Branches of US Government

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U.S. Constitution

The Founding Fathers, the framers of the U.S. Constitution, wanted to form a government that did not allow one person to have too much control. With this in mind, they wrote the Constitution to provide for a separation of powers, or three separate branches of government.

Each branch has its own responsibilities and at the same time, the three branches 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.

Legislative – Makes Laws

Congress is composed of two parts: the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Senate

The Senate has 100 elected senators total; 2 senators per state. Each senator serves a 6-year term.

House of Representatives

The House has 435 voting representatives; the number of representatives from each state is based on the state’s population. Each representative serves a two-year term and may be re-elected.

Executive – Carries Out Laws

The executive branch is composed of the president, vice president, and Cabinet members.

President

The president is the head of state, head of the U.S. government, and the commander-in-chief of the U.S. military.

Vice President

The vice president not only supports the president but also acts as the presiding officer of the Senate.

Cabinet

The Cabinet members are nominated by the president and must be approved by the Senate (with at least 51 votes). They serve as the president’s advisors and heads of various departments and agencies.

Judicial – Evaluates Laws

The judicial branch of government is made up of the court system.

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the highest court in the country. The nine justices are nominated by the president and must be approved by the Senate (with at least 51 votes).

Other Federal Courts

There are lower Federal courts but they were not created by the Constitution. Congress established them around the country to handle federal business as the country grew, using power granted by the Constitution.

 

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