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The Judiciary v. The Executive Branch

February 12, 2017

 The power of the Judiciary vis a vis the Executive branch, has been on display over the past few weeks. No matter which side of the debate you come down on, it's hard to deny the drama that has played out in the courtroom, the political arena and on social media. The real-life civics lessons that are on display, are quite fascinating; even if you're not a student of politics or the law. Quite frankly, if I wrote a novel with the same storyline, it would be panned as unbelievable.

 

One of the central characters in this drama is, of course, the United States Constitution. Ratified in 1788, it's been amended 27 times with the first 10 amendments referred to as the Bill of Rights. It's the shortest written Constitution in the world, yet it packs a powerful punch as it's an integral part of our government, and system of checks and balances.

 

It's easy to forget that not all countries that follow civil and common laws (as does the US), have such a document. That was brought home to me a few years ago, while working in New Zealand after a series of earthquakes devastated the city of Christchurch on the South Island. While discussing the situation with New Zealand lawyers, in an effort to help businesses and property owners get their fair pay-out from insurance companies, I learned that New Zealand did not have a constitution. I recall being astonished (yes, I know, typical American), and wondered how a country could run without such a central governing document. Of course, New Zealand runs brilliantly and is an amazing country, (and one which I strongly suggest everyone visit at some point during their life).

 

The point is that the American system is unique, and as such it's important to keep in mind that what we're watching play out in real time is centered on a short, powerful document, written more than 200 years ago, that still guides us to this day. Fascinating!

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