While sitting in on  CNN’s “State of the Union” this morning, New York’s Senator Chuck Schumer was ringing alarm bells on what he perceives as a GOP threat to shut down the government this Spring during the upcoming Debt Ceiling debate and the Congressional battle over various elements of government funding. This tactic was nothing new as both sides traditionally use extreme examples to make their point.  What surprised me was Sen. Schumer’s explanation of the three branches of our American system of government.

As I have always understood it, and as outlined in the Constitution, we have a brilliantly balanced government that provides checks and balances between the three branches; Legislative, Executive, and Judicial.  It is a very simple concept graphically displayed here from the website USA for Kids (a site managed by the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong).

Sen. Schumers Three Branches of Government No Longer Includes Judiciary

The visual of the graphic makes it quite clear, but a simple text explanation follows as well;

“the framers wrote the Constitution to provide for a separation of powers, or three separate branches of government. Each has its own responsibilities and at the same time they work together to make the country run smoothly and to assure that the rights of citizens are not ignored or disallowed. This is done through checks and balances. A branch may use its powers to check the powers of the other two in order to maintain a balance of power among the three branches of government.

The three branches of the U.S. Government are: Legislative, Executive, Judicial”

In the new Schumer model, the Judicial Branch has apparently been removed.  Also disturbing was that CNN host Candy Crowley did not raise an eyebrow at this significant error. One wonders just how much time Chris Matthews will dedicate on Monday’s Hardball program to denigrating the Senator’s lack of understanding of the Constitution and what the Founding Fathers meant when they created the Three Branches of U.S. Government.