Three Branches of Government

The Constitution created three separate branches of government. Each branch has its own powers and areas of influence. At the same time, the Constitution created a system of checks and balances that ensured no one branch would reign supreme. The three branches are:

  • Legislative Branch—This branch consists of the Congress which is responsible for making the federal laws. Congress consists of two houses: the Senate and the House of Representatives.
  • Executive Branch—The Executive power lies with the President of the United States who is given the job of executing, enforcing, and administering the laws and government. The Bureaucracy is part of the Executive Branch.
  • Judicial Branch—The judicial power of the United States is vested in the Supreme Court and the federal courts. Their job is to interpret and apply US laws through cases brought before them. Another important power of the Supreme Court is that of Judicial Review whereby they can rule laws unconstitutional.

Congress in Simple Terms…

  • You have three members of Congress who represent you in D.C. – two Senators and one Representative.
  • Senators serve 6-year terms in the Senate and there are two from each state.
  • Representatives serve 2-year terms in the House of Representatives. The number of representatives from each state is determined by population. For example, there are numerous Representatives from New York City while there is only one Representative serving the entire state of Alaska.
  • Representatives are frequently referred to as Congressmen, Congresswomen or Reps.