How is the US Parliament structured

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In the following post that is on the website appeared, the structure of the US government is explained.

The three powers of the US government
The following describes the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the US government.

Graphic: Three powers of the US government
About the executive, legislative and judicial power - with curriculum for the classroom.


To diagram 1:
US Constitution
The founding fathers, the creators of the US Constitution, wanted to form a government in which one individual did not have too much power. Against this background, they envisaged a separation of powers in the constitution, i.e. three independent state powers.

Each state authority has its own tasks and at the same time the three authorities work together to ensure that everything runs smoothly and that the rights of citizens are not ignored or denied them. This happens through the mutual control of powers. A state power can use its powers to control the powers of the other two powers and thus maintain a balance of power between the three powers.

The legislature is the legislative power
Congress has two chambers: the Senate and the House of Representatives.

A total of 100 elected senators sit in the Senate; two senators per state. The term of office of the senators is six years.

House of Representatives
There are 435 MPs with voting rights in the House of Representatives. The number of delegates sent by the states depends on the population of the state in question. The MPs are elected for a two-year term and can be re-elected.

The executive is the executive power
The executive branch consists of the president, the vice-president and the cabinet members.

The president is the head of state, head of government and commander in chief of the US armed forces.

Vice President
The vice president not only supports the president, but also acts as chairman of the senate.

Cabinet members are nominated by the President and must be approved by the Senate with at least 51 votes. They advise the president and manage ministries and authorities.

The judiciary is the judiciary
The judiciary is exercised by the courts.

Supreme Court
The Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States. The nine judges are appointed by the President and must be confirmed by the Senate with at least 51 votes.

Other federal courts
There are lower instances, the federal courts, but these are not provided for in the constitution. As the country grew, Congress created them across the country and mandated them to deal with federal affairs on the basis of constitutional powers.

Child-friendly version of a graphic about the three powers to download or order.


How the US system of government works

The United States Constitution divides the federal government into three branches to ensure that individuals or groups do not receive too much power:

  • Legislative - the legislative power (Congress, consisting of the House of Representatives and the Senate)
  • Executive - the executive (president, vice president, cabinet, most federal agencies)
  • Judiciary - the judiciary (Supreme Court and other courts)

Each of the powers can intervene in the actions of the other powers:

  • The president can veto laws drafted by Congress and nominate heads of federal agencies.
  • Congress approves or rejects the president's candidates and can remove the president in exceptional circumstances.
  • Supreme Court justices who can override unconstitutional laws are appointed by the President and approved by the Senate.

The ability of each of the three powers to respond to actions taken by the other is known as the system of mutual control.

Legislative power
The legislature drafts legislative proposals, approves or rejects candidates proposed by the President to run federal agencies, federal judges, or the Supreme Court, and has the power to declare war. Legislative power includes Congress (Senate and House of Representatives) and subordinate agencies and offices that support Congress. American citizens have the right to elect the Senators and the House of Representatives in free and secret ballot.

  • Senate - Each state sends two elected senators for a total of 100. A senator's tenure is six years; there is no limit to the terms of office.
  • House of Representatives - There are 435 elected MPs, spread across the 50 states according to their population. In addition, there are non-voting MPs who represent the District of Colombia and the Territories. The term of office of an MP is two years; there is no limit to the terms of office.

Executive power
The executive executes and enforces laws. Executive powers include the president, vice president, cabinet, ministries, independent agencies, and other bodies, boards, and committees.

American citizens have the right to elect the president and vice-president in free and secret ballot.

The important tasks of the executive include:

  • President - The President runs the country. He is head of state, head of government and commander in chief of the armed forces of the United States. The president is elected for four years and may not remain in office for more than two terms.
  • Vice President - The Vice President assists the President. If the president is unable to exercise his office, the vice-president becomes president. The term of office of the Vice President is four years; he can be elected an unlimited number of times - even under different presidents - for a four-year term of office.
  • The Cabinet - Cabinet members advise the President. The cabinet members are the vice-president, ministers and other senior government officials. The president nominates the cabinet members and the Senate must approve them by a simple majority - 51 votes if all 100 senators vote.

Authorities, boards and committees of executive power
Much of the work of the executive is done by federal agencies, ministries, committees, and other groups.

  • The Executive Office of the President - The office of the president communicates the statements of the president and takes care of the federal budget, security and other important matters
  • The ministries are the most important authorities in the federal government. The heads of these 15 ministries also belong to the President's Cabinet as ministers.
  • Independent Authorities - These authorities are not represented in the Cabinet and are not part of the President's Executive Office. They are responsible for administrative processes, the economy and regulatory oversight.
  • Committees, committees, and other bodies - Congress or the President can set up these smaller organizations for specific tasks and areas that are not handled by higher-level agencies.
  • Quasi-official agencies - Although formally not part of the executive, federal law requires these agencies to post certain information about their programs and activities in the federal register, a daily report of government activities.

The judiciary
The judiciary interprets laws, applies them to individual cases and decides whether they violate the constitution. The judiciary includes the Supreme Court and the federal courts.

  • The Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States. Its judges are appointed by the President and must be approved by the Senate.
    • The Supreme Court has nine justices - the Chief Justice (Chief Justice) and eight Associate Justices. A quorum of at least six judges is required for the Supreme Court to have a quorum.
    • If there is an even number of judges in a tie, the decision of the lower court is upheld.
    • There is no prescribed term of office for judges. They are appointed for life and work until they retire or, in exceptional cases, they are dismissed.
  • Federal Courts and Judicial Authorities - The Constitution allows Congress to create additional federal courts to deal with cases that affect federal law, such as tax and bankruptcy law, or for litigation that affects the U.S., state or constitutional governments, and more. affect. Other judicial authorities and programs at the federal level support the courts and conduct research in the field of judicial policy.

Confirmation procedure for judges
The appointment of judges at the Supreme Court and the filling of other judicial offices at the federal level follow the same basic procedure:

  • The President nominates a candidate for an open judicial position.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing on the candidate and votes on whether the nomination should be presented to the entire Senate.
  • If the nomination is recommended, the entire Senate can debate the nomination. Confirmation of the candidate can only be voted on when the debate is over. A senator will ask for unanimous approval of the candidacy in order to close the debate, but any individual senator can vote against it.
  • If unanimity is not achieved, the Senate must pass a motion to end a debate. A simple majority of the votes is required to accept this motion and thus close the debate on a candidate for federal judge, that is, 51 votes if all 100 senators are voting.
  • As soon as the debate is over, the Senate will vote on the confirmation. Candidates for the Supreme Court or other federal judicial offices are approved by a simple majority of 51 votes.

Graphic: This is how the Supreme Court works

How do cases get to the Supreme Court and how does a judgment come about? You can use this curriculum to design your lessons.

To diagram 2:
This is how the Supreme Court works

The supreme court

  • is the highest court in the country.
  • is based in Washington
  • is at the head of the judiciary of the state
  • decides whether a law violates the constitution
  • advises from the beginning of October to the end of June or the beginning of July

How does a case get to the Supreme Court?
Most of the cases are review and appeal procedures. An appeal is an application to a higher court to overturn the judgment of a lower instance. Most appeals come from the federal courts. You may be referred by the state courts if a case involves federal law.

The court rarely deals with a new case. That would be the case, for example, in legal disputes between two states.

  1. Dissatisfied parties apply to the court for review
    The parties can appeal to the Supreme Court and request a review of the judgment of a lower court.
  2. Judges examine documents
    The judges examine the application and the documents submitted.
  3. Judges vote
    Four judges must approve the review of the case.

What happens when a case is approved for review?

  1. The parties put forward arguments
    The judges review the pleadings (written arguments) and listen to the oral statements of the parties. At the hearing, each party usually has 30 minutes to present their arguments. During this hearing, the judges usually ask many questions.
  2. Judges write opinions
    The judges vote on the case and write their opinions; the majority opinion, which more than half of the judges agree with, becomes a court judgment; judges who do not agree with the majority opinion write a dissenting or minority opinion.
  3. The court pronounces its verdict
    The judges can revise their decision after reading the first preliminary opinions. As soon as the opinion is formed and all the judges have a final vote, the court will deliver its verdict, and all cases will be heard and decided before the summer break. It can take up to nine months for a judgment to be pronounced.

Each year:
7,000-8,000 requests for review are received by the court, with 70-80 cases admitted to an oral hearing. Other applications will be admitted and decided without a hearing.

About the judges:

There are nine judges:

  • The Chief Justice sits in the center and is the head of the federal courts.
  • Eight associate justices

When a new judge is needed:

  • the president nominates a candidate, usually a federal judge.
  • The Senate votes on the candidate's confirmation.
  • The court can decide on cases with fewer than nine judges, but in the event of a tie, the decision of the lower court remains.

The judges are appointed for life, but they can resign early or retire.

  • They stay in office for an average of 16 years.

Original text: Branches of the U.S. Government

Of America Service | August 12, 2019 | Categories: America Service, US Politics | Tags: Separation of Powers, Supreme Court, US Constitution

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