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Video transcript

this is a great excerpt from Federalist 51 by James Madison and just as a reminder the Federalist Papers which were written by Hamilton Madison John Jay or an attempt to get the Constitution passed to get it ratified so these were really kind of op eds that they were publishing to convince people but this is a great passage if men were angels no government would be necessary if angels were to govern men neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary in framing a government which is to be administered by men over men the great difficulty lies in this you must first enable the government to control the governed and in the next place oblige it to control itself and it goes on to talk about how we can keep government from becoming too powerful by so contriving the interior structure of the government as that it's several constituent parts may by their mutual relations be the means of keeping each other in their proper places and so remember this was in defense of the Constitution so arguably this was in place that somehow this Constitution had contrived an interior structure so that the several constituent parts of government by their mutual relations would keep each other in their proper places or you could even say keep each other in check so in line with this passage there's really two big ideas embedded in the Constitution as to how our government is structured the first is this notion of separation of powers we have three branches of government you have your executive headed by the president you have your legislative branch which is Congress legislative and you have your judicial branch which is the US Supreme Court and this notion of separation of powers is that you have these fairly independent branches of government and the idea was to make them reasonably independent so that one group one branch could not take over the others the legislative branch Congre they're charged with budget and they're charged with creating and passing laws the executive branch headed by the president is supposed to execute run the government based on the laws that Congress passes and you have the judicial branch that would decide whether things say laws that Congress is passing or actions that the executive is taking they say hey is that constitutional or they can interpret laws so these different powers are put into these different branches the powers are separate now related to that is another very powerful idea and this is keeping each other in their proper places and so this is the idea of checks and balances each of these can't do whatever they want they are all balancing each other they all have checks on each other for example the executive can veto the legislative branch can veto a law passed by Congress but then the legislative branch can override that veto the legislative branch they control the budget so it's not like the president or the executive can do whatever they want or that they can just spend as much money as they want and the judicial branch in both cases can be a check and they're saying hey you're doing something that is unconstitutional or we're going to interpret the laws that the legislature has passed the executive appoints the judicial but even there you have to get congressional buy-in so once again you have these independent branches of government all the power isn't in one and they are interdependent they provide checks and balances on each other and this is all about what Federalist 51 is talking about so that by their mutual relations they are the means of keeping each other in their proper places
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