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The Three Branches of Federal Government, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 610

Essay

How does the federal government govern America? The U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1789, is the basic instrument of government. Although the power lies with the people, the Constitution divides power both vertically and horizontally. Within the federal government, power is channeled into three different branches – the legislative, the executive,and the judiciary. This is called vertical division of power and often referred as “separation of powers”. The three branches of government served as a system of checks and balances on each other, providing a lateral balance of power. To minimize the chance that one branch will become so strong that it can abuse its power and harm the citizenry, each branch has some power over the other two in a system known as checks and balances. The Constitution also divides power horizontally, into layers, between the nationwide government and the statewide governments. This arrangement is known as federalism. In a further division of powers, state governments create local governments.

There are two branches of federal government that attempt to govern America, the Executive and Legislative Branches. The third branch of the federal triumvirate, the Judicial Branch weights in when there is a constitutional issue caused by the governance of either or both the other two branches. This organizational experiment has been a work in progress for the past 234 years and counting. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights of the United States of America are the basis and the authority for all three Branches to exist and operate. I will belabor these points in detail.

At the federal level, the executive branch includes the president and the vice president and, at the state level, the governor and lieutenant governor. Holders of these offices are elected in national or statewide elections, respectively. The president may remain in powerfor two to four-year terms (if reelected). Most governors may also serve two terms, if reelected. Once elected, the executives appoint a cabinet.

The legislative branch is the body of elected representatives. Most legislatures are bicameral – that is, the governing bodyincludes two houses. The federal legislature is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate, as are most state governing bodies. Representation in the U.S. House of Representatives is based on populace, so more densely populated states have more representatives. In the U.S. Senate, representation is equal for all the states with two representatives for each. In state senates, one senator represents an entire district.

A number of agencies serve the legislative branch. On the federal government level these agencies are referred to as legislative agencies and include: The General Accounting Office (GAO), The Congressional Budget Officer (CBO) and The Government Printing Office (GPO). In addition, independent commissions provide Congress with reports and advice on policy matters. States generally have agencies that review bills in terms of their fiscal impact and policy implications.

Finally, the judicial branch consists of court system. The highest authority is given to the Supreme Court. Generally, the division of labor among the three branches of government is such that the legislature is charged with making law, the executive branch implements and enforces the law, and the judiciary interprets the law. The judicial branch is not a focus of the government relations process, and certain legal restrictions help to preserve the independence of the judiciary. The role of the courts should always be taken into account, however, because at times it is appropriate to consider whether legal remedies should be pursued either before or after the legislative or regulatory strategy.

The American constitutional system thus simultaneouslyprovides the gateways for access and gates that limit access. The people govern themselves, but indirectly and through a system that disperses power among many competing interests.

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