Three Branches of Government in Action

Our founding fathers were very smart and had some great ideas to stop a bad king or tyrant from taking full control of the United States and keep the power in the hands of the people instead of a ruler who only is out for himself. To do that, those who founded our nation came up with a system of checks and balances that stops any one branch of government or any one person or small group of people from taking control of the entire nation and dictating new laws and policies. That system of checks and balances largely relies on keeping the power separated among three different branches of government and allowing one of more branches to bring the other in line when one goes too far and violates the principles upon which the nation is founded.

Executive Branch Administers, Appoints and Negotiates

The job of the executive branch is to handle the daily business of running the country. The president of the United States is the head of the executive branch, making him the nation’s “chief executive.” The executive branch appoints federal judges and other officials, negotiates with other nations and provides general guidance. The executive branch does not create laws, although the president can issue executive orders so long as they are done properly and legally. The executive branch is in charge of the U.S. military, collects federal taxes, appoints foreign ambassadors and develops foreign policy, negotiates treaties and generally acts on behalf of the United States. The executive branch also has the ability to veto laws enacted by Congress, which provides a check on Congressional activities while the power to appoint federal judges, including Supreme Court justices, check the power of the judicial branch. Pres. Obama many times vetoed budgets enacted by the House of Representatives when there was not enough money to pay for some federal programs.

Judicial Branch Ensures Government and Laws Are Legal

The job of the judicial branch is to ensure new laws are okay with the Constitution and to keep the other two branches from breaking the nation’s laws. As President Barack Obama recently learned, the separation of powers means he must answer to the other two branches of government if he does something wrong. The U.S. Supreme Court, as the judicial branch, ruled President Obama illegally appointed federal officials who should have been confirmed by Congress. Instead, Obama waited for Congress go on break and took it upon himself to do the job intended for Congress. Because the Supreme Court ruled Obama’s actions were illegal, future presidents will not be able to repeat the illegal actions and the people will have more control over the government. The judicial branch also ensures enacted laws are Constitutional and do not erode the rights of U.S. citizens.

Legislative Branch Enacts Laws, Monitors President

The job of the legislative branch is to enact the nation’s laws, create the nation’s budget and provide the legislative guidance every country needs by making laws as needed. The legislative branch also keeps the president in check by having the power to try and remove the president for nearly any reason. Only two presidents have been impeached, Andrew Johnson in the 1860s and Bill Clinton in the 1990s, but neither were removed from office. Pres. Richard Nixon resigned when it became likely he would face impeachment for the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s. The legislative branch checks the power of the president through impeachment and by overriding presidential vetoes with a two-thirds vote of Congress. Checks on the executive and judicial branch also are done through Congressional confirmation of presidential appointments, such as when the president appoints a new cabinet member or Supreme Court justice. The president also cannot declare war on another nation without the approval of Congress, which gave President George W. Bush the okay before sending U.S. troops into Afghanistan and Iraq during his presidency. Likewise, Congress cannot negotiate treaties or exercise control over the military, which are reserved for the executive branch. The judicial branch interprets the laws and strikes them down if they are found to violate other laws or the U.S. Constitution or strikes down only the parts of laws that do not abide with other laws or the Constitution.

Our nation’s founding fathers were very wise and used the lessons of the past to create the government we have now. But for their actions, the United States would not be the free and great nation it is now and will remain.