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The Constitution set up a strong federal government. To keep the government from becoming too powerful, the farmers relied on Montesquieu's idea of the separation of powers. In the constitution, they created three branches of government and then defined the powers of each.

Separation of powers limits the government by making sure that one person or a small group of people can't totally ruin everything by themselves. For instance, if the United States had a President but no Congress, then the President could just make the laws that he wanted, and send the army to enforce them. Because he has to work with congress, his power is limited, and laws are usually a compromise. The same thing with the Supreme Court. They interpret the law, but if there was no president or congress, then they could decide everything themselves, declare war, make new laws depending on what they wanted, etc. Because there are separate powers given to three different groups, each of them can balance things out if one of the groups tries to go too far.

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Q: How does the separation of powers help limit the central government?
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