and How it Governs
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.
U.S. Legislative Branch: A list of Internet resources
from and about the US Legislative branch.
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.
Senate: Official site of "the living symbol of
our union of states." Connect with Senators, and learn
about Senate committees, legislation, records, art, history...
-- 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
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.
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
learn more about the Executive Branch please visit the
Cabinet page on the White House web site.
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
US Executive Branch Web Sites
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
Judicial Branch on USA.gov: Links to The Supreme Court,
Lower Courts, Special Courts
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.
Want to learn more about the United States government?
Consider getting a masters degree
in government or public policy today!