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A fundamental democratic principle requiring that the majority's view be respected. Nonetheless, the Constitution originally contained a number of provisions designed to limit majority rule, including the electoral college, life tenure for Supreme Court justices, and the selection of senators by state legislators

Majority Rule

System in which each branch of government can limit the power of the other two branches. For example, the Senate has the power to approve or reject presidential appointments to the Supreme Court

Checks and Balances

system of government in which all power is invested in a central government

Unitary System

a system of government in which power is divided by a written constitution between a central government and regional governments. As a result, two or more levels of government have formal authority over the same geographic area and people


Powers specifically granted to the federal government by the Constitution. For example, the Constitution gives Congress the power to coin money, impose taxes, and regulate commerce. Also called enumerated powers.

Expressed Powers

Powers of the federal government that go beyond those enumerated in the Constitution. Derived from the elastic or necessary and proper clause

Implied Powers

Powers not specifically granted to the national government or denied to the states. Are held by the states through the Tenth Amendment

Reserved Powers

situations in which the national and state governments work together to complete projects. Also called fiscal federalism.

Cooperative Federalism

Funds provided for a specific and clearly defined purpose

Categorical Grant

Funds granted to states for a broadly defined purpose. Because these shift resources from the federal government to the states, they contribute to the growing number of state and local government employees

Block Grant

Rules telling states what they must do to comply with federal guidelines. Unfunded _____ require state and local governments to provide services or comply with regulations without the provision of funds


A movement to transfer the responsibilities of governing from the federal government to state and local governments


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