The Constitutional Structure of Government: Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances

November 30-December 2, 2012

July 10-12, 2013


In Federalist 51, James Madison writes: "Ambition must be made to counteract ambition." Although every American knows that the Constitution created a national government with three independent branches, we do not necessarily know why the framers chose to do this. Why did Madison think that ambition should counteract ambition? What purposes are served by not only separating power but also by creating a system in which the exercise of power is so frequently blocked by another branch? This seminar explores these questions and more through primary source documents and early case studies.  

Seminar Scholar

Benjamin A. Kleinerman, Ph.D., received his BA in Political Science from Kenyon College and his Ph.D. in Political Science from Michigan State University.  A former Visiting Scholar in the Program on Constitutional Government at Harvard University, Dr. Kleinerman has also taught at Oberlin College and the Virginia Military Institute.  His book, The Discretionary President: The Promise and Peril of Executive Power, has been reviewed in The New Republic and Political Science Quarterly.  He has also written articles on the subject of executive power in the American Constitution appearing in Perspectives on Politics, American Political Science Review, and Nomos.  He is currently working on a new book on the separation of powers and the political structure of the Constitution.