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With Liberty and Justice, the Federal Government

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With Liberty and Justice, the Federal Government. Let’s Review. What was the nation’s first Constitution called?. Articles of Confederation. Name the meeting in which delegates from 12 states met to revise the Articles of Confederation. Constitutional Convention.

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name the meeting in which delegates from 12 states met to revise the articles of confederation
Name the meeting in which delegates from 12 states met to revise the Articles of Confederation.
Republic - a form of government in which power resides with the citizens who elect representatives to make laws

Sovereignty: supreme power of government rests with the people

    • electorate (voters) choose leaders to make laws and run the country
    • US is not a “democracy” but a representative democracy or republic
  • Constitutionalism: all representatives are bound by the rules of the Constitution
    • lawmakers cannot just make up laws as they see fit
  • Federalism: national government and state governments share power and authority
the members of congress
The Members of Congress
  • First article of the Constitution described the legislative branch
  • Congress is at the head of this branch
the senate
The Senate
  • 100 members – two from each state
  • Qualifications:
      • 30 years old
      • citizen of US for nine years
      • must be resident of state represented
      • Senators elected by the people (17th Amendment)
      • six year term
      • one third of senators are up for re-election every two years
  • Vice President of US is president of the Senate – presides over sessions
  • President Pro Tempore, majority leader, minority leader are other senate leaders
house of representatives
House of Representatives
  • 435 members – the number of representatives is based on a state’s population
  • Reapportionment happens every 10 years
  • Georgia has 13 representatives based on the 2000 census
  • Qualifications:
      • 25 years old
      • citizen of US for seven years
      • must be resident of state represented
      • two year term
  • Speaker of the House and majority leader are leaders in the House
the powers of congress
The Powers of Congress
  • expressed powers: written in the Constitution
  • implied powers: derive from the expressed powers, but not written specifically
  • elastic clause: Article 1, Section 8 stretches the power of Congress to include implied powers
how congress operates
How Congress Operates
  • Committees are used to organize work of Congress
the executive branch of government1
The Executive Branch of Government
  • The president has enough power to do the job, but the Constitution keeps him from having too much power
  • Founding fathers did not want another king
  • In the beginning, the Electoral College had the job of choosing the president
the electoral college
The Electoral College
  • electors: members of the Electoral College chosen from each state
  • Electors vote for the president; citizens vote for electors, not directly for the president
  • 538 electors: number matches the number of senators and representatives from each state
  • The candidate with the most votes in a state gets all the electors
  • Electors are not legally bound to vote for the candidate chosen by the state’s citizens
  • Electors meet in their state’s capitol; votes sent to the president of the Senate
  • Inauguration Day is January 20 following the election in November
parts of the executive branch
Parts of the Executive Branch

President & Vice President Qualifications

  • 35 years old
  • natural-born citizen
  • resident of US for 14 years
  • limited to two terms

(22nd Amendment)

  • Vice President takes over if the President dies, resigns, or is removed from office.

Barack Obama

Joe Biden


Speaker of the House and other leaders in line to take over if vice president cannot take over

  • Executive bureaucracy:

Office of the President, Cabinet, independent agencies, regulatory commissions, government corporations

the cabinet
The Cabinet
  • Members advise the president
  • Serve as heads of the executive departments
  • Members appointed by the president and approved by the Senate
  • Currently 15 members
independent agencies
Independent Agencies
  • Serve public interest and keep government running smoothly
  • EPA: Environmental Protection Agency – example of independent agency, supervises efforts to clean air and water
  • GSA: General Services Administration – oversees spending by the government
federal regulatory commissions
Federal Regulatory Commissions
  • Have power to make rules and punish violators
  • Leaders appointed by the president
  • Examples:
    • FCC: Federal Communications Commission
    • SEC: Securities & Exchange Commission
    • FDA: Food & Drug Administration
government corporations
Government Corporations
  • Established to provide products or services for the American people
  • Examples:
    • FDIC: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – insures bank deposits and protects banking customers
    • USPS: United States Postal Service

Click to return to Table of Contents.

judicial branch of government
Judicial Branch of Government
  • Supreme Court
  • Lower federal courts a part of this branch
  • Decide the meaning and interpretation of the Constitution and laws
  • Protects citizens from mistreatment by other branches of government
the supreme court
The Supreme Court
  • Highest court in USA
  • Chief justice plus eight associate justices
  • Decides cases involving foreign countries or between states
  • Reviews decisions

of lower courts

  • judicial review: ability

to set aside actions of

the legislative or judicial


  • Chief justice presides over impeachments
other federal courts
Other Federal Courts
  • Congress established federal circuit court districts
  • Georgia has three district court regions
  • US Court of Appeals for 11th Circuit is in Atlanta
  • Bankruptcy courts are a part of this system
special courts
Special Courts
  • Courts for special purposes
  • Examples:
    • Tax Court
    • US Court of Appeals for Armed Forces
    • US Court of International Trade
    • US Court of Federal Claims
the system of checks and balances
The System of Checks and Balances
  • Constitution keeps the branches of government equally important
  • Sometimes the branches of government do not get along well – conflicts can arise if one branch tries to find a way around another

President has the power to veto laws passed by the Congress

  • Proposes laws to Congress
  • Submits the Federal Budget to the House of Representatives
  • Appoints federal officials, who carry out and enforce laws

Executive Branch

Checks on the Legislative Branch


Nominates judges to the Supreme Court

  • Nominates judges to the federal court system
  • President has the power to pardon individuals convicted of crimes
  • President can grant amnesty, forgiving a class of crime

Executive Branch

Checks on the Judicial Branch


Congress can overturn a Presidential veto with a 2/3 vote of both houses

  • Senate can reject proposed treaties (2/3 vote to approve)
  • Senate can reject presidential nominations of federal officials or judges
  • Congress can impeach and remove the President (House serves as prosecution, Senate serves as jury)

Legislative Branch

Checks on the Executive Branch


Congress can create lower courts

  • Senate can reject nominees to the federal courts/Supreme Court
  • Congress can amend the Constitution to overturn decisions of the Supreme Court
  • Congress can impeach judges and remove from the bench

Legislative Branch

Checks on the Judicial Branch


Supreme Court can use the power of judicial review to rule laws unconstitutional  

Judicial Branch

Checks on the Executive Branch


Supreme Court can use the power of judicial review to rule presidential actions unconstitutional

  • Supreme Court can use the power of judicial review to rule treaties unconstitutional 

Judicial Branch

Checks on the Legislative Branch