Branches of Government

What are the Branches of Government

The United States Government is divided into three parts, or branches: the legislative branch, the executive branch, and the judicial branch. Each branch has a different duty, but all three branches must work together.

The Legislative Branch

The legislative branch is in charge of making laws. It is made up of the Congress and several Government agencies. Congress has two parts: the House of Representatives and the Senate. Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate are voted into office by American citizens in each state. There are currently 100 Senators, 435 Representatives, 5 Delegates, and 1 Resident Commissioner. The Government Publishing Office and Library of Congress are examples of Government agencies in the legislative branch. These agencies support the Congress.

The Executive Branch

The executive branch of our Government is in charge of making sure that the laws of the United States are obeyed. The President of the United States is the head of the executive branch. The President gets help from the Vice President, department heads (called Cabinet members), and heads of independent agencies. Here are some of the things those people do:

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  • The President leads the country and commands the military.
  • The Vice President becomes President if the President can no longer do the job and is also President of the Senate.
  • Department heads advise the President on issues and help carry out decisions made by the Government.
  • Independent Agencies also help carry out decisions made by the Government or provide special services.

The Judicial Branch

The judicial branch is in charge of deciding the meaning of laws, how to apply them to real situations, and whether a law breaks the rules of the Constitution. The Constitution is the highest law of our Nation. The U.S. Supreme Court, the highest court in the United States, is part of the judicial branch. The Supreme Court is made up of 9 judges called justices who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The justices hear cases that have made their way up through the court system.

The main task of the Supreme Court is to decide cases that may differ from the U.S. Constitution. Once the Supreme Court makes a decision in a case, it can only be changed by a later Supreme Court decision or by changing or amending the Constitution. This is a very important power that can affect the lives of many people.