9 Examples of Checks And Balances

Examples of Checks And Balances


Checks and balances system in government was set up to guarantee the even distribution of power among the branches of government. The United States constitution framers (those who write constitution) set up a system that shares power among the three branches of the United States government, these branches are:

  • The Legislature
  • Executive
  • Judiciary

The constitution was written also control and limit the use of power in each of the branches of government.


The Legislature is a group of elected persons who have been charged with the responsibility of making and changing the laws governing a country.


The Executive is that branch of government that enforce and implement laws which are made and passed by the legislature.


This is the branch of government that executes justice in accordance with the law. The judiciary encompasses the judges, courts, adjudicators (those who settle conflicts), magistrates, and those involved in the system. It is in the courts that defaulters are punished, disputes and conflicts are also settled.

What are Checks and Balances?

Checks and balances is a system set up to ensure equal distribution of governmental powers. There are processes each branch need to follow so as to guard against fraudulent practices, illegal actions and mistakes. These processes are shared equally in such a way that no branch wills more power than the other. Virtually all the countries in the world have Checks and balances system.

Power separation

The thought that a fair and just government should divide powers between the branches of government has historical and philosophical roots. Polybius, a Greek historian and statesman, while analyzing the government of Rome, identified it as a mixed “ rigime” which has three branches namely;

  • Aristocracy (senate)
  • Democracy (the masses)
  • Monarchy (chief magistrate or consul)

Baron de Montesquieu, an enlightenment philosopher later wrote of authoritarianism as the main threat in any government. He contended that the best way to preclude this threat was through the separation of powers where various components of government exercised legislative, executive and judicial power while being subjects to the rule of law.

United States Checks and Balances System

The former United States constitution split the powers of the federal government while building on the thoughts of John Locke, Polybius, and William Blackstone, among the three branches of government. The framers also established a Checks and balances system to help protect against tyranny by controlling the use of power by any of the three branches of government.

Examples of Checks And Balances

The checks and balances system functions throughout the United States government by checking how each branch exerts certain powers which can be checked by the powers willed to the other two branches.

We are going to look at nine (9) examples of checks and balances that are used to control the use of power in each of the branches of government.

• The federal officials are nominated by the president, after which the confirmation of the nomination will be done by the Senate.

• As soon as the congress has passed the bill, the president who is also the chief executive has the power to veto or reject the bill. The congress, in turn, will now nullify, overrule, or reverse a regular presidential veto by a two-thirds vote of both houses.

• Congress has the authority and power of the purse as it controls the money used in funding executive actions.

• The head of the executive branch, in the person of the president serves as the Grand Commander in Chief of The Military Forces, though it is the congress that reserve funds for votes and military to declare war.

• The courts, both Supreme and other federal courts which fall under the judicial branch of government, through the judicial review can declare presidential elections or laws which are not in the constitution.

• The congress can check effectively, the decision of the Supreme Court by passing amendments to the constitution.

• The congress has the power to impeach both members of the judiciary and executives.

• Each house of congress within the legislative branch of government serves as a check on possible abuses of power by the other. The Senate and the House of Representatives must pass the bill in the same form before it can be accepted as law.

• The president, in turn, checks the judiciary through appointment, which can be used to change the direction of federal courts.

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