Definitions for "Checks and balances"
Checks and balances refers to a system in which separate, powerful entities (like the three branches of the US government) check (monitor) the behavior of each other, having the effect of keeping an even balance of power. The phrase "checks and balances" was coined by Charles-Louis Montesquieu (a French political philosopher) in 1748; he also wrote about dividing the power of a government into a Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branch.
system in which each branch of government has the ability to limit powers possessed by other branches.
Constitutional mechanisms that authorize each branch of government to share powers with the other branches and thereby check their activities. For example, the president may veto legislation passed by Congress, the Senate must confirm major executive appointments, and the courts may declare acts of Congress unconstitutional.
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