How does separation of power work?

A viewer asked this question on 5/6/2000:

separation of power in action
three branches:
purpose of each:
national:(what are two parts of it)
state local: (version of it)

JesseGordon gave this response on 5/6/2000:

"Separation of powers" means that no one person or government agency has the power to do anything entirely on its own. Each branch of the government has "checks and balances" against the other branches. The purpose is to avoid a concentration of power that would deprive the people of ultimate power.

The three branches of the federal government are:

-- Executive branch: The President, Vice President, Cabinet (a dozen agency heads), and executive agencies: They are responsible for implementing the law.

-- Legislative branch: The Congress consists of the 435 members of the House of Representatives and the 100 Senators of the Senate: They are responsible for making the law.

-- Judicial branch: The Supreme Court, the federal courts, and numerous lower courts: They are responsible for interpreting the law.

In addition, there is a separation of power between the federal government and the state governments. The Constitution specifies (in the 10th Amendment and elsewhere) that the States retain all powers except those that are explicitly granted to the federal government. That makes for all sorts of political issues about whether federal law or state law should apply, in issues ranging from abortion to gun control to term limits to school vouchers.

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