Halfway Point! Thanks for sticking with me through the first FIFTY practice questions of the civics portion of the US citizenship test!
Although there are 100 questions, keep in mind you will only be asked 10 of them at your citizenship interview. And, of those 10, you only have to get 6 correct in order to pass! That is very manageable! But, you don't know which 10 questions will be asked, so it is important to be familiar with all 100 questions just in case.
This week's theme is the structure of government. There are several questions on the test about this topic, because it is important that you know how our government is organized so you can participate in our democracy!
Question 46: Name one branch of part of the government?
Answers: Congress; Legislative; President; Executive; The Courts; Judicial
Keep in mind you only have to answer one of these to get this question correct. Also keep in mind that Congress and Legislative refer to the same thing, just like President/Executive and The Courts/Judicial refer to the same answers.
The federal government (and all state governments, as well) is divided into three parts, or branches. The Legislative Branch (known as Congress) is an elected body of representatives who are primarily in charge of writing federal laws. Congress also approves treaties and approves federal appointments, such as federal judges. In the federal government, there are two houses of Congress: the Senate and the House of Representatives. They work together to make the laws of this country. Each state has a legislature, as well.
The Executive Branch (which consists of the President and all of his agencies) is tasked with executing the laws that Congress writes. This involves implementing federal programs, such as the Civil Rights Act, and doing things like collecting taxes (through the IRS), maintaining the military (through the Department of Defense), and regulating immigration (through various agencies, like USCIS, ICE, CPB, and Immigration Court). The federal executive also has diplomatic powers, and meets with foreign leaders from all over the world. The Executive Branch of the states is led by each state's governor.
The Judicial Branch is the court system. This branch is in charge of interpreting in the laws that Congress makes, and making sure that what Congress and the President do is in compliance with the Constitution. In the federal system, there is the Supreme Court, as well as a number of lower courts. In the state system, there are a number of courts, usually going from the state supreme court down to district and superior court in each county. Next week, I will be doing an entire blog post on questions about the courts soon, which will explain in more detail how the courts are organized and what they do!
Question 47: What stops one branch of government from becoming too powerful?
Answer: Checks and Balances
The system of checks and balances was created to make sure that no one of the branches of government listed above in question 46 gets too powerful. The Founding Fathers were very concerned with any one person having too much power in the government, because that's what they felt went wrong in the British monarchy system. So, they divided the powers among the three branches of government. Each branch has its own job to do, and the other branches have a number of "checks" to make sure the other branches are doing what they are supposed to do and not overstepping their boundaries.
This system protects our freedoms and makes sure that the government is working for the people, and not for the benefit of those in power.
Question 48: What is the capital of the United States?
Answer: Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C. (District of Columbia) was created as the nation's capital in 1790, when Maryland and Virginia donated a combined 100 square miles to form a new federal district. This district is not part of any state, and therefore does not have any representation in Congress.
The entire federal government is headquartered in D.C.; the White House (where the President lives and conducts his business) is located there, as well as the Capitol (where Congress meets and has offices), and the Supreme Court. In addition, most federal agencies are headquartered in Washington, D.C., including the Department of Defense, located at the Pentagon. Many non-profit organizations and lobby groups are located in the District, as well.
In addition to government offices, Washington, D.C. is home to a number of monuments and museums, making it one of the United States' biggest tourist destinations.
Question 49: Who does a U.S. Senator represent?
Answer: All of the people in the state
Each state elects two senators to serve six year terms. Unlike members of the House of Representatives, which divides each state into districts based on population, the entirety of each state votes for senate representatives.
Senators therefore serve all people in their states, not just those residing in a specific district.
Question 50: Who is the Commander in Chief of the military?
Answer: The President
Article II, Section II of the US Constitution provides that the President is the Commander in Chief of the military. This means that the President is a civilian (not an active member of the military) but has the ultimate authority on military issues. However, Congress has the authority to declare war. Despite this, the President has been able to unilaterally, without the consent of Congress, send troops into hostile situations for most of the last century, due to an act passed in 1973 called the War Powers Resolution.
We are officially halfway through the potential questions on the civics portion of the citizenship test! Only 10 weeks to go and we will have covered all 100 questions!