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Posted: January 23rd, 2020

Cases of Weakening the US Check Balance System

Cases of Weakening the US Check Balance System

The US check balance system is a constitutional mechanism that aims to prevent any branch of the federal government from dominating the others. It consists of three branches: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. Each branch has some powers to check and balance the actions of the others, ensuring a separation of powers and a protection of democracy. However, in recent years, there have been several cases of weakening the US check balance system, undermining its effectiveness and legitimacy.

One case of weakening the US check balance system is the increasing polarization and partisanship in Congress. The legislative branch is supposed to represent the interests and preferences of the people, as well as to oversee and limit the executive branch. However, due to the growing ideological divide between the two major parties, Democrats and Republicans, Congress has become more gridlocked and dysfunctional, unable to pass legislation or confirm appointments. This has resulted in a loss of public trust and confidence in the legislative branch, as well as a shift of power to the executive branch, which can act more unilaterally through executive orders or emergency declarations (Lee 2020).

Another case of weakening the US check balance system is the politicization and manipulation of the judicial branch. The judicial branch is supposed to interpret and apply the law, as well as to review and invalidate the actions of the other branches if they violate the Constitution. However, due to the increasing influence of political interests and ideologies, the judicial branch has become more partisan and biased, favoring certain outcomes or groups over others. This has resulted in a loss of impartiality and independence of the judicial branch, as well as a distortion of the rule of law and justice. For example, some critics have argued that the Supreme Court has become more conservative and activist, striking down laws that protect voting rights, health care, or environmental regulations (Liptak 2021).

A third case of weakening the US check balance system is the erosion and violation of norms and values that sustain it. The check balance system is not only based on formal rules and institutions, but also on informal norms and values that guide the behavior and interactions of the actors involved. These norms and values include respect for democracy, transparency, accountability, cooperation, compromise, and civility. However, in recent years, there have been several cases of erosion and violation of these norms and values, undermining the functioning and stability of the check balance system. For example, some observers have pointed out that the former president Donald Trump repeatedly challenged and attacked the legitimacy and authority of the other branches, as well as refused to accept the results of the 2020 election (Levitsky and Ziblatt 2019).

In conclusion, these cases illustrate how the US check balance system has been weakened in recent years, posing a threat to democracy and governance. Therefore, it is important to restore and strengthen the US check balance system, by promoting reforms that enhance its efficiency and responsiveness, by ensuring its fairness and integrity, and by fostering its norms and values.


Lee, Frances E. 2020. “The 116th Congress and Questions of Party Unity in a Polarized Era.” The ANNALS
of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 689 (1): 48-65.

Liptak, Adam. 2021. “How Conservatives Weaponized the First Amendment.” The New York Times,
January 31.

Levitsky, Steven, and Daniel Ziblatt. 2019. How Democracies Die. New York: Broadway Books.


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