2007.

Spindler, Graham. March 2000. “Separation of Powers: Doctrine and Practice”. Online. June 22, 2007.

Texas Politics. 2006. “The Justice System”. Online. June 22, 2007.

The Abortion Law Home Page. November 26, 1996. “Federalsim”. Online. June 22, 2007.

Wipf, Jennifer & Wipf, Peter.  May 2007 . “Judicial Review”. Online. June 22, 2007.