The officials and agencies of the executive branch that carries out public policies
Those programs which are designed to overcome past discriminatory actions such as providing educational and employment opportunities to members of a specific identifiable group that were previously denied opportunities employment because of racial barriers.
A set of problems to which policy makers believe they should be attentive.
A personal representative appointed by the head of a nation to represent that nation in matters of diplomacy.
A third-party brief on appeal, filed with leave of the appellate court, whose purpose is to support a party or issue on review.
A general pardon offered to a group of law violators.
The act of making concessions to a political or military rival.
The authority of a court to review decisions of inferior (lower) courts; see original jurisdiction.
The determination and assignment of representation in a legislature body, based on population.
Articles of Impeachment
The specific charges brought against a president or a federal judge by the House of Representatives.
Election of an officeholder by the voters of an entire governmental unit (e.g., a State or county) rather than by the voters of a district, a subdivision of that area.
Device by which a voter registers a choice in an election.
Bill of Attainder
A legislative act, illegal without a judicial trial, that inflicts punishment on an individual or group for the purpose of suppressing that person or group.
Politics that emphasizes cooperation between the major parties.
A nominating election in which voters may switch from one political party's primary to another on an office-to-office basis; see direct primary.
Federal grants to the states and local communities that are for general use in a broad area, such as community development.
A document containing the collected legal written arguments in a case filed with a court by a party prior to a hearing or trial. Most often an appellate brief filed with a court of appeals.
Any large, complex administrative structure; a hierarchical organization with job specialization and complex rules.
The description given the United States Supreme Court from 1969 to 1986 (led by Chief Justice Warren Burger). It was expected that the "Burger Court" would become a conservative court under Warren Burger and reverse many of the liberal rulings of the earlier Warren Court.
Wealth used to produce goods and services.
The execution of an individual by the state as punishment for heinous offenses.
An economic system in which the means of production are held by an individual for the benefit of that individual.
The process of solving constituents' problems dealing with the bureaucracy.
Federal grants to states and local communities that are earmarked for specific purposes only, such as pollution control, schools, or hospitals. Also known grants-in-aid.
A closed meeting of Democratic Party leaders to agree on a legislative program.
A method of putting a case before the United States Supreme Court; used when a lower court is not clear about the procedure or the rule of law that should apply in a given case and asks the Supreme Court to certify the answer to a specific question.
Checks and Balances
System of overlapping the powers of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, to permit each branch to check the actions of the others and thus no branch of government may dominate the other; see separation of powers.
That body of law relating to human conduct, including disputes between private persons and between private persons and government not covered by criminal law.
Guarantees of the safety of persons, opinions, and property from the arbitrary acts of government.
Refers to positive acts of government that seek to make constitutional guarantees a reality for all; e.g., prohibition of discrimination.
Civil Rights Act of 1964
The legislative act that removed racial barriers in all places vested with a public interest.
Civil Service System
The system created by civil service laws by which many appointments to the federal bureaucracy are made.
Class Action Suit
A lawsuit filed on behalf of a group of persons with a similar legal claim against a party or individual.
Clear and Present Danger Test
Used by the Supreme Court to draw the line between protected and unprotected speech; the Court looks to see if there is an imminent danger that illegal action would occur in response to the contested speech.
Form of the direct primary in which only declared party members may vote; see open primary, direct primary.
Procedure that may be used to limit or end floor debate in a legislative body.
A union of persons or groups of diverse interests; an alliance of parties for the purpose of forming a government.
Influence that a popular candidate for a top office (e.g., President or governor) can have on the voters' support of other candidates of his/her party on the same ballot.
Exclusive power of Congress to regulate interstate and foreign trade.
Member who heads a standing committee in a legislative body.
Committee of the Whole
A committee that consists of an entire legislative body; used for a procedure in which a legislative body expedites its business by resolving itself into a committee of itself.
That body of law made up of generally accepted standards of rights and wrongs developed over centuries by judicial decisions rather than in written statutes.
The power to reduce (commute) the length of a sentence or fine for a crime.
Power shared by federal and state courts to hear certain cases.
Those powers which are exercised independently by both the national and state governments. Those powers shared by both levels of governments, i.e., state and national. Examples: power to tax, power to borrow, and power to regulate commerce within their own borders. Both the federal and state government collaborate with each other within many geographic spheres.
Measure passed by both houses of a legislature that does not have the force of law nor require the chief executive's approval; often used to express the legislature's opinion or for internal rules or housekeeping.
Written explanation of the views of one or more appellate judges who support a decision reached by majority of the court but disagree with the grounds for that decision.
Temporary joint committee created to reconcile any differences between the two houses' versions of a bill.
Congressional Budget Office
Set up by the Congress. This office evaluates the cost of legislative proposals.
Power used by Congress to gather information useful for the formation of legislation, review the operations and budgets of executive departments and independent regulatory agencies, conduct investigations through committee hearings, and bring to the public's attention the need for public policy.
Consent of the Governed
A derivative of the doctrine of natural rights; a philosophy, later adopted by Jefferson when he drafted the Declaration of Independence that puts the authority of the government in the people's hands.
One thought to believe that a government is best that governs least and that big government can only infringe on individual, personal, and economic rights.
All persons represented by a legislator or other elected officeholder.
Body of fundamental law, setting out the basic principles, structures, processes, and functions of a government and placing limits upon its actions; may be written or unwritten.
Courts that were formed to carry out the direction in the Constitution so that the Courts would exercise their judicial power.
A government whose power is limited by a framework of fundamental written law.
Consumer Price Index (CPI)
A primary measure of inflation determined by the increase in the cost of products compared to a base year.
Measure that, when signed by the President, allows an agency to function on the basis of appropriations made the prior year.
Governing unit such as the Senate whose seats are never all up for election at the same time.
An increase reflected in presidential preference polls immediately following a party's nominating convention.
Described as various levels of government which are seen as related parts of a single governmental system, characterized more by cooperation and shared functions than by conflict and competition.
The act of placing members of the same political party on the bench so that opinion of the court will be consistent with the political party's (seen most dramatically with Franklin Delano Roosevelt).
Developed during President Lyndon Johnson's administration, it was characterized by the Great Society programs, which placed a major responsibility on federally funded programs.
That body of law passed by both the federal and state governments, that defines crimes and provides for their punishment.
An election that signals a party realignment through voter polarization around new issues.
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Doctrine found in the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution that prohibits the federal government from imposing excessive penalties for crimes committed.
Tax (tariff) on goods brought into the United States.
De Facto Segregation
Segregation that exists "in fact," not as a result of laws or governmental actions, i.e., administered by the public; see de jure segregation, segregation.
In a civil suit, the person against whom a court action is brought by the plaintiff; in a criminal case, the person charged with the crime.
Yearly shortfall between revenue and spending.
The government's meeting budgetary expenses by borrowing more money than it can pay back.
De Jure Segregation
Segregation that exists as a result of some law or governmental action.
Role played by elected representatives who vote the way their constituents would want them to, regardless of their own opinions.
Powers which are granted to, and exercised ONLY by the national government. The delegated powers are specifically listed in the U.S. Constitution at Articles I, II, III. The delegated powers are also known as expressed powers.
A person who gains power through emotional appeals to the people.
A major administrative unit with responsibility for a broad area of government operations. Departmental status usually indicates a permanent national interest in that particular governmental function, such as Defense, Health, or Agriculture.
Legal process in which aliens are legally required to leave the United States.
The act of reducing or eliminating economic controls.
The removal of racial barriers either by legislative acts or by judicial action.
Basic feature of American foreign policy to maintain massive military strength in order to prevent any attack upon this country or its allies.
Practice in international law under which ambassadors and other diplomatic officials have special privileges and are not subject to the laws of the state to which they are accredited.
Attempts to influence government by civil disobedience, and sometimes by militant or violent action, for example demonstrations, marches, sit-ins, campus strikes, picketing, and protest.
Direct Incitement Test
The advocacy of illegal action is protected by the First Amendment unless imminent action is intended and likely to occur.
A professional who supervises a political campaign's direct mail fund-raising strategies.
The most widely used method of making nominations in American politics; an intra-party nominating election at which those who vote choose a party's candidates to run in the general election.
A tax that must be paid by the person on whom it is levied.
A procedure to bring a bill to the floor of the legislative body when a committee has refused to report it.
Written explanation of the views of one or more judges who disagree with (dissent from) a decision reached by a majority of the court.
Act of dissolving a governing body such as a house of representatives.
Division of Labor
Skilled workers each have a specialized function, resulting in increased productivity.
Division of Powers
Basic principle of federalism; the constitutional provisions by which governmental powers are divided on a geographic basis (in the United States, between the National Government and the States).
Trial a second time for a crime of which the accused was acquitted in a first trial; prohibited by the 5th and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution.
Process by which people enter compulsory service in the military.
The belief that having separate and equally political levels of government is the best arrangement. It is a concept of government under which the Supreme Court saw itself as a referee between two compelling power centers — the states and the federal government — each with its own responsibilities.
Due Process/Due Process Clause
The constitutional guarantee that "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law." While the specific requirements of due process vary with Supreme Court decisions, the essence of the idea is that people must be given adequate notice and a fair opportunity to present their side in a legal dispute, and that no law or government procedure should be arbitrary or unfair.
Economic Interest Group
A group with the primary purpose of promoting the financial interests of its members.
Governmental regulation of business practices, industry rates, routes, or areas serviced by particular industries.
A situation in which there is economic growth, rising national income, high employment, and steadiness in the general level of prices.
Found in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, it gives Congress the power to make "all laws necessary and proper" to carry out the other defined powers of Congress.
Member of the Electoral College chosen by methods determined in each state.
Group of persons (presidential electors) chosen in each State and the District of Columbia every four years who make a formal selection of the President and Vice President.
All of the persons entitled to vote in a given election.
The power of a government to seize private property for public use, usually with compensation to the owner.
A congressional act that allows the people of a United States territory to prepare a constitution as a step toward admission as a State in the Union.
Benefits that federal law says must be paid to those persons who meet the eligibility requirements set for those payments.
Enumerated powers are powers that are granted specifically to the three branches of the federal government under the Constitution. Synonomous with delegated powers and expressed powers.
Environmental Protection Agency
Regulates air and water pollution, pesticides, radiation, solid waste, and toxic substances. It is the main environmental regulatory agency.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Federal agency created to enforce the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which forbids discrimination on the basis of race, creed, national origin, religion, or sex in hiring, promotion, or firing.
Equal Protection Clause
Section of the Fourteenth Amendment that guarantees that all citizens receive "equal protection of the laws"; has been used to bar discrimination against blacks and women.
Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)
A proposed amendment to the United States Constitution, aimed at ending discrimination against women. The ERA was defeated in 1982.
Equal Time Rule
The rule that requires broadcast stations to sell campaign air time equally to all candidates if they choose to sell it to any.
A formula for federal matching requirements that takes into account the state's or community's ability to pay. This process allows poor states and localities to put up relatively less matching money than rich states and localities.
Spying for a foreign power.
Part of the 1st Amendment prohibiting either the establishment of a religion or the sanctioning of an existing religion by the government.
A tax levied directly on the estate of a deceased person; see inheritance tax.
Tax levied on the production, transportation, sale, or consumption of goods or services.
Evidence gained by illegal or unreasonable means cannot be used at the court trial of the person from whom it was seized; based upon Supreme Court interpretation of the 4th and 14th Amendments.
Power of the federal courts alone to hear certain cases.
Most of the delegated powers; those held by the National Government alone (exclusively) in the federal system.
Pact made by the President with the head of a foreign state; a binding international agreement with the force of law but which (unlike a treaty) does not require Senate consent.
Executive Office of the President
Created by Franklin Roosevelt in 1939; it has four major policy making bodies today - the National Security Council, the Council of Economic Advisors, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Rules, regulations issued by a chief executive or his/her subordinates, based upon either constitutional or statutory authority and having the force of law.
The ability of the president to protect personal material.
Poll conducted at selected polling places on Election Day
Act by which one renounces (gives up) citizenship.
Ex Post Facto Law
Criminal law applied retroactively to the disadvantage of the accused; prohibited by the United States Constitution.
Those delegated powers of the National Government that are given to it in so many words by the United States Constitution; also sometimes called the "enumerated powers."
The constitutional provision which allows a state to request another state to return fugitives.
Scrapped in 1987, it provided that the media air opposing opinions of the same issue.
Family Medical Leave Act (1993)
Act that gave unpaid emergency medical leave for employees with a guarantee that their job would not be taken away in the interim.
Favorable Balance of Trade
Refers to a country exporting more than they import. The United States has had an unfavorable balance of trade since World War II.
The presidential candidate backed by the home state at the party's nominating convention.
Detailed estimate of federal income and outgo during the coming fiscal year, and a work plan for the execution of public policy
Federal Election Campaign Acts (FECA)
In 1971 it set up restrictions on the amount of advertising used by a candidate, created disclosure of contributions over $100, and limited the amount of personal contributions a candidate could make on his or her own behalf In 1974 it set up a Federal Election Commission and established a system of federal matching funds for presidential candidates.
A system of government which allocates power between national and state governments. "Federalism" and "federal system" are used interchangeably. Both national and state governments exercise power over the same geographical area.
Written using the pen name Publius; John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison wrote a series of articles urging the adoption of the Constitution. They argued for establishing a government that could deal with "the tyranny of the majority" by creating three branches of government having distinctive and separate powers.
Fighting Words Doctrine
Established in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942), the decision incorporated into state law the concept that the government can limit free speech if it can be proved that the result of speech will cause physical violence.
Various tactics (usually prolonged floor debate) aimed at defeating a bill in a legislative body by preventing a final vote on it; often associated with the U.S. Senate; see cloture.
An alternative to the progressive income tax where individuals pay the same percentage regardless of how much they earn
The principle, established by Chief Justice Marshall in 1819 in McCulloch v. Maryland, that the Constitution must be interpreted flexibly to meet changing conditions.
Members of the House and Senate picked to carry out party decisions and steer legislative action to meet party goals.
Food Stamp Program
Federally funded program gives food coupons to low-income people based on income and family size.
Economic and military aid to other countries as a means of fulfilling foreign political goals.
The actions and stands that a nation takes in every aspect of its relationships with other countries; everything a nation's government says and does in world affairs.
A modification in the Constitution brought about through one of four methods set forth in the Constitution.
Grants awarded for specific programs, distributed according to community demographic factors, such as population or income. Examples include programs such as Medicaid and Aid for Families with Dependent Children, where applicants automatically qualify for aid if they meet the requirements.
Freedom of Information Act (1974)
Act that incorporates sunshine laws; opened up the government's meetings of record to the public and media.
Free Exercise Clause
Part of the 1st Amendment guaranteeing to each person the right to believe whatever that person chooses in matters of religion.
Full Faith and Credit Clause
A clause in Article IV of the Constitution which requires that each state respect the laws, records and court decisions of another state. In practice, this means that a judgment obtained in a state court in a civil (non-criminal) case must be recognized by the courts of another state.
Those regulations passed by Congress or issued by regulatory agencies to the states with federal funds to support them.
A significant deviation between the way men and women vote.
Regularly scheduled election at which the voters choose public officeholders.
General Purpose Grants
The smallest category of federal grants which may be used by states and local communities mostly as they wish.
General Revenue Sharing
A controversial program, in effect between 1972 and 1986, in which the federal government returned federal tax money to state and local governments to spend without restrictions. Opposition from some members of Congress and the Reagan administration ended the program in 1986.
State legislatures, based on political affiliation, create congressional districts, many of which are oddly shaped and favor the political party in power in the state making the changes.
Tax imposed on the making of a gift by a living person.
Body of 12 to 23 persons convened by a court to decide whether or not there is enough probable cause (sufficient evidence) to justify bringing a person to trial.
Financial aid granted by one government to another (e.g., by the National Government to the States), with the funds available subject to certain conditions and to be used for certain purposes.
Of or from the common people, the average voter; used to describe opinion and pressure on public policy.
Describes people's perception that Congress and the president are in a state of disagreement that results in little legislation passing.
Hatch Act (1939)
Law that places restrictions on the kind of political activity a federal employee may participate in.
A concept founded on the "full faith and credit" clause of the U.S. Constitution. It describes the relationship between states, as opposed to the relationship between a state and the national government. An example of horizontal federalism is the act of one state recognizing a divorce decree of another state.
Political Party based on a particular set of beliefs, a comprehensive view of social, economic, and political matters.
Immigration Act of 1991
Act that shifted the quota of immigrants to Europe and aimed to attract immigrants who were trained workers.
Formal charge (accusation conduct) brought against a public official by, the lower house in a legislative body; trial, and removal upon conviction, occurs in the upper house.
Term developed by historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr.; refers to presidents who dominate the political and legislative agenda.
Powers of the national government that flow from its enumerated powers and the "elastic clause" of the Constitution.
Incorporation of the Fourteenth Amendment
The selective application of the protections of the federal Bill of Rights to the states; this process is also know as incorporation, selective incorporation or absorption. This nationalization of many of the provisions of the Bill of Rights was accomplished mostly through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The incorporation doctrine was introduced in the Gitlow case. It reached a peak during the Warren Court in the late 1950s and 1960s.
Those elected officials who are running for new terms of office.
Independent Executive Agency
Organization such as the General Services Administration, which handles government purchasing and has a specific responsibility that facilitates the day-to-day operation of the government.
Independent Regulatory Agencies
Agencies that are quasi legislative and quasi judicial in nature and operation. Examples include the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency.
Accusation by a grand jury; i.e., a formal finding by that body, that there is probable cause (reasonable grounds to make or believe an accusation against a named person to warrant his/her criminal trial.
Money paid to the government as a result of purchased goods.
In Forma Pauperis
Process by which that indigents bringing cases to the judicial system are exempt from having to pay regular fees or meet all standard requirements.
A change made in Constitution not by actual written amendment, but by the experience of government under the Constitution; the methods include: (1) legislation passed by Congress; (2) actions taken by the President; (3) decisions of the Supreme Court; (4) the activities of political parties; and (5) custom.
Those delegated powers of the National Government that belong to it simply because it is the national government of a sovereign state.
A "death tax" levied on the beneficiary's share of an estate; see estate tax.
Petition process by which a certain percentage of voters can put a proposed constitutional amendment or statute on the ballot for popular approval or rejection.
Court order that requires or forbids some specific action.
Government set up to serve during the transition from a previous government.
A public or private organization, affiliation, or committee that has as its goal the dissemination of its membership's viewpoint.
Formal agreements, largely in the form of financial arrangements, which are entered into between states, only with the approval of Congress. Interstate compacts may include the creation of a new multistate administration,
Presidential scandal during the Reagan administration involving the selling of arms to Iran so that the profits from these sales could be used to fund the Contras in El Salvador.
The three-way alliance among legislators, bureaucrats, and interests groups to make or preserve policies that benefit their respective interests.
Legislative committee composed of members of both houses.
Legislative measure that must be passed by both houses and approved by the chief executive to become effective; similar to a bill, with the force of law, and often used for unusual or temporary purposes.
186. Joint Resolution
Legislative measure that must be passed by both houses and approved by the chief executive to become effective; similar to a bill, with the force of law, and often used for unusual or temporary purposes.
Process of using the power of the bench to broaden the interpretation of the Constitution.
A court that maintains the status quo or mirrors what the other branches of government have established as current policy.
Derived from the Marbury v Madison decision, it gives the Supreme Court the power to interpret the Constitution and specifically acts of Congress, the president, and the states.
Judiciary Act of 1789
The congressional act which set the scope and limits for the federal judiciary system.
Key Senate committee that is responsible for recommending presidential judicial appointments to the full Senate for approval.
Power of a court to try and decide a case.
Acquisition of American citizenship at birth, because of the citizenship of one or both parents; the "law of the blood," to whom born.
Acquisition of American citizenship at birth, because of birth in the United States; the "law of the soil," where born.
Key speech at the national nominating convention that outlines the themes of the campaign.
Organization of workers who share the same type of job or who work in the same industry.
Term used to describe a defeated office holder after that person has lost their reelection, but is still in office until the newly elected official is sworn in.
Publication (written) of statements that wrongfully damage another's reputation; see slander.
One who believes that the provisions of the Constitution, and in particular those granting power to government, are to be construed in broad terms.
Basic principle of the American system of government; that government is limited in what it may do, and each individual has certain rights that government cannot take away; see constitutionalism
Line Item Veto
The objection to a single item in a piece of legislation by a president; the president does not have the authority to remove the item; he must accept or reject the legislation as a whole. Passed by Congress in 1996, declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1998.
Declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, they were passed by southern states after the Civil War aimed at making reading a requirement for voting so that freed slaves could not vote.
A legitimate document that can be used to direct a hospital to allow an individual to direct a medical facility not to use extraordinary means such as life support to keep a patient alive. The doctrine was declared constitutional in the case of Cruzan v Missouri Department of Health (1990).
The primary instruments of fostering a special interests group's goals to the policymakers. The term comes from people who literally wait in the lobbies of legislative bodies for senators and representatives to go to and from the floor of the legislatures.
A tactic used in Congress that is best illustrated by one legislator saying to another, "I'll vote for your legislation, if you vote for mine."
A liberal interpretation of the Constitution.
Written statement by a majority of the judges of a court in support of a decision made by that court.
A concept of government by the people under which everyone is free to vote, but normally whoever gets the most votes wins the election and represents all the people (including those who voted for the losing candidate).
The instructions or commands a constituent gives to its elected officials concerning policies.
Marble Cake Federalism
Refers to the three-layered system of government, i.e., national, state, and local governments.
John Marshall's tenure as Chief justice of the Supreme Court, whose leadership resulted in the landmark decisions of Marbury v. Madison, McCulloch v. Maryland, and Gibbons v. Ogden. These cases shifted power to the judiciary and federal government.
Limited federal funds given to presidential candidates that match private donations raised during the campaign
A federal requirement that state or local governments must put up some of their own funds in order to get federal money.
The act of seeking out subversives without cause or need (seen during the 1950s with Senator Joseph McCarthy in terms of the fear of Communism).
A shared program between the federal and local governments that covers hospital and nursing home costs of low: income people
Program that covers hospital and medical costs of people 65 years of age and older as well as disabled individuals receiving Social Security.
The assumption that there is an alliance between the military and industrial leaders.
An offense that is less than a felony with punishment ranging from a fine to a short jail term.
Motor Voter Act of 1993
Signed into law by President Clinton, it enables people to register to vote at motor vehicle departments.
Electoral districts in which voters choose more than one representative.
The governing body of a political party made up of state and national party leaders.
National Nominating Conventions
The governing authority of the political party. They give direction to the national party chairperson, the spokesperson of the party, and the person who heads the national committee, the governing body of the party. They are also the forums where presidential candidates are given the official nod by their parties.
Part of Locke's philosophy; rights that are God given such as life, liberty, and property.
Process by which persons acquire citizenship.
Legislation that provided a safety net for all members of society, such as Social Security, under Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Great Depression.
A term created by the Democratic Leadership Council in 1992, it denotes a more conservative, centrist Democrat.
President Ronald Reagan's effort to restore to state governments the responsibility for making and implementing policies.
New Jersey Plan
Offered at the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia, it urged the delegates to create a legislature based on equal representation by the states.
Where voters choose delegates who are not bound to vote for the winning primary candidate.
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
Agreement that called for dramatic reductions of tariffs among the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Any work that, taken as a whole, appeals to a prurient interest in sex.
Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
Its director, appointed with the consent of the Senate, is responsible for the preparation of the massive federal budget, which must be submitted to the Congress in January each year. Besides formulating the budget, the OMB oversees congressional appropriations.
Cases heard by the Supreme Court that do not come on appeal and that "affect ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a State shall be a party."
The binding decisions that a political system makes, whether in the form of laws, regulations, or judicial decisions.
Political opposition drawn along party lines.
Dispensing government jobs to persons who belong to the winning political party.
Also known as the party conference, it is a means for each party to develop a strategy or position on a particular issue.
A shift away from the major political parties to a more neutral, independent ideological view of party identification.
A time period characterized by national dominance by one political party. There have been four major party eras in American history: the era of good feeling, the Republican era following the Civil War, the Democratic era following the election of Franklin Roosevelt, and the Republican era following the election of Richard Nixon.
The party organization that exists on the local level and uses patronage as the means to keep the party members in line. Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall are examples.
Voted on by the delegates attending the National Convention, they represent the ideological point of view of a political party.
The signaling resulting from a national election or a major shift in the political spectrum and characterized by the start of a party era. Party regulars: enrolled party members who are usually active in the organization of a political party and support party positions and nominated candidates.
Funds allocated to national defense that might be spent on domestic needs because of the end of the Cold War.
Known as the Civil Service Act of 1883, it set up merit as the criterion for hiring, promoting, and firing federal employees.
A trial jury of 12 that sits at civil/criminal cases.
The party who brings a civil action to court for the purpose of seeking a monetary remedy.
Political Action Committees
Known as PACs, they raise money from the special interest constituents and make contributions to political campaigns on behalf of the special interest group.
The different ways an average citizen gets involved in the political process ranging from conventional means of influencing government to more radical unconventional tools that have influenced our elected officials.
A group of people joined together by common philosophies and common approaches with the aim of getting candidates elected in order to develop and implement public policy. It is characterized by an organization that is responsible to the electorate and has a role in government.
Constitutional question that judges refuse to answer because to do so would encroach upon the authority of Congress or the president.
The factors that determine voting behavior such as family, religion, and ethnic background.
A course of action decided upon by government, or by any organization, group, or individual, that involves a choice among competing interests.
The requirement of a person to pay for the right to vote.
Pork Barrel Legislation
The practice of legislators obtaining funds through legislation that favors their home districts.
Judicial use of prior cases as the test for deciding similar cases.
President Pro Tempore
Temporary presiding officer of the Senate.
Elections held in individual states to determine the preference of the voters and to allocate the number of delegates to the party's national convention.
The government's price guarantees for certain farm goods. The government subsidizes farmers to not grow certain crops and also buys food directly and stores it, rather than let the oversupply in the market bring the prices down.
Censorship enacted before the speech, publication, etc., is released to the general public.
Privileges and Immunities
. Also a clause in the Fourteenth Amendment that protects citizens from abuses by a state.
A set of facts and circumstances that would induce a reasonably intelligent and prudent person to believe that a particular person had committed a specific crime; reasonable grounds to make or believe an accusation.
Procedural Due Process
Constitutional requirement that a government proceed by proper means.
tax based upon the amount of money an individual earned, such as an income tax. Became legal as a result of the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
Expressly bar government from specific actions, e.g. state governments cannot coin money, no ex post facto laws or grant titles of nobility.
A characteristic of independent regulatory agencies that gives them legislative powers to issue regulations.
The procedure followed by the states to approve the Constitution and/or its formal amendments.
A concept was to restore to state governments the responsibility for making and implementing policies. It is additionally a term popularly used to describe the broad spending cuts in social welfare programs instituted by the Reagan administration, beginning in 1981.
The process in which a state legislature redraws congressional districts based on population increases or declines.
Reapportionment Act of 1929
Act that provides for a permanent size of the House and for the number of seats, based on the census, each state should have.
Used to describe the difficulty it takes to get answers from a bureaucratic agency.
Policy that results in the government taking money from one segment of the society through taxes and giving it back to groups in need. It includes such policies as welfare, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, tax credits for business expenses or business investment, and highway construction made possible through a gasoline tax.
The process whereby a legislative proposal is voted upon by popular vote.
A tax that is imposed on individuals regardless of how much they earn, such as a sales tax.
Policy that results in government control over individuals and businesses. Examples of regulatory policy include protection of the environment and consumer protection.
A term used to describe the emergence of federal programs aimed at, or implemented by, state and local governments.
The description given the United States Supreme Court from 1986 to the present (led by Chief William H. Rehnquist). It is marked by its conservative rulings, cutting back on the rights of the accused and expanding the concept of federalism.
An evangelical conglomeration of ultraconservative political activists, many of whom support the Republican Party.
Powers retained by the states, as dictated by the 10th Amendment.
Amendments to bills, often in the form of appropriations, that sometimes have nothing to do with the intent of the bill itself and many times are considered to be pork barrel legislation. Safety net: a minimum government guarantee that ensures that individuals living in poverty will receive support in the form of social welfare programs.
Rule of Four
In order for a case to be heard by the Supreme Court, four justices must agree to hear the case.
Electoral office, usually in the legislature, for which the party or incumbent is strong enough that reelection is almost taken for granted.
Conduct/language inciting rebellion against authority of the state.
Specially created congressional committees that conduct special investigations. The Watergate Committee and Iran-Contra investigators were select Senate committees.
Policy that gives senators the right to be notified by the chief executive of pending political nominations, usually judicial. Once informed, the approval of the senators from the state from which the judge comes is obtained and the appointment process moves on. This courtesy does not apply to Supreme Court justice nominations.
Separate But Equal
The judicial precedent established in the Plessy v Ferguson decision that enabled states to interpret the equal protection provision of the Fourteenth Amendment as a means of establishing segregation.
Separation of Church and State
Also known as the "establishment clause," it is part of the First Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting the federal government from creating a state supported religion.
Separation of Powers
Originally developed by Montesquieu in The Spirit of Natural Laws written during the Enlightenment and James Madison in Federalist No. 48, this important doctrine resulted in the establishment of three separate branches of government: the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, each having distinct and unique powers.
The fused or overlapping powers and functions of the separate branches of government.
Simpson-Marzzoli Act (1987)
Act that resulted in more than 2 million illegal aliens who were living in this country since 1982 being allowed to apply for legal status.
Verbal defamation of a person's character.
Entitlement programs such as Social Security and programs such as Aid to Dependent Children paid for by the federal government.
Dominance by the Democratic Party in the South following the Civil War. The Republicans made strong inroads when Ronald Reagan was elected President in 1980 and after the Republicans gained control of the Congress in 1994.
30 or 60-second statements by politicians aired on the evening news shows or Sunday morning talk shows.
Speaker of the House
The representative from the majority party in the House of Representatives who presides over House meetings, recognizes speakers, refers bills to committees, answers procedural questions, and declares the outcome of votes.
Courts created by Congress to deal with cases deriving from the delegated powers of Congress such as military appeals, tax appeals, and veteran appeals.
Committees that deal with proposed bills and also act in an oversight function. They are permanent, existing from one Congress to the next, such as the House Ways and Means and Senate Appropriations.
Latin for judicial precedent, this concept originated in England in the twelfth century when judges settled disputes based on custom and tradition.
Law enacted by a legislative body.
The temporary delay of punishment, usually in capital offenses
Strategic Arms Limitation Talk (SALT) Treaty
Agreement signed by President Nixon in 1972 that resulted in the first arms reductions since the nuclear age began. Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (START) of 1991: treaty between the United States and Russia that agreed to major reductions in their nuclear arsenals.
Individuals who believe in a conservative interpretation of the Constitution.
Substantive Due Process
Legal process that places limits related to the content of legislation and the extent government can use its power to enact unreasonable laws.
The Tuesday on which a number of primary votes take place, with a heavy concentration of Southern states voting.
Democratic Party leaders and elected party officials who automatically are selected as delegates to the National Convention.
Legislation that mandated the cleanup of abandoned toxic waste dumps and authorized premarket testing of chemical substances. It allowed the EPA to ban or regulate the manufacture, sale, or use of any chemicals that could present an "unreasonable risk of injury to health or environment," and outlawed certain chemicals such as PCBS.
Clause that states that "the Constitution and the laws of the United States... shall be the supreme law of the land."
Racial or national origin classifications created by law and subject to careful judicial scrutiny
Forms of free speech guaranteed under the First Amendment to the Constitution, such as wearing a black armband to protest a governmental action or burning an American flag in protest for political reasons.
Any court of original jurisdiction that empowers a jury to decide the guilt or liability of an individual.
Taft-Hartley Act (1947)
Act that outlawed the closed union shop and certain kinds of strikes, permitted employers to sue unions for violations of contracts, allowed the use of injunctions to stop union activities, and allowed states to adopt right: to: work laws, giving employers more rights regarding the establishment of union shops. Finally, the act gave the president the right to step in and prevent a strike by an entire industry, such as the steel or auto industry, if such an action would threaten the nation's health and safety.
Politicians who use sound bites or other means to present a superficial look at a policy position rather than an in-depth approach in explaining their views.
Paid political ads 30 seconds in duration
Selective leaks aimed at testing the political waters
A system of government in which power is concentrated in the central government.
Federal laws that require states to meet certain regulatory standards, but provide no money to help the states comply. Congress enacted a law in 1995 to curtail the practice.
Traditions, precedent, and practice incorporated into our form of government that adds to the Constitution's elasticity and its viability. Political parties, the president's cabinet, political action committees, and the federal bureaucracy are important examples.
Principle that describes the obligations established by the Constitution between the states and the national government.
Offered at the Constitutional Convention at Philadelphia, it urged the delegates to create a legislature based on the population of each state.
Voting Rights Act of 1965
Act that finally made the Fifteenth Amendment a reality. As a result of this act, any state not eliminating the poll tax and literacy requirements would be directed to do so by the federal government. It also resulted in the establishment of racially gerrymandered congressional districts in the 1980s and 1990s.
Also called the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, it gave workers involved in interstate commerce the right to organize labor unions and engage in collective bargaining and prevented employers from discriminating against labor leaders and taking action against union leaders.
War Powers Act
1973 act that states that a president can commit the military only after a declaration of war by the Congress, by specific authorization by Congress, if there is a national emergency, or if the use of force is in the national interest of the United States.
The description of the United States Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Earl Warren) from 1953 to 1969 which became the symbol of judicial activism and which handed down many landmark decisions on desegregation, civil rights, First Amendment freedoms, and the rights of criminal defendants
The illegal entry and phone monitoring of the Democratic headquarters by members of the Republican Party.
Also known as assistant floor leaders, they check with party members and inform the majority leader of the status and feelings of the membership regarding issues that are going to be voted on. Whips are responsible for keeping party members in line and having an accurate count of who will be voting for or against a particular bill.
White House Staff
Managed by the White House Chief of Staff, who directly advises the president on a daily basis, it includes the more than 600 people who work at the White House, from the chef to the advance people who make travel arrangements. The key staff departments include the political offices of the Office of Communications, Legislative Affairs, Political Affairs, and Intergovernmental Affairs. It includes the support services of Scheduling, Personnel, and Secret Service and the policy offices of the National Security Affairs, Domestic Policy Affairs, and cabinet secretaries.
An alternative to the traditional welfare, where an individual is trained to work instead of receiving welfare
Writ of Appeal
Formal request to have a court review the findings of a lower court.
Writ of Certiorari
Latin for "to be made more certain," the process in which the Supreme Court accepts written briefs on appeal based on the "rule of four" justices voting to hear the case.
Writ of Habeas Corpus
Court order requiring jailers to explain to a judge why they are holding a prisoner in custody.
Writ of Mandamus
Court order directing an official to perform a nondiscretionary or ministerial act as required by law.