Government in Action
A Flexible Document
The framers gave CONGRESS the power to
make “all laws which shall be NECESSARY and
PROPER” for carrying out the tasks of
government.This provision is known as the
The power of the SUPREME COURT to review
government acts and possibly declare them
UNCONSTITUTIONAL is known as JUDICIAL
REVIEW.The Constitution never specifically gave
the court this power. However, the court
assumed that this is what the framers meant.
The Role of the President
Under the Constitution, the PRESIDENT has several
main duties. He is the EXECUTIVE of the United
States, whose job is to manage the government by
CARRYING OUT ITS LAWS.
As chief of state, the PRESIDENT directs national
DIPLOMACY, or relations with foreign countries.
The President also serves as COMMANDER IN
CHIEF, the highest-ranking officer in the armed
The President also plays an important LEGISLATIVE
role. He suggests laws to Congress and works for
their passage. He also can use hisVETO power to
prevent the passage of laws.
The Role of Congress
Congress is made up of two houses: the HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES has 435 members, and the number of
representatives from each state depends on the size of the
state’s POPULATION.The Senate has 100 members---2
from each state.
Congress’s main duty is to make LAWS.This process begins
with the introduction of a bill, or a proposal for a law. In
order for a bill to become law, both the HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES and the SENATE must approve it.
The CONSTITUTION gives the HOUSEOF
REPRESENTATIVES the power to impeach, or bring formal
charges against, members of the other two branches of
government.The SENATE has the power to hold a trial to
determine a member’s guilt or innocence. Officials found
GUILTY may be removed from office.
The Role of the Courts
The function of the nation’s courts is to INTERPRETTHE
LAWS OFTHE LAND and to PRESERVEAND PROTECTTHE
RIGHTSTHE CONSTITUTION guarantees.
The nation’s court system has three main levels: at the
lowest level are more than 90 DISTRICTCOURTS; at the
next level are 13 COURTSOF APPEAL and a smaller number
of specialized courts; at the highest level is the UNITED
There is also a system of FEDERALCOURTS, which
consider only cases involving NATIONAL LAWS. In
addition, each state has its own separate COURT SYSTEM
for hearing cases related to STATE and LOCAL laws.