How can we help?

You can also find more resources in our Help Center.

88 terms

AP US Government Vocab

STUDY
PLAY
Majority Rule
A fundamental democratic principle requiring that the majority's view be respected
Checks and Balances
System in which each branch of government can limit the power of the other two branches
Unitary System
System of government in which all power is invested in a central government
Federalism
A system of government in which power is divided by a written constitution between a central government and regional governments
Expressed Powers
Powers specifically granted to the federal government by the Constitution
Implied Powers
Powers of the federal government that go beyond those enumerated in the Constitution
Reserved Powers
Powers not specifically granted to the national government or denied to the states
Cooperative/Fiscal Federalism
Situations in which the national and state governments work together to complete projects
Categorical Grant
Funds provided for a specific and clearly defined purpose
Block Grant
Funds granted to the states for a broadly defined purpose
Mandates
Rules telling states what they must do to comply with federal guidelines
Devolution
A movement to transfer the responsibilities of governing from the federal government to state and local governments
Political Culture
A set of widely shared political beliefs and values
Political Socialization
The process by which political values are formed and passed from one generation to the next
Public Opinion
Attitudes about institutions, leaders, political issues and events
Political Ideology
A cohesive set of beliefs about politics, public policy and the role of government
Political Efficacy
The belief that one's political participation makes a difference
Split-Ticket Voting
Voting for candidates of different parties for different offices in the same election
Political Party
A group of citizens who organize to win elections, hold public offices, operate governments and determine public policy
Plurality Election
The winning candidate is the person who recieves more votes that anyone else, but less than half the total
Single-Member Distract
An electoral district from which one person in chosen by the voters for each elected office
Party Era
An historical period dominated by one political party
Critical Election
An election when significan groups of voters change their traditional patterns of party loyalty
Party Realignment
The majority party is displaced by the minority party, thus ushering in a new party era
Divided Government
A government in which one party controls the presidency while another party controls Congress
Interest Group
An organization of people whose members share views on specific interests and attempt to influence public policy to their benefit
Political Action Committee (PAC)
A committee formed by business, labor, or other interest groups to raise money and make contributions to the campaigns of political candidates whom they support
Free Riders
People who benefit from an interest group without making any contributions
Power Elite Theory
The theory that a small nember of wealthy individuals, powerful corporate interest groups and large financial institutions dominate key policy areas
Pluralist Theory
The theory that many interest groups compete for power in a large number of policy areas
Hyperpluralist Theory
The theory that government policy is weakened and often contradictory because there are so many competing interest groups
Mass Media
Means of communication such as newspapers, radio, television and the internet that can reach large, widely dispersed audiences
Linkage Institutions
Institutions that connect citizens to government
Horse-Race Journalism
The tendancy of the media to cover campaigns by emphasizing how candidates stand in polls instead of where they stand on the issues
Congressional Redistricting
The reallocation of the number of representatives each state has in the House of Representatives
Gerrymandering
The legislative process by wihc the majority party in each state legislature redraws congressional districts to ensure the maximum number of seats for its candidates
Incumbent
An officeholder who is seeking reelection
Franking Privilege
The right of members of Congress to mail newsletters to their constituents at the government's expense
Standing Committees
Permanent subject-matter congressional committees that handle legistlation and oversee the bureaucracy
Conference Committees
Temporary bodies that are formed to resolve differences between House and Senate versions or a bill
House Rules Committee
The House Rules Committee sets the guidelins for floor debate
House Ways and Means Committee
House committee that handles tax bills
Seniority
Unwritten rule in both houses of Congress reserving committee chairs to members of the committee with the longest records of continuous service
Filibuster
A way of delaying or preventing action on a bill by using long speeches and unlimited debate to "talk a bill to death"
Cloture
A Senate motion to end a filibuster
Logrolling
Tactic of mutual aid and vote trading among legislators
Oversight
Congressional review of the activities of an executive agency, department or office
Delegate Role of Representation
When members of Congress cast votes based on the wishes of their constituents
Closed Primary
A primary in which voters are required to identify a party preference before the election and are not allowed to split their ticket
Frontloading
The recent pattern of states holding primaries early in order to maximize their media attention and political influence
Soft Money
Contributions to political parties for party-building activities
527 Group
A tax-exempt organization created to influence the political process and are not regulated by the Federal Election Commission
Veto
The president's constitutional power to reject a bill passed by Congress
Line-Item Veto
The power to veto specific dollar amounts or line items from major congressional spending bills (unconstitutional)
Executive Agreement
A pact between the president and a head of a foreign state
Executive Privilege
The president's power to refuse to disclose confidential information
Lame-Duck Period
The period of time in which the president's term is about to come to an end
Bureaucracy
A large, complex organization of appointed officals
Executive Order
A directive, order, or regulation issued by the president
Iron Triangle
An alliance among an administrative agency, an interest group and a congressional committee
Issue Network
A network that includes policy experts, media pundits, congressional staff members and interest groups who regularly debate an issue
Policy Agenda
A set of issues and problems that policy makers consider important
Appellate Jurisdiction
The authority of a court to hear an appeal from a lower court
Senatorial Courtesy
An unwritten tradition whereby the Senate will not confirm nominations for lower court positions that are opposed by a senator of the president's own party from the state in which the nominee is to serve
Writ of Certiorari
An order by the Supreme Court directing a lower court to send up the record in a given case for its review
Rule of Four
The supreme Court will hear a case if four justices agree to do so
Solicitor General
The solicitor general is responsible for handling all appeals on behalf of the United States government to the Supreme Court
Amicus Curiae Brief
A friend of the court brief filed by an interest group or interested party to influence a Supreme Court dicision
Stare Decisis
A Latin phrase meaning "let the decision stand"
Judicial Restraint
Philosophy that the Supreme Court should use precedent and the Framers' original intest to decide cases
Judical Activism
Philosophy that the Supreme Court must correct injustices when other branches of government or the states refuse to do so
Monetary Policy
Monetary Policy involves regulating the money supply, controlling inflation, and adjusting interest rates
Fiscial Policy
Raising and lowering taxes and government spending programs
Entitlement Program
A government-sponsered program that provides mandated benefits to those who meet eligibility requirements
Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
The OMB is responsible for preparing the budget that the president submits to Congress
Civil Liberties
Legal and constitutional rights that protect individuals from arbitary acts of government
Civil Rights
Policies designed to protect people against arbitrary or disriminatory treatment by government officals or individuals
Selective Incorporation
The case-by-case process by which liberties listed in the Bill of Rights have been applied to the states using the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment
Establishment Clause
A provision of the First Amendment that prohibits Congress from establishing an official government-sponsered religion
Free Exercise Clause
A provision of the First Amendment that guarantees each person the right to believe what he or she wants
Clear and Present Danger Test
Judicial interpretation of the First Amendment that government may not ban speech unless it poses an imminent threat to society
Writ of Habeas Corpus
A court order directing that a prisioner be brought before a court and that the court officers show cause why the prisoner should not be released
Bill of Attainder
A legislative act that provides for the punishmnet of a person without a court trail
Ex Post Facto Law
A law applied to an act committed befor the law was enacted
Exclusionary Rule
Supreme Court guideline that prohibits evidence obtained by illegal searches or seizures from being admitted in court
Miranda Warnings
Warnings that police must read to suspects prior to questioning that advises them of their rights
Strict Scrutiny
Supreme Court rule that classification by race and ethnic background is inherently suspect and must be justified by a "compelling public interest"
Affirmative Action
A policy requiring federal agencies, universities and most employers to take positive steps to remedy the effects of past discrimination