Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

The Balance of Government

Our Government's SEESAW

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Pretend that three people who weigh the same take turns on a seesaw. No matter which two people are on the seesaw at opposite ends, they are balanced. Our government is the same way. The three that take turns riding the seesaw are -

(1) Congress - Legislative Branch
(2) President - Executive Branch
(3) Supreme Court - Judicial Branch


How do these branches balance and check each other? Each branch has different powers from another branch. But each weighs the same.
Using the lists below, fill in the seesaws on the next page to show how each branch balances the other.

President:

  • Makes treaties with other nations
  • Carries out laws
  • Vetoes bills Congress passes if he thinks they are wrong
  • Appoints judges in the Judicial Branch for a life term
  • Writes the budget

Congress:

  • Makes laws
  • Can override a President's veto of a bill by 2/3 vote
  • Can impeach a President for misconduct
  • Must approve presidential appointments for judges and justices
  • Gives the O.K. on budget spending and treaties
  • Can remove judges from office for misconduct
Supreme Court:
  • Interprets laws
  • May decide that some laws that Congress makes or decisions that the President make are not right according to the Constitution.