Three Branches: Separate but Equal

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

The powers of our federal (national) government are divided into three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The branches are separate but equal. They each have special responsibilities concerning laws, the principles that govern our nation.

Legislative Branch

Congress: Senate (100 members) and the House of Representatives (435 members)

** Makes Laws **

Creates and passes bills (proposed laws) Approves appointments and treaties (agreements) made by the President Sets and collects taxes Coins money Makes rules for trade between states Declares war Executive Branch The President, Vice President, 14 Cabinet members (heads of 14 executive departments) ** Carries Out (Executes) Laws ** Signs into law or vetoes (rejects) bills passed by Congress Commands the armed forces Appoints judges, ambassadors, and other federal officials Makes treaties with other countries Receives diplomats from other countries Represents the U.S. at special ceremonies Judicial Branch (Supreme Court ) The Supreme Court (9 justices) and the Lower federal courts ** Interprets Laws ** Can decide if a law is constitutional Can decide if a Presidential action is constitutional Reviews court cases related to the Constitution and federal laws Reviews cases tried in lower courts Adapted from Scholastic Skills Books: Our Nation's Government ("Legislative Branch" and "Judicial Branch" editions).

  • Subjects:
    Congress, Judges and Courts, Politics, The Presidency
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