The Companion to The Little Book On Line
for Teachers and Tutors
F & G: Branches of Government
Learning Outcome #7: Identify the main function of each branch of government (executive, legislative, judicial) at the national, state, and local levels.
Directions, Part A: Our national, state, and local governments operate based on the principle of separation of powers. The powers to make, enforce, and interpret laws have been distributed among three separate branches of government. Carefully read and study Section F and Section G under Important Things to Remember and the Related Words List in The Little Book. Then, fill in the chart using the branches below and answer the six questions.
Branches of Government
House of Representatives
House of Representatives
Ohio Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court
- Who makes the laws for the city of Cleveland?
- Who interprets the laws of the United States?
- Who enforces the laws for the state of Ohio?
- Who makes the laws for the state of Ohio?
- Who enforces the laws for the city of Cleveland?
- Who interprets the laws of the state of Ohio?
Directions, Part B: Letters represent branches of government in the chart below. In parenthesis are the number of members in that branch and after a dash are the years in each term of office. Practice reading each box in the chart using letters and numbers. For example, the legislative branch on the local level consists of the city council, which has 21 members serving a 4 year term of office. Refer to the chart you completed in Part A for help. Then, answer the questions that follow.
USSC(9)-Life OSC-6 MC-6
- Which legislative branches are divided into two houses?
- How many U.S. representatives are there?
- How many Ohio senators are there?
- How many city council members are there?
- How many U.S. Supreme Court Justices are there?
- How many U.S. Senators are there?
- How many members in the Ohio House of Representatives?
- Which branch of government has 535 members?
- What is the term of office for U.S. senators?
- What is the term of office for U.S. and Ohio representatives?
- What is the term of office for city council?
- What is the term of office for U.S. Supreme Court Justices?
- What is the term of office for all the executives?
- What is the term of office for state and local judges?
Directions, Part C: You should be able to read the letter and number patterns found in the chart in Part B. If not, practice until you can. The next step is to memorize the letters and numbers so that you can reproduce the chart. Because they are shorter, you will find the letter and number patterns easier to memorize than the name. Look for other patterns to help you. For example, the executive branch at all levels have the same term of office (4 years).
It is time to practice. Fill in the boxes in the chart below with the correct letter and number patterns using only your memory.
Cover up the chart above and fill in this one from memory.
After you have committed the chart to memory, return to Part B. Answer the 14 questions without using any chart to help you.
Directions, Part D: The Constitution not only separates the powers of government, but has each branch check on each other. This system of checks and balances prevents any one branch from becoming too powerful. Study the examples below. Ask yourself: Who is doing the checking and who is being checked? In the first example the Supreme Court is checking on Congress and the President. (Click underlined words to see their definitions in the Glossary of The Little Book On Line.)
- Congress can pass a law, the President can sign it, but the Supreme Court can declare it unconstitutional.
- Congress can pass a law, but the President can veto that law.
- The President can veto a new law, but Congress can override his veto with a two-thirds vote of both houses.
- Congress passes the federal budget, but the President must sign it.
- The President appoints Supreme Court Justices and his cabinet members, but the Senate must confirm them.
- Supreme Court Justices serve for life, but Congress can impeach and remove them.
- The Supreme Court can declare a law unconstitutional, but Congress can propose an amendment to the constitution.
- The President negotiates treaties with foreign countries, but the Senate must approve them.
- The President negotiates treaties with foreign countries, but the Supreme Court interprets treaties.
- The President controls the army, navy, and air force, but Congress has the power to declare war and provide money.
- Federal (national) Courts can send a person to prison, but the President can grant pardons and paroles.
- Who has the power to command the armed forces, negotiate treaties, and veto laws?
- Who has the power to interpret laws and treaties and declare laws unconstitutional?
- Who has the power to pass taxes and budgets, confirm appointments, and impeach officials?
Directions, Part E: Below is a list of specific government powers. Identify the branch and level of government that has each power and place the number of that power on the chart below.
(To identify the branch of government look carefully at the verb used and the action taking place. To identify the level of government look carefully at where the action is taking place.)
- declare war
- choose a police chief
- set the length of the school year
- declare a federal law unconstitutional
- provide funds to repair the Ohio turnpike
- veto a bill to cut Social Security payments
- pass a zoning regulation
- pardon a criminal in the Ohio State Penitentiary
- try terrorists accused of bombing the Washington Monument
- try cases for driving while under the influence
- write building codes for new houses
- negotiate a treaty with China
- try a state legislator for stealing state funds
- enforce a teen curfew
- propose a constitutional amendment to make English the national language
- issue drivers licenses
- try local murder cases
- direct the army, navy, and air force
- try a claim that state income tax is unconstitutional
- impeach a federal judge
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