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Study Notes

Unit 4 Essay Advice: "Do Checks and Balances impede effective government?"

AQA, Edexcel, OCR

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

This Study Note lists many of the key terms you would need to understand and use if you answered this question in the exam, and also 10 super examples to help you gain the highest possible marks.

Make sure you can explain each of the terms below:

  • Checks and Balances
  • Presidential Veto
  • Executive Appointments
  • Advice and Consent Power
  • Power of the Purse
  • Ratification of Treaties
  • Confirmation of Nominees
  • Impeachment
  • Congressional hearings and investigations
  • War Clause & War Powers Act
  • Commander in Chief
  • Judicial Review
  • Congressional Override
  • Term Limits
  • Divided Government
  • Appropriations

Contemporary Examples

Checks and balances impede effective government:

  1. Presidential vetoes can block legislation that comes from a united Congress such as Obama’s veto of the National Defence Authorisation Act 2015, which was Republican bill, despite majorities in both chambers.
  2. The check of judicial review caused problems to the roll out of Obamacare in the Court Case National Federation of Independent Business v Sibelius 2012.
  3. The ratification of treaties by the Senate could lead a President to make Executive agreements instead such as Reagan who issued 2800 agreements.

Checks and balances do not impede effective government:

  1. The Senate confirmation hearings weed out unqualified candidates for jobs such as George Bush’s nomination for the Supreme Court in 2005: Harriet Meirs who was forced to withdraw
  2. The House of Representatives can vote on articles of impeachment for a President who they believe has broken the law as was the case in 1998 with Bill Clinton.
  3. The declaration that the line item veto was unconstitutional in Clinton v City of New York 1998 was a significant move to check the power of the President.

Historical Examples

Checks and balances impede effective government:

  1. Checks and Balances could lead a President to simply issue Executive Orders instead of Congress such as Franklin Roosevelt who issued 6500 Executive Orders
  2. The threat of review by Judiciary, has lead President’s to threaten to pack the Supreme Court with their own supporters. Notably this was tried during the New Deal with Franklin Roosevelt.

Checks and balances do not impede effective government:

  1. enate confirmation hearings can also stop overly political choices being made to key roles such as the Supreme Court. In 1987 Robert Bork was nominated by Reagan but he was rejected by the Senate.
  2. Congress can use the Power of the Purse to defund programmes it thinks are wrong, such as the defunding of the Vietnam War in 1973

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