photo image of the United States Capitol - home of the legislative branch of America's government - Congress

Our Nation’s Foundations – Lesson Eight: Introduction to the Three Branches of Government

by Oletta Branstiter

Introduction to the Three Branches of Government

Now that our Five Pillars of Principles are erected, we have a sturdy support structure for the three Branches of Government. We can imagine these fitting snugly into the roof of the structure we’re building.

Add a triangular roof to the top of the pillars, in order to display information on the three Branches of Government.

Separation of Powers

Just like loading up an attic, it’s wise to separate the heavy items and balance the weight in the rafters over your head. Our government is a complicated balancing act. The three branches of government have separate powers and responsibilities, but they are equal to one another. This is known as Separation of Powers.

Checks and Balances

Under the Rule of Law in our Constitution, the President has no more power than the Congress or Supreme Court – in fact, he or she can’t do much without the Congress. And, just because the Supreme Court rules a certain way, doesn’t mean the Congress can’t overrule it with new legislation.

The Congress may pass a law, but the President can veto it or the Supreme Court can rule it unconstitutional. If the Congress really wants the law passed, they can override the President’s veto. This complicated system is called Checks and Balances.

Our Representatives Work for Us!

If Supreme Court Justices, Legislators or the President make policies that We the People think are unconstitutional, we can call for their impeachment. We can fire them. Because the government works for us and their job is to defend, protect and preserve the Constitution.

The best way to hold politicians accountable is at the ballot box.  Before we vote, we need to do our homework. When we vote for Representatives we should know what those candidates stand for and what their track record is before giving them more responsibility. Most importantly, we want to make sure that he or she understands and honors Constitutional law. Because we’re hiring them to “preserve, protect and defend” it!

Because federal judges are nominated by the President and confirmed by our Senators before they are appointed to their respective judicial duties, it is vitally important to choose Executive and Legislative representatives who know the Constitution and have a track record of supporting Constitutional limitations. 

We pay our government representatives with our tax dollars. Why would we want to hire or pay people who don’t know how to do their jobs? So, We the People should know the Constitution so that we can hold our representatives accountable to do their jobs responsibly.

In a Republic, voting is not mandatory. It’s voluntary. But it is like taking a very important test. If you don’t want to study before taking that “test”, why would you want to vote? Sometimes people vote for representatives without knowing what kind of employees they’ll be. Don’t be an ineffective boss!

In future lessons, we’ll examine each of the three branches of government in detail, learning that, when done properly, in accordance with the Constitution, the Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances do a great job of defending, protecting and preserving our Republic.


For previous lessons in this series, click here.

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One thought on “Our Nation’s Foundations – Lesson Eight: Introduction to the Three Branches of Government

  1. Too bad people don’t realize that we now have only one branch of government – the Supreme Court. Its decisions have affected us far more than many realize but apparently no one wants to learn about it, especially law professors, civics teachers, and the media. If you want to learn how it has taken away your right to make changes under Article V by amendment see

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