Category: Limits On Government

Limits on government keep it from having too much power. What are they?

The rule of law implies that every person is subject to the law, including people who are lawmakers, law enforcement officials and judges. In this sense, it stands in contrast to tyranny or oligarchy, where the rulers are held above the law. Lack of the rule of law can be found in both democracies and monarchies, when there is neglect or ignorance of the law. The rule of law is more apt to decay if a government has insufficient corrective mechanisms for restoring it.

Separation of powers, therefore, refers to the division of government responsibilities into distinct branches to limit any one branch from exercising the core functions of another. The intent is to prevent the concentration of power and provide for checks and balances.

Americans sought to establish that they were “true-born” Englishmen—not merely colonials—with all the rights of Englishmen. The founders of the United States believed that the government of Great Britain should rest on the principle that government depended on the consent of the governed and that any government not based on that consent could be justifiably overthrown and replaced.

On the eve of the Constitutional Convention, James Madison developed a new theory of republicanism, one that would allow union on a scale previously thought impossible. The extended republic, buttressed by constitutional safeguards republican in nature, would, he argued, protect the rights of minorities without compromising the majority’s right to rule. But Convention delegates, unimpressed with Madison’s new theory, gravitated toward constitutional safeguards more mixed-regime in nature and so produced a constitution incompletely republican.

Constitutionalism, doctrine that a government’s authority is determined by a body of laws or constitution. Although constitutionalism is sometimes regarded as a synonym for limited government, that is only one interpretation and by no means the most prominent one historically. More generally constitutionalism refers to efforts to prevent arbitrary government.

rule of law

Rule of Law

Rule of Law is one of five limits on government featured in the KTB Prep American Government and Civics series designed to acquaint users with the origins, concepts, organizations, and policies of the United States government and political system. The goal is greater familiarization with the rights and obligations of...

separation of powers

Separation of Powers

Separation of Powers is one of five limits on government in KTB Prep’s American Government and Civics series which is designed to acquaint users with the origins, concepts, organizations, and policies of the United States government and political system. The goal is greater familiarization with the rights and obligations of...

consent of the governed

Consent of the Governed

Consent of the Governed is one of five limits on government featured in the KTB Prep American Government and Civics series designed to acquaint users with the origins, concepts, organizations, and policies of the United States government and political system. The goal is greater familiarization with the rights and obligations...