Three Branches of Government Lesson 2
The Constitution • The supreme law of the United States. • It is the foundation and source of the legal authority underlying the existence of the United States of America and the Federal Government of the United States. • It provides the framework for the organization of the United States Government. • Written at the Constitutional Convention and finished September, 17th 1787
Basic Principles • Popular Sovereignty • Government power resides in the people (voting) • Limited government • Government is not all powerful, can only do what the people let it. • Separation of Powers • Keeps power balanced • No group has all the power • 3 Branches: Legislative, Executive, Judicial • Checks & Balances • No branch can have too much power • Federalism • Division of power among national and state governments
The Legislative Branch House of Representatives Senate The U.S. Congress is made up of two parts, the House of Representatives and the Senate. Congress meets at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Its primary duty is to write, debate, and pass bills, which are then passed on to the President for approval to become laws. Lesson 2
The House of Representatives In the House, representation is based on the number of people living in each state. Therefore, states with larger populations have more representation than states with smaller populations. Each state has at least one representative in the House. Pennsylvania 19 Delaware 1 Lesson 2
House of Representatives Each representative serves a term of 2 years. When the term is over, people from that state may choose to elect a new representative or keep the same one. Thinking of running for Representative from your state? You must: • Be at least 25 years old • Be a U.S. citizen for the past 7 years • Live in the state you represent Lesson 2
The Senate Each of the 50 states sends 2 people to the Senate, so there are a total of 100 senators. This means that each state has equal representation in the Senate. Pennsylvania 2 Delaware 2 Lesson 2
The Senate • Each senator serves a term of 6 years. When their 6-year term is over, the people from that state may choose to elect a new senator or keep the same one. Thinking about running for Senate? You must: • Be at least 30 years old • Be a U.S. citizen for the past 9 years • Live in the state you represent Lesson 2
Special Duties of the Legislature In addition to making laws, the House and the Senate each have some special duties: Senate can: • Vote on any treaties the President makes • Review and approve Presidential appointees, such as Cabinet Secretaries and Supreme Court justices • Hold a trial for a government official who does something wrong House of Representatives can: • Recommend tax bills to become law • Decide if a government official should be put on trial before the Senate if s/he commits a crime against the country Lesson 2
Dig a Little Deeper Who is YOUR Representative? How long have they been in office? What are some of their ideas on the issues you are interested in? Do you have some ideas of your own? Why not write them a letter or send an email? You will find contact information at: http://www.contactingthecongress.org/ Lesson 2
Did You Know??? When Philadelphia was the capital of the United States, the House and Senate met in Independence Hall. The Senate met on the upper floor and the House met on the lower floor. Even today, the Senate is referred to as the “Upper House” and the House of Representatives is called the” Lower House.” Lesson 2
The Executive Branch The President of the United States is the leader of the executive branch. The President’s duties are to: • Enforce federal laws and recommend new ones • Serve as commander in chief of the Armed Forces – Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines • Meet with leaders of other countries Lesson 2
The President’s Cabinet Carrying out the laws of the United States is a big job! To help, the President has a Vice President and department heads who advise the President on issues and help carry out policies. There are 15 cabinet positions/executive departments. The Vice President serves as President of the Senate and becomes President if the President can no longer do the job. Leaders in each department are called Secretaries. Except the Attorney General, which is the head of the Justice Department These Secretaries and Attorney General make up the President’s Cabinet. Lesson 2
Cabinet Departments The Department of Education provides money for public schools and loans to help people attend college . It makes sure there is equal access to education and promotes educational excellence throughout the nation. The Department of Transportation is in charge of highway planning and construction; car, truck, air, and railroad safety; and the safety of waterways, ports, highways, and oil and gas pipelines. The Department of Agriculture works to support farmers and to develop and expand markets abroad for agricultural products. It protects quality in the daily food supply. The Department of the Treasury collects taxes, recommends ways to help the economy, and manufactures coins and money. Lesson 2
Cabinet Departments The Department of Defense is responsible for providing the military forces needed to protect the security of our country. The Department of Health and Human Services looks after people's health and provides services that include conducting medical research, preventing diseases, and assuring the safety of food and drugs. The Department of Energy researches and develops energy systems that are friendly to the environment, but are not too expensive. Other Departments in the President’s Cabinet are: Commerce, Justice, Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Veteran Affairs, Homeland Security, and State. Lesson 2
Fun Facts About US Presidents • George Washington was the only American president to be unanimously elected. • Chester A. Arthur was nicknamed “Elegant Arthur” because of his fashion sense. • Franklin Pierce was the first president to have a Christmas tree in the White House. • John F. Kennedy was the first president to hold a press conference on television. • Jefferson both died on the 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 1826. Not knowing that Thomas Jefferson has already passed John Adams was quoted as saying “Jefferson survives,” when he whispered his last words. • William McKinley was the first president to campaign by telephone. • Franklin Pierce gave his 3,319-word inaugural address from memory, without the aid of notes. • Theodore Roosevelt was the first president to call his residence in Washington, D.C. the “White House.” Prior to his term, it had been called the Executive Mansion or the President’s House. • James Madison was the shortest and lightest president at 5 feet, 4 inches and about 100 pounds. • Lyndon B. Johnson was the first American president to name an African American to his cabinet. • James Monroe was wounded during the American Revolution. • When Millard Fillmore moved into the White House, it didn’t have a Bible. He and his wife, Abigail, installed the first library. • John Quincy Adams dug the first spade of dirt near Little Falls to begin the construction of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal on July 4, 1828. • Millard Fillmore installed the first bathtub and kitchen stove in the White House.
More Facts! • Andrew Jackson was the first president to ride a railroad train. • Barack Obama collects Spiderman and Conan the Barbarian comic books. • Zachary Taylor received his nomination for presidency late because he refused all postage due correspondences. • Thomas Jefferson wrote his own epitaph never mentioning that he served as president. His epitaph read, “Author of the Declaration of American Independence, Author of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom and the Father of the University of Virginia. • Franklin D. Roosevelt is the only American president to be elected four times. After his service, the 22nd Amendment ratified in 1951, limited the presidential office to two terms.Jimmy Carter was the first president born in a hospital. • Herbert Hoover approved “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem. • Calvin Coolidge lighted the first national Christmas tree in 1923 on the White House lawn. • George Washington was the only president who did not represent a political party. • Chester A. Arthur enjoyed walking at night and seldom went to bed before 2 a.m. • Lyndon B. Johnson was the only president to take the oath of office from a female official, Judge Sarah T. Hughes. • Harry S. Truman use to get up at 5 o’clock in the morning to practice the piano for two hours. • Millard Fillmore refused an honorary degree from Oxford University because he felt he had “neither literary nor scientific attainment.” • William Taft, who weighed 332 pounds, got stuck in the White House bathtub the first time he used it. A larger one was ordered. • Calvin Coolidge refused to use the telephone while in office. • Ulysses S. Grant established Yellowstone as the nation’s first national park on March 1, 1872. • Grover Cleveland personally answered the White House phone.
The Judicial Branch The judicial branchof government is made up of the court system. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. It was established by the Constitution. Other federal courts were established by Congress. Courts decide arguments about: • The meaning of laws • How laws are applied • Whether laws break the rules of the Constitution Lesson 2
The Supreme Court The Supreme Court hears cases that have made their way through the lower court system. • There are more than 7,500 cases sent to the Supreme Court each year. • Only about 80 to 100 cases are actually accepted. • There are nine Supreme Court Justices, one of the nine being the Chief Justice. • The Justices of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President, approved by the Senate, and can serve for life. Lesson 2
The Bill of Rights • Freedom of religion, of speech, of the press, to assemble, and to petition • Right to bear arms • No quartering of soldiers • No unreasonable search and seizure • Indictments; Due process; Self-incrimination; Double jeopardy, and rules for Eminent Domain • Right to a fair and speedy public trial, Notice of accusations, Confronting one's accuser, Subpoenas, Right to counsel • Right to trial by jury in civil cases • No excessive bail & fines or cruel & unusual punishment • There are other rights not written in the Constitution • All rights not given to Federal Government belong to states and people.