A collection of worksheets that explores the fail safes that were built into the American government.

When a form of government separates powers into multiple layers which can regulate or overturn a decision from one layer to the next it is referred to as a check and balance system of government. In the United States the constitution split the democracy into three branches of government. The form of governing has both benefits and drawbacks. The main benefit is that when a decision is made it reflects the opinion of the body at large. Due to all of the oversight and need for cooperation it does complicate and slow the process of governing. This form of managing large organizations has made its way into most modern large corporations. It helps ensure that the initiatives that a business takes on in the best interest of the company and cannot be driven by a single individual or small group of people.

These worksheets look at how checks and balances work in the American government. Students will explore the history behind this system and how it made its way to its modern form. We look at the limitations and procedures that were put in place because of running a system like this. Each of the branches are explored and we look at the powers and limitations of each branch. We will also explore the concepts of impeachment and veto power.

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What Are Checks and Balances?

The U.S. Constitution created a government composed of three distinct branches so that no one branch of the government would become too powerful. In order to protect against a possible imbalance of power.

Checks and Balances Multiple Choice Questions

Who does the main work of enforcing and administering federal laws?

Marbury vs. Madison

Marbury vs. Madison was a case about the presidential appointment of judges. Right before he left office, President John Adams appointed forty-two justices of the peace on March 2, 1801. The next day, which was Adam' last day in office, the Senate confirmed these nominations.

Marbury vs. Madison - Short Answer Questions

The Supreme Court found in favor of Marbury, ruling that his right to his commission had been violated.


Impeachment is the act of calling the integrity or value of something into question. Impeachment dates back to 14th century England, where it was used by the newly created Parliament to keep the king's advisor's accountable for their actions.

QUESTIONS: Impeachment

Since 1789, approximately half the impeachment trials conducted in the Senate have resulted in impeachment.

The Constitution

The Constitution is the document that established the United States federal government. It is the foundation of all U.S. law, and the highest level of law in the country.

QUESTIONS: The Constitution

The founding fathers knew that the Constitution needed to be powerful enough to run the country, but that it also needed to leave as much power as possible to both the individual states and the people themselves.

Powers and Limitations of the Executive Branch

In the U.S. Constitution, power is divided equally between an Executive branch, a Legislative branch, and a Judicial branch.

QUESTIONS: Powers and Limitations of the Executive Branch

Power is balanced between the Executive and Legislative branches as follows. When Congress produces legislation, it is the President's job to sign it into law.

Powers and Limitations of the Judicial Branch Reading Passage

The Judicial branch is a system of federal courts and judges. When hearing and deciding cases, these federal judges apply the law to real-life situations.

QUESTIONS: Powers and Limitations of the Judicial Branch

The lowest level courts are the U.S. District Courts, which operate across the different regions of the country and handle most federal cases.

Powers and Limitations of Legislative Branch

While laws are actually created by the Legislative branch, they are enforced by the Executive branch.

QUESTIONS: Powers and Limitations of Legislative Branch

War powers are also divided between the Executive branch and Legislative branches. The President is the Commander in Chief of the U.S. military forces, but it is the Legislative branch that has the power to declare war, and to raise and support the military.

The Founding Fathers

America's founding fathers are the military leaders, rebels, politicians, and writers who both fought for America's freedom from British rule and established the system of government we have in place today.

The Founding Fathers - Short Answer Questions

After months of debate and months of writing, the Constitution needed to be formally accepted (ratified) by the 13 states.

The Federalist Papers

When the founding fathers convened in Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation, through the course of debate it became clear that the country needed a new Constitution entirely.

The Federalist Papers - Questions

During the Constitution, there were basically two opposing sides. One side, called the Federalists, supported a federal system of government in which power was shared equally between the national government and the state governments.

The Veto

A veto is the power to reject and completely stop an official action. The term is typically used in relation to the power of one entity to reject and stop enactment of a law.

The Veto - Short Answer

While the Constitution does not actually use the term "veto," Article 1 of the Constitution does require that every bill, order, resolution or other act of legislation approved by the Legislative branch be presented to the President for their approval.