Learn the Branches of the U.S. Government | Ready to Vote - Episode 2


Produced by Sarah Stone, 2016 ETV Endowment Intern (Digital Media/Knowitall)

What is the government, really? Look it up on Dictionary.com and you get: The act or process of governing, especially the control and administration of public policy in a political unit.

Operative word here - PUBLIC.

That's right - government is for you and me, the public. On a national level it's called the Federal Government. It's got three branches that balance each other so that no one branch gets too powerful - the system of checks and balances. After all, the people who designed our government back in 1776 did not want to live under a king - they had been there and done that!

The Legislative Branch

That's the Congress, which includes the Senate and House of Representatives. They make the laws that protect individual rights like freedom of speech and religion and the right to a fair trial. They also make the laws that protect everybody at once, like the Clean Air Act.

The Executive Branch

Here's where the President and all the people who work for him come in. They enforce the laws that the Congress makes. Once a law is made, it's up to these guys to make sure it gets carried out.

The Judicial Branch

The Supreme Court and all the other federal courts interpret the law. They decide whether laws that Congress makes are fair and fit with the Constitution. And they don't always agree on what the Constitution says, so they know how to argue!

Like most state governments, South Carolina's is modeled on the Federal system: The Legislative Branch is the Senate and House of Representatives, making up the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina. The Governor and Lieutenant Governor make up the Executive Branch and the State Court system is the Judicial Branch.

More in this Series

Ready to Vote / U.S. Government | Ready To Vote