Information on the executive, legislative, and judicial
branches of the U.S. government.
The Three Branches
The Executive Branch: Powers of the Presidency
Outlines the Constitutional requirements to become the U.S. President and some
of the duties of the office. Also includes descriptions of the executive
departments and other government agencies. Outline of the U.S. Government,
U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Information Programs, 2000.
The President of the United States
A brief overview of who the President is, his duties, and who and what he
oversees. Ben's Guide to U.S. Government, U.S. Government Printing Office.
The President of the United States:
An in-depth review of the President's role in making the laws of the United
States. Ben's Guide to U.S. Government, U.S. Government Printing Office.
The President of the United States:
Requirements and Term
The requirements that candidates for President and Vice President must meet to
run for the offices and the length of their terms. Ben's Guide to U.S.
Government, U.S. Government Printing Office.
The President's Budget
A description of what is included in the President's budget for the U.S.
Government and how it is written.
Presidential Libraries: A Brief
A brief history of the origin of Presidential Libraries to preserve
Presidential papers as part of the National Archives.
The Presidents of the United States
A full listing of past U.S. Presidents, their Vice Presidents, their term and
party affiliation. Ben's Guide to U.S. Government, U.S. Government Printing
Executive Office of the President
The White House Office
U.S. Cabinet Department and Advisors
Information about the U.S. Cabinet and U.S. Executive Office of the President.
The President's Cabinet
Background on the purpose of the Cabinet, the selection of its members, and a
brief overview of each department.
President Bush's Cabinet
White House listing of the heads of the 15 executive departments, and others in
the Administration of Cabinet-level rank.
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Outline of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's functions, bureaus and offices.
U.S. Department of Commerce
Overview of the purpose and responsibilities of the U.S. Department of
Commerce, and its bureaus and offices.
U.S. Department of Defense
Information regarding the history, structure and role of the U.S. Department of
U.S. Department of Education
Information about the U.S. Department of Education's structure and activities.
U.S. Department of Energy
Information about the U.S. Department of Energy's mission, functions, and
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Information about the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' functions
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Information about the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's
purpose, functions, and program areas.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Information about the functions and resources of the U.S. Department of
U.S. Department of the Interior
Information about the U.S. Department of Interior's mission, functions, and
U.S. Department of Justice
Provides the history, mission and functions of the U.S. Department of Justice.
U.S. Department of Labor
Overview of the purpose and responsibilities of the U.S. Department of Labor.
U.S. Department of State
Summary of the functions and mission of the U.S. Department of State.
U.S. Department of Transportation
Information about the U.S. Department of Transportation's functions and
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Provides information on the functions, mission and structure of the U.S.
Department of the Treasury.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs operates programs to benefit veterans
and members of their families.
Federal Agencies and Commissions
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
General summary of the role and responsibilities of the Advisory Council on
Broadcasting Board of Governors
The Board's responsibility is for all U.S. government and government sponsored,
non-military, international broadcasting.
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency
Explanation of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's mission and duties.
U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Overview of the Commission's history, role and duties.
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
General information about the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's
functions and responsibilities.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Overview of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's structure and functions.
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity
Provides an overview of the Commission's mission which is to enforce laws that
prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin,
disability, or age.
U.S. Federal Communications Commission
A general summary regarding the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's
purpose and responsibilities.
U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Information about the mission and operation of the U.S. Federal Deposit
U.S. Federal Election Commission
The Federal Election Commission has jurisdiction over the administration and
enforcement of laws and regulations concerning campaign funds.
U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency
Brief overview of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency's mission and
U.S. Federal Reserve System
General information regarding the U.S. Federal Reserve System which is the
central bank of the United States and is charged with administering and
formulating the Nation's credit and monetary policy.
U.S. Federal Trade Commission
General overview of the history, structure and activities of the U.S. Federal
U.S. National Security Agency
General introduction to the U.S. National Security Agency. U.S. National
Security Agency/Central Security Service.
U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Information regarding the role, activities, and operations of the U.S. National
Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Archives and Records Administration
Brief summary regarding the establishment, structure, and activities of the
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information
Introduction to the U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information
Science which advises the President and Congress on national and international
library and information policies.
U.S. National Endowment for the Arts
Brief overview of the mission and function of the U.S. National Endowment for
the Arts which is the official arts organization of the U.S. Government.
U.S. National Endowment for the
The U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities is the grantmaking agency to
support research, education, preservation, and public programs in the
U.S. National Labor Relations Board
Information about the structure and responsibilities of the U.S. National Labor
U.S. National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation promotes the progress of science and
engineering through research and education programs.
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
General summary of the purpose, structure, and activities of the U.S. Nuclear
U.S. Office of Government Ethics
The Office of Government Ethics prevents conflicts of interest on the part of
U.S. Peace Corps
Overview of the history, mission, and activities of the U.S. Peace Corps.
U.S. President's Council on Physical
The Council is an advisory committee of volunteers who advise the President
about physical activity, fitness, and sports in America.
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
General summary of the role, structure, and activities of the U.S. Securities
and Exchange Commission.
U.S. Small Business Administration
Information regarding the purpose and activities of the U.S. Small Business
General information regarding the creation, structure, and responsibilities of
the Smithsonian Institution. Smithsonian Institution and its museums,
galleries, research facilities, and the National Zoo.
U.S. Social Security Administration
Overview of the establishment, programs, and activities of the U.S. Social
U.S. Selective Service System
Brief summary of the purpose and structure of the U.S. Selective Service
U.S. Agency for International Development
The U.S. Agency for International Development administers economic and
humanitarian assistance programs in the developing world, Central and Eastern
Europe, and Eurasia.
U.S. International Trade Commission
Brief overview regarding the establishment and functions of the U.S.
International Trade Commission.
U.S. Postal Service
The U.S. Postal Service provides mail and delivery services to individuals and
businesses within the U.S.
Voice of America
Fast facts about Voice of America.
About the U.S. Congress
This section provides a general overview of the U.S. Congress from its officers
and committees to its special powers and rights of members.
A complete list of members of the House of Representatives by state. Note that
each member also has his or her own website accessible by
Offices and Agencies that Support Congress
Major U.S. Legislation
Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD)
Act of 1996
Text of the LIBERTAD Act.
Freedom for Russia and Emerging Eurasian
Democracies and Open Markets Support Act of 1992
Text summary of the Freedom for Russia and Emerging Eurasian Democracies and
Open Markets Support Act of 1992 (FREEDOM Support Act).
Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of
1998 (H.R. 1757)
Text of the Act.
International Religious Freedom Act of
Text of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
United States Leadership Against
HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003
Text of the Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act of 2003.
HIV/AIDS International Programs: Appropriations
Congressional Research Service report on funding for the international AIDS,
tuberculosis, and malaria programs.
The Middle East Partnership
Initiative: An Overview
Congressional Research Service report that provides a general summary of the
program designed to promote political, economic, and educational development in
the Middle East.
General summary of the initiative to provide assistance, through a competitive
selection process, to developing nations that are pursing political and
economic reforms in three areas: ruling justly, investing in people, and
fostering economic freedom prepared by the Congressional Research Service.
Internet and Communications:
How to Find Laws - Research on U.S. Laws and Regulations:
The Court Systems
How the Courts Work:
The Changing Face of U.S. Courts
A discussion of the way courts have changed as court caseloads have surged,
media have become increasingly present, and rapid technological advances have
helped streamline the management of the courts.
How U.S. Courts Work
An electronic journal that offers a discussion regarding how the U.S. court
system works in practice.
Access to the Courts: Equal Justice for All
This journal describes the elements of the American judicial system that help
ensure it is seen as fair and independent.
Types of Courts:
Mediation and the Courts
A discussion of new methods of dealing with conflicts due to increasing
litigation expenses and overcrowded court dockets.
Understanding the Federal Courts
Prepared by the Office of Judges Programs, Administrative Office of the U.S.
Courts to provide an introduction to the federal judicial system, its
organization, and its relationship to the legislative and executive branches of
The Supreme Court:
The U.S. Supreme Court
Provides contacts and basic information about the Justices, creation, appellate
jurisdiction, and rulemaking power of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Brief Overview of the U.S. Supreme Court
A brief overview of the U.S. Supreme Court including its rulemaking powers and
The Supreme Court of the United States:
Highest Court in the Land
This journal explains how the Supreme Court functions, and illustrates how it
commands the respect of Americans and plays a vital role in the constitutional
Biographical information and accomplishments of Justice Samuel Alito.
Biographical information and accomplishments of Justice Stephen Breyer.
Biographical information and accomplishments of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Biographical information and accomplishments of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.
Biographical information and accomplishments of Chief Justice John Roberts.
Biographical information and accomplishments of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Biographical information and accomplishments of Justice David Hackett Souter.
Biographical information and accomplishments of Justice John Paul Stevens.
Biographical information and accomplishments of Justice Clarence Thomas.
Supreme Court Decisions
Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1856) (USSC+)
Upholds the institution of slavery.
Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896) (USSC+)
Outlines Jim Crow laws - Separate but equal.
Buchanan v. Warley, 245 U.S. 60 (1917) (USSC+)
Establishes equal access to housing.
Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948) (USSC+)
Ruling guarantees equal access to housing.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483
Outlines the necessity of equal access to education - separate but equal does
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 349 U.S. 294
Brown v. Board of Education upheld for all states.
Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States, 379
U.S. 241 (1964) (USSC+)
Dictates equal access to accommodation.
Katzenbach v. McClung, 379 U.S. 294 (1964) (USSC+)
Ruling that stated that service in a public establishment must not
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke,
438 U.S. 265 (1978) (USSC+)
Ruling supporting Affirmative Action in education.
United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CIO-CLC v.
Weber, 443 U.S. 193 (1979)
Ruling supporting Affirmative Action in hiring.
Bob Jones University v. United States, 461 U.S.
574 (1983) (USSC+)
U.S. government support is prohibited from universities that discriminate.
Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, 515 U.S. 200
Full text of a court decision regarding affirmative action.
Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996)
Ruling stating that gays and lesbians can not be denied full protection under
Agostini et al. v. Felton et al. (1996-1997)
A federally-funded program can give supplemental remedial education to
disadvantaged children in sectarian schools.
Washington et al. v. Glucksberg et al.
A right to assisted suicide is not protected.
Randon Bragdon, Petitioner v. Sydney Abbott et al.
Reproduction does qualify as a major life activity according to the Americans
with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).
Department of Commerce v. United States House
The use of statistical sampling to determine the population for congressional
apportionment purposes was prohibited.
Boy Scouts of America et al. v. Dale (1998-1999)
Allows a private organization to exclude whomever it wishes.
Troxel et vir. v. Granville (1999-2000)
Limits the visitation rights of grandparents.
United States v. Morrison et al. (1999-2000)
Examined the limits on the power of U.S. Congress to make laws under the
Commerce Clause and the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.
State of Arizona, Complainant v. State of
California et al. (2000)
The Quechan Tribe and the United States on the tribe's behalf assert claims for
increased rights to water from the Colorado River.
Good News Club et al. v. Milford Central
This case concerns the First Amendment rights of religious groups or clubs to
meet in public schools, when the public school in question allowed other
(non-religious) groups and clubs to meet in the school.
New York Times Co., Inc., et al. v. Tasini et
Leading decision on the issue of copyright and electronic publication.
Zelman, Superintendent of Public
Instruction of Ohio, et al. v. Simmons-Harris et al. (2001-2002)
Case that tested the permissibility of school vouchers in relation to schools
that have a religious affiliation.
Larry Hope, Petitioner v. Mark Pelzer et al.
The right of state prison inmates to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.
Grutter v. Bollinger et al. (2002-2003)
Case in which the affirmative action admissions policy of the University of
Michigan Law School was upheld.
United States et al. v. American Library
Association, Inc., et al. (2002-2003)
Public libraries that receive federal assistance to provide Internet access
must install internet filters to block images that constitute obscenity or
Hamdi et al. v. Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense,
et al. (2003-2004)
Unlawful combatants who are U.S. citizens must have the ability to challenge
their detention before an impartial judge.
Cheney, Vice President of the United States, et
al. v. United States District Court for the District of Columbia et al.
Case that explored the Federal Advisory Committee Act's strict transparency
Kelo et al. v. City of New London et al.
Case involving the expropriation of private property to transfer land from one
private owner to another in order to further economic development.
Granholm, Governor of Michigan, et al. v. Heald
et al. (2004-2005)
Laws that permit in-state wineries to ship wine directly to consumers, but
prohibit out-of-state wineries from doing the same are unconstitutional.
Rapanos et ux., et al. v. United States
Case that challenged the Clean Water Act.
League of United Latin American Citizens et al.
v. Perry, Governor of Texas, et al. (2005-2006)
Case regarding the violation of the Voting Rights Act by the 2003 Texas
Court of International Trade
A brief overview of the court that deals with cases involving international
trade and customs duties.
U.S. District Courts
A brief overview of the U.S. District Court system, including a flow chart.
An overview of courts in other territories that function as U.S. district
U.S. Bankruptcy Courts
An overview of the court that hears and decides petitions of individuals and
businesses seeking relief from bankruptcy.
U.S. Courts of Appeals
Discusses the courts that hear appeals from the district courts located within
their circuit, as well as appeals from decisions of federal administrative
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
Provides a brief history of this court in addition to outlining the type of
cases it hears.
Administration of U.S. Courts:
Crime and Justice
An Overview of the United States
A discussion of the role of the agency that develops guidelines for sentencing
in federal courts, collects data about crime and sentencing, and serves as a
resource on crime and sentencing policy.
Glossary of Terms
A compilation from the Issues of Democracy e-journal of September 1999 series
on crime and justice patterns in the United States.
Criminal Justice in the U.S.
An essay from the Issues of Democracy E-Journal on crime and justice patterns
Crime Control: The Federal Response
Congressional Research Service report on crime control.
Criminal Justice in the U.S
An Issues of Democracy e-journal on crime and justice patterns in the United
The Evolution of the Death Penalty in the United
A brief history of the death penalty in the United States and the legal basis
for states' adoption of the penalty. Bureau of International Information
Programs, U.S. Department of State, 2002.
Capital Punishment: An Overview of
Federal Death Penalty Statutes
Report by the Congressional Research Service on the legal statutes and
procedures of the death penalty in the United States.
Drug Control: International Policy and
Congressional Research Service report on international efforts to reduce the
flow of drugs to the United States.
Pulse Check: Trends in Drug Abuse
Report on changes in the U.S. drug abuse problem.
Stopping Use Before It Starts: Education
and Community Action
Introduction to "National Drug Control Strategy: National Priorities 2004"
report, from the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
War On Drugs: Legislation in the 108th Congress
and Related Developments
Congressional Research Service report on legislation used by the U.S. to combat
War On Drugs: The National Youth Anti-Drug
Congressional Research Service report evaluating the most visible aspect of the
anti-drug work of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Gun Legislation in the 109th Congress
Congressional Research Service report on U.S. gun control legislation.
Federal Firearms Regulations Reference Guide
U.S. Department of the Treasury publication providing information on all of the
federal laws and regulations governing the manufacture, importation and
distribution of firearms.
Strategic Approaches to Reducing Firearms
Violence: Final Report on the Indianapolis Violence Reduction Partnership
U.S. Department of Justice report on strategic approaches to reducing firearms
Crime in the United States
Introduction and guide to the FBI's online report "Crime in the United States,
2005" available at http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/05cius/,
part of the Uniform Crime Reporting
Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics
Compiled from more than 100 sources, this Sourcebook is presented in six
sections (system characteristics, public opinion, offenses known, arrests,
judicial processing, and corrections), containing almost 700 tables.
Weapon Use and Violent Crime
U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Discusses the nature
and prevalence of violent crime by armed offenders, and the consequences to the
victims, age 12 or older.