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Trump administration violates checks and balances

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To the editor:

Over the last few weeks, the White House and a number of government agencies (Commerce, Justice and Treasury) have refused to provide documents requested by Congress. In addition, administration officials have refused to testify before congressional committees on a number of issues.

In justifying these actions, the administration says Congress is “out of control.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Congress is simply exercising its oversight powers and duties granted by the Constitution.

To prevent one branch of government from becoming too powerful and to avoid a return to monarchy, the Founding Fathers established three co-equal branches of government and the principle of separation of powers. They also envisioned disagreements and conflicts among the branches and put in place checks and balances on each other’s powers. 

The words of John Adams as quoted by John Meacham in a recent book say it all: “The essence of a free government consists of effectual control of rivalries. The executive and legislative powers are natural rivals, and if each has not an effectual control over the other, the weaker will ever be the lamb in the powers of the wolf. The nation, which will not adopt equilibrium of powers, must adopt despotism. There is no alternative.”

If Trump continues to erode the foundational principles of American democracy — the rule of law, separation of powers and systems of checks and balances — our great country, and in the words of President Lincoln “the last best hope of earth,” is headed on the dark road to authoritarianism and despotism.

Ken Papaj

Holden Beach