Strong central government with bicameral legislature; populous states have more power.
New Jersey Plan
Central government with single-house (unicameral) legislature; states are equal.
Agreement for bicameral legislature with a lower house based on population, and an upper house based on two senators per state.
Compromise between northern and southern states that three-fifths of the slave population would be counted for determining direct taxation representation in the House of Representatives.
Supporters of ratification of the Constitution and a strong central government.
Opponents of ratification of the Constitution and of a strong central government.
Essays promoting ratification of the Constitution, written by Hamilton, Jay, and Madison in 1787 & 1788.
Passes laws; powers include overriding presidential veto; proposing constitutional amendments to counter Supreme Court rulings; impeaching the president; jurisdiction of federal courts; confirming appointments.
Enforces laws; powers include proposing laws; vetoing laws; calling sessions of Congress; appealing to the public; pardoning crimes; nominating officers of government and federal judges.
Interprets laws; powers include declaring executive actions and laws unconstitutional.
Governance devided between the parties.
Election in which voters choose party nominees.
Procedure whereby a certain number of voters may, by petition, propose a law or constitutional amendment and have it submitted to the voters.
Submitting to popular vote measures passed by the legislature or proposed amendments to a state constitution.
Submitting to popular vote the removal of officials from office before the end of their term.
Power of a court to refuse to enforce a law or a government regulation that conflicts with the Constitution or, in a state court, the state constitution.
Marbury v. Madison
A landmark case in United States law and the basis for the exercise of judicial review in the United States, under Article Three of the United States Constitution.
Writ of Mandamus
Court order directing an official to perform an official duty.
Accusation by the lower house of a legislature against a public official; the first step in removal from office.
Directive issued by a president or governator that has the force of law.
The power to keep executive communications confidential, especially if they relate to national security.
Presidential refusal to allow an agency to spend funds that Congress authorized and appropriated.
Methods for proposing and ratifying amendments
A two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress; a convention called by Congress; approval by the legislatures in three-fourths of the states; approval by special ratifying conventions in three-fourths of the states.
Writ of habeas corpus
Court order requiring explanation to a judge why a prisoner is being held in custody.
Ex post facto law
Retroactive criminal law that changes somehow after the criminal had committed his crime.
Bill of attainder
Legislative act inflicting punishment, including deprivation of property, without a trial.
Due process clause
Clause in the Fifth Amendment limiting the power of the national government; similar clause in the Fourteenth Amendment prohibiting state governments from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property.
The process by which provisions of the Bill of Rights are brought within the scope of the Fourteenth Amendment and so applied to state and local governments.
Clause in the First Amendment that states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.
Money government provides to parents to pay their children's tuition in a public or private school of their choice.
Free exercise clause
Clause in the First Amendment that states that Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion.
Bad tendency test
Interpretation of the First Amendment that would permit legislatures to forbid speech encouraging people to engage in illegal action.
Clear and present danger test
Interpretation of the First Amendment that holds that the government cannot interfere with speech unless the speech presents a clear and present danger that it will lead to evil or illegal acts.
Preferred position doctrine
Interpretation of the First Amendment that holds that freedom of expression is so essential to democracy that governments should not punish persons for what they say, only for what they do.
Libel, obscenity, fighting words, and commercial speech, which are not entitled to constitutional protection in all circumstances.
Written defamation of another person.
Attempting to overthrow the government by force or use violence to interrupt its activities.
Censorship imposed before a speech is made or a newspaper is published, presumed to be unconstitional.
A legal action arguing citizenship on an alien.
Citizenship in more than one nation.
Right of expatriation
The right to renounce one's citizenship.
The rights of an individual to own, use, rent, invest in, buy, and sell property.
Clause of the Constitution (Article 1, Section 10) intended to prohibit state governments from modifying contracts made between individuals; interpreted as prohibiting state governments from taking actions that adversely affect property rights.
Inherent powers of state governments to pass laws to protect health, safety, and welfare; the national government has no directly granted police powers but accomplishes the same goals through other delegated powers.
Power of a government to take private property for public use.
Government regulation of property so extensive that government is deemed to have taken the property by the power of eminent domain, for which it must compensate the property owners.
Established rules and regulations that restrain government officials.
Procedural due process
Constitutional requirement that governments proceed by proper methods; limits how government may exercise power.
Substantive due process
Constitutional requirement that governments act reasonably and that the substance of the laws themselves be fair and reasonable; limits what a government may do.
A writ issued by a magistrate that authorizes the police to search a particular place or person, specifiying the place to be searched and the objects to be seized.
Requirement that evidence unconstitutionally or illegally obtained be excluded from a criminal trial.
Exemption from prosecution for a particular crime in return for testimony pertaining to the case.
A jury of 12 to 23 persons who, in private, hear evidence presented by the government to determine whether persons shall be required to stand trial.
A formal written statement from a grand jury charging an individual with an offense; also called a "true bill."
Agreement between a prosecutor and a defendant that the defendant will plead guilty to a lesser offense to avoid having to stand trial for a more serious offense.
A jury of six to 12 persons that determines guilt or innocence in a civil or ciminal action.
Remedial action designed to overcome the effects of discrimination against minorities and women.
The right of women to vote.
Equal protection clause
Clause in the 14th Amendment that forbids any state to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. The 5th Amendment also imposes this limitation on the national government.
Jim Crow Laws
State laws formerly pervasive throughout the South requiring public facilities and accommodations to be segregated by race; ruled unconstitutional.
De Jure segregation
Segregation imposed by law.
De Facto segregation
Segregation resulting from economic or social conditions or personal choice.
Clause of the Constitution (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3) that gives Congress the power to regulate all business activities that cross state lines or affect more than one state or other nations.
Class action suit
Lawsuit brought by an individual or a group of people on behalf of all those similarly situated.
A provision in a deed to real property prohibiting its sale to a person of a particular race or religion. Judicial enforcement is unconstitutional.
The idea that the rights of the nation are supreme over the rights of the individuals who make up the nation.
The idea that a just government must derive its powers from the consent of the governed.
Candidate or party with the most votes cast in an election, not necessarily more than half.
Articles of Confederation
The first governing document of the confederated states, drafted in 1777, ratified in 1781, and replaced by the Constitution in 1789.
A convention held in 1786 to consider problems of trade and navigation, attended by five states and important because it issued the call to Congress and the states for what became the Constitutional Convention.