“The United States Government and its Power: Legislative, Judiciary and Executive”
Published 22 Feb 2017
Government is an authority that acts on behalf of a group of people. It is needed for many reasons. A government protects and makes decisions for the country. It regulates things to make sure it is a good place to live. Governments differ between countries in the way rulers are chosen and in the amount of power held by the people (Gove 1998). Government makes it possible for large groups of people to live and work together. The government performs many services such as the armed services (protection), transportation services (roads, highways), education and the money system. The government also set the rules and laws for the people (Gove 1998). The Constitution of the United States is a written document that is the supreme law of the United States. It became effective in 1789. The Constitution of the United States is a document that explains the way the country is to be ruled. The six goals stated in the preamble are: To form a more perfect union, to establish justice, to insure domestic tranquility, to promote general welfare, provide for the common defense and secure the blessings of our liberty (Gove 1998).
The United States is a Federal Government. It has three branches: the legislative, the executive and the judicial. The Government power and functions in the United States lies in these three branches of the United States Government System. Article I of the Constitution defines the legislative branch and vests power to legislate in the Congress of the United States. The executive powers of the President are defined in Article 2. Article 3 places judicial power in the hands of one Supreme Court and inferior courts as Congress sees necessary to establish. Through this system where power is separated, each branch operates independently of the others. However, there are built-in “checks and balances” to prevent tyrannous concentration of power in any of the branches and to protect the rights and liberties of the citizens. Each branch is given certain control over the other two, which balances the power and keeps the potential for abuse of power in check (Chen 1997). For example, the President can veto bills approved by Congress and the President nominates individuals to serve in the Federal judiciary; the Supreme Court can declare a law enacted by Congress or an action by the President unconstitutional; and Congress can impeach the President and Federal court justices and judges (Bran 2007). Each of these branches has some authority to act on its own, some authority to regulate the other two branches, and has some of its own authority, in turn, regulated by the other branches. In addition, the powers of the federal government as a whole are limited by the Constitution, which leaves a great deal of authority to the individual states (Fede 2008).
The executive branch of the Government is responsible for enforcing the laws of the land (Bran 2007). The executive branch of Government makes sure that the laws of the United States are obeyed (Thet 2008). The Executive Branch of the Government has the President, Vice President, and all the cabinet members (Exec 2008). The President of the United States is the head of the executive branch of government (Thet 2008). Although power is often delegated to his/her Cabinet members and other officials, all executive power in the federal government is vested in the President of the United States (Fede 2008). The President is allowed to pass or veto a bill that the legislature sends him (Exec 2008). This branch is very large so the President gets help from the Vice President, department heads (Cabinet members), and heads of independent agencies (Thet 2008).
The United States Congress is the legislative branch of the federal government (Fede 2008). The Legislative branch, writes laws on a bill. So they can be sent to the senator then to the Representatives and finally to the President.
Who can veto or sign it (Legi 2008). The legislative branch of government is made up of the Congress and government agencies, such as the Government Printing Office and Library of Congress that provide assistance to and support services for the Congress (Thet 2008). It is bicameral, comprising the House of Representatives and the Senate (Fede 2008). There are 435 Representatives, each of whom represents a congressional district and serves for a two-year term (Thet 2008), and 100 Senators all together there are 535 members of Congress (Legi 2008). The number of representatives is determined by each state’s population. Each member represents an area of the state, known as a congressional district. The number of representatives is based on the number of districts in a state. Therefore, states with larger populations have more representation than states with smaller populations (Chen 1997). However, the consent of both chambers is required to make any law. The powers of Congress are limited to those enumerated in the Constitution; all other powers are reserved to the states and the people. The Constitution also includes the “necessary-and-proper clause”, which grants Congress the power to “make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers.” Members of the House and Senate are elected by first-past-the-post voting in every state except Louisiana and Washington, which have runoffs (Fede 2008). Article I of the Constitution established this branch and gave Congress the power to make laws. Congress has two parts, the House of Representatives and the Senate (Thet 2008).
The role of the judicial branch is to interpret the nation’s laws (Chen 1997). The judicial branch of government is made up of the court system (Thet 2008). It consists of two separate levels of courts: state courts and federal courts. The type of court that a case is tried in depends on the law that was allegedly violated. Most of the laws that govern our day-to-day living are state laws. Violations of federal law include offenses involving federal government employees, crimes committed across state lines (for example, kidnapping or evading arrest), and fraud involving the national government (such as income tax or postal fraud) (Chen 1997). The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. Article III of the Constitution established this Court and all other Federal courts were created by Congress.
Courts decide arguments about the meaning of laws, how they are applied, and whether they break the rules of the Constitution (Thet 2008). The Judiciary explains and applies the laws. This branch does this by hearing and eventually making decisions on various legal cases. There are three different kinds of courts found in the federal court system. The lowest level is the district courts. The 2nd level is the court of appeals. The top level is the Supreme Court (Judi 2008). The judicial power extends to cases arising under the Constitution, an Act of Congress, or a U.S. treaty; cases affecting ambassadors, ministers, and consuls of foreign countries in the U.S.; controversies in which the U.S. government is a party; controversies between states (or their citizens) and foreign nations (or their citizens or subjects); and bankruptcy cases. The Eleventh Amendment was removed from federal jurisdiction cases in which citizens of one state were the plaintiffs and the government of another state was the defendant. It did not disturb federal jurisdiction in cases in which a state government is a plaintiff and a citizen of another state is the defendant (Fede 2008).
Thomas Jefferson said to James Madison “To make us one nation as to foreign concerns, and keep us distinct in domestic ones, gives the outline of the proper division of powers between the general and particular governments. But, to enable the federal head to exercise the powers given it to best advantage, it should be organized as the particular ones are, into legislative, executive, and judiciary”. These words of Thomas Jefferson tells us that every country needs power divided with each have distinct responsibilities (Coates 1999).
The principle of separation of powers applies not only to the Federal and State governments, but also to the three branches of the government. When this separation is properly respected, no single branch can gather sufficient power to itself that will allow it to exercise despotic control over the whole nation (Coates 1999).
In my point of view, the writers of the Constitution did a very great job of separating the power of each branches of the government. The Federal system limits the power of each branch that for me I believe will be very complicated if each branches has unlimited power because the person in the top most position of each might exercise abuse of power.
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- Chen, David. “Three Branches of Government”. “VoteUtah. 1997.
- “Federal Government of the United States”. Wikipedia. 28 April 2008.
- Coates, Elyer Robert Sr. “Separation of Powers:Legislative, Executive and Judicial”. Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government. C.1999.
- “Government The American Government”. ThinkQuest team. 1998.