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Separation of Powers

Influenced by the writings of Montesquieu and other European political theorists, the Founders created a system of government with three distinct and separated powers. The Constitution defines the powers of the legislative (or lawmaking) branch in Article I, the executive branch in Article II, and the judicial branch in Article III.

James Madison explained in Federalist No. 51 how the system of separated powers provides checks and balances on the power of government.