Amicus Curiae briefs
-"friend of the court"
-Brief written by an interest group in response to a court case
Authorization vs. Appropriation
Authorization process - the entire process of providing statutory authority for a gov't program/activity/law; basically the official "go-ahead"; creates the law
Appropriations process - the process of providing funding for governmental activities and programs that have been authorized; Money given to plans/ programs that have been authorized --details to what extent the gov't will put its resources into enforcing the law
Containing 2 chambers or houses, as does a legislature such as the U.S. Congress (upper is the senate, lower is the house)
Bill of Rights
-Anti-federalists insisted on a Bill of Rights before they would vote to ratify the constitution
-1st ten amendments of the Constitution
Block Grants and Problems
Block Grant - federal grant that impose minimal restrictions on the use of funds, provide states and localities with greater discretion. Supported by most Republicans.
Wasteful, Funds may lay around unused, funds may go toward unnecessary programs, leads to elimination of federal programs, "Race to the bottom", & States are hesitant to offer more aid/assistance/etc. to the needy than bordering states offer
■ Fear of attracting more homeless, more disabled, etc. (people who need more assistance and are less likely to be tax-payers)
Categorical Grants and Problems
■ Federal grants that impose programmatic restrictions on the use of funds
■ Force state and local governments to address issues that had been ignored
■ Supported by most Democrats
○ Different constituencies
○ Too many participants
○ Unrealistic expectations
○ The federal government can use money to get states to adhere to policies
Persuading the public to support presidents policies, the president is a national symbol, has the power to inform and persuade the public, EX. State of the Unioin address and Fireside chats w/FDR.
Also, a power of the TX Governor.Since he does not have much actual influence, he must learn to influence through persuasion.
Constitutional provision that gives Congress the power to regulate commerce "among the states" (interstate commerce); Lines are often blurred and hard to distinguish
Gives extra power to Fed. Gov't -
Ex. US vs. Lopez --> shows that lines are hard to distinguish
Because there are so many proposals introduced in Congress they have developed the committee system in order to better address them.
(85-90% of proposals die in committee) --> Many die because they are meant to...Congresspeople will make symbolic proposals - they aren't intended to actually go through, but to make it seem like they are responsive to their constituents/ look like they are doing something. ...More info on Senate, etc. on later slides
Levels of Importance:
1st level: Rules
-Right arm of the speaker of the house
-Controls the flow of legislation to the floor and the conditions of debate
-Sets the agenda
-Appropriations and Ways and Means (Concerned w/ spending and taxing)
-Nationally significant policy Areas
- Appropriations, Finance, Budget and Foreign Affairs
-Leadership (Committee chairs usually go to the most senior members of the majority party)
-Formed w/ a majority/minority ratio
-->Favors the majority party
--->More important comimttees are stacked in the majority party's favor
Types of committees:
-Select (Temporary committees to deal w/specific issues)
-Standing (fixed membership continuing from congress to congress)
Theories (for why Congress delegates so much power to committees)
Distributive theory - they do so that they can better serve their constitutents
Informational theory - the transfer of power is necessary for reliance on experts in policy areas
(These theories are not mutually exclusive)
Cooperative Federalism (aka Marble Cake federalism)
All levels of gov't could and should perform all governmental functions together
The governments work together to provide the most efficient method (Interactive relationship)
Declaration of Independence
July 4, 1776
Document asserting political independence of US from Britain
Delegate vs. Trustee
Differing viewpoints of what an elected representative should be:
Delegate - votes the way their constituents want them to vote
Trustee - make their own decisions based on what they think
Return of governmental responsibilities to state and local governments
Proponents harbor an ideological mistrust of federal government
-Believe state govts are more responsive to the people
-Deficit politics encouraged devolution
-Supported by pulblic opinoin (strength of this support is uncertain)
Differences b/w the House and Senate
House - more internal organization than in the senate due to size (435 members) - Hierarchal Structure (Speaker of the house, party leaders, whips) - far more Formal than the senate
Senate - Because it is smaller (100 members), it is less formal - less energy placed into providing internal organization- leadership (party leadership is not as important, vice president serves as the President of the Senate, President pro tempore usually leads b/c the President of the Senate is basically never there)
○ When a single party holds the presidency, and another controls both houses of Congress.
○ Pro: With a unified government, it's harder for the opposing party to act as a check against the party in power.
○ Con:It is harder to enact policy programs in accordance with the public's wishes.
Dual Sovereignty (Dual Federalism)
○ A theory of federalism saying that both the national and state governments have final authority over their own policy domains
-->hard to make distinctions b/w state and federal spheres; distinctions b/w them were blurred
--> But supreme court has strengthened states' rights in recent cases
-Individual legislators, not parties, are the main moves in electoral politics
-Unlike British system, parties in the US provide more freedom to politicians to stray from the party line
-"Politics is a struggle among men to gain and maintain power and the consequences of that struggle"
-Members of Congress are single-minded seekers of reelection
-Goal is to achieve neither all of the popular vote (maximizing) nor just a simple majority (this would encourage future challengers) but to win a comfortable margin (min/max behavior)
-Electoral useful things
--advertising, credit claiming, position taking
Enumerated vs. Reserved vs. Concurrent Powers
--Given to the national gov't exclusively
--include: (1) Printing Money (2) Declaring War (3) Making Treaties (4) Conducting Foreign Affairs
---Given to states exclusively
--Include: (1) Issuing Licenses (2) Regulating commerce wholly within a state (INTRAstate commerce)
---Shared by both national and state gov'ts
--Include: (1) Collecting taxes (2) Building Roads (3) Borrowing Money (4) Having Courts
A presidential Directive that has the force of law although it is NOT enacted by Congress...Still, may be overturned by Congress
Over the years, an increase in the use of executive orders
Ways president can implement orders w/o going through congress
Ex. Truman - desegregated armed forces ; Obama and Gitmo,
Federal Court System
District Courts - Lowest Tier, Most cases heard here
Appeals Court (Circuit court of appeals) - reviews those cases appealed by District Courts
---> Only fed. districts can appeal to circuit courts
-Supreme - highest tier, all cases not settled are reviewed here
Federal vs. Unitary Gov't
Federal - divides sovereignty b/w at least 2 diff. levels
Unitary - system under which all authority is held by a single, national gov't - regional and local govts are simply administrative outposts of the national gov't
For more complex definitions look on study sheet.
Essays that were written in support of the Constitution's ratification and have become a classic argument for the American Constitutional system. Written by Hamilton, Madison and Jay.
-Thought it was possible to create a system of gov't in line w/ Human Nature.
-Tried to convince that this new system guarded against popular passiosn (Congress) and Tyranny (Executive Branch)
-Delaying tactic used in the Senate by which one or more senators refuse to allow a bill or resolution to be considered, either by speaking indefinitely or by offering dilatory motions and amendments.
-Demonstrates why party leadership is not as strong in the Senate as in the House b/c any member of Senate can hold up a vote
-Can only be stopped by a vote for cloture, which requires 60 Senators to agree to it
Great Compromise/Virginia Plan/ New Jersey Plan
Virginia Plan (larger state supported)
---> Legislature : National legislature with supreme powers, Two houses- elected directly by the people, Population based.
--->Executive: Single, Elected by Congress
NJ Plan (Small state supported)
---> Legislature: One vote per state, equal representation; Wanted to protect the interest of smaller states
---> Legislature : Bicameral Congress: House of Representatives based on population; Senate: 2 senators per state, elected by state legislatures
--> Executive: Single, Indirectly elected, Chosen by electoral college
Immigration Act of 1965
Removed National Origin Quotas -
(1) family reunification (2) Occupational skills
290,000 Annual Cap
(1) 20,000/ year from a single country
(2) Refugees and family memebrs do not count toward Cap
Backlash across the nation
(1) English Only
(2) California Prop. 187
Recommendation by a majority of the House of Representatives that a president other official in the exec branch, or judge of the federal courts be removed from office; Removal depends on a 2/3 vote from the Senate
Marbury vs. Madison
Established Judicial Review, which is the power of the courts to declare null and void laws of Congress and of state legislatures they find unconstitutional.
Case: John Adams appointed 42 new Justices of the Peace for DC before leaving office, but didn't have enough time to deliver official commissions; Thomas Jeff on taking office refused to deliver the official commissions.
Decision: Judiciary Act of 1789 - allowed for appointees to request a court order to force the granting of their appointements
(1) Congress said that the Supreme Court would have original jurisdiction. (2) Interesting situation for the Supreme Court
Chief Justice John Marshall exercised judicial review by arguing the Supreme Court was the wrong place to argue the case
(1) The 1789 act in granting the Supreme Court original jurisdiction on this matter contradicted what the Constitution stated was the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court
McCulloch vs. Maryland
One of the most famous Necessary and Proper Clause cases
under the clause, it was constitutional for the national gov't to establish a national bank
Can a state gov't tax the national gov't?
-NO! The power to tax is the power to destroy.
Necessary and Proper Clause
Constitutional clause that gives Congress the power to take all actions that are "necessary and proper" to the carrying out of its delegated powers.
AKA THE ELASTIC CLAUSE
Broad vs. Narrow (only explicitly stated powers) interpretations
Who is the current Speaker of the House?
Nancy Pelosi of California
Who is the Majority Leader of the House?
Steny Hoyer (D - MD)
Who is the Minority Leader for the House?
John Boehner (R - OH)
Republican Party Whip?
Eric Cantor of Virginia
Democratic Party Whip?
James Clyburn of SC
President of the Senate?
VP Joe Biden!
However, he is hardly there so the Pres. Pro tempore stands in for him.
Who is the President Pro Tempore?
Daniel Inouye of HI
He is the oldest member of the Senate majority party.
Majority Leader of the Senate?
Harry Reid of Nevada
Minority Leader of the Senate?
Mitch McConnell of KY
The belief that all interests are able to be expressed.
The most popular interests will win out.
President doesn't sign a bill after 10 days, therefore vetoed.
After Congress ends its session, cannot fight a veto.
Pork Barrel Projects
Legislation that unfairly benefits the few at the expense of the many.
-Tax money goes to districts that do not need it.
-Federal programs are watered down in order to please everyone.
-Federal programs are doomed to fail b/c they are too broad and lack adequate resources
Ex. $55K for a tattoo removal program in CA
Power of the purse
Congress is powerful b/c they determine where the money goes.
Powers of the TX governor
Weak! About 28th in the US (was even lower before)
People of TX don't want a great deal of power in teh hands of 1 person.
(1) Power to veto bills passed by a legislator - Can be overridden by 2/3 vote in both Chambers of the TX Legislature.
(2) Line- Item Veto - authority to negate particular provisions of a law
Roles of the Governor:
-Chief of state - official head and representative of TX
-Commander-in-Chief of the State Militia (National Guard)
-Chief Executive Officer (Making Appointments)
-Chief Budget Officer --Legislative Budget Board writes the budget, but the Gov. has to sign it. ---Equal Standing
--Chief Law Enforcement and Judicial Officer
--Chief Legislator -- Special sessions and veto power, Public Opinion Leader (News conferences and state tours) , Relationships w/legislators (Gov. uses several outside groups to appeal to legislators)
Who is the Chief of Staff?
-Meets w/ president and communicates with staff, cabinet members of Congress
-Washington insiders are best.
Who is Secretary of State?
Secretary of Defense?
Who is the Department of Justice's Attorney General?
Department of Homeland Security Leader?
The Good and Bad about White House Staff
(1) staff is stocked w/people the pres. can count on
(2) Loyal supporters, careers closely intertwined w/the president's
(1) Close nature of staff can work against hte president
(2) It shields pres. from political realities (Ex. Watergate, Iran-Contra Scandal)
(1) Power to veto
*Power to prevent bills passed by Congress from becoming law
-Usually does not initiate policy, but allows the pres. to better negotiate w/Congress
-Should be used w/caution - it can make a pres. seem weak if he has to veto Congress all the time (rather than being powerful enough to persuade)
* Line item veto - Presidential authority to negate particular provisions of a law - STRUCK DOWN in 1998 by the Supreme Court
(2) Power to set a political agenda
*Power to recommend:
--Provides the pres. w/the power of initiation
--Use has greatly increased since the Civil War
---------Drastic changes in the nation created a need for the pres. to be more involved in policy making.
(3) Executive Orders
-ways pres. can implement policy w/o going through Congress.
(4) Executive Privilege
-Right of members of the exec branch to have private communications among themselves that need not be shared w/Congress
An initiative that denied state service to illegal immigrants and their children.
Requirements for a U.S. Citizenship
-Lawlful permanent resident (green card)
-Live in US for at least 5 years before applying
-Pays state taxes
-Basic understanding of US history/gov't
-Good moral character
-Continuous residence in the US
-at least 18 yrs of age
--Constitutional provision that gives Congress the power (power of the purse!) to collect taxes to provide for the general welfare.
--Has led to marble cake (cooperative) federalism
--Cases involving the Spending Clause:
-------1932 Social Security. The discretion belongs to Congress, unless the choice is clearly wrong.
----------1984: Highway Maintenance - Congress placed stipulations on funding; SD challenged stipulations; Court ruled that they were constitutional and dual sovereignty was not violated b/c SD could make the choice to accept funds (or not)
Structure of the TX Legislature
Senate (31 members)
---Leadership: Lt. Governor serves as president; President pro-tempore
-----Senators are elected to 4-yr terms; Staggered State SEnate Elections (except in the case of redistricting)
House (150 members)
----Leadership: Speaker elected each biennial session; Speaker appoints speaker pro-tempore
----Representatives are elected to 2-year terms
Among the lowest paid in the nation.
Biennial legislature : Regular session - meets every 2 years for 140 days.
Special Sessions: Governor calls them, last about 30 days.
Structure of the TX Court System
---Court may conduct hearing that deal w/ the matters of fact in a case. A court of original jurisdiction determines a person's guilt or innocence
---A court has the ability to conduct hearings that deal w/matters of proper trail procedure or constitutional rights
separates civil and criminal cases.
Almost all TX judges are elected in partisan elections
--Great deal of national scrutiny.
--Concern about the influence of PAC (pol. action committee) and contributions
TX Supreme Court
--Civil : Hears cases en banc *alll judges hear the case
---Criminal Appeals - Presiding Judge Sharon Keller
More on TX Judicial Branch
The judiciary branch serves as the final voicei n the laws that govern our land.
While judges are responsible for makign key decisions they do not necessarily make their decisiosn following the same method.
An examination of the TX judicial system shows a structure that is very rare to see today.
One of the biggest issues conerning the branch is the external influences, which may direct the decision-making of the judges.
**For the most part, we want judges to be removed from politics, but in TX that is not the case.
○ In court rulings, reliance on consistency with precedents
■ Previous court decisions or rulings applicable to a particular case
■ Its etiquette
○ "Let decision stand"
Theories of Stare Decisis
■ Judicial Activism
1. Doctrine that says the principle of stare decisis should sometimes be sacrificed in order to adapt the Constitution to changing conditions
○ Supported by more liberal judges as a way to help advance the nation and protect the interests of minorities by correcting injustices imposed by the political branches
1. A judge who thinks that the only way the original meaning of the Constitution can be restored is by ignoring the doctrine of stare decisis until liberal decisions have been reversed
○ Supported by more conservative judges
○ Focused on overturning liberal decisions like Roe v. Wade
■ Judicial Restraint
1. Doctrine that says the courts should, if at all possible, avoid overturning a prior court decision
○ Supported by moderates, who feel that it should be the legislature to take the responsibility of changing the laws
○ Courts are not accountable because judges are not elected
○ Judges lack expertise in designing and managing complex institutions
Theories of government : Aristotle
"Free people deliberating the question: How ought we to order our lives together?"
Typology of Govt:
Perverted vs. Non-Perverted
Gov't of One: Tyranny vs. Monarchy
Gov't of Few: Oligarchy vs. Aristocracy
Gov't of Many: Democracy vs. Polity
Theories of Government : Downs
: government had the "last word"
■ Two key functions of government
1. Every government is the locus of the ultimate power in its society
2. Its social function must at least include acting as the final guarantor behind every use of coercion in the settlement of disputes
Theories of Government : Hamilton
-Most famous federalist that supported the new constitution
-wanted national gov't to have the most power
Theories of Gov't: Hobbes
■ "A world without government would be a war of all against all. Life would be nasty, brutish and short."
■ View that we should be suspicious of government
Theories of Gov't : Madison
■ "If men were angels, no government would be necessary."
Theories of Gov't: Washington
■ "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence-it is force."
Theories of Gov't : Weber
■ An institution in society that has a "monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force."
■ EX: republicans driving democrats "out of business"
Types of Democracy: Representative
■ Citizens choose representatives who decide what government does
■ Practical model
Types of Democracy: Direct
■ Idealized version
■ People have a "direct voice"
1. EX: propostiions in CA
Types of Democracy: Model: Popular
■ Popular (requires too much of the citizens and their decision making)
1. Elections determine policies
2. Citizens vote prospectively
3. Direct democracy is preferred
4. Popular participation is necessary for effective democracy
Types of Democracy: Model: Responsible
1. Elections determine leaders
2. Citizens vote retrospectively
3. Representative democracy is preferred
4. Clear accountability of leaders is necessary for democracy
5. Democratic policies should produce effective governance
Types of Democracy: Liberal Democracy
Majority or pluralistic mechanisms produce policy through representative institutions with individual rights protected through constitutional or judicial structures
Types of Democracy: Pluralistic Democracy
Citizens policy positions are articulated by interest groups who compete against each other and engage in negotiations and compromises w/elected representatives, who produce policies reflecting a balancing of these organized interests in society
Types of Democracy: Majoritarian Democracy
Policy positions of a majority of the populace are translated into actual policy through elected representatives.
Federal regulations that impose (mandatory) burdens on state and local gov'ts without appropriating any or enough money to cover costs
U.S. vs. Lopez
○ State sovereignty case
○ Lopez had gun in school - case where congress went too far, said congress did NOT have power to enact this law - it was a violation of state sovereignty
■ EVEN THOUGH it was obviously a bad idea for him to have a gun in school, it's ultimately up to the state's discretion, not Congress'
○ *** Since Lopez, the Supreme Court has been more willing to place limits on Congress's ability to intervene in state and local affairs
Writs of certiorari
A document issued by the Sup. Court indicating that theCourt will review a decision made in a lower court.