The three branches of the U.S. federal government


The United States federal government is composed of three branches: the legislative branch, executive branch, and the judicial branch. These three branches all have special powers that uphold the United States Constitution.

The Executive Branch

The executive branch consists of the president, vice president, the cabinet, and all the executive departments.

Under Article II of the Constitution, power has been vested in the president of the United States to execute and enforce legislation created by Congress, or he has the power to veto said legislation. The president is also the commander-in-chief of the U.S. Armed Forces, as well as the head of state and head of government of the United States.

Also part of the executive branch is the vice president (VP). The role of the vice president is to support the president. The VP is also first in line to the presidency if a circumstance arises where the president is not able to serve or is deemed incapable of carrying out his duties.

The executive branch was established in 1789 during the time of the inception of the United States of America as its own country. The executive branch not only houses the president, it also houses the cabinet. This advisory board is composed of the 15 heads of the executive departments and all of them have been appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

Choosing the Head of the Executive Branch

The head of this branch, the president, is elected by the people of the United States through presidential elections held every four years.

The Legislative Branch

The legislative branch is made up of the Senate and the House of Representatives, both of these make up Congress. This branch is established by Article I of the Constitution and was signed into convention in 1787 and then ratified in 1788.

The legislative branch was created to enact legislation, confirm or reject appointments made by the president, and declare war.

Both members of Senate and members of the House are elected representatives that are elected by the public.

Since the legislative branch is composed of two bodies, there are two leaders. The president of the Senate is also the vice president of the United States. The leader of the House of Representatives is the speaker of the U.S. House and is chosen by other members of the House.

The Judicial Branch

Article III of the Constitution is what establishes the judicial branch of the United States and is left to the discretion of Congress on the shape and size. The judicial branch is the Supreme Court. Supreme Court justices first receive presidential nominations and then must attain confirmation by the Senate.

The judicial branch has the power of judicial review, meaning that they can deem laws unconstitutional and eradicate said laws.

Overall Takeaways

  • The executive branch is established by Article II of the Constitution and headed by the President of the United States
  • The legislative branch is established by Article I of the Constitution and is composed of the House of Representatives and the Senate
  • The judicial branch is established by Article III of the Constitution and is headed by the Supreme Court of the United States

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