A system of governments in which power is divided, by a constitution, between a central government and regional government.
A centralized government in which lower levels of government have little power independent of the national government.
A system of government in which the national government shares power with the lower levels of government, such as that of a state.
Specific powers granted by the Constitution to the Congress, and to the president.
Powers derived from the necessary and proper clause of Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution. Such powers are not specifically expressed, but are implied through the expansive interpretation of delegated powers.
Necessary and proper clause
Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution, it provides the Congress with the authority to make all laws "necessary and proper" to carry out its expressed powers.
Powers derived from the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution that are not specifically delegated to the national government or denied to the states.
Power reserved to the state government to regulate safety, and morals of citizens.
Authority possessed by both state and national governments, such as the power to levy taxes.
Full faith and credit clause
Provision from Article IV, Section 1, of the Constitution, requiring that the states normally honor the public acts and judicial decisions that take place in another state.
Privileges and immunities clause
Provision from Article IV, Section 2, of the Constitution, that a state cannot discriminate against another state or give its own residents special privileges.
Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution, which delegates to Congress the power 'to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States and with the Indian tribes". This claus was interpreted in the Supreme Court in favor of national power over the economy.
The principle that the states should oppose the increasing authority of the national government. This principle was most popular in the period before the Civil War.
A policy to remove a program from one level of government by delegating it or passing it down to a lower level of government, such as from the national government to the state and local government.
Programs through which Congress provides money to state and local governments on the condition that the funds be employed for purposes defined by the federal government.
Congressional grants given to states and localities on the condition that expenditure is limited to a problem or group specified by law.
Grant programs in which local governments submit proposals to federal agencies and for which funding is provided on a competitive basis.
Grants-in-aid in which a formula is used to determine the amount of federal funds a state or local government will receive.
A type of federalism existing since the New Deal era in which grants-in-aid have been used strategically to encourage states and localities to pursue nationally defined goals. Also known as "intergovernmental cooperation".
A form of federalism in which Congress imposes legislation on states and localities, requiring them to meet national standards.
The principle that allows the national government to override state or local actions in certain policy areas.
Regulations or conditions for receiving grants that impose costs on state and local governments for which they are not reimbursed by the federal government.
Federal grant-in-aid that allows states considerable discretion in how the funds are spent.
Attempts by Presidents Nixon and Reagan to return power to the states through block grants.
General revenue sharing
The process by which one unit of government yields a portion of its tax income to another unit of government, according to an established formula. Revenue sharing typically involves the national government providing money to state governments.
Economic policies designed to control the economy through taxing and spending, with the goal of benefitting the poor.
A court order demanding that an individual in custody be brought into court and shown the cause for detention.
Bill of Rights
The first Ten Amendments to the U.S Constitution, ratified in 1791; they ensure certain rights and liberties to the people.
Areas of personal freedom with which government are constrained from interfering.
Bill of attainder
A law that declares a person guilty of a crime without a trial.
Ex post facto law
A law that declares an action to be illegal after it has been committed.
The process by which different protections in the Bill of Rights were incorporated into the Fourteenth Amendment, thus guaranteeing citizens protection from state as well as national governments.
The First Amendment clause that says that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion". This law means that a "wall of separation" exists between church and state.
Free exercise clause
The First Amendment clause that protects a citizen's right to believe and practice whatever religion he or she chooses.
A rule articulated in Lemon v. Kurtzman that government action toward religion is permissible if it is secular in purpose, neither promotes nor inhibits the practice of religion, and does not lead to "excessive entanglement" with religion.
"Clear and present danger" test
Test to determine whether speech is protected or unprotected, based on its capacity to present a "clear and present danger" to society.
Speech accompanied by conduct such as sit-ins, picketing, and demonstrations; protection of this form of speech under the First Amendment is conditional, and restrictions imposed by state or local authorities are acceptable if properly balanced by considerations of public safety.
A written statement made in "reckless disregard of the truth" that is considered damaging to a victim because it is "malicious, scandalous, and defamatory". (SLANDER is an oral statement)
Speech that directly incites damaging conduct.
Due process of law
The right of every citizen against arbitrary action by national or state governments.
The ability of courts to exclude evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Jury that determines whether sufficient evidence is available to justify a trial; grand juries do not rule on the accused guilt or innocence.
The Fifth Amendment right providing that a person cannot be tried once for the same crime.
The requirement, articulated by the Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona, that persons under arrest must be informed prior to police interrogation of their rights to remain silent and to have the benefit of legal counsel.
Right to privacy
The right to be left alone, which has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to entail free access to birth control and abortions.
Use of any unreasonable and unjust criterion of exclusion.
Obligation imposed on government to take positive action to protect citizens from any illegal action of government agencies as well as of other private citizens.
Equal protection clause
Provision of the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteeing citizens "the equal protection of the laws". This clause has been the basis for the civil rights of African Americans, women, and other groups.
The Three Civil War Amendments
Thirteenth Amendment-Abolished slavery
Fourteenth Amendment-Guaranteed equal protection and due process.
Fifteenth Amendment-Guaranteed voting rights for African American men.
"Jim Crow" Laws
Laws enacted by southern states following Reconstruction that discriminated against African Americans.
"Separate but equal rule"
Doctrine that public accommodations could be segregated by race but still be equal.
Brown v. Board of Education
The 1954 Supreme Court decision that struck down the "separate but not equal" doctrine as fundamentally unequal. This case eliminated state power to use race as a criterion of discrimination in law and provided the national government with the power to intervene by exercising strict regulatory policies against discriminatory actions.
Test used by the Supreme Court in racial discrimination cases and other cases involving liberties and civil rights, which places the burden of proof on the government rather than on the challengers to show that the law in question is constitutional.
Literally means "by law", legally enforced practices, such as school segregation in the South before the 1960's.
Literally means "by fact", practices that occur even when there is o legal enforcement, such as school segregation in much of the United States today.
Appointment of voters in districts in such a way as to give unfair advantage to one racial or ethnic group or political party.
A practice in which banks refuse to make loans to people living in certain geographic locations.
Test used by the Supreme Court in gender discrimination cases, in which places the burden of proof partially on the government and partially on the challengers to show that the law in question is unconstitutional.
Government policies or programs that seek to redress past injustices against specified groups by making special efforts to provide members of these groups with access to educational and employment opportunities.
Short snippets of information aimed at dramatizing a story rather than explaining its substantive meaning.
Equal time rule
The requirement that broadcasters provide candidates for the same political office equal opportunities to communicate their messages to the public.
Right of rebuttal
A Federal Communications Commission regulation giving individuals the right to have the opportunity to respond to personal attacks made on a radio or television broadcast.
A Federal Communications Commission requirement for broadcasters who air programs on controversial issues to provide time for the opposing views. The FCC ceased enforcing this doctrine in 1985.
The power of the media to bring public attention to particular issues and problems.
The power of the media to influence how events and issues are interpreted.
Process of preparing the public to take a particular view of an event or political actor.
Political activities, such as voting, contacting political officials, volunteering for a campaign, or participating in a protest, whose purpose is to influence government.
A strategy by which organized interests seek to influence the passage of legislation by exerting direct pressure on members of the legislature.
An attempt, usually through the use of paid consultants, to establish a favorable relationship with the public and influence its political opinions.
A lawsuit or legal proceeding; as a form of political participation, an attempt to seek relief in a court of law.
Participation that involves assembling crowds to confront a government or other official organization.
The right to vote; also called franchise.
The percentage of eligible individuals who actually vote.
American political community
Citizens who are legible to vote and who participate in American political life.
A distinctive pattern of voting behavior reflecting the differences in views between women and men.
Status in society based on level of education, income, and occupational prestige.
A sense of concern among members of the political community about public, social, and political life, expressed through participation in social and political organizations.
The process by which large numbers of people are organized for a political activity.
Organized groups that attempt to influence the government by electing their members to important government offices.
A political system in which only two parties have a realistic opportunity to compete effectively for control.
The point in history when a new party supplants the ruling party, becoming in turn the dominant political force. In the United States, this has tended to occur roughly every thirty years.
The condition in American government wherein the presidency is controlled by one party while the opposing party controls one or both houses of Congress.
Parties that organize to compete against the two major American political parties.
An electorate that is allowed to select only one representative from each district; the normal method of representation in the United States.
An electorate that selects all candidates at large from the whole district; each voter is given the number of votes equivalent to the number of seats to be filled.
A type of electoral system in which, to win a seat in the parliament or other representative body, a candidate need only receive the most votes in the election, not necessarily a majority of votes cast.
A multiple-member district system that allows each political party representation in proportion to its percentage of the total vote.
The formal structure of a political party, including its leadership, election committees, active members and paid staff.
A normally closed meeting of a political or legislative group to select candidates, plan strategy, or make decisions regarding legislative matters.
A national party political institution that nominates the party's presidential candidates, establishes party rules, and writes and ratifies the party's platform.
A party document, written at a national convention that contains party philosophy, principles, and positions on issues.
Nonprofit independent groups that receive and disburse funds to influence the nomination, election, or defeat of candidates. Named after Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, which defines and grants tax-exempt status to nonprofit advocacy group.
Strong party organizations in late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century American cities. These machines were led by "bosses" who controlled party nominations and patronage.
The resources available to higher officials, usually opportunities to make partisan appointments to offices and to confer grants, licenses, or special favors to supporters.
Money contributed directly to political parties for political activities that is not regulated by federal campaign spending.
An individual voter's psychological ties to one party or another.
Partisans who contribute time, energy, and effort to support their party and its candidates.
The process through which political parties select their candidates for election to public office.
An individual who identifies a problem as a political issue and brings a policy proposal into the political agenda.
The party that holds the majority of legislative seats in either the House or the Senate.
The party that holds a minority of legislative seats in either the House or the Senate.
Responsible party government
A set of principles that idealizes a strong role for parties in defining their stance on issues, mobilizing voters, and fulfilling their campaign promises once in office.
The residents in the area from which an official is elected.
Having a legislative assembly composed of two chambers or houses.
A type of representation in which representatives have the same racial, gender, ethnic, religious, or educational backgrounds as their constituents. It is based on the principle that if two individuals are similar in background, character, interests, and perspectives, then one could hold correctly represent the other's view.
The type of representation in which a representative is held accountable to a constituency if he or she fails to represent that constituency properly.
Holding a political office for which one is running.
Legally prescribed limits on the number of terms an elected official can serve.
The process occurring after every decennial census that allocates congressional seats among the fifty states.
The process of redrawing election districts and redistributing legislative representatives.
Appropriations made by legislative bodies for local projects that are often not needed but that are created so that local representatives can win re-election in their home districts.
A proposal in Congress to provide a specific person with some kind of relief, such as a special exemption from immigration quotas.
Speaker of the House
The chief presiding officer of the House of Representatives or in the Senate. The speaker is the most important party and House leader, and can influence the legislative agenda, the fate of individual pieces of legislation, and members' positions within the House.
A party member in the House or Senate responsible for coordinating the party's legislative strategy, building support for key issues, and counting votes.
A permanent committee with the power to propose and write legislation that covers a particular subject such as agriculture or finance.
A temporary legislative committee set up to highlight or investigate a particular issue or address an issue not within the jurisdiction of existing committees.
A legislative committee formed of members of both the House and the Senate.
A joint committee created to work out a compromise on House and Senate versions of a piece of legislation.
Ranking given to an individual on the basis of length of continuous service on a committee in Congress.
An association of members of Congress based on party, interest, or social group, such as gender or race.
A proposed law that has been sponsored by a member of Congress and submitted to the clerk of the House or Senate.
Session in which a congressional committee rewrites legislation to incorporate changes discussed during hearings on the bill.
A provision by the House Rules Committee limiting or prohibiting the introduction of amendments during debate.
A provision by the House Rules Committee that permits floor debate and the addition of new amendments to a bill.
A tactic used by members of the Senate to prevent action on legislation they oppose by continuously holding the floor and speaking until the majority backs down. Once given the floor, senators have unlimited time to speak, and it requires a vote to three-fifths of the senate to end a filibuster.
A rule allowing a majority of two-thirds or three-fifths of the members of a legislative body to set a time limit on debate over a given bill.
The president's constitutional power to turn down acts of Congress. A presidential veto may be overridden by a two-thirds vote of each house of Congress.
A presidential veto that is automatically triggered if the president does not act on a given piece of legislation passed during the final ten days of a legislative session.
A legislative practice whereby agreements are made between legislators in voting for or against a bill; vote trading.
The effort by Congress, through hearings, investigations and other techniques, to exercise control over the activities of executive agencies.
The amounts of money approved by Congress in statutes that each unit or agency of government can spend.
An agreement, made between the president and another country that has the force of a treaty but does not require the Senate's "advice and consent".
The formal charge by the House of Representatives that a government official has committed "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors".
A representative who votes according to the preferences of his or her constituency.
A representative who votes based on what he or she thinks is the best for his or her constituency.
The complex structure of offices, tasks, rules, and principles of organization that are employed by all large-scale institutions to coordinate the work of their personnel.
A product of civil service reform, in which appointees to positions in public bureaucracies must objectively be deemed qualified for those positions.
A policy of reducing or eliminating regularly restraints on the conduct of individuals or private institutions.
Removing all or part of a program from the public sector to the private sector.
The claim that confidential communications between a president and close advisers should not be revealed without the consent of the president.
The Civil Service Reform Act
In 1883 this act was established to correct the American "spoils system" by appointing people to public office who are qualified for the job. This law eventually came to be called the merit system. This soon came into another reform in 1978 where the Civil Service Commission (CSC) was replaced with three other agencies: Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
Obtain goods or services from an outside supplier; to contract work out. An example would be that if government were to give direct aid to the health of the people it would then outsource the health insurance companies and their purpose will be shut down.
A political organization within the Democratic Party in New York City (late 1800's and early 1900's) seeking political control by corruption and bossism.
An American politician most notable for being the "boss" of Tammany Hall, the Democratic Party political machine that played a major role in the politics of 19th century New York City and State. At the height of his influence, Tweed was the third-largest landowner in New York City, a director of the Erie Railroad, the Tenth National Bank, and the New-York Printing Company, as well as proprietor of the Metropolitan Hotel. Tweed was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1852, and the New York County Board of Supervisors in 1858, the year he became the "Grand Sachem" of Tammany Hall. He was also elected to the New York State Senate in 1867, but Tweed's greatest influence came from being an appointed member of a number of boards and commissions, his control over political patronage in New York City through Tammany, and his ability to ensure the loyalty of voters through jobs he could create and dispense on city-related projects.
well organized political organization that controls election results by awarding jobs and other favors in exchange for votes
(politics) granting favors or giving contracts or making appointments to office in return for political support
Civil Service Reform
established the United States Civil Service Commission, which placed most federal government employees on the merit system and marked the end of the so-called spoils system. The act provided for some government jobs to be filled on the basis of competitive exams.
the removal of some government controls over a market
To change from government or public ownership or control to private ownership or control.