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The three branches of goverment
Transcript of The three branches of goverment
*Delegates at the Constitutional Convention wanted to divide power within the federal government. They did not want these powers to be controlled by just one man or one group. The delegates were afraid that if a small group received too much power, the United States would wind up under the rule of another dictator or tyrant.
*To avoid the risk of dictatorship or tyranny, the group divided the new government into three branches: the Executive branch, the Legislative branch, and the Judicial branch.
The Executive Branch
The Judicial Branch
The Executive Branch at Work
* many departments, Executive offices, and independent agencies help the President enforce the laws. The Executive Office of the President is made up of people and agencies that directly assist the President.
* the Executive branch also includes 15 Executive departments, each one responsible for a different area of Government.
* for example, the Department of State plans carries out foreign policy.
* the heads of these departments, who have the title as secretary are members of the cabinet.
The Legislative Branch:
*The Legislative branch consists of the House and Senate, which together form the United States Congress.
* among other powers, the Legislative branch makes all laws, declares war, regulates interstate and foreign commerce and controls taxing and spending policies.
The Role of Congress:
* needs to set aside funds in order for the government to spend money
* all tax and spending bills must come from the House of Representatives and get approval from both the House and the Senate before it goes to the President to sign.
*Congress also keeps checks on the Executive branch, and looks for any powers being abused.
* all members of Congress are responsible to represent their constituents, the people of their home states and districts.
* Congress has five main functions: lawmaking, representing the people, performing oversight, helping constituents, and educating the public.
The House of Representatives:
if an official is impeached, the Senate acts as a court and makes a trial for the accused official.
* the senate can ratify treaties made by the president and confirm the presidents appointments of federal officials like department heads, federal judges, and ambassadors.
*The Constitution gives the House of Representatives a few unique powers:
1. to propose all tax bills
2. to impeach or bring charges against any federal official with an offense serious enough for him to get removed from office.
3. and to elect the President in the case of an electoral college tie.
The Constitution also grants the Senate a few unique powers:
1. they approve Presidential appointments to key federal offices.
2. confirm all federal judicial appointments
3. ratify treaties made by the President.
* Is made up of 435 elected members, divides among the 50 states in proportion to their total population.
*members of the House are elected every two years and must be 25 of age, a u.s. citizen for at least seven years, and a resident of the state they represent.
The Senate is composed of 100 senators, 2 for each state.
senators are elected to six-year terms by the people of each state. they must be 30 years of age, u.s. citizens for at least nine years, and residents of the state they represent.
* the Vice President of the U.S. serves as President of the Senate and may cast the decisive vote in the event of a tie in the Senate.
*The Executive branch consists of the President, the Vice President, and the Cabinet.
*This branch is responsible for enforcing the laws of the land that Congress passes.
* the President plays many different roles in the Government, each one having specific powers and responsibilities.
These roles include the Nation's Chief Executive, Chief Diplomat, Commander in Chief of the military, Chief of State, and Legislative leader.
*As the Chief Diplomat, the President interacts with leaders from other nations and makes treaties with them.
*The President decides what American diplomats and ambassadors shall say to foreign Governments.
* and with the help of advisers, the President makes the foreign policy of the United States.
The President's Roles
Chief of State
* As Chief of State, the President is a living symbol of the nation. ( he represents all Americans).
*the President fulfills this role when he receives foreign ambassadors or heads of state, visiting foreign nations, or honoring Americans.
* it is considered a great honor for any citizen to shake the President's hand.
*Only Congress has the actual power to make laws. However, the Constitution gives the President power to influence Congress in its lawmaking. * The President may urge Congress to pass new laws or veto bills that they do not favor.
* in the annul State of the Union address, the President presents goals for legislation.
*As the chief Executive, the President decides how the laws of the United States are to be enforced and he chooses officials and advisers to help run the Executive branch.
* As Commander in Chief, the President is in charge of the U.S. armed forces: the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines.
* the President decides where the troops should be stationed, where the ships are sent, and how weapons are used.
*the President cannot declare war, only Congress holds this power.
* the President can send troops to other parts of the world for up to 60 days but must notify Congress about it. ( the troops can stay longer only if Congress approves or declares war).
The Vice President
The Vice President not only supports the President, but also acts as the presiding officer of the Senate.
The Cabinet members are nominated by the President and must be approved by the Senate (with at least 51 votes). They serve as advisers and heads of various departments and agencies.
* they help the President make decisions and set Government policy.
* The Judicial branch of Government is made up of a court system which is headed by the Supreme Court. Its powers include interpreting the Constitution, reviewing laws, and deciding cases involving states' rights.
* today the Judicial branch consists of three main categories of courts: District Courts, Appellate Courts, and The Supreme Court.
- these are the lowest level of the federal court system.
- they judge criminal cases that come under federal authority , for example, kidnapping, and federal tax evasion.
- they also judge civil cases that involve claims against the federal government, and cases regarding constitutional rights, i.e free speech.
- there is at least one district court in every state.
- there are a total of 91 district courts throughout the United States.
- also known as appeal courts
- when a district court makes a decision, the losing side can ask for the decision to be looked over again by the appeal court which is a higher court.
- when an appeal court does not agree with the lower courts decision, it can change the decision or order a retrial.
- there is one court for each of the 12 federal districts, a military appeals court, and an appeal court for the federal circuit, totalling 14 federal appeal courts in the United States
The Supreme Court
- the highest decision making authority in the federal court system
- there is a chief justice ( the highest judge) and eight associate judges
- most cases are appeals of lower court decisions
- most cases do not begin in the Supreme Court, they come from lower court decisions that were not accepted
Supreme Court Independence
Supreme court judges are not elected officials, they are appointed by the President and this appointment must be accepted ( confirmed) by the Senate.
- the judges are appointed for life
- the judges are free to decide the law objectively without being concerned about whether their decisions will please the people so that they will or will not be reelected
- this a critical part of the checks and balances that the Framers of the Constitution developed to ensure fair government.
- the Supreme Court has the "ultimite authority to interpret" the Constitution and its application to modern times, this is called Judicial Review.
The Vice President
*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.
Seperation of Powers and Checks and Baances
The Three Branches of the United States Government
The requirements for individuals working in each branch of Government:
Supreme Court judge
- must be at least 30 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least 15 years, and a qualified voter of the state for nine years.
- needs to be a natural born citizen of the U.S., at least 35 years old, and needs to have been a resident within the U.S. for 14 years.
- needs to be a citizen of the U.S. for at least nine years, at least 30 years old, and needs to be a resident of the state that the senator represents.
- must be at least 25 years old, must be a resident of the state they represent, must have a been a U.S. citizen for at least seven years.
How individuals in the government gain positions:
Supreme Court justices, court of appeals, and district judges
- are appointed by the President with the approval of the Senate.
- they run for office every six years and get voted on by the people
- run for office every two years and get voted on by the people.
The Checks and Balances on each Branch:
*The Legislative branch is in charge of making laws. The Executive branch can veto the law, making it harder for the Legislative branch to pass the law. The Judicial branch may also say that the law is unconstitutional and make sure it is not a law.
*The Legislative branch can also remove a president or judge that is not doing his/her job properly. The Executive branch appoints judges and the Legislative branch approves the choice of the Executive branch.
*The Founding Fathers and the Framers of the Constitution set the three branches in place in order to create a balance of power. The three branches work together to assure the rights of citizens are not overlooked.
* there are lower Federal courts but they were not created by the Constitution. Congress made them necessary and established them using power granted from the Constitution.