ONE SMART KID:
The genius of the Founding Fathers is reflected in the intricate set of checks and balances the Constitution builds into our system of government. By preventing any one of the three branches from acquiring dominance over the others, these structural and procedural safeguards have preserved a fundamental, albeit not always neat, separation of powers. Moreover, although developed over two centuries ago, they continue to perform this essential function despite the dramatic societal, technological, economic, and political changes in the United States over the past two centuries. The Framers made the conscious decision of choosing constitutional generality over the overly specific civil codes of the European nations. By so doing, they wisely built in a flexibility to accommodate change so that a living instrument of government could be passed down to succeeding generations.
Let’s see how much you already know:
3 Branches of
FILL IN THE BLANKS IN THE SENTENCES BELOW
1. What are the 3 branches of our government?_______________,
2. The ______________ Branch of our government makes the laws.
3. The ______________ Branch of our government enforces our laws.
4. What are the two parts of our Congress? ____________ and _____________.
5. There are _____ senators.
6. The ______________ is elected by eligible United States citizens who
vote and by the Electoral College system.
7. ___________ and _______________ are elected by voters in their states.
8. ________________ study laws to see if they are correct according to the
9. Where do the major branches of our federal government meet and work?
10. The_______________ is the leader of the Executive Branch of our
The Balance of Government:
Pretend that three people who weigh the same take turns on a seesaw. No matter which two people are on the seesaw at opposite ends, they are balanced. Our government is the same way. The three that take turns riding the seesaw are –
(1) Congress - Legislative Branch (2) President - Executive Branch (3) Supreme Court - Judicial Branch
How do these branches balance and check each other? Each branch has different powers from another branch. But each weighs the same.
Using the lists below, fill in the blanks to show how each branch balances the other.
- Makes treaties with other nations
- Carries out laws
- Vetoes bills Congress passes if he thinks they are wrong
- Appoints judges in the Judicial Branch for a life term
- Writes the budget
- Makes laws
- Can override a President’s veto of a bill by 2/3 vote
- Can impeach (fire) a President for misconduct
- Must approve presidential appointments for judges and justices
- Gives the O.K. on budget spending and treaties
- Can remove judges from office for misconduct
- Interprets laws
- May decide that some laws that Congress makes or decisions that the President make are not right according to the Constitution.
Makes ____________ with other countries.
Carries out ___________.
____________ bills he does not like.
__________ the budget.
____________ treaties and budget.
Overrides President’s _______ with ______ vote.
Can ________ President for misconduct.
Can prove laws to be against the ___________.
__________ presidential appointments for _______________________.
Can _________ judges for misconduct.
________ judges for a ________ term.
Can prove laws to be _____________.
Now, let’s take a look at the 1st Branch, the Legislative Branch of our government . . .
The Constitution has served us well for over 200 years, but it will continue as a strong, vibrant, and vital foundation for freedom only so long as the American people remain dedicated to the basic principles on which it rests. Thus, as the United States sets a course into a third century of constitutional democracy, let us renew our commitment to, in the words of the Constitution’s Preamble . . .
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Among the chief points at issue during the 1st Constitutional Convention were how much power to allow the central government, how many representatives in Congress to allow each state, and how these representatives should be elected–directly by the people or by the state legislators. The work of many minds, the Constitution stands as a model of cooperative statesmanship and the art of compromise.
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.
No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.
When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.
The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.
Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.
No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.
The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.
The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.
The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.
The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.
Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.
Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.
Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.
Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.
The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.
No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.
All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.
Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.
Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
To establish Post Offices and post Roads;
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;–And
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.
No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.
No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another; nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.
No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.
No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.
No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it’s inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.
No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.
Game time for older ages:
You be the judge of the Constitutional powers of each branch of government by
The Power Game — Checks and Balances in the Constitution:
Divide into three groups: Executive, Legislative and Judicial
branches of government. Each one should have a copy of the Constitution.
In each round the moderator will give each branch of government an opportunity
for an unconstitutional “Power Grab”. The remaining two groups have two
minutes to find proof from the Constitution (amendments included) by
Article, section and clause, why the power grab is unconstitutional.
When a person thinks he finds the appropriate check he yells “check”. He
must be prepared to respond with the answer immediately. If wrong, others
may try to block the grab for power with the two minutes, alternating
between branches until the two minutes are gone or the answer is correct.
When checked correctly, the branch receives 10 points. If no one gets the
correct answer, the branch grabbing power gets 5 points. No penalty for
A round is a question for each branch.
President – A serious economic crisis takes place in the U.S. The President decides to run for a third term.
Congress – Congress passes a law taking 10% on lumber being exported.
Courts – The Court rules that the government may not issue patents because of the need for technological advance.
President – The President declares war on China.
Congress – Congress passes a law that people from Washington may not drive cars in Oregon because of pollution.
Courts – Since Washington D.C. is not in any state, residents there may not vote in national elections.
President – The President appoints Dan Evans to Senator Adams’ seat when he resigns due to a personal scandal.
Congress – Congress impeaches Bush because he pardons North. The Democratic Congress uses their anger to get him.
Courts – The Court rules that because of our large national debt, the U.S. can no longer borrow money.
President – To fight terrorism, anyone found guilty of hijacking will be punished by having their fingernails ripped off.
Congress – Congress decides that beards are illegal; anyone who wore one in the last year must pay a $100 fine.
Courts – The Court decides that religion and politics don’t mix, therefore; no government official is required to take an oath of office.
President – The President decides that Congress will meet in regular session on December 15 of each year.
Congress – Congress decides to impeach President Bush with the President Pro-Temp of the Senate presiding.
Courts – The ambassador to Spain is brought home and tried in a New York court for crimes.
President – The President orders that a mass murderer be sent back to Washington from Oregon.
Congress – A House member dies, the House takes four days off to mourn but the Senate says they can only have two days off.
Courts – The Court rules that the heads of departments may no longer make appointments of inferior officers, but only the President of the U.S.
President – Paul Newman comes to town and cuts off the heads of all parking meter. President Bush pardons him.
Congress – Congress passes a law naming 15 university students guilty of crimes against the government – orders them expelled from school.
Courts – A male teacher sues over sexual discrimination by taking the case directly to the Supreme Court.
President – The President, concerned about drug violations in the state of Washington, allows the Governor and Attorney General to suspend democracy for a period of one month.
Congress – Congress decides to change the Constitution to allow the President to be elected to one term of six years.
Courts – The Courts find Poindexter guilty of treason on the basis of testimony of Ollie North, alone.
Congress – Congress decides because of the contributions of Pete Rose in baseball, they will honor him with the title, “Sir Pete Rose”.
Courts – The Court rules that because of the difficulty in finding honest, law abiding, candidates they will allow Senator Mark Hatfield to be Secretary of Interior.
President – The President orders that since all citizens over 18 want to vote for the President, they may do so by popular vote.
President – Your land is in the way of a federal highway, so the President takes your land without compensation.
Congress – Congress passes a law that says you can sue your state in federal court.
Courts – The Court rules that income tax is illegal and you don’t have to pay.
Despite Popular Belief By Many Liberal Idealogs, “God” Has Everything To Do With Our Constitution And The Laws Of Our Nation
Posted by constitutionallyspeaking on February 8, 2009
What we learn here is that from the time of the drafting to the signing, God played a pivotal role in adopting a new form of government. A form of government which Abraham Lincoln reiterated some 87 years later when he spoke these words in his address at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863 during the civil war:
In reading the bible, it is self evident that our Founding Fathers were very religious men and held fast to their belief that God’s laws are the Supreme Laws to which all mankind will ultimately be judged.
Therefore, it was their reverence to God’s laws that guided them in the drafting of the 4 most precious documents in our nation’s history: the “Declaration of Independence”, the “Articles of Confederation”, the “Bill of Rights” and the “Constitution of the United States”.
Many Americans overlook the “Articles of Confederation” and only refer back to the “Constitution”. The Articles of Confederation were more general laws put in place until the final draft of the Constitution was finally ratified between all 13 states in 1789. Because of the tyranny that was enacted upon the people by the British Monarchy, which was the reason for the Revolutionary War, the framers of the Constitution made sure certain detailed rights were granted to the people in the way of the “Bill of Rights” so that the states and the people would have certain protections that a central government could not supersede.
Let us take a look at those rights, but first I would like you to see how many you can write down before proceeding…
Now that you know what your rights are, can you give examples of your daily life that pertain to these rights?
The most precious right to me is under Amendment I which gives us safe harbor from the government infringing on our religious beliefs.
Some schools have abolished the practice of prayer at special ceremonies such as graduations and they have also abolished the singing of religious songs during school concerts, and some even go as far as to disallow for prayer before meals, even when it is done silently.
There are those that would tell you that the Constitution calls for a complete separation of church and state in every aspect of our lives, however, this is not true. What the Constitution says is that there should be a separation of church and state in the legislation process so that one religion would not be allowed to get a controlling interest in laws adopted by the government that would favor a particular religion.
In conclusion, I can not reiterate enough the well known fact that: “Children learn what they live”.
~+~+~ “My prayer is that more parents step up and start defending our 1st Amendment
right to freedom of religion; a freedom that could be lost if Christians of all faiths continue
to let those who cry discrimination, under a law that does not exist, to continue to wipe
away piece by piece, letter by letter, any existence of God from our nation, our government
and its history.”
~ James 1:25 ~ But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it ~ he will be blessed in what he does.
~ 2 Peter 2:18-19 ~ For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.
Additional learning: let’s see how many of children and parents can correctly match the word to its definition:
List of words:
Amendment, Anarchy, Authoritarian, Bureaucrat, Constitution,
Constitutional Monarchy, Democracy, Dictatorship, Election,
Government, Head of State, Monarchy, Parliament/Congress,
Political Party, Politics, President, Prime Minister, Regime,
Republic, Sovereignty, State, Theocracy, Vote
- A group of elected representatives that makes laws for a nation
- A society without government or order
- A democracy with a royal family as a symbol of the nation
- A head of state chosen by a diet, parliament, or congress
- A group that tries to control a government
- A system of government that citizens have no power to control
- The rules for the government of a nation
- A nation in which the head of state is not a monarch(not a king, queen, prince, etc.)
- A government by a single person or group, citizens have no power
- A person who is the leader, or symbol of a nation
- A system of official controls over a nation and its citizens
- A government elected by the citizens of a nation
- A process by which leaders are chosen by a group
- Independent power of a nation
- An unelected official who works in the government
- The practice and profession of ruling a nation
- A head of state elected by popular vote
- An official change to a constitution
- The leader receives power throught the familyand receives a traditional title
- The current government of a nation (this is a negative word)
- A nation and its government
- Government by religious leaders
- Making a choice
The answers can be found in this interactive crossword puzzle. Click on “show what you know”.