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The United States Government operates under a system of checks and balances, giving each of the three branches of government the ability to place limitations on one another, thus ensuring no individual branch supremely powerful. The framers of the Constitution, having just broken away from the authoritarian rule of the English crown, designed the federal system in this way as a means of protection for Americans from their governing officials. Here is a short summary of each branch’s responsibilities and powers.Executive Branch:– The President of the United States of America- Elected to 4 year terms with a maximum of 2 terms- Sworn to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution- Executes the laws and instructions of Congress- Preserves veto power over Congress that may only be overridden by 2/3 majority vote in both houses- Declares national emergencies and executive orders- Appoints Supreme Court judges with Senate’s consent- May grant pardons to criminals- Commander in chief of US Armed Forces Legislative Branch:– Also known as Congress- Comprised of the House of Representatives (435 members, 2-year terms) and the Senate (100 members, 6-year terms)- Declares martial law- Creates and approves laws- Assumes additional duties that have not been specified by the Constitution, known as enumerated powers- Declares war- Confirms Federal Judicial appointments- Ratifies Treaties- Tries cases of impeachment against the President and may remove him from office if deemed unfit- Approves federal budgets and taxation Judicial Branch:– Comprised of 9 appointed judges known as Supreme Court “Justices”- Supreme Court Rulings are final, unless overturned by the Supreme Court at a later date- Determines whether a law passed by Congress is constitutional- Determines which law passed by Congress applies to individual cases- Determines how Congress meant to apply the law in disputes- Serve lifetime terms on the bench

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