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Civics Literacy Study & Resource Guide

Supplemental Resource Guide for the Civics Literacy Proficiency Program

How the Government Established by the Constitution Embodies the Purposes, Values, and Principles of American Democracy

The U.S. Constitution 

The Constitution of the United States contains a preamble and seven articles that describe the way the government is structured and how it operates. The first three articles establish the three branches of government and their powers: Legislative (Congress), Executive (Office of the President,) and Judicial (Federal Court System). A system of checks and balances prevents any one of these separate powers from becoming dominant. Articles four through seven describe the relationship of the states to the Federal Government, establish the Constitution as the supreme law of the land, and define the amendment and ratification processes.

Source: The Constitution: What does it Say? National Archives 

Branches of the Federal Government

Branches of Federal Government

The Constitution of the United States divides the federal government into three branches: 

  • Legislative branch that makes laws 
  • Executive branch that carries out the laws 
  • Judicial branch that interprets laws
Background on the Federal Government Branches
Federal Government Branch Websites 
United States Laws, Regulations, and Judicial Opinions

State and Local Government

State and Local Government 

Powers not granted to the Federal government are reserved for states and the people, which are divided between State and local government. All State governments are modeled after the Federal Government and consist of three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The U.S. Constitution mandates that all States uphold a “republican form” of government, although the three-branch structure is not required.

Local governments generally include two tiers: counties, also known as boroughs in Alaska and parishes in Louisiana, and municipalities, or cities/towns. In some States, counties are divided into townships. Municipalities can be structured in many ways, as defined by State constitutions, and are called, variously, townships, villages, boroughs, cities, or towns. Various kinds of districts also provide functions in local government outside county or municipal boundaries, such as school districts or fire protection districts. 

Source: "State and Local Government" The White House

State & Local Government Directories 
Indiana State and Local Government 
Indiana Laws, Codes, and Register 

Government Publications

Government Publications 

Government publications consist of documents produced by local, regional or national governments. The basis for providing open and reliable access to government information is that it allows Americans to become informed citizens. Government publications can be found for free through government portals, and are also searchable through library resources as well. 

Library Resources
Open Government Portals

Political Parties

History of Political Parties 

Political Party Websites