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FLVS Civics: Foundations – The Branches of Government


The U.S. Federal Government is not a tree,
but it kind of seems like one sometimes. For starters, it has three branches. But before I get into that, let’s back up. The government’s purpose is rooted in keeping
order and protecting people’s rights. It fulfills this purpose with laws. That is, making laws, carrying out laws, and
interpreting laws. It’s no coincidence that these three actions
correspond with the three branches of government. One branch could do all of those things, but
that’s a lot of power to give one group. Too much power tends to make folks act a little
crazy. Our forefathers prevented this by limiting
the powers of government. First, let me tell you about the Legislative
branch, which is the largest. The Constitution says it can make, edit, or
undo the laws for all sorts of reasons. In the U.S., people from all 50 states make
up our legislative branch. They’re called Congress. The next branch is the Executive, which carries
out the law. In the U.S., the President is the head of
this branch, but the entire executive team makes sure people are following the laws. Finally, the Judicial branch interprets the
law. In the U.S., the Supreme Court is the highest
court and it interprets the meaning of the Constitution when it’s called into question. Lower federal courts are responsible for using
laws to judge the behavior of people or groups in determining punishment. All federal courts are part of the federal
judicial branch. So there you have it! The U.S. Government in a nutshell…or a tree. Three separate branches with three separate
powers and one strong common root.

Stephen Childs

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