A government is an organization that functions as the governing authority of a political unit. Moreover, it is the ruling power of a political society and the means by which a governing body exercises authority. The fundamental purpose behind the establishment of a government was to maintain law and order in society, carry out the defense and judiciary activities smoothly, and execute planning and development activities in the country.
The Constitution bears a set of rules for the Government. It has divided the government into three branches. They are:
- Executive Branch
- Legislative Branch
- Judicial Branch
The President assumes the power of this branch and he serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The Vice President and the Cabinet, which is a group of advisers, help him with the administration. The President appoints the Cabinet and supervises the working of various agencies and departments of the federal government.
The eligibility criteria for a person to become the United States President are that he should be a natural-born citizen of the United States, be at least 35 years of age, and should have resided in the country for a minimum of 14 years. A President serves for a period of 4 years. This period of service is known as a term. During his tenure, the President stays and works in the White House. According to the 22nd amendment to the US Constitution, a President can serve not more than two consecutive terms.
Heads of agencies like CIA and Environmental Protection Agency, though not appointed by the President, are under his authority. The heads of federal commissions are appointed by the President. He is authorized to sign legislation into law, and to negotiate and sign treaties with other nations after the sanction of two-thirds of the Senate. He has the pardon power for federal crimes.
For air travel, the President uses Air Force One or the Marine Corps helicopter. For ground travel, he uses an armored Presidential limousine.
In case of the President's death, resignation, or incapacitation, the Vice President has to take complete charge. He needs to be ready for this. The Vice President presides over the United States Senate.
Apart from the duties mentioned in the Constitution, the Vice President shoulders responsibilities given to him by the President. He may be in charge of a specific portfolio or function as an adviser of the President.
For road travel, the Vice President uses a limousine. For air travel, he uses the same aircraft that the President does. The craft are designated as Air Force Two and Marine Two when the Vice President is aboard.
The Executive Office of the President (EOP) is a part of the Executive branch of the government. It consists of the President's closest advisers, who, in most cases are appointed by him. Their role and scope of work can vary depending on the President's goals. The Press Secretary's Office, the White House Communications Office, and the National Security Council are a part of the EOP.
The Cabinet comprises the heads of 15 executive departments. Cabinet members are designated as Secretaries. The Head of the Justice Department is referred to as Attorney General. The executive departments include:
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Commerce
- Department of Defense
- Department of Education
- Department of Energy
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Department of Homeland Security
- Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Department of the Interior
- Department of Justice
- Department of Labor
- Department of State
- Department of Transportation
- Department of the Treasury
- Department of Veterans Affairs
It consists of the Congress. The Constitution has created the Congress, which is a group of elected members to look after the law and order in the country, is divided into chambers; namely, the Senate and the House of Representatives. Seats are allotted to each state on the basis of its population. There are 435 seats for the House of Representatives. The Senate has a total of 100 seats, made by 2 seats for each state. The Senators serve a term of six years while the members of the House of Representatives are elected for a term of two years. The Senators hold a meeting in the U.S. Capitol Building. Typically, the Congress makes laws of the United States and the President enforces them.
The legislative powers of the Government are with the Congress. Bills vetoed by the President can be overridden by the Congress. Laws considered as "necessary and proper" can be enacted by it. Establishment of the annual budget, levying of taxes and tariffs, and limiting expenditure on or allocation of funds to specific projects are among the other powers that the Congress has.
The Congress has the power to declare war. One of its important responsibilities is to oversee government operations, which it does primarily through the House and Senate Committees.
Some appointments made by the President and some treaties he signs, require consent of the Senate. The Senate tries impeachment cases that the House refers to it. When a bill is passed in both the House and the Senate by majority vote, it can be sent to the President for his signature. A bill vetoed by the President can be overridden by the House and the Senate.
The legislative process starts with the introduction of a bill to the Congress, after which it is referred to the appropriate committee for review. There are committees and subcommittees in the Senate and the House. Their structure may vary.
A bill is introduced to the appropriate subcommittee, from where it is rejected or sent to the respective committee. If approved by the committee, the bill is sent to the floor of the House or Senate. The majority party leadership decides when to schedule it. After debates and discussions at the House and Senate levels, the bill is passed by means of a simple majority.
A bill needs to pass both houses of the Congress before it is presented to the President for his signature. The President has the final authority to sign the bill into law or veto it and send it back to the Congress. The veto can be overridden by majority voting in both chambers of the Congress, in which case the bill becomes a law.
This branch hears judicial cases, which require the interpretation of the legislation. It comprises the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts. The Supreme Court is the most prominent of all the federal courts. Congress decides the number of Justices. Since the year 1869, one Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices constitute the Court. It is the President's responsibility to nominate the Justices and the Senate confirms it.
The Congress plays a major role in determining the structure of the federal judiciary. It is authorized to decide the number of Supreme Court Justices and also to form courts under the Supreme Court. There is no fixed term for the judges and justices.
Legal cases proceed from a district court to the court of appeals, from where they may or may not be referred to the Supreme Court. Federal courts are authorized to interpret a law, but once the Supreme Court interprets a law, it is binding to all inferior courts.
The Congress decides the number of Supreme Court Justices and the President nominates them. Interpreting a law, deciding whether it is relevant, and how to apply it, are among the main responsibilities of the Supreme Court. It rarely holds trials.
The Justices of the Supreme Court are authorized to decide whether to hear a case.
The Constitution offers protection to those accused of crime against being tried for the same crime twice. It guarantees that a person will not have to lose his life, liberty, or property without a legal process. Those accused of crime have the right to seek legal representation, cross-examine witnesses, and produce witnesses in their own defense. The Constitution protects the accused against excessive bail or fine, and unusual or cruel punishments.
Depending on the type of crime, the proceedings are conducted under the state or federal law. The accused can build a legal argument in his defense. If found innocent, the charges on him are dismissed. If found guilty, the judge determines the punishment. Unlike criminal cases which are between the state and a person, civil cases are between individuals and/or organizations.
A panel of judges gives decisions on federal appeals. Both parties involved in the case present a brief to the judges. The appellant tries to persuade the judges how the trial court decision was wrong, while the respondent tries to persuade otherwise. After analyzing both the briefs, the court of appeals takes the final decision. On losing a case in the federal court of appeals, one may apply for Supreme Court's intervention. Depending on the importance of the case, the Supreme Court may or may not agree to hear the case.
The division of the Government into three branches facilitates division of work. It helps the government perform its varied duties through proper delegation of tasks. By influence and honor, presidentship is the highest officiating position of the United States. The President is the head of State and the head of Government. He enforces laws and is authorized to make treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate. He is also in charge of the appointment of the federal officers and the judges, as also the ambassadors. To render these important responsibilities efficiently, the President needs support from all the Government officials. After all, it is his effective leadership and the efficiency of those under him that makes the country go.