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FAQ, Trivia and Information on Life in America: Ask-A-Desi

This section will attempt to address some of the Frequently Asked Questions on Life in the US, Canada and North America that immigrants, visitors and others from different cultures attempt to address. If you have any additional inputs or wish  to see more topics addressed, mail us at

In this section of, we present basic information on the US Government, its functioning and branches.

Three Branches of Government: In 1787 leaders of the states gathered to write the Constitution - a set of principles that told how thee new nation would be governed. The leaders of the states wanted a strong and fair national government. But they also wanted to protect individual freedoms and prevent the government from abusing its power. They believed they could do this by having three separate branches of government: the executive, the legislative and the judicial. This separation is described in the first three articles, or sections, of the Constitution.

Government and How it Governs

Legislative Branch

The legislative branch is made up of the two houses of Congress the Senate and the House of Representatives. The most important duty of the legislative branch is to make laws. Laws are written, discussed and voted on in Congress. There are 100 senators in the Senate, two from each state. Senators are elected by their states and serve six-year terms. The Vice President of the U.S. is considered the head of the Senate, but does not vote in the Senate unless there is a tie. There are 435 representatives in the House of Representatives. The number of representatives each state gets is based on its population. For example, California has many more representatives than Rhode Island. Representatives are elected by their states and serve two-year terms. The Speaker of the House, elected by the representatives, is considered the head of the House.

  • The U.S. Legislative Branch: A list of Internet resources from and about the US Legislative branch.
  • United States Congress: The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States of America, consisting of two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Both senators and representatives are chosen through direct election.
  • U.S. Senate: Official site of "the living symbol of our union of states." Connect with Senators, and learn about Senate committees, legislation, records, art, history...
  • THOMAS -- US Congress on the Internet: The Library of Congress THOMAS site is the source for federal legislative information.

Trivia: Even Non-citizen and Legal foreign residents can contact their senators, congressmen for help!


Executive Branch

The President is the head of the executive branch, which makes laws official. The President is elected by the entire country and serves a four-year term. The President approves and carries out laws passed by the legislative branch. He appoints or removes cabinet members and officials. He negotiates treaties, and acts as head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces. The executive branch also includes the Vice President and other officials, such as members of the cabinet. The cabinet is made up of the heads of the 14 major departments of the government. The cabinet gives advice to the President about important matters.

Three Branches of Government

The Cabinet

The Secretary of State
The Secretary of the Treasury
The Secretary of Defense
The Attorney General (Justice Department)
The Secretary of the Interior
The Secretary of Agriculture
The Secretary of Commerce
The Secretary of Labor
The Secretary of Health and Human Services
The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
The Secretary of Transportation
The Secretary of Education
The Secretary of Energy
The Secretary of Veterans' Affairs

To learn more about the Executive Branch please visit the President's Cabinet page on the White House web site.

  • The Executive Branch: The power of the executive branch is vested in the President, who also serves as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. The President appoints the Cabinet and oversees the various agencies and departments of the federal government. In order for a person to become President, he or she must be a natural-born citizen of the United States, be at least 35 years of age, and have resided in the United States for at least 14 years. Once elected, the President serves a term of four years and may be re-elected only once.
  • Official US Executive Branch Web Sites


Judicial Branch

The judicial branch oversees the court system of the U.S. Through court cases, the judicial branch explains the meaning of the Constitution and laws passed by Congress. The Supreme Court is the head of the judicial branch. Unlike a criminal court, the Supreme Court rules whether something is constitutional or unconstitutional-whether or not it is permitted under the Constitution. On the Supreme Court there are nine justices, or judges: eight associate justices and one chief justice. The judges are nominated by the President and approved by the Senate. They have no term limits. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. Its decisions are final, and no other court can overrule those decisions. Decisions of the Supreme Court set precedents new ways of interpreting the law.

Article III of the Constitution established the judicial branch of government with the creation of the Supreme Court. This court is the highest court in the country and vested with the judicial powers of the government. There are lower Federal courts but they were not created by the Constitution. Rather, Congress deemed them necessary and established them using power granted from the Constitution.

Courts decide arguments about the meaning of laws, how they are applied, and whether they violate the Constitution. The latter power is known as judicial review and it is this process that the judiciary uses to provide checks and balances on the legislative and executive branches. Judicial review is not an explicit power given to the courts but it is an implied power. In a landmark Supreme Court decision, Marbury v. Madison (1803), the courts' power of judicial review was clearly articulated. - Ben's guide

  • Federal Judicial Branch on Links to The Supreme Court, Lower Courts, Special Courts
  • US Courts: The federal courts often are called the guardians of the Constitution because their rulings protect rights and liberties guaranteed by it. Through fair and impartial judgments, the federal courts interpret and apply the law to resolve disputes. The courts do not make the laws. That is the responsibility of Congress. Nor do the courts have the power to enforce the laws. That is the role of the President and the many executive branch departments and agencies.

Links of Interest:



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Trivia and Questions for Indians and Immigrants in America

General Trivia : Introduction //Dollars and Cents // Social Security Number // About Mail and USPS // Story of The Old Glory // Green Card– Why Not Green? // Telephone Area Codes // Convex Mirrors and Caution // Bankruptcy and Chapter 11 // Radio and TV Broadcasting // Consumerism: Trivia on Wal-Mart. // Retail Trivia // Gas Prices– What's 0.9 Cent? // Roads and Interstate Highways // Road Driving Trivia // Finance 101 // Daylight Saving Time // Trivia on Etiquette

FAQ Disclaimer: All information provided in these FAQ’s is deemed to be accurate by the author.  Due care has been exercised to ensure the veracity of this information and guidelines. However, there may be error (s) and omission (s) and all information is subject to change., and its affiliates do not assume any liability for the information provided herein. The reader is strongly recommended to confirm this information from official sources.

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