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Updated: Aug 3, 2016
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The Branches of the United States Government

In observing the United States government, what comprises it and how it works, one sees how the President is not the country’s sole-decision-maker; one may also notice and understand how Democracy is ultimately upheld, in theory, due to the effort of Congress; and one also comes to see how important the Supreme Court is in upholding Democratic justice as it applies to the United States Constitution. Making up the United States government are three governing bodies – the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches – that can be classified by their functions.


The flag of the USA 

Administering the Executive branch of the United States government is the President of the United States, who enforces the laws passed by the Legislative Branch, or Congress. That person, the president, is the country’s head of state, is generally considered the head of the U.S. government, and the commander-in-chief of the United States military. Once elected by United States citizens, the President chooses a Vice President (who supports the President and acts as the presiding officer of the senate), as well as the President’s cabinet members, who must be approved by the Senate (with at least 51 votes); they are the President’s advisors and heads of various governmental departments and agencies.


The Judicial branch of the United States government includes the Supreme Court and its nine Supreme Court Justices, who interpret laws according to the United States Constitution; like the President’s cabinet members, members of the Supreme Court are nominated by the President and must be approved by the Senate’s majority vote. They only evaluate court cases that pertain to issues specified in the Constitution, such as Human Rights, States Rights, etc. The highest court in the United States, the Federal judicial system heads over the lower courts, such as state and local courts of each American state.


Finally, the Legislative branch, which is the United States Congress, creates the country’s laws. Congress is divided into two parts: one is the Senate, with 100 members, two from each state; the other is the House of Representatives, who meet to decided if bills should become laws. With exactly 435 members, the House of Representatives is determined by the number in the population of certain American states – to better represent a vast number of people in Congressional decisions. Some states, since they are not heavily populated, have only a few members representing their state in Congress; others have as many as 40. The voters of these states are the ones electing the members of the Legislative branch.


Altogether, the purpose of the three main branches of the American government is to maintain a balance of power among those ruling the country. Each branch, the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches, of government, is therefore meant to uphold a Democratic nation. They are part of what is called the “system of checks and balances,” meaning that one branch, for example, the American President in the Executive branch, could not have too much power over the other two – because the other two are, the Legislative and Judicial branches, are making sure the Executive branch does not have too much central power over the country. This kind of system, with the three branches of government working together to maintain a relatively free country, prevents America from being a run by an oppressive dictator or totalitarian regime.

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