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3 Branches of

Our Government


1. What are the 3 branches of our government?_______________,

_____________, _______________.

2. The ______________ Branch of our government makes the laws.

3. The ______________ Branch of our government enforces our laws.

4. What are the two parts of our Congress? ____________ and


5. There are _____ senators.

6. The ______________ is elected by eligible United States citizens who

vote and by the Electoral College system.

7. ___________ and _______________ are elected by voters in their states.

8. ________________ study laws to see if they are correct according to the


9. Where do the major branches of our federal government meet and work?


10. The_______________ is the leader of the Executive Branch of our

Congress - Courts
Keeping the
Congress and the Courts balance each other. Congress makes laws, but the Courts
interpret them. The Supreme Court decides if a law fits the meaning of the

When you go to a baseball game there are several umpires on the field and behind
home plate. These umpires did not make the rules for playing the game of baseball,
but they are given the duty to decide what the rules mean in a special case. They
are like judges. They interpret the rules as they see their original meaning. They are
the last word. Judges in our court system are like these umpires. They interpret the
rules. The court applies the rules of the Constitution to the nation's business.

Congress can pass "necessary and proper laws." But what is necessary? What is
proper? The Supreme Court may need to decide in special situations.

Congress cannot interfere with the freedoms spelled out in the Bill of Rights. It can't
punish a person for something that was not a crime when he did it. Any citizen can
go to a court to protect his civil liberties. The citizen may even go to the Supreme
Court to get a final verdict.

Sometimes, the Constitution does not cover a law that the people want. The people
can then vote directly by states to add a special section to the Constitution. This is
called an amendment. Back in 1895, the Supreme Court would not let Congress put
a tax of two cents a dollar on everyone's wages, (money people earned). So later, an
income tax amendment was added to the Constitution.

1. Write in your own words how the Supreme Court checks Congress.

2. What happens when the people want a law that is not covered by the

3. What amendment would you like to see added to the constitution? Support your
opinion with concrete facts and reasoning.

Congress - President

Keeping the Balance

Our government has three branches. This keeps any one part from having too much power. Sometimes people
think a President is very powerful. But people must realize that Congress always keeps a watchful eye on a
President's decisions. The President has special ways to check Congress and Congress has special ways to
check the President.

The President checks Congress when he vetoes a bill. Congress can check him if a 2/3 majority votes to override
his veto.

The President decides what money is needed for each government department. He prepares a budget and shows
it to Congress. But Congress holds the purse strings and can vote "yes" or "no" on the money spent. If citizens are
concerned about the money issues, they should write both the President and their congressmen.

The President is checked in foreign policy (dealing with other countries) too. When a President makes a treaty
(bargain) with another country, it doesn't really start until 2/3 of the Senate (67 members) approve it.

If the President feels Congress is being too big of a problem so that he can't get things done, he can call a news
conference or go on television and talk directly to the people. Truman (a Democrat) had problems with the 80th
Congress (which had mainly Republican members). He rode all over the nation by train telling the people how little
this Congress had done. The people listened and voted some new congressmen into office.

Congress gives the President large amounts of power in time of emergency. They have no other choice. All the
same, members of Congress don't like the President to "walk over" them. If these senators and representatives
feel slighted, look out, Mr. President! Congress can cut off money, start an investigation, and be as stubborn as a
donkey or as strong as an elephant--- like the party symbols show!

Some Presidents get along with Congress better than others. These Presidents call in legislative leaders from
Capitol Hill to talk about problems and new programs. But sometimes the President's party is divided, or the other
party controls Congress. A struggle develops between Congress and the President. Sometimes this lasts a long
time. Other times, both sides decide to compromise and work toward common goals.


1. How does Congress check the President's veto?

2. Who holds the nation's "purse strings"?

3. How can the President check a Congress?

4. How does the Senate check the President on treaties?

5. How can the President check Congress to keep a bill from becoming a law?

The Balance of Government

____________ treaties and budget.
Makes ____________ with other countries.
Makes ___________.
Carries out ___________.
Overrides President's _______ with ______
____________ bills he does not like. vote.

__________ the budget. Can ________ President for misconduct.


Interprets _________. __________ presidential appointments for

Can prove laws to be against the
___________. Can _________ judges for misconduct.

________ judges for a ________ term. Can prove laws to be _____________.


The way an idea grows from a bill to a law is a long and complicated process. The framers of the
Constitution wanted government leaders to have lots of debate on issues and not just make laws
quickly or without thought as to consequences. They chose to design a system that requires both
parts of the Legislative Branch to be involved in the lawmaking process and to then have to seek
approval from the President (Executive Branch) for the final step. They also prevented the
President from being too powerful in this process, by allowing the legislature the option to outvote
the President's decision to veto a law.

Go to this web site and see the total steps needed to take a bill through the process to become a
law. This is part of the Vote Smart site.



After reviewing these steps, write what part of the process that you think is the most difficult for the
bill to go through. Where do you think bills most likely get stopped or changed? Give your opinion
supported by facts from this site.


Committee action

Bill is introduced


Conference committee if needed


Law is given a number

Floor action

Presidential action

Override veto if needed

For a more detailed

official explanation of how a bill becomes a law, go to this government site and compare it with the
explanation at the previous site.

Branches of Government

Print this multiple-choice quiz and complete the entire quiz. Choose the best answer.

1) How many branches of the United States government a) 0

are there? b) 1
c) 2
d) 3
2) Congress includes two parts. What are they? c) people from all fifty states election
d) the current President decides
a) Legislative and Executive
b) Supreme Court and court system 9) What does Congress do?
c) Senate and House of Representatives
a) leads the army, navy, and air force
3) The Executive branch of government is headed by b) passes laws
whom? c) decides on the punishment of those convicted of
a) the President d) decides if laws follow the Constitution
b) Senators
c) Representatives 10) What is one of the duties of the President?
d) judges
a) to boss other people around
4) Congress is part of which branch of government? b) to pass laws
c) to decide how people should be punished
a) Executive d) to see that the laws passed by Congress are carried
b) Legislative out
c) Judicial
11) What is another duty of the President?
5) What does the Supreme Court do?
a) leads the army, navy, and air force
a) tell other courts what they must do b) decides if laws follow the Constitution
b) make sure laws follow the Constitution c) passes laws
c) decide on the punishment for those convicted d) decides on the punishment of those convicted of
6) How many Senators are elected from each state?
12) What is another duty of the President?
a) 0
b) 1 a) makes the laws
c) 2 b) decides if laws follow the Constitution
d) 3 c) decides on the punishment of those convicted of
e) depends on the state's population crimes
d) meets with heads of other countries
7) How many Representatives are there from each state?
13) The Judicial branch of government involves which of
the following?
a) 0
b) 1
c) 2 a) the President
d) 3 b) the courts
e) depends on the state's population c) Congress

14) What level of government is this quiz about?

8) How is the President chosen? a) Local

b) State
c) National
a) people from the smallest states election
b) people from the largest states decide