The legislature should be quick to straitjacket the executive with more detailed and prescriptive laws wherever arbitrary government activity is found to arise from the existing laws.

Oversight committees

The legislature should monitor the activities of the executive through oversight committee hearings. These committees should regularly recommend impeachment proceedings or criminal charges to weed out officials who act illegally.
The enormous machinery of the oversight committees of the United States Congress signifies that the federal bureaucracy is too large to be properly controlled by the president. Whilst oversight is laudable, the absence of adequate control by the elected executive means the legislative branch is effectively supervising the bureaucracy. This is a breach of the separation of powers doctrine and has a tendency to lead to corruption and influence peddling. There is, therefore, a strong argument in favor of:

  • eliminating independent agencies and bringing them back under the control of an elected executive;
  • radically reducing the size of the federal bureaucracy by reducing the number of federal laws and federal regulations they administer;
  • radically reducing the headcount of the bureaucracy;
  • radically reducing the discretion granted to the bureaucracy, so that judges, through judicial review, can assist the supervision of the executive;
  • returning power to the state and county governments so that those closest concerned can exercise superintendence.

Confirmation hearings

The legislature should have the final say on judicial and senior civil servant appointments. Experience shows that this process is effective in fully exploring each nominee’s appropriateness.


The legislature should have the power to impeach members of the executive branch for misconduct with the vote of a super-majority.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove