Consisting of two legislative houses
An association of Congressmen and women created to advance a political ideology or regional, ethnic, or economic interest.
An order from the House Rules committee that sets a time limit on debate and forbids a bill from being amended on the floor
A Senate rule used to end debate or a bill
An expression of opinion without the force of law that requires the approval of the House and Senate but no Presidential signature
Joint committee appointed to resolve differences between House and Senate versions of the same bill. Temporary in meeting time.
Coalition of most Republicans and some conservative Democrats
A Democratic lawmaker from a conservative district. Usually leans conservative in beliefs.
Division Vote (Standing Vote)
Voting process where members stand up to be counted during a vote
Senate procedure to keep Senate business going during a filibuster by temporarily tabling the disputed bill.
Attempt to defeat a bill or disrupt a bill's process in the Senate by talking indefinitely. Is a Senate rule and is not in the Constitution.
Ability of Congressmembers to mail letters to their constituents for free by using their signature as postage. A huge incumbency advantage during reelection.
Permanent committee that has both House and Senate members. Includes Printing and Taxation
Formal expression of congressional opinion that must be approved by the House and Senate and signed by the President. Exception: Constitutional Amendments do not ned to be signed by POTUS.
Legislative leader elected by party members holding a majority of seats in the House or Senate.
Marginal (Toss-Up) Districts
Districts in which candidates to the House win in close elections. Considered unsafe or unreliable districts.
Legislative leader elected by party members holding a minority of seats in the House or Senate
When a bill is sent to several committees at once
Order from the House Rules Committee that permits a bill to be amended on the floor
When both parties become entrenched in party positions on an issue and are not willing to budge
Legislation that gives actual benefits to constituents in districts in the hopes of winning votes from that district. Example: A House member introduces a bill to build a new fighter jet in his district hoping that voters will be thankful and re-elect him.
Rare form of law that deals only with a specific person or specific local matter.
Minimum number of members required to be in attendance for Congress to conduct official business
Roll call in the House or Senate to see whether the minimum number of legislators are in the building to do business.
An order from the House Rules Committee that permits certain types of amendments (but not others) to be made to a bill on the floor.
Christmas Tree Bill
A popular bill that has many amendments attached in the hope members will vote for the popular bill and just ignore all the amendments. Sometimes used to get an unpopular issue approved.
Roll Call Vote
Type of voting where members answer Yea or Nay when their name is individually called
Districts in which incumbents win with 55% or more of the vote.
Temporary committee focused on a particular issue (Terrorism, Global Warming)
Congressional process where the Speaker sends a bill to a committee only after a previous committee is finished acting on the bill.
Expression of opinion either in the House or Senate to settle procedural questions
Permanent committees in the House and Senate that do most of Congress' work.
Voting procedure when members shout at either Yes or No. A way to quickly vote
A Senate or House member who keeps party leaders informed, counts votes, and enforces party loyalty
When a committee makes changes to a bill
Congressional Research Service - Conducts research and gives information free of charge to Congressmembers and staff
Provides financial forecasting related to bills
Speaker of the House
Most powerful office in the House. Assigns bills to committee, conducts (or appoints someone to) floor actions
Determines how laws are funded. Extremely powerful
House Ways and Means
Writes the tax code and controls revenue. Extremely powerful
View that judges should apply original, founding principles and fit them to modern circumstances
Friend of the Court brief filed on behalf of a party to a lawsuit. Attempts to sway the Court's opinion on an issue
Document written by a lawyer that lays out key facts and legal arguments in a case
A case where many people have had the same legla wrong done to them and file a lawsuit as one "class"
A signed opinion in which a justice agrees with the majority decision in a case but for a different legal reason than is stated in the majority decision
A court authorized in Article III that keeps judges in office during good behavior and prevents their salaries from bring reduced. Includes SCOTUS, Appellate, and Federal District Courts as authorized by Congress.
Supreme Court of the United States
How many justices are on the SCOTUS.
When a justice refuses to take part in the decision of a case because he/she is personally connected to the case.
Court of Appeals/Appellate Courts
Federal courts that hear appeals from district courts. No trials.
A signed opinion where one or more justices disagree with the majority decision.
Federal courts that hold trials. The lowest form of federal court.
Cases involving citizens of different states who can bring suit in federal court.
Where state and federal courts can prosecute the same person for the same conduct with each authority prosecuting under its own law
Federal Question Case
Cases concerning the Constitution, federal laws, or treaties
Rule that allows plaintiffs to recover costs from the defendant if the plaintiff wins
In Forma Pauperis
A poor person can have their case heard in federal courts without charge
Judges should decide cases strictly on the language as written in the Constitution or laws
Established in 1803 Marbury v. Madison. The power of the courts to declare laws unconstitutional
Courts created by Congress that hear only specific types of cases and whose judges do not have life terms and may have their salaries reduced. Includes tax court, bankrupcy court, etc.
Examination of the political ideology and beliefs of a potential federal judge
Opinion of the Court
Signed opinion by a majority of the justices on a court
The most recent justice to be added to the SCOTUS
Head of the SCOTUS. Confirmed by the Senate separate from their confirmation as an Associate Justice. Begins all oral argument.
All SCOTUS justices other than the CJ
Per Curiam Opinion
Unsigned opinion of the Court. Usually used in unanimous, noncontroversial cases. Usually less than a page.
Opinion of the Court. Unsigned. No explanation given. A simple Yes or No
Person who initiates a lawsuit
Person who has to defend themselves in a lawsuit
A judicial order redressing a wrong. Awarding monetary damages after a car accident or a restraining order against a bully are examples of remedies
Rule that a citizen may not sue the federal government unless the federal government consents to the lawsuit.
Legal rule stating who is allowed to bring a lawsuit
Latin - Let The Decision Stand; allowing prior rulings to control a current case. When Stare Decisis is thrown out it is a big deal. Example: Stare Decisis who thrown out in the Brown v. Board when Plessy v. Ferguson (Separate but Equal) was thrown out.
Writ of Certiorari
Order by a higher court directing a lower court to send them a case.
Writ of Mandamus
Judicial order telling another government institution to do something.
A higher court has concluded the decision of a lower court was correct
A higher court sends a case back down to a lower court to be reconsidered
Request made following a trial by a party to the case who has lost on one or more issues to a higher court to determine if the decision made was correct.
Trial without a jury where the judge ascertains fact and renders a decision
Offense punishable by death penalty
Latin phrase meaning To Begin Anew. A trial De Novo is a completely new trial.
Request made to a congressional committee to discharge a bill out of the committee so it can move forward in the legislative process
Legal authority of a court to hear a particular type of case.
Representing yourself at trial. Bad, bad idea.