Branches of U.S. Government


Legislative Branch (make laws)

We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.” Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of The United States

Article I, Section 1:  "All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives."

Article I, Section 8 outlines the 18 powers vested in Congress. They make ALL laws, confirm or reject the president's cabinet picks, and has the authority to declare war, to coin money, borrow money on the credit of the US, establish Naturalization rules, establish post offices and roads, to promote the Progress of Science and Arts, to name a few.  

There are 100 elected members of the Senate (2 from each state), and they serve for 6 years with no limit to how many terms they can serve. Referred to as Senator.

It was decided in 1911 that there would be 435 members in the U.S. House of Representatives, which are divided among states in proportion to the state's total population. California, the most populous state, has 53 representatives. Seven states have only one representative: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming. Referred to as Congressman or Congresswoman.

Non-voting delegates represent the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Island. 

Members of the House of Representatives serve a two-year term with no limit to how many terms they can serve. That means every two years, there is an election for the U.S. House of Representatives.

Links to Legislative Branch

Article I of The U.S. Constitution 

Article I, Section 8 of The U.S. Constitution


Executive Branch (carry out laws)

 Article II, Section 1: "The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America." 

Section 2: "The President shall be the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States . . .He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States . . ."

Executive Branch is made up of the President, Vice President, the Cabinet, executive departments, independent agencies, boards, commissions, and committees.

The President leads the country. He or she is the leader of the federal government and Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. military. He or she serves a four-year term and can run for re-election only once.

The Vice President, of course, supports the President. If the President is unable to serve, the VP becomes President. The VP can be elected and serve an unlimited number of 4-year terms as Vice President, even under different presidents.

Cabinet members advise the President. They are nominated by the President and approved by the Senate.

Links to Executive Branch

Executive Cabinet-level Departments and Agencies

Article II of The U.S. Constitution II, Section 2 of The U.S. Constitution 


Judicial Branch (interpret laws)

 Article III, Section 1: "The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish."

Judicial Branch interpret the meaning of laws and decide if laws violate the Constitution. It is made up of the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts.
The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. There are nine Justices, a Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices, nominated by the President and approved by the Senate.

It takes a quorum of six justices to decide a case. If a case results in a tie, even number of justices (4 for / 4 against), the lower court's decision stands. This happened in a case after the death of Justice Anthony Scalia, who passed in 2016, leaving a vacant seat and an even number of Justices that resulted in a tie.
There is no fixed term for Justices. They are on the bench until their death, retirement, or removal by Congress under highly exceptional circumstances.

  • Click here for the meaning of Lady Justice, a blindfolded woman carrying a sword and a set of scales, standing on a snake and a book.

Links to Judicial Branch Courts 

Article III of The U.S. Constitution III, Section 1 of The U.S. Constitution