What are the inalienable rights referred to in the Declaration of Independence?
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness
The United States Electoral College
is a constitutionally mandated assembly that elects the president
What fiscal policy combinations would a government most likely follow to stimulate economic activity when the economy is in a severe recession?
Decreasing taxes and increasing spending
The careful gathering and sifting of information in the process of forming a knowledgeable view about a political issue.
A form of government in which the people govern, either directly or through elected representatives.
A system of majority rule through elections; empowers majorities (majoritarianism), groups (puralism), and officials (authority).
A system based on rule of law, including legal protections for individuals; empowers individuals by enabling them to claim their rights in court (judicial action).
Free Market System
An economic system that centers on the transactions between private parties; empowers business firms (corporate power) and the wealthy (elitism). An economic system based on the idea that government should interfere with economic transactions as little as possible. Free enterprise and self-reliance are the collective and individual principles that underpin free markets.
The idea that the majority prevails not only in elections but also in policy determination.
A theory of American politics that holds that society's interests are substantially represented through power exercised by groups.
The recognized right of officials to exercise power as a result of the positions they hold.
The use of courts of law as a means by which individuals protect their rights and settle their conflicts.
The power that corporations exercise in their effort to influence government and maintain control of the workplace.
The notion that wealthy and well-connected individuals exercise power over certain areas of public policy.
Barriers to political thinking include...
- people's inattentiveness to politics
- people's reliance on sources that slant information to fit their agendas
- the tendency of politicians to "spin" information
When people are able to control policy decisions and prevail in political conflicts, they are said to have?
America's commitment to the principles of constitutionalism means?
there are limits on the rightful power of government over citizens.
In a free-market system, the allocation of benefits and costs is determined primarily by?
interaction between a private party and another private party.
An obstacle to majoritarianism is the fact that the general public pays little attention to most policy issues.
In the United States, as compared with most other democracies, corporations are relatively weak in terms of their political influence and control over what happens in the workplace.
A government that is subject to strict limits on its lawful uses of power and, hence, on its ability to deprive people of their liberty.
The principle that the people are the ultimate source and should have a voice in their governing. (In practice, self-government has come to mean a government based on majority rule.)
A voluntary agreement by individuals to form a government, which is then obliged to act within the confines of the agreement.
Inalienable (natural) rights
Those rights that persons theoretically possessed in the state of nature, prior to the formation of governments. These rights, including those of life, liberty, and property, are considered inherent and, as such, are inalienable. Since government is established by people, government has the responsibility to preserve these rights.
Virginia [Large-State] Plan
A constitutional proposal for a strong Congress with two chambers, both of which would be based on numerical representation, thus granting more power to the larger states.
New Jersey [Small-State] Plan
A constitutional proposal for a strengthened Congress but one in which each state would have a single vote, thus granting a small state the same legislative power as a larger state.
The agreement at the constitutional convention to create a two-chamber Congress with the House apportioned by population and the Senate apportioned equally by state.
A compromise worked out at the 1787 convention between northern states and southern states. Each slave was to be counted as three-fifths of a person for purposes of federal taxation and congressional apportionment (number of seats in the House of Representative).
A term used to describe opponents of the Constitution during the debate over ratification
A term used to describe proponents of the Constitution during the debate over ratification.
The principle that individuals should be free to act and think as they choose, provided they do not infringe unreasonably on the freedom and well-being of others.
Grants of Power
The method of limiting the US government by confining its scope of authority to those powers expressly granted in the Constitution.
Denials of Power
A constitutional means of limiting government by listing those powers that government is expressly prohibited from using.
Separation of Powers
The division of the powers of government among separate institutions or branches.
Separated Institutions Sharing Power
The principle that, as a way to limit government, its powers should be divided among separate branches, each of which also shares in the power of the others as a means of checking and balancing them. The result is that no one branch can exercise power decisively without the support or acquiescence of the others.
Checks and Balances
The elaborate system of divided spheres of authority provided by the US Constitution as a means of controlling the power of government. The separation of powers among the branches of the national government, federalism, and the different methods of selecting national officers are part of this system.
Bill of Rights
The first ten amendments to the Constitution. They include rights such as freedom of speech and religion.
The power of courts to decide whether a governmental institution has acted within its constitutional powers and, if not, to declare its action null and void.
Tyranny of the Majority
The potential of a majority to monopolize power for its own gain to the detriment of minority rights and interests.
Democracy [according to the farmers]
A form of government in which the power of the majority is unlimited, whether exercised directly or through a representative body.
A form of government in which the people's representatives decide policy through institutions structured in ways that foster deliberation, slow the progress of decision making, and operate within restraints that protect individual liberty. To the farmers, the Constitution's separation of powers and other limits on power were defining features of a republican form of government, as opposed to a democratic form, which places no limits on the majority.
Elected representatives whose obligation is to act in accordance with their own consciences as to what policies are in the best interest of the public.
An unofficial term that refers to the electors who cast the states' electoral votes
The method of voting used to choose the US president. Each state has the same number of electoral votes as it has members in Congress (House and Senate combined). By tradition, electoral voting is tied to a state's popular voting. The candidate with the most popular votes in a state (or, in a few states, the most votes in a congressional district) receives its electoral votes.
Elected representatives whose obligation is to act in accordance with the expressed wishes of the people they represent.
A form of election in which voters choose a party's nominees for public office. In most states, eligibility to vote in a party's primary election is limited to voters who are registered members of the party.
Constitutional Democratic Republic
A government that is constitutional in its provisions for minority rights and rule by law; democratic in its provisions for majority influence through elections; and a republic in its mix of deliberative institutions, which check and balance each other.
The principle of checks and balances in the US system of government...
allows the majority's will to work through representative institutions but places checks on the power of those institutions.
The US Constitution provides for limited government mainly...
by defining lawful powers and by dividing those powers among competing institutions.
The US Constitution provides for self-government mainly...
through direct and indirect systems of popular election of representatives.
The Articles of Confederation...
established a weak central government that was subordinate to the states.
The addition of the Bill of Rights to the US Constitution meant that...
a list of individual rights would be protected by law.
Of the issues taken up during the constitutional convention, which one consumed the most time and attention?
structure of Congress
The farmers of the Constitution feared political apathy more than tyranny of the majority.
The idea of popular government--in which the majority's desires have a more direct and immediate impact on public policy--has gained strength since the nation's beginning.
The Supreme Court decisions in Marbury vs. Madison gave courts the power to declare governmental action null and void when it is found to violate the Constitution.
The Virgina Plan (also known as the large-state plan) called for a Congress with equal representation of each state but with greatly strengthened powers.
A governmental system in which authority is divided between two sovereign levels of government: national and regional.
A governmental system in which the national government alone has sovereign (ultimate) authority.
A governmental system in which sovereignty is vested entirely in subnational (state) governments.
Enumerated [expressed] Powers
The seventeen powers granted to the national government under Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution. These powers include taxation and the regulation of commerce as well as the authority to provide for the national defense.
Article VI of the Constitution, which makes national law supreme over state law when the national government is acting within its constitutional limits.
"Necessary and Proper" [elastic] Clause
The authority granted Congress in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper" for the implementation of its enumerated powers.
The federal government's constitutional authority (through the "necessary and proper" clause) to take action that is not expressly authorized by the Constitution but that supports actions that are so authorized.
The process by which national authority has increased over the course of US history as a result primarily of economic change but also of political action
A doctrine based on the idea that a precise separation of national power and state power is both possible and desirable.
The authority granted Congress in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution "to regulate commerce" among the states.
The situation in which the national, state, and locals levels work together to solve problems.
A term that refers to the expenditure of federal funds on programs run in part through states and localities.
Federal grants-in-aid to states and localities that can be used only for designated projects.
Federal grants-in-aid that permit state and local officials to decide how the money will be spent within a general area, such as education or health.
The passing down of authority from the national government to the state and local governments
Describing the United States as having a federal system of government means that...
constitutional authority of governing is divided between a national government on the one hand and the state government on the other.
The significance of the Preamble to the Constitution's reading "We the People" rather than "We the States" is that...
the national government under the Constitution would have direct power over the people, which it did not have under the Articles of Confederation.
The Supreme Court in McCulloch vs. Maryland....
affirmed that national law is supreme over conflicting state law.
What does not describe trends in government revenues and intergovernmental relations in the United States?
Financial assistance from the federal government to the states is gradually being eliminated.
The concept of devolution is used to explain...
a shift in authority from the federal government to state and local governments.
Categorical grants allow the states more flexibility and discretion in the expenditure of funds than do block grants.
The primary goal of the writers of the Constitution was to establish a national government strong enough to forge a union secure in its defense and open in its commerce
Dual federalism is the idea that the national and state governments should not interfere in each other's activities.
Fiscal federalism involves the states raising money for programs and the federal government administering the programs.
The fundamental individual rights of a free society, such as freedom of speech and the right to a jury trial, which in the United States are protected by the Bill of Rights
Bill of Rights
The first ten amendments of the Constitution, which set forth basic protections for individual rights of free expression, a fair trial, and property.
Due Process Clause [of the Fourteenth Amendment]
The clause of the Constitution that has been used by the judiciary to apply Bill of Rights protections to the actions of state governments
The process by which certain of the rights (for example, freedom of speech) contained in the Bill of Rights become applicable through the Fourteenth Amendment to actions by the state governments.
Freedom of Expression
Americans' freedom to communicate their views, the foundation of which is the First Amendment rights of freedom of conscience, speech, press, assembly, and petition.
A test devised by the Supreme Court in 1919 to define the limits of free speech in the context of national security. According to the test, government cannot abridge political expression unless it presents a clear and present danger to the nation's security.
Imminent Lawless Action Test
A legal test that says government cannot lawfully suppress advocacy that promotes lawless action unless such advocacy is aimed at producing, and is likely to produce, imminent lawless action.
Action (for example, the waving or burning of a flag) for the purpose of expressing a political opinion.
Government prohibition of speech or publication before the fact, which is presumed by the courts to be unconstitutional unless the justification for it is overwhelming.
The First Amendment provision stating that government may not favor one religion over another or favor religion over no religion, and prohibiting Congress from passing laws respecting the establishment of religion.
A three-part test to determine whether a law relating to religion is valid under the religious establishment clause. To be valid, a law must have a secure purpose, serve neither to advance nor inhibit religion, and avoid excessive government entanglement with religion.
A First Amendment provision that prohibits the government from interfering with the practice of religion.
Right of Privacy
A right implied by the freedoms in the Bill of Rights that grants individuals a degree of personal privacy upon which government cannot lawfully intrude. The right gives individuals a level of free choice in areas such as reproduction and intimate relations.
Procedural Due Process
The constitutional requirement that government must follow proper legal procedures before a person can be legitimately punished for an alleged offense.
The legal principle that government is prohibited from using in trials evidence that was obtained by unconstitutional means (for example, illegal search and seizure)
Which constitutional amendment, as interpreted by the Supreme Court after 1925, provides protection of individual rights against the actions of state and local governments?
The exclusionary rule holds that...
evidence obtained by unconstitutional method ordinarily cannot be used in a trial.
The US Bill of Rights as originally approved and interpreted protected individual liberties from violation by...
the national government only.
The establishment clause prohibits government from....
favoring one religion over another or supporting religion over no religion.
The term that refers to the methods that authorities must use before a person can legitimately by punished for offense is...
procedural due process
Sexual material that is offensive to any individual in society is automatically deemed obscene and is not protected under the First Amendment.
Selective incorporation refers to the process by which the Supreme Court through the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause has applied many of the Bill of Rights guarantees to actions by state governments.
To win libel suit, public officials must prove that a new organization or journalist acted with knowing or reckless disregard for the truth.
The Supreme Court supported the effort of the state of Texas to outlaw the burning of the American flag.
Equal Rights or Civil Rights
The right of every person to equal protection under the laws and equal access to society's opportunities and public facilities.
A clause of the Fourteenth Amendment that forbids any state to deny equal protection of the laws to any individual within its jurisdiction.
A test applied by courts to laws that treat individuals unequally. Such a law may be deemed constitutional if its purpose is held to be "reasonably" related to a legitimate government interest.
A test applied by courts to laws that attempt a racial or an ethnic classification. In effect, the strict scrutiny test eliminates race or ethnicity as a legal classification when it places minority-group members at a disadvantage.
Legal classifications, such as race and national origin, that have invidious discrimination as their purpose and therefore are unconstitutional.
Refers to programs designed to ensure that women, minorities, and other traditionally disadvantaged groups have full and equal opportunities in employment, education, and other areas of life.
De Jure Discrimination
Discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, ethnicity, and the like that results from social, economic, and cultural biases and conditions.
The Supreme Court of the United States
in Brown v. Board of Education prohibited the practice of separate public schools for the purposes of racial segregation
The legal test that in some cases (such as the legal consumption of alcohol) allows government to treat people differently based on their characteristics (such as age) is called the.....
Government policies that have been implemented to eliminate discrimination with the goal of achieving "equality of result" include...
Regarding job-related issues, women..
- have mad gains in many traditionally male-dominated fields
- have achieved gains in the workplace through programs such as day care and parental level
- hold a disproportionate number of the lower-wage jobs and are less likely to hold top-level management positions
Regarding affirmative action, Supreme Court decisions in the 1980's and the 1990's have....
moved to narrow its application to specific past acts of discrimination.
The history of discrimination against Hispanics is virtually the same as the history of discrimination against African Americans, which helps account for the similarity of their political and economic situations.
In recent years, the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment has been extended to include the elderly but not the disabled.