G CS 14

Structure and Functions of the Federal Government

Three branches compose the basic structure of the federal government. Public policy is created through the making of laws, the execution of the laws and the adjudication of disputes under the laws.

Content Statement

14. Law and public policy are created and implemented by three branches of government; each functions with its own set of powers and responsibilities.

Content Elaborations

Laws are rules recognized as binding and enforced by a government. Public policy consists of institutional actions and procedures pursued by a government in carrying out its functions.

The U.S. Constitution establishes roles for each of the three branches of government related to law and public policy. It assigns each branch special powers and responsibilities.

Laws are made by the legislative branch. Laws are enforced by the executive branch. Laws are interpreted by the judicial branch as it resolves disputes under the laws. The actions and procedures of all three branches establish public policy.

These include:

  1. Legislative – conducting oversight investigations, instituting impeachment proceedings, ratifying treaties, passing resolutions;
  2. Executive – making rules and regulations, proposing the federal budget, recognizing foreign nations, issuing executive orders; and
  3. Judicial – issuing writs of certiorari, establishing judicial procedures, sentencing offenders, accepting amicus curiae briefs.

Expectations for Learning

Compare the powers and responsibilities of each branch of government as they pertain to law and public policy.