What are checks and balances?
The mechanisms by which each branch of government can monitor and limit the functions of the other branches.
Veto- president checks the Legislative
Override Veto by 2/3 vote- Legislative checks the President
Judicial review- Judicial checks the executive
Which body is most representative? What about demographics?
The United States Congress. However, Congress is wealthier, older, more white, more educated, and more male than the body it represents.
When are legislative elections?
For the House, elections are every 2 years in even numbered year. For the Senate, elections are every 2 years for 1/3 of the members.
What is reapportionment and how often does it happen?
The redistribution of House seats based on population shifts, every 10 years with a census.
What is redistricting and how often does it happen?
Redrawing of district lines by state legislatures, every 10 years.
What are the characteristics of the Legislature?
Based on limited government
Separation of powers
What is a pork barrel?
legislature's appropriation of funds for special projects located within the congressional district.
Legislatures running for reelection will do this to "bring home the bacon"
What are the functions of Congress?
Public policy making
Oversight of the executive branch to ensure the proper administration of laws
Management of societal conflict
How does a bill become law?
2) Committee Review
3) House and Senate approval
4) Conference Committee reconciliation
5) Presidential approval
What are Standing Committees?
permanent committee in Congress, with a defined legislative jurisdiction.
What are Joint Committees?
bicameral committee composed of members of both chambers of Congress. Ex) Conference Committee
What is the line of succession for the President?
1) the Vice President- Joe Biden
2) Speaker of the House- John Boehner
3) President Pro Tempore- Daniel Inouye
Speaker of the House
Leadership role in the House of Representatives.
Serves as the presiding officer of the chamber and leader of the majority party.
Decides who should be recognized to speak on the floor on points of order.
Assigns bills to a committee.
Schedules or delays votes on a bill.
Appoints members of select special and conference committees. Controls patronage jobs and office space at the Capitol.
Majority leader of the House of Representatives
Speaker's principal assistant.
Formulates the party's legislative program in consultation with other party members.
Steers that program to the House.
Arranges legislative schedule with cooperation of the party members.
Minority leader of the House of Representatives
Roughly corresponds to the legislative agenda of the majority leaders in terms of formulating the party's legislative agenda.
Has no authority over scheduling legislation.
Organizes the forces of the minority party to counter the legislative program of the majority party.
Facilitates the passage of minority party bills.
Majority and Minority Whips
Kevin McCarthy and James Clyburn.
Assists leaders in tracking party members.
Pressure members to vote for the party line.
Ensure attendance of party members at important role calls.
Involved in the formation of party policy and scheduling legislation.
President of the Senate
Constitutionally provided position to the Vice President of the U.S.A.- Joe Biden.
President Pro Tempore
Elected by the majority party in the Senate.
Chair of the Senate in the Vice President's absence.
Majority Leader of the Senate
The most powerful position in the Senate.
Manages the legislative process.
Schedules debate on legislation.
Minority Leader of the Senate
Works with the majority leader leader in negotiating legislation.
Majority and Minority Whips of the Senate
Dick Durbin and John Cornyn.
Act as go-betweens between leaders and members of their party.
What is the incumbent advantage?
The most important factor in determining success of a Congressional campaign. When running for reelection, one has the following advantages over a first-time candidate:
1) stronger name recognition
2) easier access to media coverage
3) campaign contributions
4) the ability to do casework
5) participate in franking (the privilege of sending free mail).
What is the 1st step in the lawmaking process?
Introduction. A member of the House or the Senate formally proposes the bill.
What is the 2nd step in the lawmaking process?
Committee review. Subgroups within the House and the Senate, composed of legislatures who have expertise in the bill's subject matter, review the bill.
What is the 3rd step in the lawmaking process?
House and Senate approval. If the bill makes it out of the committee, a majority of the members in the House and Senate must approve it.
What is the 4th step in the lawmaking process?
Conference Committee reconciliation. The conference Committee reconciles the bill when different versions have passed in the House and Senate.
What is the 5th step in the lawmaking process?
Presidential approval. After approval, it becomes law. After veto, the bill is dead.
What are the Constitutional powers of the president?
AKA: expressed and inherent powers
1) Chief administrator
2) Chief of legislature
3) Chief diplomat
4) Chief of state
What is the role of the chief administrator?
1) Implement policy
2) Supervise the executive branch
3) Appoint and remove (implied) executive officials
4) Prepare executive budget (not specified in the Constitution)
What is the role of chief of legislature?
1) Initiate policy
2) Veto legislation
3) Convene a special session in Congress
What is the role of chief diplomat?
1) Make treaties
2) Exercise the power of diplomatic recognition
3) Make executive agreements
What is the role of chief of State?
1) Represent the nation
2) Grant reprieves and pardons
3) Appoint federal court and Supreme Court judges
What is an executive agreement?
An international agreement between the U.S.A. and other nations, not subject to Senate approval and only in effect during the administration of the president who negotiates the agreement.
What is an executive department?
departments run by individual cabinet members.
They include departments of: Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Interior Secretary, Justice, Labor, State, Energy,
What are the congressional powers granted to the president?
Statutory powers. Ex) preparation of the executive budget
What is the presidential expansion of government?
Ever since the enormous growth of presidential authority during the Great Depression with Roosevelt, presidential powers have further expanded.
What is the impeachment process?
If the majority of the House vote to impeach the president, they forward the articles of impeachment (the charges against the president) to the Senate. The senate tries the president and determines the penalty if the president is found guilty, sometimes leading to his removal from office.
What is the importance of Marbury v. Madison?
The 1803 Supreme court case that established the doctrine of judicial review.
What are the Courts of Appeal?
Also called circuit courts.
There are 12 plus 1 for specific stuff
Appellate jurisdiction from the district courts; no original jurisdiction
What is the doctrine of star decisis?
"let the decision stand"
A common law doctrine that directs judges to identify previously judged cases with similar facts and then apply the rule of law used by the courts in the earlier case to the current case.
What are statutes and how writes them?
A law enacted by Congress or by state legislatures to deal with particular issues or problems, sometimes more detailed or comprehensive than common law.
What is common law?
Judge-made law grounded on tradition and previous jurisdiction, rather than legislation.
What type of court system does the U.S.A. have?
Dual court system.
A system where there exists both a federal court system and independently functioning state systems.
What is the three-tier federal court system?
1) District courts (Trial Courts)- 94; handle most cases; original jurisdiction; judge bankruptcy cases and federal crimes, such as murdering a public official or robbery.
2) Courts of Appeal (Circuit Courts)-12 plus 1 for specific stuff; only appellate jurisdiction from District courts
3) Supreme Court- 1; has appellate and original jurisdiction
What is the ideological position of the Supreme Court (under Roberts)?
The Supreme Court today is slightly conservative.
Whose decisions have the force of law?
Either US Supreme or High State Courts these have the force of law.
Within the Supreme Court, there are 8 associate justices and one...
chief justice- the leading justice on the Supreme Court, who provides both organizational and intellectual leadership.
What is the Rule of 4?
The practice by which the Supreme Court justices determine if they will hear a case if four or more want to hear it.
What is judicial activism?
an approach to judicial decision-making whereby judges are willing to strike down laws made by elected officials as well as step away from precedents.
One of the most activist courts was under the Warren court.
View the Constitution as a living document and feel it necessary to change it to fit the needs of contemporary society.
Vigorously reviews the other branches of government.
What is judicial restraint?
an approach to judicial decision-making whereby judges defer to the demographically elected legislative and executive branches of government.
View judiciary as the least democratic branch of government.
Unjust/unwise laws are not necessarily unconstitutional.
Rely on the perceived original intent of our founding fathers.
What is a line-item veto?
Declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1997, this is the power of the president to strike out specific line items on an appropriations bill while allowing the rest of the bill to become law.
What is the instructed delegate model?
A model of representation that says that a member of Congress should vote for the position that best represents his or her constituents' view even if the legislature does not share those views.
What is oversight?
The process by which the legislative branch checks the executive branch to ensure that the laws Congress passed are being administered in keeping the legislature's intent
What is a select committee?
A congressional committee created to consider specific policy issues or address a specific concern.
What is a markup?
A special tactic used to extract a bill from a committee to have it considered by the entire House
What is a cloture?
A procedural move in which a supermajority of 60 senators agrees to end a filibuster.
What is a filibuster?
A procedural move by a member of the Senate to attempt to halt passage of or change a bill, during which a senator can speak for an unlimited amount of time on the Senate floor.
What is an ombudsperson?
A role in which an elected or appointed leader acts as an advocate for citizens by listening to or investigating complaints about a government agency.
What is unanimous consent?
An agreement by every senator to the terms of debate on any given piece of legislation.
What is a signing statement?
A written message that the president issues upon signing a bill into law.
What is the role of chief executive?
Appointing the cabinet and determining how the bureaucracy wll implement the laws.
What is the White House Office?
The office that develops and protects the president's legal and political interests.
What is executive privilege?
The right of the president to withhold information from the Congress or the courts.
Who is the chief of staff?
The executive staff member who serves as both an adviser to the president and manager of the White House Office.
What is the National Security Council?
Consists of top foreign policy advisers and relevant cabinet officials who advise the president on matters of foreign policy and national security.
What is code law?
Law created by legislatures to regulate the behavior of individuals and organizations.
What is a pool memo?
The description written by a Court clerk of the facts of the case filed with the Court, the pertinent legal arguments, and a recommendation as to whether the case should be taken.