Federal government of the United States

Federal government of the United States

Overview
The federal government of the United States is the national government
Central government
A central government also known as a national government, union government and in federal states, the federal government, is the government at the level of the nation-state. The structure of central governments varies from institution to institution...

 of the constitutional republic
Constitutional republic
A constitutional republic is a state in which the head of state and other officials are representatives of the people and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the government's power over all of its citizens...

  of fifty state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

s that is the United States of America
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and their various powers are delineated in the U.S. Constitution; the powers are specified in greater detail in laws enacted by Congress.

The seat of government of the United States is in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, a geographical area that is not located within any state.
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Encyclopedia
The federal government of the United States is the national government
Central government
A central government also known as a national government, union government and in federal states, the federal government, is the government at the level of the nation-state. The structure of central governments varies from institution to institution...

 of the constitutional republic
Constitutional republic
A constitutional republic is a state in which the head of state and other officials are representatives of the people and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the government's power over all of its citizens...

  of fifty state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

s that is the United States of America
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and their various powers are delineated in the U.S. Constitution; the powers are specified in greater detail in laws enacted by Congress.

The seat of government of the United States is in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, a geographical area that is not located within any state. This has led to "Washington" commonly being used as a metonym for the U.S. federal government.

History



The outline of the government of the United States is laid out in the Constitution. The government was formed in 1789, making the United States one of the world's first, if not the first, modern national constitutional republic
Constitutional republic
A constitutional republic is a state in which the head of state and other officials are representatives of the people and must govern according to existing constitutional law that limits the government's power over all of its citizens...

.

The United States government as is based on the principle of federalism, in which power is shared between the federal government and state governments. The details of American federalism, including what powers the federal government should have and how those powers can be exercised, have been debated ever since the adoption of the Constitution. Some make the case for expansive federal powers while others argue for a more limited role for the central government in relation to individuals, the states or other recognized entities.

Since the U.S. Civil War, the powers of the federal government have generally expanded greatly, although there have been periods since that time of legislative branch dominance (e.g., the decades immediately following the Civil War) or when states' rights
States' rights
States' rights in U.S. politics refers to political powers reserved for the U.S. state governments rather than the federal government. It is often considered a loaded term because of its use in opposition to federally mandated racial desegregation...

 proponents have succeeded in limiting federal power through legislative action, executive prerogative or by constitutional interpretation by the courts.

One of the theoretical pillars of the United States Constitution is the idea of "checks and balances" among the powers and responsibilities of the three branches of American government: the executive, the legislative and the judiciary. For example, while the Congress (legislative) has the power to create law, the executive (President) can veto any legislation -- an act which, in turn, can be overridden by Congress. The President nominates judges to the nation's highest judiciary authority (The Supreme Court), but those nominees must be approved by Congress. The Supreme Court, in its turn, has the power to invalidate as "unconstitutional" any law passed by the Congress. These and other examples are examined in more detail in the text below.

Legislative branch


The United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 is the legislative branch of the federal government. It is bicameral
Bicameralism
In the government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of two chambers or houses....

, comprising the House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 and the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

.

Powers of Congress


The Constitution grants numerous powers to Congress. Enumerated in Article I, Section 8, these include the powers to levy and collect tax
Tax
To tax is to impose a financial charge or other levy upon a taxpayer by a state or the functional equivalent of a state such that failure to pay is punishable by law. Taxes are also imposed by many subnational entities...

es; to coin money and regulate its value; provide for punishment for counterfeiting; establish post offices and roads, promote progress of science by issuing patents, create federal courts inferior to the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

, combat piracies
Piracy
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed on land, in the air, or in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the perpetrator...

 and felonies
Felony
A felony is a serious crime in the common law countries. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanors...

, declare war
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

, raise and support armies
Military of the United States
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

, provide and maintain a navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

, make rules for the regulation of land and naval forces, provide for, arm and discipline the militia
Militia (United States)
The role of militia, also known as military service and duty, in the United States is complex and has transformed over time.Spitzer, Robert J.: The Politics of Gun Control, Page 36. Chatham House Publishers, Inc., 1995. " The term militia can be used to describe any number of groups within the...

, exercise exclusive legislation in the District of Columbia, and to make laws necessary to properly execute powers. Over the two centuries since the United States was formed, many disputes have arisen over the limits on the powers of the federal government. These disputes have often been the subject of lawsuits that have ultimately been decided by the United States Supreme Court.

House of Representatives


The House currently consists of 435 voting members, each of whom represents a congressional district
Congressional district
A congressional district is “a geographical division of a state from which one member of the House of Representatives is elected.”Congressional Districts are made up of three main components, a representative, constituents, and the specific land area that both the representative and the...

. The number of representatives each state has in the House is based on each state's population as determined in the most recent United States Census
United States Census
The United States Census is a decennial census mandated by the United States Constitution. The population is enumerated every 10 years and the results are used to allocate Congressional seats , electoral votes, and government program funding. The United States Census Bureau The United States Census...

. All 435 representatives serve a two-year term. Each state receives a minimum of one representative in the House. In order to be elected as a representative, an individual must be at least 25 years of age, and must have been a U.S. citizen for at least seven years. There is no limit on the number of terms a representative may serve. In addition to the 435 voting members, there are six non-voting members, consisting of five delegates and one resident commissioner
Resident Commissioner
Resident Commissioner is the title of several, quite different types of Commissioner in overseas possession or protectorate of the British Crown or of the United States.-British English:...

. There is one delegate each from the District of Columbia, Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

, Virgin Islands
Virgin Islands
The Virgin Islands are the western island group of the Leeward Islands, which are the northern part of the Lesser Antilles, which form the border between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean...

, American Samoa
American Samoa
American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of the sovereign state of Samoa...

 and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the resident commissioner
Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico
The Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico is a non-voting member of the United States House of Representatives elected by the voters of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico every four years...

 from Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

.

Senate


In contrast the Senate is made up of two senators from each state, regardless of population. There is currently a total of 100 senators (two from each of the 50 states), who each serve six-year terms. Approximately one third of the Senate stands for election every two years.

Different powers


The House and Senate each have particular exclusive powers. For example, the Senate must approve (give "advice and consent
Advice and consent
Advice and consent is an English phrase frequently used in enacting formulae of bills and in other legal or constitutional contexts, describing a situation in which the executive branch of a government enacts something previously approved of by the legislative branch.-General:The expression is...

" to) many important Presidential appointments, including cabinet officers, federal judges (including nominees to the Supreme Court), department secretaries (heads of federal executive branch departments), U.S. military and naval officers, and ambassadors to foreign countries. All legislative bills for the purpose of raising revenue must originate in the House of Representatives. The approval of both chambers is required to pass any legislation, which then may only become law by being signed by the President (or, if the President vetoes the bill, both houses of Congress then re-pass the bill, but by a two-thirds majority of each chamber, in which case the bill becomes law without the President's signature). The powers of Congress are limited to those enumerated in the Constitution; all other powers are reserved to the states and the people. The Constitution also includes the "Necessary and Proper Clause", which grants Congress the power to "make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers." Members of the House and Senate are elected by first-past-the-post
Plurality voting system
The plurality voting system is a single-winner voting system often used to elect executive officers or to elect members of a legislative assembly which is based on single-member constituencies...

 voting in every state except Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

 and Washington, which have runoff
Two-round system
The two-round system is a voting system used to elect a single winner where the voter casts a single vote for their chosen candidate...

s.

Impeachment of federal officers


Congress has the power to remove the President, federal judges, and other federal officers from office. The House of Representatives and Senate have separate roles in this process. The House must first vote to "impeach" the official. Then, a trial is held in the Senate to decide whether the official should be removed from office. Although two presidents have been impeached by the House of Representatives (Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States . As Vice-President of the United States in 1865, he succeeded Abraham Lincoln following the latter's assassination. Johnson then presided over the initial and contentious Reconstruction era of the United States following the American...

 and Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

), neither of them was removed following trial in the Senate.

Congressional procedures


Article I, Section 2, paragraph 2 of the U.S. Constitution gives each chamber the power to "determine the rules of its proceedings." From this provision were created congressional committees
United States Congressional committee
A congressional committee is a legislative sub-organization in the United States Congress that handles a specific duty . Committee membership enables members to develop specialized knowledge of the matters under their jurisdiction...

, which do the work of drafting legislation and conducting congressional investigations into national matters. The 108th Congress
108th United States Congress
The One Hundred Eighth United States Congress was the legislative branch of the United States federal government, composed of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives from January 3, 2003 to January 3, 2005, during the third and fourth years of George W. Bush's...

 (2003–2005) had 19 standing committees in the House and 17 in the Senate, plus four joint permanent committees with members from both houses overseeing the Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

, printing, taxation and the economy. In addition, each house may name special, or select, committees to study specific problems. Today, much of the congressional workload is borne by subcommittees, of which there are some 150.

Powers of Congress




Congressional oversight


Congressional oversight is intended to prevent waste and fraud, protect civil liberties
Civil liberties
Civil liberties are rights and freedoms that provide an individual specific rights such as the freedom from slavery and forced labour, freedom from torture and death, the right to liberty and security, right to a fair trial, the right to defend one's self, the right to own and bear arms, the right...

 and individual rights, ensure executive compliance with the law, gather information for making laws and educating the public, and evaluate executive performance.

It applies to cabinet departments, executive agencies, regulatory commissions and the presidency.

Congress's oversight function takes many forms:
  • Committee inquiries and hearings
  • Formal consultations with and reports from the President
    President of the United States
    The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

  • Senate advice and consent for presidential nominations and for treaties
  • House impeachment
    Impeachment in the United States
    Impeachment in the United States is an expressed power of the legislature that allows for formal charges against a civil officer of government for crimes committed in office...

     proceedings and subsequent Senate trials
  • House and Senate proceedings under the 25th Amendment
    Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution deals with succession to the Presidency and establishes procedures both for filling a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, as well as responding to Presidential disabilities...

     in the event that the President becomes disabled or the office of the Vice President
    Vice President of the United States
    The Vice President of the United States is the holder of a public office created by the United States Constitution. The Vice President, together with the President of the United States, is indirectly elected by the people, through the Electoral College, to a four-year term...

     falls vacant.
  • Informal meetings between legislators and executive officials
  • Congressional membership: each state is allocated a number of seats based on its representation (or ostensible representation, in the case of D.C.) in the House of Representatives. Each state is allocated two Senators regardless of its population. As of January 2010, the District of Columbia elects a non-voting representative to the House of Representatives along with American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Executive branch



The executive power in the federal government is vested in the President of the United States, although power is often delegated to the Cabinet
United States Cabinet
The Cabinet of the United States is composed of the most senior appointed officers of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States, which are generally the heads of the federal executive departments...

 members and other officials. The President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 and Vice President
Vice President of the United States
The Vice President of the United States is the holder of a public office created by the United States Constitution. The Vice President, together with the President of the United States, is indirectly elected by the people, through the Electoral College, to a four-year term...

 are elected as running mates
Running Mates
Running Mates is an episode from the second season of the Fox animated series Family Guy. It is the 17th episode of Family Guy to be aired. The episode first aired on April 11, 2000. It was written by Garrett Donovan and Neil Goldman, and directed by John Holmquist. Lee Majors guest stars as...

 by the Electoral College
United States Electoral College
The Electoral College consists of the electors appointed by each state who formally elect the President and Vice President of the United States. Since 1964, there have been 538 electors in each presidential election...

, for which each state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

, as well as the District of Columbia
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, is allocated a number of seats based on its representation (or ostensible representation, in the case of D.C.) in both houses of Congress. The President is limited to a maximum
Term limits in the United States
Term limits in the United States apply to many offices at both the federal and state level, and date back to the American Revolution.-Pre-constitution:...

 of two non-consecutive four-year terms, as well as being able to have served for 2 years after succeeding to the presidency, prior to his last term.

President



The executive branch consists of the President and those to whom the President's powers are delegated. The President is both the head of state
Head of State
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...

 and government
Head of government
Head of government is the chief officer of the executive branch of a government, often presiding over a cabinet. In a parliamentary system, the head of government is often styled prime minister, chief minister, premier, etc...

, as well as the military commander-in-chief and chief diplomat
Diplomat
A diplomat is a person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organization. The main functions of diplomats revolve around the representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state, as well as the promotion of information and...

. The President, according to the Constitution, must "take care that the laws be faithfully executed", and "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution". The President presides over the executive branch of the federal government, an organization numbering about 5 million people, including 1 million active-duty military personnel and 600000 postal service employees. The forty-fourth and current president is Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

.

The President may sign legislation passed by Congress into law or may veto it, preventing it from becoming law unless two-thirds of both houses of Congress vote to override the veto. The President may unilaterally sign treaties
Treaty
A treaty is an express agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states and international organizations. A treaty may also be known as an agreement, protocol, covenant, convention or exchange of letters, among other terms...

 with foreign nations. However, ratification of international treaties requires a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate. The President may be impeached
Impeachment in the United States
Impeachment in the United States is an expressed power of the legislature that allows for formal charges against a civil officer of government for crimes committed in office...

 by a majority in the House and removed from office by a two-thirds majority in the Senate for "treason
Treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...

, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors". The President may not dissolve Congress
Dissolution of parliament
In parliamentary systems, a dissolution of parliament is the dispersal of a legislature at the call of an election.Usually there is a maximum length of a legislature, and a dissolution must happen before the maximum time...

 or call special election
By-election
A by-election is an election held to fill a political office that has become vacant between regularly scheduled elections....

s but does have the power to pardon
Pardon
Clemency means the forgiveness of a crime or the cancellation of the penalty associated with it. It is a general concept that encompasses several related procedures: pardoning, commutation, remission and reprieves...

, or release, criminals convicted of offenses against the federal government (except in cases of impeachment), enact executive orders, and (with the consent of the Senate) appoint Supreme Court justices and federal judges.

Vice President



The Vice President is the second-highest executive official in rank of the government. As first in the U.S. presidential line of succession
United States presidential line of succession
The United States presidential line of succession defines who may become or act as President of the United States upon the incapacity, death, resignation, or removal from office of a sitting president or a president-elect.- Current order :This is a list of the current presidential line of...

, the Vice President becomes President upon the death, resignation, or removal of the President, which has happened nine times in U.S. history. Under the Constitution, the Vice President is President of the Senate. By virtue of this role, he or she is the head of the Senate. In that capacity, the Vice President is allowed to vote in the Senate, but only when necessary to break a tie vote
United States Vice Presidents' tie-breaking votes
The Vice President of the United States is the ex-officio President of the United States Senate, as provided in Article I, Section 3, Clause 4 of the United States Constitution:...

. Pursuant to the Twelfth Amendment
Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides the procedure for electing the President and Vice President. It replaced Article II, Section 1, Clause 3, which provided the original procedure by which the Electoral College functioned. Problems with the original procedure arose in...

, the Vice President presides over the joint session of Congress when it convenes to count the vote of the Electoral College. While the Vice President's only constitutionally prescribed functions, aside from presidential succession, relate to his or her role as President of the Senate, the office is now commonly viewed as a member of the executive branch of the federal government. The U.S. Constitution does not expressly assign the office to any one branch, causing scholars to dispute whether it belongs to the executive branch, the legislative branch, or both.

Cabinet, executive departments and agencies


Secretary of State



The Secretary of State is the Chief Executive Officer of the United States Department of State, the most senior of all federal executive departments. The Secretary of State is the third-highest official of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States, after the President and Vice President. The Secretary is a member of the President's Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in the presidential line of succession and order of precedence. The Secretary has many duties and responsibilities. The Secretary serves as the President's chief adviser on U.S. foreign policy and as such negotiates, interprets, and terminates treaties and agreements, personally participates in or directs U.S. representatives to international conferences, organizations, and agencies, conducts negotiations relating to U.S. foreign affairs, and is responsible for the administration and management of foreign embassies and consulate offices. Foreign trade missions and intelligence assets report directly to the Secretary of State. The Secretary is also responsible for overall direction, coordination, and supervision of interdepartmental activities of the U.S. government overseas.

Other cabinet officials, commissions and agencies


The day-to-day enforcement and administration of federal laws is in the hands of the various federal executive departments
United States Federal Executive Departments
The United States federal executive departments are among the oldest primary units of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States—the Departments of State, War, and the Treasury all being established within a few weeks of each other in 1789.Federal executive...

, created by Congress to deal with specific areas of national and international affairs. The heads of the 15 departments, chosen by the President and approved with the "advice and consent" of the U.S. Senate, form a council of advisers generally known as the President's "Cabinet". In addition to departments, there are a number of staff organizations grouped into the Executive Office of the President. These include the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

 staff, the National Security Council
United States National Security Council
The White House National Security Council in the United States is the principal forum used by the President of the United States for considering national security and foreign policy matters with his senior national security advisors and Cabinet officials and is part of the Executive Office of the...

, the Office of Management and Budget, the Council of Economic Advisers
Council of Economic Advisers
The Council of Economic Advisers is an agency within the Executive Office of the President that advises the President of the United States on economic policy...

, the Council on Environmental Quality
Council on Environmental Quality
The Council on Environmental Quality is a division of the Executive Office of the President that coordinates federal environmental efforts in the United States and works closely with agencies and other White House offices in the development of environmental and energy policies and initiatives...

, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
Office of the United States Trade Representative
The Office of the United States Trade Representative is the United States government agency responsible for developing and recommending United States trade policy to the president of the United States, conducting trade negotiations at bilateral and multilateral levels, and coordinating trade...

, the Office of National Drug Control Policy
Office of National Drug Control Policy
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy , a former cabinet level component of the Executive Office of the President of the United States, was established in 1989 by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988...

 and the Office of Science and Technology Policy
Office of Science and Technology Policy
The Office of Science and Technology Policy is an office in the Executive Office of the President , established by Congress on May 11, 1976, with a broad mandate to advise the President on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international affairs.The director of this office is...

. The employees in these United States government agencies are called federal civil servants
United States civil service
In the United States, the civil service was established in 1872. The Federal Civil Service is defined as "all appointive positions in the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of the Government of the United States, except positions in the uniformed services." . In the early 19th century,...

.

There are also independent agencies
Independent agencies of the United States government
Independent agencies of the United States federal government are those agencies that exist outside of the federal executive departments...

 such as the United States Postal Service
United States Postal Service
The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 (NASA), the Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 (CIA), the Environmental Protection Agency
United States Environmental Protection Agency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress...

, and the United States Agency for International Development
United States Agency for International Development
The United States Agency for International Development is the United States federal government agency primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid. President John F. Kennedy created USAID in 1961 by executive order to implement development assistance programs in the areas...

. In addition, there are government-owned corporation
Government-owned corporation
A government-owned corporation, state-owned company, state-owned entity, state enterprise, publicly owned corporation, government business enterprise, or parastatal is a legal entity created by a government to undertake commercial activities on behalf of an owner government...

s such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is a United States government corporation created by the Glass–Steagall Act of 1933. It provides deposit insurance, which guarantees the safety of deposits in member banks, currently up to $250,000 per depositor per bank. , the FDIC insures deposits at...

 and the National Railroad Passenger Corporation.

Judicial branch


The Judiciary explains and applies the laws. This branch does this by hearing and eventually making decisions on various legal cases.


Overview of the federal judiciary


Article III section I of the Constitution establishes The Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 and authorizes
the United States Congress to establish inferior courts as their need shall arise. Section I also establishes a life time tenure for all federal judges and states that their compensation may not be diminished during their time in office. Article II section II establishes that all federal judges are to be appointed by the president and confirmed by the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

.

The Judiciary Act of 1789
Judiciary Act of 1789
The United States Judiciary Act of 1789 was a landmark statute adopted on September 24, 1789 in the first session of the First United States Congress establishing the U.S. federal judiciary...

 subdivided the nation jurisdictionally into judicial districts
United States federal judicial district
For purposes of the federal judicial system, Congress has divided the United States into judicial districts. There are 94 federal judicial districts, including at least one district in each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico...

 and created federal courts for each district. The three tiered structure of this act established the basic structure of the national judiciary: the Supreme Court, 13 courts of appeals, 94 district courts, and two courts of special jurisdiction. Congress, retains the power to re-organize or even abolish federal courts lower than the Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court adjudicates “cases and controversies”—matters pertaining to the federal government, disputes between states, and interpretation of the United States Constitution, and, in general, can declare legislation or executive action made at any level of the government as unconstitutional
Judicial review in the United States
Judicial review in the United States refers to the power of a court to review the constitutionality of a statute or treaty, or to review an administrative regulation for consistency with either a statute, a treaty, or the Constitution itself....

, nullifying the law and creating precedent
Precedent
In common law legal systems, a precedent or authority is a principle or rule established in a legal case that a court or other judicial body may apply when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts...

 for future law and decisions. The United States Constitution does not grant the judicial branch the power of judicial review
Judicial review in the United States
Judicial review in the United States refers to the power of a court to review the constitutionality of a statute or treaty, or to review an administrative regulation for consistency with either a statute, a treaty, or the Constitution itself....

 (the power to declare a law Unconstitutional).The power of judicial review was asserted by Chief Justice Marshall
John Marshall
John Marshall was the Chief Justice of the United States whose court opinions helped lay the basis for American constitutional law and made the Supreme Court of the United States a coequal branch of government along with the legislative and executive branches...

 in the landmark Supreme Court Case Marbury v. Madison (1803)
Marbury v. Madison
Marbury v. Madison, is a landmark case in United States law and in the history of law worldwide. It formed the basis for the exercise of judicial review in the United States under Article III of the Constitution. It was also the first time in Western history a court invalidated a law by declaring...

. There have been instances in the past where such declarations have been ignored by the other two branches. Below the U.S. Supreme Court are the United States Courts of Appeals
United States court of appeals
The United States courts of appeals are the intermediate appellate courts of the United States federal court system...

, and below them in turn are the United States District Courts
United States district court
The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. There is a United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States...

, which are the general trial courts for federal law, and for certain controversies between litigants who are not deemed citizens of the same state (“diversity jurisdiction
Diversity jurisdiction
In the law of the United States, diversity jurisdiction is a form of subject-matter jurisdiction in civil procedure in which a United States district court has the power to hear a civil case where the persons that are parties are "diverse" in citizenship, which generally indicates that they are...

”).

There are three levels of federal courts with general jurisdiction, meaning that these courts handle criminal cases and civil lawsuits between individuals. The other courts, such as the bankruptcy courts
United States bankruptcy court
United States bankruptcy courts are courts created under Article I of the United States Constitution. They function as units of the district courts and have subject-matter jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases. The federal district courts have original and exclusive jurisdiction over all cases arising...

 and the Tax Court, are specialized courts handling only certain kinds of cases (“subject matter jurisdiction”). The Bankruptcy Courts are “under” the district courts, and as such are not considered part of the "Article III
Article Three of the United States Constitution
Article Three of the United States Constitution establishes the judicial branch of the federal government. The judicial branch comprises the Supreme Court of the United States and lower courts as created by Congress.-Section 1: Federal courts:...

" judiciary and also as such their judges do not have lifetime tenure, nor are they Constitutionally exempt from diminution of their remuneration. Also the Tax Court is not an Article III court (but is, instead an “Article I Court”).

The district courts are the trial courts wherein cases that are considered under the Judicial Code (Title 28, United States Code) consistent with the jurisdictional precepts of “federal question jurisdiction” and “diversity jurisdiction” and “pendent jurisdiction” can be filed and decided. The district courts can also hear cases under “removal jurisdiction”, wherein a case brought in State court meets the requirements for diversity jurisdiction, and one party litigant chooses to “remove” the case from state court to federal court.

The United States Courts of Appeals are appellate courts that hear appeals of cases decided by the district courts, and some direct appeals from administrative agencies, and some interlocutory appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court hears appeals from the decisions of the courts of appeals or state supreme courts, and in addition has original jurisdiction
Original jurisdiction
The original jurisdiction of a court is the power to hear a case for the first time, as opposed to appellate jurisdiction, when a court has the power to review a lower court's decision.-France:...

 over a small number of cases.

The judicial power extends to cases arising under the Constitution, an Act of Congress
Act of Congress
An Act of Congress is a statute enacted by government with a legislature named "Congress," such as the United States Congress or the Congress of the Philippines....

; a U.S. treaty
Treaty
A treaty is an express agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states and international organizations. A treaty may also be known as an agreement, protocol, covenant, convention or exchange of letters, among other terms...

; cases affecting ambassador
Ambassador
An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat who represents a nation and is usually accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization....

s, minister
Diplomatic rank
Diplomatic rank is the system of professional and social rank used in the world of diplomacy and international relations. Over time it has been formalized on an international basis.-Ranks:...

s and consul
Consul (representative)
The political title Consul is used for the official representatives of the government of one state in the territory of another, normally acting to assist and protect the citizens of the consul's own country, and to facilitate trade and friendship between the peoples of the two countries...

s of foreign countries in the U.S.; cases and controversies to which the federal government is a party; controversies between states (or their citizens) and foreign nations (or their citizens or subjects); and bankruptcy cases (collectively “federal-question jurisdiction”). The Eleventh Amendment
Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution, which was passed by the Congress on March 4, 1794, and was ratified on February 7, 1795, deals with each state's sovereign immunity. This amendment was adopted in order to overrule the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Chisholm v...

 removed from federal jurisdiction cases in which citizens of one state were the plaintiffs and the government of another state was the defendant. It did not disturb federal jurisdiction in cases in which a state government is a plaintiff and a citizen of another state the defendant.

The power of the federal courts extends both to civil actions for damages and other redress, and to criminal cases arising under federal law. The interplay of the Supremacy Clause and Article III has resulted in a complex set of relationships between state and federal courts. Federal courts can sometimes hear cases arising under state law pursuant to diversity jurisdiction
Diversity jurisdiction
In the law of the United States, diversity jurisdiction is a form of subject-matter jurisdiction in civil procedure in which a United States district court has the power to hear a civil case where the persons that are parties are "diverse" in citizenship, which generally indicates that they are...

, state courts can decide certain matters involving federal law, and a handful of federal claims are primarily reserved by federal statute to the state courts (for example, those arising from the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991
Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 was passed by the United States Congress in 1991 and signed into law by President George H. W. Bush as Public Law 102-243, amending the Communications Act of 1934. The current version of the statute is found principally at...

). Both court systems thus can be said to have exclusive jurisdiction
Exclusive jurisdiction
In civil procedure, exclusive jurisdiction exists where one court has the power to adjudicate a case to the exclusion of all other courts. It is the opposite situation from concurrent jurisdiction, in which more than one court may take jurisdiction over the case.Exclusive jurisdiction is typically...

 in some areas and concurrent jurisdiction
Concurrent jurisdiction
Concurrent jurisdiction exists where two or more courts from different systems simultaneously have jurisdiction over a specific case. This situation leads to forum shopping, as parties will try to have their civil or criminal case heard in the court that they perceive will be most favorable to...

 in others.

The U.S. Constitution safeguards judicial independence by providing that federal judges shall hold office "during good behavior"; in practice, this usually means they serve until they die, retire, or resign. A judge who commits an offense while in office may be impeached
Impeachment
Impeachment is a formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity, the outcome of which, depending on the country, may include the removal of that official from office as well as other punishment....

 in the same way as the President or other officials of the federal government. U.S. judges are appointed by the President, subject to confirmation by the Senate. Another Constitutional provision prohibits Congress from reducing the pay of any Article III judge (Congress is able to set a lower salary for all future judges that take office after the reduction, but may not decrease the rate of pay for judges already in office).

Relationships between state and federal courts


Separate from, but not entirely independent of, this federal court system are the court systems of each state, each dealing with, in addition to federal law when not deemed preempted, a state’s own laws, and having its own court rules and procedures. Although state governments and the federal government are legally dual sovereigns, the Supreme Court of the United States is in many cases the appellate court from the State Supreme Courts (e.g., absent the Court countenancing the applicability of the doctrine of adequate and independent State grounds). The Supreme Courts of each state
State supreme court
In the United States, the state supreme court is the highest state court in the state court system ....

 are by this doctrine the final authority on the interpretation of the applicable state's laws and Constitution. Many state constitution provisions are equal in breadth to those of the U.S. Constitution, but are considered “parallel” (thus, where, for example, the right to privacy pursuant to a state constitution is broader than the federal right to privacy, and the asserted ground is explicitly held to be “independent”, the question can be finally decided in a State Supreme Court—the U.S. Supreme Court will decline to take jurisdiction).

A State Supreme Court, other than of its own accord, is bound only by the U.S. Supreme Court's interpretation of federal law, but is not bound by interpretation of federal law by the federal court of appeals for the federal circuit in which the state is included, or even the federal district courts located in the state, a result of the dual sovereigns concept. Conversely, a federal district court hearing a matter involving only a question of state law (usually through diversity jurisdiction
Diversity jurisdiction
In the law of the United States, diversity jurisdiction is a form of subject-matter jurisdiction in civil procedure in which a United States district court has the power to hear a civil case where the persons that are parties are "diverse" in citizenship, which generally indicates that they are...

) must apply the substantive law of the state in which the court sits, a result of the application of the Erie Doctrine
Erie doctrine
In United States law, the Erie doctrine is a fundamental legal doctrine of civil procedure mandating that a federal court in diversity jurisdiction must apply state substantive law....

; however, at the same time, the case is heard under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure govern civil procedure in United States district courts. The FRCP are promulgated by the United States Supreme Court pursuant to the Rules Enabling Act, and then the United States Congress has 7 months to veto the rules promulgated or they become part of the...

, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure
Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure
The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure are the procedural rules that govern how federal criminal prosecutions are conducted in United States district courts, the general trial courts of the U.S. government. As such, they are the companion to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure...

 and the Federal Rules of Evidence
Federal Rules of Evidence
The is a code of evidence law governing the admission of facts by which parties in the United States federal court system may prove their cases, both civil and criminal. The Rules were enacted in 1975, with subsequent amendments....

 instead of state procedural rules (that is, the application of the Erie Doctrine only extends to a requirement that a federal court asserting diversity jurisdiction apply substantive state law, but not procedural state law, which may be different). Together, the laws of the federal and state governments form U.S. law
Law of the United States
The law of the United States consists of many levels of codified and uncodified forms of law, of which the most important is the United States Constitution, the foundation of the federal government of the United States...

.

Elections and voting


Suffrage
Voting rights in the United States
The issue of voting rights in the United States has been contentious throughout the country's history. Eligibility to vote in the U.S. is determined by both Federal and state law. Currently, only citizens can vote in U.S. elections . Who is a citizen is governed on a national basis by Federal law...

, commonly known as the ability to vote, has changed significantly over time. In the early years of the United States, voting was considered a matter for state governments, and was commonly restricted to white men who owned land. Direct elections were mostly held only for the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislatures, although what specific bodies were elected by the electorate varied from state to state. Under this original system, both senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

s representing each state in the U.S. Senate were chosen by a majority vote of the state legislature. Since the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment
Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Seventeenth Amendment to the United States Constitution established direct election of United States Senators by popular vote. The amendment supersedes Article I, § 3, Clauses 1 and 2 of the Constitution, under which senators were elected by state legislatures...

 in 1913, members of both houses of Congress have been directly elected.

Today, partially due to the Twenty-sixth Amendment
Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twenty-sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution limited the minimum voting age to no more than 18. It was adopted in response to student activism against the Vietnam War and to partially overrule the Supreme Court's decision in Oregon v. Mitchell...

, U.S. citizens have almost universal suffrage
Universal suffrage
Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

 from the age of 18, regardless of race, gender, or wealth, and both Houses of Congress are directly elected. The only exception to this is the disenfranchisement of convicted felons
Felony disenfranchisement
Felony disenfranchisement is the term used to describe the practice of prohibiting people from voting based on the fact that they have been convicted of a felony or other criminal offence...

, and in some states former felons as well.

Under the U.S. Constitution, the national representation of territories and the federal district of Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, in Congress is limited
District of Columbia voting rights
Voting rights of citizens in the District of Columbia differ from those of United States citizens in each of the fifty states. District of Columbia residents do not have voting representation in the United States Senate, but D.C. is entitled to three electoral votes for President. In the U.S...

: residents of the District of Columbia are subject to federal laws and federal taxes, but their only congressional representative is a non-voting delegate
Delegate (United States Congress)
A delegate to Congress is a non-voting member of the United States House of Representatives who is elected from a U.S. territory and from Washington, D.C. to a two-year term. While unable to vote in the full House, a non-voting delegate may vote in a House committee of which the delegate is a member...

. Residents of U.S. territories have varying rights; for example, only some residents of Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

 pay federal income taxes (though all residents must pay all other federal taxes, including import/export taxes, federal commodity taxes and federal payroll tax
Payroll tax
Payroll tax generally refers to two different kinds of similar taxes. The first kind is a tax that employers are required to withhold from employees' wages, also known as withholding tax, pay-as-you-earn tax , or pay-as-you-go tax...

es, including Social Security
Social Security (United States)
In the United States, Social Security refers to the federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program.The original Social Security Act and the current version of the Act, as amended encompass several social welfare and social insurance programs...

 and Medicare
Medicare (United States)
Medicare is a social insurance program administered by the United States government, providing health insurance coverage to people who are aged 65 and over; to those who are under 65 and are permanently physically disabled or who have a congenital physical disability; or to those who meet other...

). All federal laws that are "not locally inapplicable" are automatically the law of the land in Puerto Rico but their current representation in the U.S. Congress is in the form of a Resident Commissioner
Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico
The Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico is a non-voting member of the United States House of Representatives elected by the voters of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico every four years...

, a nonvoting delegate.

State, tribal and local governments



The state governments tend to have the greatest influence over most Americans' daily lives. The Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, was ratified on December 15, 1791...

 prohibits the federal government from exercising any power not delegated to it by the States in the Constitution; as a result, states handle the majority of issues most relevant to individuals within their jurisdiction. Because state governments lack the power to print currency, they must raise revenue either through taxes or bonds. As a result, state governments tend to impose severe budget cuts at any time the economy is faltering, which are strongly felt by the public for which they are responsible.

Each state has its own written constitution, government and code of laws. There are sometimes great differences in law and procedure between individual states, concerning issues such as property, crime, health and education. The highest elected official of each state is the Governor. Each state also has an elected state legislature (bicameralism
Bicameralism
In the government, bicameralism is the practice of having two legislative or parliamentary chambers. Thus, a bicameral parliament or bicameral legislature is a legislature which consists of two chambers or houses....

 is a feature of every state except Nebraska
Nebraska
Nebraska is a state on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States. The state's capital is Lincoln and its largest city is Omaha, on the Missouri River....

), whose members represent the voters of the state. Each state maintains its own state court system. In some states, supreme and lower court justices are elected by the people; in others, they are appointed, as they are in the federal system.

As a result of the Supreme Court case Worcester v. Georgia
Worcester v. Georgia
Worcester v. Georgia, 31 U.S. 515 , was a case in which the United States Supreme Court vacated the conviction of Samuel Worcester and held that the Georgia criminal statute that prohibited non-Indians from being present on Indian lands without a license from the state was unconstitutional.The...

, Indian tribes are considered "domestic dependent nations" that operate as sovereign
Tribal sovereignty
Tribal sovereignty in the United States refers to the inherent authority of indigenous tribes to govern themselves within the borders of the United States of America. The federal government recognizes tribal nations as "domestic dependent nations" and has established a number of laws attempting to...

 governments subject to federal authority but, generally and where possible, outside of the influence of state governments. Hundreds of laws, executive orders and court cases have modified the governmental status of tribes vis-à-vis
Face-to-face
The face-to-face relation refers to a concept in the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas' thought on human sociality.Lévinas' phenomenological account of the "face-to-face" encounter serves as the basis for his ethics and the rest of his philosophy...

 individual states, but the two have continued to be recognized as separate bodies. Tribal capacity to operate robust governments varies, from a simple council used to manage all aspects of tribal affairs, to large and complex bureaucracies with several branches of government. Tribes are empowered to form their own governments, with power resting in elected tribal councils, elected tribal chairpersons, or religiously appointed leaders (as is the case with pueblo
Pueblo
Pueblo is a term used to describe modern communities of Native Americans in the Southwestern United States of America. The first Spanish explorers of the Southwest used this term to describe the communities housed in apartment-like structures built of stone, adobe mud, and other local material...

s). Tribal citizenship (and voting rights) is generally restricted to individuals of native descent, but tribes are free to set whatever membership requirements they wish.

The institutions that are responsible for local government within states are typically town, city, or county boards, water management districts, fire management districts, library districts and other similar governmental units which make laws that affect their particular area. These laws concern issues such as traffic, the sale of alcohol and the keeping of animals. The highest elected official of a town or city is usually the mayor. In New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

, towns operate in a direct democratic
Direct democracy
Direct democracy is a form of government in which people vote on policy initiatives directly, as opposed to a representative democracy in which people vote for representatives who then vote on policy initiatives. Direct democracy is classically termed "pure democracy"...

 fashion, and in some states, such as Rhode Island
Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, more commonly referred to as Rhode Island , is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area...

 and Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

, counties have little or no power, existing only as geographic distinctions. In other areas, county governments have more power, such as to collect taxes and maintain law enforcement
Policing in the United States
Law enforcement in the United States is one of three major components of the criminal justice system of the United States, along with courts and corrections. Although there exists an inherent interrelatedness between the different groups that make up the criminal justice system based on their...

 agencies.

Reception



Henry J. Aaron
Henry J. Aaron
Henry J. Aaron is an American economist and health care expert who works at the Brookings Institution. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.-References:...

 of the Brookings Institution
Brookings Institution
The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C., in the United States. One of Washington's oldest think tanks, Brookings conducts research and education in the social sciences, primarily in economics, metropolitan policy, governance, foreign policy, and...

 has described the U.S. government as a system "in which minority interests can marshall numerous and powerful defenses to block major changes not supported by powerful and well-mobilized majorities."

See also


President
  • Cabinet
    United States Cabinet
    The Cabinet of the United States is composed of the most senior appointed officers of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States, which are generally the heads of the federal executive departments...

  • Executive order
  • Federal Executive Departments
    United States Federal Executive Departments
    The United States federal executive departments are among the oldest primary units of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States—the Departments of State, War, and the Treasury all being established within a few weeks of each other in 1789.Federal executive...

  • President's Executive Office
    Executive Office of the President of the United States
    The Executive Office of the President consists of the immediate staff of the President of the United States, as well as multiple levels of support staff reporting to the President. The EOP is headed by the White House Chief of Staff, currently William M. Daley...



Courts
  • Bankruptcy courts
    United States bankruptcy court
    United States bankruptcy courts are courts created under Article I of the United States Constitution. They function as units of the district courts and have subject-matter jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases. The federal district courts have original and exclusive jurisdiction over all cases arising...

  • Courts of appeals
    United States courts of appeals
    The United States courts of appeals are the intermediate appellate courts of the United States federal court system...

  • District courts
    United States district court
    The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. There is a United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States...

  • Federal courts
    United States federal courts
    The United States federal courts make up the judiciary branch of federal government of the United States organized under the United States Constitution and laws of the federal government.-Categories:...

  • Federal judicial circuit
  • Federal judicial district
    United States federal judicial district
    For purposes of the federal judicial system, Congress has divided the United States into judicial districts. There are 94 federal judicial districts, including at least one district in each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico...

  • Supreme Court
    Supreme Court of the United States
    The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...



Law
  • Constitution
    United States Constitution
    The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

  • Governmental designations for places
  • U.S. Code
    United States Code
    The Code of Laws of the United States of America is a compilation and codification of the general and permanent federal laws of the United States...

  • U.S. Law
    Law of the United States
    The law of the United States consists of many levels of codified and uncodified forms of law, of which the most important is the United States Constitution, the foundation of the federal government of the United States...



Agencies
Most agencies are executive, but a few are legislative or judicial.
  • Federal agencies
  • Independent agencies
    Independent agencies of the United States government
    Independent agencies of the United States federal government are those agencies that exist outside of the federal executive departments...



States and territories
  • Political divisions
    Political divisions of the United States
    The political units and divisions of the United States include:*The 50 states are subdivided into counties . The counties may be further subdivided into townships, or towns in New York and New England...

  • U.S. state
    U.S. state
    A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

    s
  • U.S. territory
    United States territory
    United States territory is any extent of region under the jurisdiction of the federal government of the United States, including all waters including all U.S. Naval carriers. The United States has traditionally proclaimed the sovereign rights for exploring, exploiting, conserving, and managing its...



Web site and works
  • Copyright status of work by the U.S. government
  • U.S. Government Web Portal for Businesses
    Business.gov
    Business.gov is sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration to provide small business owners with access to federal, state and local government resources from a single access point. The site provides innovative information services that save time and money, engage citizens to participate,...

  • U.S. Government Web Portal for Citizens
    USA.gov
    USA.gov is the official web portal of the United States government. It is designed to improve the public’s interaction with the U.S. government by quickly directing website visitors to the services or information they are seeking, and by inviting the public to share ideas to improve government...


External links