Essay Summary of Branches of Government

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Branches of Government

Paper Brandy N. Serrano HIS 301 May 28, 2012 Bruce Franklin Branches of Government Paper This paper will discuss the three branches of government Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. This paper will first cover the history of the three branches how did it start and what each branch controls. The second piece will cover how the branches interact with each other and the success and balance of each of the three branches. The last two parts of the paper will cover conflict between state and federal power then and now and how the branches could be more efficient.

History of the 3 Branches of Government The reason our founding father created the three Branches of Government was not to allow one person or one group of people to have too much power or control by having a series of “checks and balances”. The framers wrote the Constitution to provide a separation of powers, or three separate branches of government. Each branch has its own responsibilities while at the same time work together to make the country run smoothly and to assure that the rights of citizens are not ignored. In 1789 the forefathers ratified the constitution that outline the three Branches of Government in Articles I, II, and III. Article I of the constitution covers the Legislative Branch, Article II gives details of the Executive Branch, and Article III covers the Judicial Branch. The articles define in detail the authority, the compilation, the rules of engagement, the interaction, and various other aspects of how these three specific branches of government should be divided (Hub Pages, 2012).

The Executive Branch consists of the president, vice president and 15 Cabinet- level departments such as State, Defense, Interior, Transportation and Education (Trethan, 2012). The president controls the Executive Branch and chooses the vice president and the cabinet members who lead their departments. A crucial function of the executive branch is to ensure that laws are carried out and enforced to facilitate such day-to-day responsibilities of the federal government as collecting taxes, safeguarding the homeland and representing the United States’ political and economic interests around the world (Trethan, 2012).

The Legislative Branch consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives that is known as the Congress. There are 100 Senators and 435 members of the House, each state has two Senators and House members are determined based on the population of the state. The legislative branch, as a whole, is charged with passing the nation’s laws and allocating funds for the running of the federal government and providing assistance to the 50 U. S. states (Trethan, 2012). The Judicial Branch is the United States Supreme Court and lower federal courts.

The Supreme Court has nine justices that are appointed by the president and is confirmed by the Senate and once appointed they hold the position for a lifetime and are replaced when the person dies or retires. The primary function is to hear cases that challenge legislation or require interpretation of that legislation (Trethan, 2012). Interaction of the Branches As previously discussed there are three branches of government that were designed for a balance of “checks and balances”. The bases for the three branches of government in the U.S. are the, legislative, judicial, and executive, that will interact in a way that if one branch were to go outside the boundary set by the constitution the other branches would step in and pronounce the act unconstitutional (Vera, 2012). The Executive power which is the President has the power to approve or vetoes federal bills, carries out federal laws, appoints judges and other high officials, and makes foreign treaties, grant pardons and reprieves to federal offenders and acts as commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

Checks that are done on Executive powers are; Congress can override vetoes by a two-thirds vote, the Senate can refuse to confirm appointments or ratify treaties and Congress can impeach and remove the President. The Congress can also declare war; while the Supreme Court can declare executive acts unconstitutional. The Legislative Powers also known as Congress have the authority to; pass federal laws, establishes lower federal courts and the number of federal judges.

The following checks are in place for the Legislative powers; the Presidential veto of federal bills, Supreme Court can rule laws unconstitutional, and both houses of Congress must vote to pass laws by checking power within the Legislature. The checks on the Judicial power are; Congress can propose constitutional amendments to overturn judicial decisions (These require two-thirds majority in both houses, and ratifications by three-quarters of states. ) Congress can impeach and remove federal judges, and the President appoints judges (who must be confirmed by the Senate) (Hawk, 2008).

Successful and Balanced

When asking if the three Branches of Government are successful the question can have mixed answers. In one way yes it is successful because the system has lasted for over 200 years and continues on to this day. A better question to ask is does the current system continue to exhibit the characteristics and goals the founding fathers had envisioned. The answer to this question is not as clear in one hand the system seems to work as designed by our founding fathers laws are being passed, carried out, and enforced.

On the other hand the level of involvement of the public is not what our founding fathers hoped it would be. The Anti-Federalists envisaged representatives returning home frequently to districts small enough to enable them to instruct constituents about the events taking place at the national capital and to receive instruction about how best to represent their constituents (Hub Pages, 2012). Even though this concept is alive today it is rare or even non-existing that a representative returns back to their state to ask their constituents for their instructions on events at the capital.

Citizens due have tools in place that allow them to share their ideas and thoughts with their representatives such as phone, email, and the internet. The reality is many representatives are voting on issues that influence their special interest groups and party affiliations. We are also seeing a grid lock in Congress right now that is causing the Supreme Court to interfere more on issues that should be settled between Congress and the President. This is causing an imbalance between the three branches of the government.

This is causing people to question if their representatives are fighting for their freedom, liberty, and property and this is showing in how people are voting. So for the question of success and balance the answer will always be different for everyone. Federal and State Right’s The Articles of Confederation were week and had no money or way of getting money through taxation. Under the Articles the States had more power than the nation government. For this reason our forefathers brought forth the idea of federalism, a division of sovereignty between a national government and regional government (Trethan, 2012).

The federal powers under the constitution include the right to collect taxes, declare war, and regulate interstate and foreign trade. The federal government also has implied powers enable the government to respond to the changing needs of the nation. The states powers under the constitution include the right to legislate on divorce, marriage, and public schools. Powers reserved for the people include the right to own property and to be tried by a jury (Almanac of Policy Issues, 2004).

Even though the Constitution had been made there were still several struggles between political struggles and between advocates of strong state powers versus proponents of federal supremacy ensued. In today’s modern world there are still arguments between states and federal government for example the U. S. federal government is sue the state of Arizona for their new immigration law saying that the law is unconstitutional. It comes down to having a balance of power between states and federal government this was the vision of our founding fathers. Efficiently

Our founding fathers had great ideas on how to make this one nation and how to have a fair balance of state and federal governance. Their ideas have lasted for several years and as times change there are changes that are made to the three branches but for the most part it is still what the founding fathers had originally started. Some changes that could be made to the Legislative Branch is the removal of lobbyist and special interest groups this would help to get representatives to listen to the citizens they represent instead of the most influential or financially sound group.

Also there needs to be a better balance between the numbers of representatives in the house that each state has, there should be a limit of 2 per state. This could help prevent the grid lock that we are seeing in Congress today and create a better balance. In the Judicial Branch a change would be to have term limits on how long a justices could serve this could help prevent corruption and the “social class” like system that there is today. In the Executive Branch the president should have more control over the Legislative

Branch with the creation of laws. The Congress should not be allowed to pass a law without the president’s approval and if there is a disagreement then a compromise should try to be reached and if still blocked then it should go to the Supreme Court. Conclusion Our forefathers created a system to have a balance of power between state and federal government this system is the three branches of government. They did not know that 200 years later that system would still be in place and working much like they created it.

The three branches help to keep balance between state and federal government and work to up hold the U. S. Constitution. Each branch was design to control different powers of government this keeps one group from having total control or power over another group. For the most part the branches are successful and balanced in power and control. State and federal government work together for the most part but there are still some conflict that arise between the two. Overall the developments of the three branches have been successful and like all good things there is room for improvements and change.

We will have to wait and see what the next 200 years bring for the Government.


  1. Almanac of Policy Issues. (2004). The Constitution of The United States of America.
  2. Retrieved from http://www. policyalmanac. org/government/archive/constitution. shtml Ben’s Guide to U. S. Government. (August 2011).
  3. Branches of Government. Retrieved from http://bensguide. gpo. gov/3-5/government/branches. html Hawk, R. (2008). Checks and Balances in the Three
  4. Branches of Government. Retrieved from http://socyberty. om/government/checks-and-balances-in-the-three-branches-of-government Hub Pages. (2012).
  5. A Look at the Three Branches of the United States Government 79. Retrieved from http://scsiv. hubpages. com/hub/A-Look-at-the-Branches=of-the-United-States-Government Trethan, P. (2012).
  6. The Branches of Government. Retrieved from http://usgovinfo. about. com/od/usconstituton/a/branches. htm Vera, L. (2012).
  7. Why Three Branches of Government. Retrieved from http://lovera13. hubpages. com/hub/Why-Thre-Branches-of-Government

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