• Video

Separation of Powers and Specialization

What are some advantages of the separation of powers? Professor Saikrishna Prakash explains that there is specialization across all areas of society, allowing people to focus or develop expertise on particular tasks. The same is true in government. The three branches of government each have a specific role but there is also specialization within each branch itself. https://youtube.com/watch?v=3a2_2uDWJK0


We see specialization across all areas of life. We have some people that are doctors, and other people who are engineers, school teachers, construction workers, and the idea is we'd like people to develop a set of skills and hone them, and they can't do that if they have to be a jack of all trades. The same is true for our governmental officials, we think it's best for someone to develop a specialty in law-making to develop a specialty in adjudication, to develop a specialty in different forms of executive action. We have diplomats that stay in the state department, and we have prosecutors who mostly work in the Justice Department, so this idea of specialization is very intuitive and makes a lot of sense. We see this not only across the three branches, but within each branch. Congress has various committees that are specialized, within the Executive branch we have specialized departments, we don't just have general law enforcers. Then the courts - there's some specialization, there's some subject matter courts that have authority of particular areas of federal law, like the court of federal claims and the tax court and other sorts of courts. Well, there's no doubt that apart from the idea that separation of powers furthers liberty, there's also some benefits from specialization of function. The separation of powers was not created by the Constitution, it predated it, and our Constitution just reflects a particular conception of the separation of powers. I think many people in our country believe that it's highly beneficial to have a separation of powers. I think most systems have a certain separation of powers, they don't all look the same, but I think everyone can understand there are both reasons sounding in liberty, but also reasons sounding in specialization of functions that suggest this separation of powers is a good idea.

Related Content