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The Three Branches of Government


The Three Branches of Government Civics Study Packet #1 Team Foster 2010 ... Also, there was NO national court system, and the legislative branch was very weak ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Three Branches of Government

The Three Branches of Government
  • Civics Study Packet 1
  • Team Foster 2010

In this section, well review
  • The names of the 3 branches
  • What each branch does
  • How a bill becomes a law
  • How the branches check balance each other

What are the Three Branches?
(and how can I remember them?)

Why do we have three?
  • In the Articles of Confederation, there wasnt
    really an executive/president. Also, there was
    NO national court system, and the legislative
    branch was very weak (because states were still
    very strong). This system didnt work very well.
    Pretty much we just had a weak legislative
  • When the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution,
    they made a new system where there would be 3
    branches, or divisions of government.
  • One branch would write the laws. This branch
    would have a few hundred members in it, would be
    bicameral, and would be called Congress.
  • Another branch would make sure that the laws
    Congress wrote would be
  • enforced. The man who would do this would be
    called the President.
  • The final branch would decide what the laws mean,
    or interpret them. They would be in charge of
    the court system. They would be called the
    Supreme Court.

Which branch WRITES laws?
  • The LEGISLATIVE branch writes (or makes) laws.
  • In our country, we call the legislative branch
    CONGRESS. Congress is BICAMERAL, which means it
  • Congress meets in the U.S. Capitol building, in
    the city of Washington, D.C.
  • Think of writing with your LEG and youll
  • remember this branch!

What are the two chambers of Congress?
  • One chamber is the Senate. Each state gets two
    Senators, no matter the size. Since there are 50
    states, there are 100 Senators.
  • The other chamber is the House of
    Representatives. The amount of Representatives
    each state gets depends on the states
    populations. California has a high population,
    so it gets a LOT of Representatives. Wyoming is
    a state with very few people, so it only gets ONE
  • Lets look at the building where Congress meets

The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
  • The Senate side. The House side.
  • The 100 Senators The 435
  • debate bills here. debate bills

Interesting facts about Congress (the House)
  • The leader of the House of Representatives is
    called the Speaker of the House. The current
    Speaker is also the first female Speaker, Nancy

The term for a Representative is two years. This
means that every 2 years, they have to run for
re-election. While most bills can start in
either chamber, bills dealing with taxes and
spending money can ONLY be started in the
House. There are 435 Representatives from the 50
states but did you know there are 6 other
Representatives? These Representatives are
elected by the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico,
and the other territories but since those are
not states, their Representatives dont get to
Interesting facts about Congress (the Senate)
  • In the Constitution, the Vice-President is
    technically the President of the Senate. But he
    can only vote if there is a tie. This does
    happen every now and then.

The term for a Senator is 6 years. This means
that every 6 years, they have to run for
The Senate get to do some things the House
doesnt, such as approve who the President
chooses for judges/justices and other positions
in the government. If the president breaks the
law, the Senate puts him on trial. Senators were
originally chosen by the state legislatures for
example, Georgias legislature in Atlanta would
choose our 2 Senators then, in 1913, the 17th
Amendment changed things so that the people in
the state could now directly vote for their
Senators (as they already did for electing their
Which branch ENFORCES laws?
  • First of all, a law is only good if it can be
    enforced. If there are no police, do you think
    bad people will obey the law? Of course not!
  • The EXECUTIVE branch enforces laws, or carries
    them out. Think of the letter E for Executive
    and enforces laws.
  • I think of the President carrying eggs (eggs
  • sounds sort of like executive). This helps me
  • remember the President carries out laws.

Who leads the Executive Branch?
  • The President is the head of this branch. He is
    the boss and commander of the military, the FBI
    (national police), and many other important
    offices. It is his job to see that the laws are
    enforced, or carried out.
  • The President has a term of 4 years. He
  • can only serve 2 terms, which is a total of 8
  • years.

President Obama Vice-President Biden
  • President Barack Obama became President in
    January 2009. His term is 4 years, and will end
    in 2013. If he gets re-elected, he will get 4
    more years to be President, but he will have to
    stop being President in 2017.
  • His Vice-President is Joe Biden. If the
    President dies, quits, or gets kicked out of
    office, the Vice-President becomes the new

Pres. Obama Vice-Pres. Biden
Interesting facts about the Presidents (just for
fun you dont have to study this!)
  • George Washington was the first president. He
    had only three men in his cabinet, or group of
    helpers. Barack Obama is the 44th president.
    There are 14 people in his cabinet, and over
    2,000 people that work for his office.
  • The White House if the presidents home and
  • Eight times has the President died and the
    Vice-President became President. Only once has a
    President quit (Richard Nixon resigned, 1972) and
    the Vice-President (Gerald Ford) became

In 1972, Pres. Nixon (in front) was in trouble,
and Congress was about to kick him out before
they could, he went ahead and quit, leaving VP
Ford (behind him, in chair) to become President.

Which branch INTERPRETS laws?
  • The JUDICIAL branch does. To interpret something
    means to tell the meaning of it.
  • Sometimes it isnt clear what Congress meant by a
    law. Other times, Congresss law may not be fair
    according to the Constitution. Who reads the law
    to see if its fair? The court! And not just
    any court

The U.S. SUPREME Court!
  • The Supreme Court is the highest court in our
    country. It decides if our laws are
    constitutional or unconstitutional.
  • There are 9 people on this court. Instead of
    being called judges, they are called justices.

More about the Supreme Court
  • The President chooses who he wants to be a
    justice, but the Senate has to approve them.
  • Once approved, the justices serve for life (or
    until they want to retire).
  • To remember judicial courts,
  • think Judge Judy (Judi)

Interesting facts about the Supreme Court (you
dont have to study these, but theyre still cool
things to think about)
  • The leader of the Supreme Court is called the
    Chief Justice.
  • The current Chief Justice is John Roberts. He
    was chosen by President George W. Bush in 2005.
  • Did you know a former President later became the
    Chief Justice? It happened in 1921, when William
    Howard Taft (who was president 1909-1913) was
    chosen by President Warren G. Harding. He served
    as Chief Justice until he died in 1930.
  • Sometimes the President chooses someone, but the
    Senate doesnt approve. This very famously
    happened in 1987, when President Ronald Reagan
    chose judge Robert Bork to be a Supreme Court
    justice. The Senate said no, so Bork never
    became a justice.

Chief Justice John Roberts 2005-present
Now, lets see how a bill becomes a law.

HOW does Congress write laws?
  • A bill can start in either chamber. (Lets say
    for this time it starts in the Senate.)
  • Senator Tuck wants to make a new law. She writes
    a bill. If enough people in her committee (small
    group) like her bill, the whole Senate will vote
    on it.
  • If the Senate doesnt pass it, it dies.
  • But if they pass it,
  • is it now a law?

NO! because NOW it goes to the House!
  • Senator Tucks bill has passed the Senate. Now
    it gets sent to the House, where they will debate
    and vote.
  • If they dont pass the bill, it dies.
  • But if they DO pass it, is it NOW a law?

NO! After both chambers of Congress have passed
the bill, it goes to the
  • If he likes the bill, he will sign it, and NOW,
    FINALLY, the bill is a brand-new LAW!!!
  • But if he doesnt like it, he can VETO it.
  • A veto doesnt mean the bill is dead, but it
    sends it back to Congress where they get a chance
    to change it.

but a veto VERY RARELY is able to get overridden.
  • Thats 2 out of every 3 members of Congress!
  • Yeah, 2/3 of the House AND
  • Senate!
  • If they override the veto, the bill becomes a
  • If not, the bill is dead! R.I.P. buddy!
  • Why? Because instead of just getting a regular
    old majority, they have to get a 2/3 majority to
    override the veto!
  • And its hard to get 2/3 of Congress to agree to
    do that.

Its not a simple thing!
  • Its a long, complicated process for your bill to
    become a law and even then, the Supreme Court
    could later say it violated the Constitution!
    But this is very rare. Congratulate yourself,
    Senator! Your bill is now a law!
  • Thanks!

REVIEW What are the Three Branches?
(and how can I remember them?)

EXECUTIVE (eggs-ecutive)
The legislative branch ________ laws.
  • There are ___ chambers of Congress. The _____ of
    _________, which is based on each states
    ________, and the ______, in which each state
    gets 2 members.

The executive branch ________ laws.
  • The leader of the executive branch is the
    _________. He _______ laws, which means he makes
    sure they are ______ ___. He is elected to a
    term of ___ years, but he can serve for a total
    of ___ terms (which means ___ years).
  • If he likes a bill Congress passes, he can ____
  • If he doesnt like it, he can ____ it, which
    sends it
  • back to Congress.

The judicial branch ________ laws.
  • There are ___ judges who are part of the _____
    Court. These judges are called ________. They
    must ____ laws, or tell what the laws ____. They
    decide whether laws are ________al or not.
    Theyare chosen by the _____ but must be approved
    by the ______. Once approved, they can serve for

  • 1 Congress passes a bill, but the President
    vetoes it.
  • This is the ___________ branch checking the
    ________ branch.
  • 2 Congress overrides the Presidents veto.
  • This is the ___________ branch checking the
    ________ branch.
  • 3 Congresss bill becomes law, but the Supreme
    Court declares it unconstitutional.
  • This is the ___________ branch checking the
    ________ branch
  • 4 The President picks someone to be on the
    Supreme Court, but the Senate rejects him.
  • This is the ___________ branch checking the
    ________ branch
  • 5. The Supreme Court decides something the
    President ordered was illegal.
  • This is the ___________ branch checking the
    ________ branch