primary_sources.PNGThe United States Constitution.
Goddess of Democracy by Thomas Marsh
Goddess of Democracy by Thomas Marsh

Multimedia.pngFor a brief video describing American political structure, click here.

rotating gif.gifFor more on the structure of American Government, see the following standards:


Link to Grade 7.38 for the Roman Republic and how it contributed to development of democratic principles



LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
US Capitol Building
US Capitol Building

The Legislative Branch contains the United States Congress, which is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Congress has authority to make, enact laws and declare war on foreign nations.

The House of Representatives is made up of 435 elected members, whom get elected every two years.


Each state is given a number of representatives directly proportionate to the population of that state.

A Speaker of the House is elected by the members of the House of Representatives, and is third in line for the presidency.

The House has the exclusive power to impeach the President and elect the President in the case of an electoral tie.

The Senate is made up of 100 elected members, two from each state. Senators are elected for six year terms and must be members of the state they represent. The Vice President is the head of the Senate.

Once a President is impeached by the House, the Senate must convict the impeachment. In order for a bill to pass and become law, there must be a majority vote in both the House and the Senate, and then it is passed along to the President.

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

White House
White House

The Executive Branch is headed by the President, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.

The President appoints the members of his Cabinet including the Secretaries or heads of the fifteen executive departments, for example Secretary of State.

The President is responsible for implementing and enforcing the laws passed by Congress or if finding them unfit, vetoing laws passed by Congress.

The President is also responsible for handling affairs with foreign nations and issuing State of the Union addresses, which are typically done in front of a joint-congress in January.


Which American Presidents Were Generals?


JUDICIAL BRANCH

external image Seal_of_the_United_States_Supreme_Court.png
The Judicial Branch is made up of federal courts and most importantly the Supreme Court.

The Justices apart of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

There is typically one Chief Justice and other Associate Justices.

A Justice can only be removed from impeachment by the House and conviction from the Senate.

The federal courts hold the power of interpreting the law, determining the constitutionality of that law and then applying it to individual cases.

Once a decision is made by the Supreme Court, inferior courts must apply that decision.

state_of_union_add_bar.jpg
President Obama giving his 2012 State of the Union Address





The makers of the constitution made sure that each branch of government could control the other branches.

For example, the President can "check" Congress by vetoing, or rejecting laws it passes.

On the other hand, Congress can remove the president if enough members feel that he or she has violated the law. Thus, both are kept in balance.