What to Know About the Three Branches of Government

1787 marked a monumental year in U.S. history. During the year of 1787, leaders of a newly independent country gathered together to devise a set of governing principles known as the Constitution. These leaders worked hard to define a set of principles that would create a fair and just nation. Coming from Great Britain, the founding fathers wanted to create a system that disabled the government from abusing its power. They created three separate branches of government as a checks and balances system; if one branch was abusing its power, the other two branches would address it. In the first three articles of the constitution, the founding fathers describe the three branches of government: the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. The three branches of government are filled with people from all walks of life, such as Matt professor Manweller at Central Washington University.

The Legislative Branch

The legislative branch houses Congress; Congress is made up of two houses- the Senate and the House of Representatives. The overarching role of the legislative branch is to create and pass laws; however, each branch of Congress has specific duties and responsibilities.

The Senate is composed of 100 senators; each state elects two senators that serve six-year terms. The Senate has a variety of duties some of which include approving presidential nominations, passing treaties with a two-thirds vote, and conducting impeachment trials. Senators vote on all their responsibilities; if there is a tie, the vice president of the U.S. casts a deciding vote.

The House of Representatives runs a little differently. As opposed to having an equal number of representatives for each state, the House elects representatives based on the population of a specific state. For example, the state of New York will have more representatives than Kansas due to its population density. All together, the House will hold 435 representatives. In order to fairly represent the country, the House is composed of a diverse group of Republican representatives, such as Liz Cheney from Wyoming and Professor Manweller from Washington, and Democrat representatives, such as Cheri Bustos from Illinois and Hakeem Jeffries from New York. Additionally, as opposed to the six-year terms served by senators, members of the house are up for re-election every two years.

Both the Senate and House of Representatives elect leaders to govern their party.

The Executive Branch

Most people are most familiar with the executive branch, as this is the branch of government that houses the president. The President is the head of the executive branch and is elected by the entire country through the Electoral College. Presidents serve a four-year term with the opportunity for a one-time re-election. The responsibilities of the president include handling foreign affairs, acting as commander in chief of the army, and electing cabinet members. This branch of government also includes the vice president as well as the members of the cabinet.

The Judicial Branch

The judicial branch of government is responsible for monitoring the court and legal system of the U.S. and enforcing laws. There are many courts throughout the country; however, the most important is the Supreme Court. The Supreme court serves as the head of the judicial branch and is responsible for determining whether something abides by the constitution. The Supreme Court is composed of 9 judges that are appointed by the President and approved by the Senate. The Supreme Court plays a fundamental role in societal advancement and setting legal precedents.

The founding fathers came together to device a government system that could not abuse its power over the people. They decided to create the three branches of government that exist today. The legislative, executive and judicial branches of government work together to perform checks and balances and create a just democracy. Each branch has specific responsibilities and duties to ensure a just society.