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Journal #23. Separation of powers – the way that the federal government is divided into 3 separate branches with their own responsibilities and powers Veto – to cancel, usually talking about laws being cancelled by a president Executive order – a command that has the power of law

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Journal #23

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Journal 23

Journal #23

  • Separation of powers – the way that the federal government is divided into 3 separate branches with their own responsibilities and powers

  • Veto – to cancel, usually talking about laws being cancelled by a president

  • Executive order – a command that has the power of law

  • Pardon – freedom from punishment

Quote of the day

“None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody - a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns - bent down and helped us pick up our boots.”

Thurgood Marshall

Quote of the Day

Thurgood marshall 1908 1993

Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993)

  • Born in Baltimore, Maryland

  • Originally named Thoroughgood

  • Punishment in school was to copy the U.S. Constitution – made him interested

  • Wanted to go to law school at the University of Maryland, goes to Howard instead

  • Friends with J Edgar Hoover – leader of FBI

  • Lawyer for NAACP in Brown v. Board of Education

  • First African American on the Supreme Court

Bonus questions

Bonus Questions

  • When and where was the Constitutional Convention held?

  • Who were 3 important delegates at the Constitutional Convention?

  • What were the 2 plans for the new Constitution called?

  • How were the 2 plans different?

  • What are the 3 branches of government?

  • What is the system called that makes sure no one branch becomes too powerful?

Understanding the constitution

Understanding the Constitution


The federal system

The Federal System

  • The United States is a representative democracy – a government led by officials who are chosen by the people

The federal system1

The Federal System

  • The powers granted to the federal government are called delegated powers

    • Sometimes these powers can be stretched by using the elastic clause – “necessary and proper”

  • The powers kept by the state government are called reserved powers

  • Concurrent powers are powers that the federal and state governments share

The legislative branch

The Legislative Branch

  • Is also called Congress and it makes the nation’s laws

  • It is made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate

The house of representatives

The House of Representatives

  • The House of Representatives has 435 members

  • The U.S. census determines the number of representatives for each state

  • House members represent a particular area

  • Requirements for House members

    • 25 years old minimum

    • U.S. citizen for at least 7 years

    • Must be a resident of the state where they are elected

  • House members serve two-year terms

  • One of the bodies that creates our countries laws

The senate

The Senate

  • The Senate is made up of two representatives (Senators) from each state

  • Requirements

    • Must be 30 years old

    • U.S. citizen for 9 or more years

    • Must be a resident of the state they represent

  • Senators serve 6 year terms

  • There is no limit to the number of times someone can be elected to Congress

The legislative branch1

The Legislative Branch

  • The political party that has the most members in each house of Congress is called the majority party

  • The party with fewer members is the minority party

  • The leader of the House of Representatives is the Speaker of the House

    • House members elect the Speaker from the majority party

  • The vice president of the U.S. is the president of the Senate – he only votes to break a tie

  • Congress does most of its work in committees that specialize in certain types of bills

John boehner

John Boehner

  • Is the current Speaker of the House

  • He is a republican from Ohio

The executive branch

The Executive Branch

  • Article II of the Constitution specifies the powers of the executive branch

  • This branch enforces the laws that Congress passes

  • The President is the head of the executive branch and the most powerful elected leader in the country

The president

The President

  • Requirements

    • Native born U.S. citizen

    • At least 35 years old

    • U.S. resident for at least 14 years

  • Barack Obama, our 44th president, is the first African American president

  • The president and vice-president serve for 4 years

  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected 4 times, but today presidents are limited to 2 terms (22nd Amendment)

  • This is the most powerful elected leader in the country



  • The House of Representatives can impeach, or vote to bring charges of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” against a president

  • The Senate tries all impeachment cases, if the president is found guilty Congress can remove him from office

  • Impeached presidents

    • Andrew Johnson (removed from office in 1868)

    • Bill Clinton (stayed in office in 1998)

  • Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 to avoid impeachment

Working with congress

Working With Congress

  • The system of checks and balances often places the president against Congress

  • It is challenging when the president’s party is different from the majority party in Congress

  • The president can ask Congress to pass or reject bills – he can also veto laws

Other presidential powers

Other Presidential Powers

  • In certain situations the president may issue an executive order that stretches the laws

  • The president can also grant a pardon to people facing criminal charges

  • As commander in chief of the armed forces, the president can send in U.S. troops

  • The president has 14 executive departments who do most of the executive branch’s work

  • The heads of these departments are the president’s advisors also called the cabinet

The judicial branch

The Judicial Branch

  • Article II of the Constitution

  • A system of federal courts, headed by the Supreme Court

  • Can strike down laws if they are unconstitutional

  • The president appoints judges to federal courts

  • Judges are appointed for life

The judicial branch1

The Judicial Branch

  • Lower courts are divided based upon which type of cases they hear

  • Each state has at least 1 district court to handle federal cases

    • 94 total U.S. district courts

    • 13 courts of appeals

The supreme court

The Supreme Court

  • After a case has been decided by the court of appeals, the losing side may appeal the decision to the Supreme Court

  • Thousands are appealed to the Supreme Court each year, but only about 100 are heard

  • Supreme Court justices carefully choose which cases to hear – usually cases must involve an important constitutional or public interest issue

The supreme court1

The Supreme Court

  • The highest and most powerful court in the United States

  • Congress decides how many justices sit on the Court – it has been 9 traditionally

  • The chief justice of the United States leads the Supreme Court

  • There are no specific requirements to become a Supreme Court justice

  • Thurgood Marshall became the first African American Supreme Court justice in 1967

  • Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female Supreme Court justice in 1981

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