Social Studies - 2019-20

GOVT.7a - Powers of the National Government

The student will apply social science skills to understand the organization and powers of the national government by 

a) examining the legislative, executive, and judicial branches; 

Adopted: 2015


Big Themes/Concepts: Systems, Limited Government, Governmental Systems, Power & Authority, Order vs. Chaos

Legislative Essential QuestionsExecutive Essential QuestionsJudicial Essential Questions

What makes a successful Congress?

Whose views should members of Congress represent when voting?

What should be limits on the powers of Congress?

Can and should the lawmaking process be improved?

What makes a good President?

Does the current electoral process result in the best candidates for President?

How much power should the President have?

Is the bureaucracy essential to good government?

How should the federal budget reflect Americans' priorities?

How should the United States interact with other countries?

How can the judiciary balance individual rights with the common good?

What should be the role of the judicial branch?

Does the structure of federal court system allow to administer justice effectively?

To what extent has the judiciary protected the rights of privacy, security, and personal freedom?

Why are there ongoing struggles for civil rights?


The legislative branch of the national government is a bicameral body with committees playing a major role in the legislative process. 

The Constitution of the United States grants both expressed and implied powers to the legislative branch. 

The executive branch consists of the president, vice president, and the federal bureaucracy. 

The organization and powers of the judicial branch are derived from the Constitution of the United States and federal law


CongressPresidentSupreme Court

The two houses of Congress 

 The Senate: 100 members, with each state having two senators 

 The House of Representatives: 435 members, with each state’s representation based on its population 

Congressional committees 

 Committees are organized by subject matter. 

 Because of the large volume of work, committees are essential to the legislative process. 

Expressed powers of Congress 

 Levy taxes 

 Borrow money 

 Regulate commerce 

 Coin money 

 Declare war 

 Establish Post Offices 

Implied powers of Congress allow it to do all things “necessary and proper” to carry out its expressed powers. 


The executive branch is headed by the president and vice president, who are supported by the Executive Office, the Cabinet, and the federal bureaucracy

Responsibilities of the president 

 Overseeing the various parts of the executive branch 

 Enforcing laws 

 Issuing executive orders 

 Appointing and removing officials 

 Making treaties and executive agreements 

 Commanding the military United States court system


 Supreme Court 

o Nine justices, no jury 

o Hears appeals from lower federal courts and the highest state courts 

o Has limited original jurisdiction 

 United States Court of Appeals 

o Judges, no jury 

o Hears appeals from United States district courts and certain other federal courts and commissions 

 United States District Court 

o Judge, with or without jury 

o Tries cases involving federal crimes and federal civil proceedings 

o Does not hear appeals



Updated: Aug 14, 2017