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The Three Branches of the US Government

The Constitution separated our government into three branches to keep any one from gaining too much power.

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The United States federal government is made up of three branches: the legislative, executive, and judicial. They are all described in the United States Constitution. These three branches are all equal but each one has a different job when it comes to making laws.

The Legislative Branch

The legislative branch writes and debate new laws.

It is made up of Congress and its two chambers, the House of Representatives and the Senate.

This branch involves lots of people getting together to debate ideas for new legislation (laws). The House of Representatives has 435 members, and the Senate has 100.

For a law to be passed, both chambers have to agree. Then the legislation goes to the executive branch for approval.

The Executive Branch

The president is the head of the executive branch.

Any legislation made by Congress has to be approved by the president before it officially becomes a law. The president can also veto a law, which means it is rejected.

The role of the executive is to carry out and enforce the laws, making sure they are followed. This happens through federal agencies or departments like the Department of Justice or the Department of Transportation.

The Judicial Branch

The judicial branch is made up of the courts and judges, who review laws and decide whether they are legal under the Constitution.

The Supreme Court is the most powerful part of the judicial branch, but there are other courts, such as district courts and appeals courts.

Checks and Balances

In a way, the three branches of government compete for power. This makes a system of “checks and balances” so that no one group can dominate. Each branch “checks” the power of the others, and this system creates a “balance” of power.

For example, the executive branch checks the power of Congress when the president decides to veto legislation. The judicial branch can check Congress by ruling a law unconstitutional.

If Congress thinks the president has done something wrong, it can hold a trial to remove him or her from the White House.

The judicial branch is checked since judges have to be chosen by the president and approved by Congress.

So, why did the Founders put three separate branches in charge of the U.S. federal government? They wanted to stop too much power from collecting in one small group. That’s why they designed the separation of powers.

Jose Backer, General Assignment Reporter, is a graduate of St. Michael's College and is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Political Science. Born and raised in Southern California, he currently resides in the Pasadena area.

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