*States gathered in 1787 to write the
*Constitution – “set principles that told how
the new nation would be governed.”
What Was Wanted from the
*The leaders wanted a strong and fair
*The leaders wanted to protect individual
*The leaders wanted to prevent the
government from abusing its power.
How did the leaders get what they
*The leaders came up with three branches
*The Executive Branch
*The Legislative Branch
*The Judicial Branch
The Legislative Branch
*The legislative Branch makes laws.
*The laws are written, discussed, and
voted on in Congress.
*Made up of 2 houses of Congress
1. The Senate
2. The House of Representatives
*The legislative branch is also know as Congress
*2 from each state
*serve a 6 year term
*Vice President is the head of the Senate
*Senate approves nominations made by the
President of the Cabinet, Supreme Court,
federal courts and other posts.
*The Senate must ratify all treaties by a 2/3
The House of Representatives
*435 representatives in the House
*The number each state gets is based on
the population of the state.
*The higher the population, the more
representatives a state gets.
*Representatives are elected by their states.
*Serve a 2 year term
*Speaker of the House (elected by the
representatives) is the head of the House.
*Both parties in the Senate and the House
of Representatives elect leaders.
*Majority leader – the leader of the party that
controls the house.
*Minority leader – other party leader.
The Executive Branch
*The Executive Branch makes laws official.
*The President is the head of the Executive
*The Vice President and other officials are
also a part of the Executive Branch.
*The President is elected by the entire country.
*The President serves a 4 year term.
*approves and carries out laws passed by the
*appoints/removes cabinet members and
*acts as head of state and commander in chief
of armed forces.
Members of the Cabinet
*Made up of 15 major departments of
*The members give advice to the President
about important matters.
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 Homeland Security
The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
The Secretary of Transportation
The Secretary of Education
The Secretary of Energy
The Secretary of Veterans' Affairs
The Judicial Branch
*Oversees the court systems of the United States.
*They explain the meaning of the constitution
and laws passed by Congress through court
*The Supreme Court is the head of the Judicial
*They rule acts constitutional or unconstitutional
*Decide if something is or is not permitted
under the constitution.
The Supreme Court
*9 Justices (judges), 8 Associates Justices, and 1
*Judges nominated by the President and approved
by the Senate.
*no term limits
*Highest court in the land – decisions are final
*no other court can overrule the decisions
*decisions set precedents (new ways of
interpreting the law).
Checks and Balance System
*Each of the 3 branches can limit the
powers of the other branches.
*This way no branch becomes too
*”Each branch ‘checks’ the power of the
other branches to make sure that the
power is balanced between them.”
Example of the Checks and Balance
*HOW LAWS ARE MADE
1. Legislative Branch introduces and votes on the bill.
2. The bill goes to the Executive Branch
3. The President decides if the bill is good for the
4. If so, he signs the bill and it becomes a law.
5. If not, he vetos the bill (does not sign it)
6. The Legislative Branch gets another chance.
7. With enough votes, the legislative branch can override
the Executive branch’s veto.
8. The bill becomes a law.
9. People test the law through the court system, which is
under the control of the judicial branch
10. If someone believes a law is unfair, a lawsuit can be
11. Lawyers make arguments for and against the case.
12. Judges decide which side presented the most
13. The side that loses can choose to appeal to higher
14. If the Legislative Branch does not agree with how the
Judicial has interpreted the law, the can introduce a new
piece of legislation.
15. The process starts all over again.
*The link below contains additional
information on the Three Branches of
Three Branches of Government
Word Search Answers
Three Branches of Government
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