364 terms

AP Government-Amendments & Review


Terms in this set (...)

10th Amendment
The powers that are not expressly given to the federal government by the Constitution are reserved to the states or the people. Also known as "reserved powers amendment" or "states' rights amendment"
13th Amendment
Abolished slavery. First of three "Reconstruction Amendments" passed after Civil War.
14th Amendment
(1) All persons born in the U.S. are citizens; (2) no person can be deprived of life, liberty or property without DUE PROCESS OF LAW; (3) no state can deprive a person of EQUAL PROTECTION of the laws. Second of three "Reconstruction Amendments" passed after Civil War.
15th Amendment
States cannot deny any person the right to vote because of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Third of three "Reconstruction Amendments" passed after Civil War. First Voting Rights Amendment (with 19, 24 & 26)
16th Amendment
Power of Congress to tax income
17th Amendment
Established the direct election of senators (instead of being chosen by state legislatures)
18th Amendment
Prohibited the manufacture, sale, and distribution of alcoholic beverages.
19th Amendment
Citizens cannot be denied the right to vote because of gender
1st Amendment
Freedom of religion (establishment & free exercise clauses), speech, press, assembly, and petition.
21st Amendment
Repealed the prohibition of alcohol (18th Amendment).
22nd Amendment
Limits the president to two terms.
23rd Amendment
Gave residents of Washington DC the right to vote in presidential elections.
24th Amendment
Abolishes poll taxes.
26th Amendment
The right to vote shall not be denied based on age (18+ years of age).
27th Amendment
Limits the power of congress to increase its own salaries.
2nd Amendment
Right to bear arms. Because a militia [citizen army] is necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed (by government). Supported by NRA.
3rd Amendment
You cannot be forced to quarter soldiers. (Never been an issue)
4th Amendment
No unreasonable searches and seizures. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.
5th Amendment
(1) No Self-Incrimination (Miranda)
(2) No Double Jeopardy (defendant cannot be tried again on the same, or similar charges)
(3) No deprivation of life liberty or property without due process of law (fairness)
6th Amendment
The Right to Counsel in Criminal Trials. Before, cannot be denied counsel. Now, cannot have a criminal trial without being offered a lawyer (doesn't have to be a good one).
Gideon v. Wainwright
7th Amendment
Right to a trial by jury.
8th Amendment
No cruel and Unusual Punishment. It is not precise, and the meaning changes. It draws its meaning from the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.
9th Amendment
Citizens have other rights as well, not just those stated in the Constitution.
A nation's basic law, creates political institutions, assigns or divides power in government and often provides certain guarantees to citizens. Can be written or unwritten.
Agents of Socialization
Family (most important); TV/media (growing in importance); friends/peers; and school (formal socialization). The way we develop opinions & beliefs.
American Political Culture
A set of basic, foundational values and beliefs about government that is shared by most citizens. Key Elements = majority rule + minority rights, equality before the law, limited government, capitalism & private property
A group who opposed the ratification of the Constitution in 1787. They opposed a strong central government (tyranny) and supported states' rights.
Articles of Confederation
Set up the 1st independent American government (1783-88). It created a weak central government: No power to tax or regulate interstate commerce. No executive or judicial branches. One state one vote. Replaced by our current constitution.
Bandwagon Effect
"Copy-cat" behavior. People often do things just because other people do them. In elections, it is the process of voting for the candidate everyone else seems to be supporting (poll leaders).
Block Grants
Grants ($) given to the states by the national government that can be used for general purposes (like education). More freedom for states than categorical grants.
Assistance given to individual constituents by congressional members, like helping an elderly person figure out how to get Medicare benefits. Major incumbency advantage.
Categorical Grant
A grant ($) given to the states by the national government that can only be used for specific projects/programs specified by the national government. Most common type of federal grant because it gives Congress the most control over the states.
Checks and Balances
A major principle of the American system of government. Maintains separation of powers so that no one branch gets too powerful. Explained in Federalist 51. Examples: President vetos laws; Senate confirms appointments & treaties; Congress impeaches president & judges...
Chief Justice John Marshall
In office from 1801-1835 (longest serving CJ). Supported increased power of federal government. Decided McCulloch v. Maryland, Gibbons v. Ogden, and Marbury v. Madison.
Civil Rights Act of 1964
Prohibits discrimination based on race or gender (Title VII) in employment or public accommodations (restaurants, hotels). Created EEOC to enforce. Based on Congress's interstate commerce clause power (discrimination impacts interstate commerce). The most important federal civil rights law.
Commerce Clause
Art. 1, Sec. 8 of the Constitution (enumerated power). Congress has the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, among the several states ["Interstate Commerce Clause"], and with the Indians. Interpreted by the Supreme Court very broadly (Gibbons v. Ogden) until Lopez & Morrison.
A political system in which states or regional governments retain ultimate authority except for those powers that they expressly delegate to a central government (example = European Union)
Congressional Demographics
Rich white male protestant lawyers & businessmen!
Women VERY underrepresented! (<17%)
Connecticut Compromise
Solves big state-little state debate over representation in the federal legislature at Philadelphia Convention. Created a bicameral legislature with equal representation for states in Senate and proportional representation in House (seats based on population).
Cooperative Federalism
Says that federalism works as a system of shared governmental duties (also known as marble-cake federalism); emphasizes co-operation (and sometimes confusion) among different levels of government. Best explanation of how federalism works today (instead of dual federalism)
Condition of Aid
A technique of fiscal federalism used by Congress to control states. Requires states to do something in order to get the money (ex. South Dakota v. Dole, raise drinking age 21 to get highway money).
Department of Defense
Cabinet-level agency in charge of the armed forces. HQ = The Pentagon.
Department of State
Cabinet-level agency in charge of foreign policy & international affairs.
Descriptive Representation
The idea that politicians can only represent people like them (ex. only women can represent women, blacks represent blacks, etc.)
Devolution Revolution
The effort to reduce the size & power of the federal government by returning (devolving) power to the states. Associated with economic conservatives, President Reagan & the Tea Party.
Doctrine of Implied Powers
Established by CJ Marshall in McCulloch v. Maryland. Loose interpretation of necessary & proper clause results in growth of federal power.
Dual Federalism
Theory of federalism that strictly separates federal power (ex. foreign relations) and state power (ex. protect against crime). Each level of government is dominant within its own sphere. Too simplistic to describe how federalism actually works. Also known as "layer-cake federalism."
Electoral College
Constitutional system for electing president and vice president. Each state has electors = to number of senators + representatives (DC also has 3 because of 23rd Amendment). Citizens of state vote for candidate. Winner gets all electoral college votes (except Maine & Nebraska which uses proportional system). Winner of majority of electoral college votes becomes president. If no majority then see 12th Amendment.
Emancipation Proclamation
Issued by Abraham Lincoln in 1863; declared that slaves in rebel states were free.
Legislative Enumerated Powers
Power to tax, borrow & coin money, regulate foreign & interstate commerce, establish army, declare war, make all laws necessary & proper for carrying out the enumerated powers (elastic clause)
Exclusionary Rule
Weeks v U.S. (1915); evidence obtained in violation of 4th Amendment is not admissible in criminal trial.
Exit Poll
A poll based on interviews conducted on election day with random selected voters to attempt to determine the outcome of the election (when they EXIT the booth).
A system of government in which power is divided between one central government and several regional governments. Used in USA and a few other countries. Most countries have unitary governments.
Federalist Papers
Written in 1788 by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay to support ratification of the Constitution. Fed 10 (factions) & Fed 51 (separation of powers, checks & balances)
Supporters of the new constitution in 1787. Supported a strong central government. Hamilton, Washington, Marshall.
Became first political party (vs. Jefferson's Republicans)
A loose alliance of independent states. No state can force another state to do something (ex. European Union, America under the Articles of Confederation)
Fiscal Federalism
Federal government using money (grants) to influence & control states.
Formal Amendment Process
Article V; the (difficult) process of adding or deleting words to the constitution (27 times since 1788); propose by 2/3 vote of Congress or Constitutional Convention (never used); ratify by 3/4 vote of state legislators or state convention (only used once)
Franking Privilege
The right of congresspeople to send job-related mail to their constituents without paying postage. Incumbency advantage.
Gender Gap
Women are more likely to support Democratic / liberal candidates. Women are more likely to support spending on welfare & education, and to oppose higher levels of military spending.
General Election
A nation or state wide election; the winner becomes an elected government official
The drawing of district boundaries by the state legislature to benefit a party, group, or incumbent.
Gibbons v Ogden
"Commerce clause case" (1824) Decision greatly enlarged congress' interstate commerce clause power. Is transporting people (ferry) commerce? Yes, commerce is all economic activity.
Grandfather Clause
A law passed during the Jim Crow era that discouraged African Americans from voting by saying that if your grandpa couldn't vote, then neither can you. The newly-freed slaves grandpas couldn't vote, so neither could they. Declared unconstitutional in 1915.
Informal Amendment Process
Changing the meaning of the Constitution without a formal amendment (ex. Supreme Court opinions, laws, custom)
Some states allow citizens to come up with their own bills to put on an election ballot (proposition). If the bill passes it becomes a law. Usually requires citizen to collect lots of voter signatures to get on the ballot. Aim is to increase democracy (citizen law-making)
Old as Washington, a belief that America should not seek to become engaged in foreign affairs.
Jacksonian Democracy
The first major opening up of American political system by Jackson's new Democratic Party in 1830s. Franchise extended to all white men (not just rich white men).
Jim Crow Era
Era in the South after Civil War until 1950s when African Americans were free and could legally vote (Amendments 13, 14, 15), but were discriminated against (segregation) and kept from voting by laws (ex. poll taxes) and by violence (KKK)
John Locke
Father of political liberalism (limited government to protect life liberty & property; right to revolt if government becomes a tyranny); he greatly influenced Jefferson & the Declaration of Independence.
Joint Chiefs of Staff
One General from each of the 3 armed services; top military advisers to the president.
A business trip taken by a government official at the public's expense. Incumbent advantage.
False and malicious (mean) writings about a living person (a type of defamation).
Liberal Internationalism
Use American power to promote democracy and peace around the world. Associated with Woodrow Wilson & Jimmy Carter.
Literacy Test
A method to deny blacks right to vote during the Jim Crow Era by requiring reading or civics test in order to vote. Could be selectively applied. Rationale: only the educated should vote. Abolished by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
You support my bill, I'll support yours. Trading favors by legislators to help pass their bills.
McCulloch v. Maryland
(1) CJ Marshall establishes doctrine of implied powers (Congress can create a national bank because it is necessary & proper to carrying out the enumerated power to coin money); (2) Supremacy clause prevents state (Maryland) from taxing the National Bank. Very important case enlarging power of federal government.
Modern Liberalism
One of the major political ideologies of the 21st century (main ideology of the democrats). Believes in strong government to promote equality and happiness (ex. Social Security, Welfare); Also socially liberal (support gay rights, abortion, legalization of drugs...)
Motor Voter Act
1993 law to increase vote turnout (which is very low in USA, usually only 40-60% of eligible voters) by letting voters register to vote when they get or renew their driver's license. It increased the registration rate, but the voter turnout rate barely increased (lazy people still lazy!)
North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Cold War military alliance (USA + Western Europe vs. USSR).
Necessary and Proper Clause
Final clause in Congress' enumerated powers (Article 1) that gives congress the power to do anything that is necessary and proper to carry out an enumerated power. Also known as the Elastic clause. It is the basis for congress' implied powers (McCulloch v. Maryland)
New Jersey Plan
Plan at Philadelphia Convention for equal representation in new Congress (1 state 1 vote). Also known as "small state plan." Opposite of the Virginia "big state" Plan. Becomes basis of representation in the Senate.
North American Free Trade Organization
Free trade organization in North America. Similar to the WTO. It try to create things that we can all agree upon (like tariffs). It's easier for them to focus on their issues because the don't have to worry about many other members (like in the World Trade Organization).
Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act
1883 reform law that replaced the patronage/spoils system in the federal bureaucracy with a merit-based professional system. "Important" leadership positions in bureaucracy still appointed based on patronage.
Pocket Veto
If a bill is proposed within 10 days of congress adjourning, the president can just not sign it and it will die (un-overrideable veto).
Political Ideology
A more or less consistent set of beliefs about what policies government should pursue. OR The coherent (same, shared) set of values and beliefs about the purpose and scope of government held by groups and individuals
Political Socialization
The process by which background traits influence one's political views (all agents of socialization).
Poll Tax
Tax on voting. Used to discourage African Americans from voting during the Jim Crow era. Also used to exclude poor whites. Declared unconstitutional by 24th Amendment.
Pork Barrel Legislation
Appropriations of federal money for local projects (that are sometimes not needed); Major incumbent advantage & source of budget increases
Primary Election
"First election," the election in which members of a party vote for a candidate who will represent that party in the general election. Used by most states (instead of caucus).
Push Poll
A type of poll in which an organization attempts to influence people secretly using a poll (would you vote for blank if you knew that he had a black, illegitimate child?)
Random Digit Dialing
A form of surveying where volunteers call random phone numbers from a phone book and survey the people who pick up. Ensures random sample of population to maximize accuracy.
Act in the world only to protect and benefit yourself. Associated with Teddy Roosevelt's foreign policy.
Redistricting Process
When a state legislature establishes new district lines after the process of reassigning seats in the House based on the population after the census (every ten years).
A state level method of direct democracy that gives voters a chance to approve or disapprove proposed legislative action or a proposed amendment. Occurs when a state wants the voter's opinion on a controversial issue. More democratic.
Representative democracy. Sovereignty rests with the people, as opposed to a king or monarch.
Sampling Error
The % margin of error of a survey. More people surveyed and better surveying strategies leads to lower (better) sampling error.
Selective Incorporation Doctrine
Judicial doctrine that applies the Bill of Rights to state and local governments because they are incorporated into the 14th Amendment's Due Process Clause.
Separation of Powers
The principle of dividing governmental powers among different branches of government to protect against tyranny (Federalist 51).
Shays' Rebellion
Failed rebellion by poor farmers in MA against state government & banks that were taking their farms. Showed how weak the central confederation government was vs. threats to private property and order. Major factor in creation of Constitutional Convention in 1787.
Stare Decises
"The decision stands". A rule in deciding cases where judges are to follow precedent cases (the outcome of similar cases). Makes the judges keep their decisions consistent.
Substantive Representation
Theory of representation that says that anyone can represent any group (ex. a rich white guy can represent the interests of poor black people). Compare to Descriptive Representation.
Supremacy Clause
The Federal constitution, laws, and treaties are the supreme law of the land. States cannot interfere with federal power (ex. McCulloch v. Maryland).
Swing State
A state that does not consistently vote either democratic or republican in presidential elections. Target of a lot of attention in elections (unlike "safe states").
Unitary State
A state ruled by one central government. This is the system used by most countries. Compare with federal state.
United Nations
Replaced the League of Nations. Global organization to maintain peace.
US Constitution
"The supreme law of the land." Written in 1787 at the constitutional convention in Philadelphia, ratified in 1788, amended 27 times (first 10= bill of rights), creates 3 branches of national government, oldest written constitution that is still in use, and it was made because the government set up by the articles of confederation was too weak.
US v. Morrison (2000)
Supreme Court declared that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was unconstitutional because it exceeded congress' commerce clause power. With Lopez v. United States, two recent cases checking commerce clause growth of federal power (unchecked since New Deal)
Virginia Plan
Also known as the Big State Plan. The idea was that larger states would have more power because they had more people. Proposed at the Philadelphia Convention.
Voting Eligibility
US Citizen; 18+ age; Non-jail servers (1+ years in jail make you a felon, and you lose your right to vote); the non-mentally-incompetent (hard to define who is and who isn't).
White Primary
A form of restricting African American's 15th Amendment rights during the Jim Crow Era by only allowing whites to vote in the primary elections; giving African Americans only the opportunity to vote for white racist A or white racist B.
World Trade Organization
Economic organization to promote global wealth.
Measurement Error
An error that occurs when there is a difference between the information desired by the researcher and the information provided by the measurement process.
Supporter of individual liberties, minimal government, free market economy, noniterventionist in foreign policy and no government regulation of moral or social life (ex. drugs, gay marriage)
A policial ideology that opposes capitalism and supports government control of major aspects of the economy (ex. electricity, health care)
Declaration of Independence
Thomas Jefferson's statement of political liberalism (limited government to protect life liberty and pursuit of happiness; right to revolution).
Philadelphia Convention (1787)
12 colonies send delegates to revise the Articles of Confederation; Delegates soon agree to draft completely new Constitution with stronger federal government.
South Dakota v. Dole
Court case that stated that Congress may attach "strings" to money given to states (Crossover Sanctions).
Term Limit
A legal restriction that limits the number of terms (or years) a person may serve in a particular elected office
US Term Limits v Thornton
Prohibited state legislatures from deciding on term limits of their Representatives and Senators. Violation of federalism.
Defeating Incumbents
Very hard to do, because incumbents have many advantages over challengers (90+% reelection rate for incumbents).
Speaker of the House
The leader of the majority party who serves as the presiding officer of the House of Representatives.
Modern Economic Conservatism
Emphasizes tax and spending-cuts and free markets (deregulation) rather traditional morality, Reaganomics, Devolution-revolution.
Policy Election
An election to determine a response to a particular policy. Recall, initiative, referendum.
Congressional Caucuses
Association of members created to support a political ideology or regional economic interest (black caucus, women's caucus, blue dog democrats, log cabin republicans)
House and Senate Whips
Assistant floor leader, keeps the leaders informed and party members in line, they persuade party members to vote the way of their party, and get people who aren't really interested in voting to vote for the party they are a part of.
House and Senate leaders
The heads of the minority and majority parties in the House of Representatives and Senate. They represents the interests of their party by meeting with the majority leaders (in the case of the House, the House Speaker, to schedule bills and rules for floor action).
Standing Committees
Permanent committees in House and Senate that consider and are responsible for legislation within a certain subject area.
House Rules Committee
Powerful House standing committee that reviews all bills (except revenue, budget, and appropriations bills) coming from other House committees before they go to the full House (gatekeeper function); sets limits on debate time and amendments.
House Ways and Means Committee
Important House standing committee responsible for initiating all taxation measures.
Appropriations Committees
Decide how to spend money allocated to each spending category by Budget Resolution; 12 subcommittees for major areas of budget (ex. defense, energy, agriculture); major source of earmarking
Budget Committee
House & Senate standing committees that begins budget process in Congress by setting overall budget size and amounts that will be spent on different topics (ex. defense, education)
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Held hearings for people discontent with certain treaties so that they can voice their feelings
Senate Judiciary Committee
Holds confirmation hearings for the nominations for federal judges by the president.
A group within a standing committee that specializes in a subcategory of its standing committee's responsibility.
Conference Committees
A joint committee appointed to resolve differences in the senate and house versions of the same bill
Joint Committees
Congressional committees to discuss & supervise certain topics with membership drawn from both houses. (ex., Committee on Library, Taxation)
Select Committees
Temporary congressional committees appointed for a specific purpose, such as the Watergate investigation.
Committee Chairperson
The leader of a congressional committee. A very powerful position. He/she controls the committee calendar, agenda, and hearings. He/she can pigeonhole a bill by refusing to schedule debate on the bill. Chosen by majority party caucus based on seniority. Subject to term-limits
Seniority Rule
A legislative practice that assigns the chair of a committee or subcommittee to the member of the majority party with the longest continuous service on the committee.
A tactic for delaying or obstructing legislation by making long speeches (Senate only; House Rules Committee places time limits on all debates)
A procedure used in the senate to limit debate on a bill (end a filibuster); requires 60 votes.
To ignore a bill in committee, and simply let it die (don't report it out). Major cause of bill death.
Marking Up
The process by which a U.S. congressional committee or state legislative session debates, amends, and rewrites proposed legislation.
Reporting Out
When a committee finishes the mark-up of a bill and sends it to the senate or house for debate, consideration, and final passage.
Open Rule
An order from the House Rules Committee that permits a bill to be amended on the floor (allows "death by amendment")
Closed Rule
Rule in the House of Representatives that prohibits any amendments to bills or says that only members of the committee reporting the bill may offer amendments
Treaty Power
The ability of a president to negotiate treaties with foreign nations (requires 2/3 senate support to ratify a treaty)
Appointment Power
The power of the president to appoint important government office positions with advice and consent of senate (majority support)
Pardon Power
Power of the president to forgive a federal offense without penalty or grant release from a penalty already imposed.
Term for the president. He is the commander of the nation's armed forces.
State of the Union Address
A yearly report by the president to Congress required by Constitution describing the nation's condition and recommending programs and policies (agenda setting function)
The Cabinet
Group of advisors to the President (Sec. of Treasury, Sec. of War, Attorney General, Postmaster General, Sec. of State [to name a few]). Created by Washington, now an example of an informal amendment to the Constitution
Vice President
An executive officer ranking immediately below a president. If the president is unable to serve, he/she takes his/her place. President of Senate & casts tie-breaker vote in Senate.
Executive Office of the President (EOP)
Ten organizations that advise the President. Includes the Office of Management and Budget, the Council of Economic Advisors, and National Security Council. Top positions must be confirmed by Senate.
White House Office
Part of the Executive Office of the President that includes the President's key staff and most trusted personal advisors (led by White House Chief of Staff); members do not need senate confirmation
Office of Management and Budget
The executive agency that advises the President on the federal budget and evaluates effectiveness of federal agencies (oversight)
Counsel of Economic Advisors
A staff agency in the Executive Office of the President made up of a few economists who help the president out with maintaining stability in the nations economy.
National Security Counsel
Consults with the president on matters of defense and foreign policy.
White House Management Styles
Pyramidal or Spokes and Hub style.
Patronage System
AKA Spoils System. Filling government bureaucracy based on connections & political favors not merit (cronyism); ended by Pendleton Act
Civil Service
Government bureaucracy; non-elected agents ("worker bees") that work for government departments & agencies; hierarchical organization, job specialization & rules & procedures. Massive growth since New Deal & WWII (2.5m people = nation's largest employer)
Hatch Act
A federal law prohibiting government officials from active participation in partisan politics to prevent corruption
Plum Book
A list of good-paying (sweet) jobs that the new president can fill by appointment (agency directors and other VIPs)
Cabinet Departments
The fifteen largest and most influential agencies of the federal bureaucracy (e.g., Department of State, Treasury, Justice...)
Independent Regulatory Commissions
Independent agencies created by Congress, designed to regulate important aspects of the nation's economy, largely beyond the reach of presidential control.
Independent Executive Agencies
Federal agencies that aren't large or important enough to get department status. Directors appointed by President w/ advice & consent of Senate. Ex. NASA, CIA, EPA
Government Corporations
A government organization that, like business corporations, provides a service that could be provided by the private sector and typically charges for its services. The U.S. Postal Service is an example.
Continuing Resolution
A temporary funding law that Congress passes when an appropriations bill has not been decided by the beginning of the new fiscal year on October 1.
Line-Item Veto
Allows president to veto bad parts of a bill but keep the rest. Like a scalpel. Especially useful for cutting out pork from spending bills. Declared unconstitutional (impermissibly changed the detailed law-making process established in Article I)
President as Party Leader
POTUS is the symbolic leader of his party. Acts as party's chief spokesperson to the public & sets party's legislative agenda
Honeymoon Period
The short period (days or months) following an election when a president's popularity and ability to influence Congress is at its highest.
Bully Pulpit / Going Public
President sells his programs directly to the American public.
President's office is a "bully pulpit"
(a position to inspire Congress & the nation to follow his political agenda)
Rally Effect
Short-term patriotic increase in president's popularity and power during times of serious international crisis or war (e.g. Bush after 9/11)
War Powers Resolution
A law passed in 1973 requiring (1) president to notify congress within 48 hours of sending troops into combat and (2) begin to remove troops after 60 days unless Congress approves of the action. Ignored by all presidents as unconstitutional.
Executive Agreement
Non-treaty agreement between the U.S. president and other nations that does not require Senate ratification.
Modern Social Conservatism
Traditional views on marriage, gender roles, & "alternative lifestyles" based on Christian morality (ex. anti-gay marriage, anti-drugs)
Veto Process
President may veto any bill by returning it to Congress with explanation. Congress can override with 2/3 vote in both houses (very hard to do)
Impeachment Process
Constitutional process for removing President and executive officers for "treason, high crimes & misdemeanors" (whatever Congress thinks is impeachable). Two stages: (1) House decides to impeach target (simple majority); (2) Senate holds trial to convict (2/3 majority)
Executive Privilege
The power to keep executive communications/info confidential, especially if they relate to national security.
Lame Duck
Person holding office after his or her replacement has been elected to the office, but before the current term has ended.
The lifting of government rules & restrictions on business, industry, and professional activities; major goal of Republicans
The process of selling businesses or services operated by the government (e.g., airlines, phone service, post office) to private operators, and then allowing them to compete in the marketplace. Supported by Republicans.
Administrative Discretion
The ability of an agency to determine how it's going to carry out execute laws. Major source of independent power for agencies subject to congressional/executive oversight. (Ex. The FDA sets up its own procedures & rules for determining what food & drugs are safe for consumption)
Executive Orders
Regulations & orders from the President to an agency. They are one of the methods with which presidents can use to control the bureaucracy.
Government Accountability Office
A federal legislative agency that audits (investigates) other agencies of the federal government and reports it's findings to Congress (makes sure they are not spending more money than the government has appropriated for them).
Congressional Oversight
The power of Congress to oversee how laws are carried out ("watchdog function" to prevent fraud & waste). Carried out through committee hearings & investigations (ex. Watergate), approprations process,
Freedom of Information Act
Citizens have the right to inspect all records of federal agencies except those containing military, intelligence, or trade secrets; increases accountability of bureaucracy
Ethics in Government Act
Sets requirements for financial disclosure for elected public officials, and placed restrictions on former government officials' lobbying activities.
District Courts
Lowest level of federal courts, where federal cases begin and trials are held (bank robbery, environmental violations, tax evasion).
Circuit Courts
Part of federal court system; 13 of them: one for the D.C. and 12 for the rest of the country. Also called "courts of appeal"
Supreme Court
The highest federal court in the United States. Has final appellate jurisdiction and has jurisdiction over all other courts in the nation.
Original Jurisdiction
The jurisdiction of courts to hear a case first, usually in a trial. These are the courts that assess the facts in a case and the issue the first decision (guilt, innocence)
Appellate Jurisdiction
The jurisdiction of courts to hear cases brought to them on appeal from lower courts. Appellate courts determine whether cases were decided correctly by the court below.
Appointment Process
The process of the President nominating candiate and U.S. senate confirming them.
Senatorial Courtesy
A system in which the president submits the name of a candidate for judicial appointment to the senators from the candidate's state before formally submitting it for full senate approval.
Removal Process
The President may remove any appointed federal officer whenever he wants for any reason.
Department of Justice
the United States federal department responsible for enforcing federal laws (including the enforcement of all civil rights legislation)
Attorney General
Head of the Justice Department and the chief law enforcement officer of the United States
Solicitor General
The important attorney in the Justice Department decides what cases the government will appeal to the Supreme Court, files amicus briefs with the Supreme Court in cases the government is interested in, and represents the United States before the Supreme Court.
U.S. Attorney
Government lawyer that acts as chief enforcer of federal law at the district court level.
Subject-Matter Jurisdiction
The power of a court to hear a particular type of case. Federal courts can hear all cases involving the Constitution, federal laws or treaties
Party-Based Jurisdiction
Federal Courts have jurisdiction to hear a case between citizens of different states
Diversity Jurisdiction
The authority of federal district courts to hear cases involving parties from different states that involve amounts in controversy over a legal minimum
Case or Controversy Requirement
one of the rules of judicial self restraint; the Court does "not do hypotheticals," only real controversies including real, adverse parties; no advisory opinions; no friendly lawsuits
Political Question Doctrine
Federal Courts won't decide issues that should be resolved by executive and legislative branches. Major examples = challenges to the President's conduct of foreign policy, challenges to the impeachment and removal process.
U.S. v. Nixon
(1973) No person, not even the President of the United States, is completely above law; and the president cannot use executive privilege as an excuse to withhold evidence that is 'demonstrably relevant in a criminal trial.'
Writ of Certiorari
An order by the Supreme Court saying that it will hear a certain case. Granted in cases that raise important constitutional questions or where circuit courts have reached different opinions on a particular issue.
Rule of 4
If four or more justices must vote to hear a case, then the case will be heard (granted certiorari)
The list of cases that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear (granted certiorari to) in a term
Oral Arguments
The stage in Supreme Court proceedings in which attorneys for both sides appear before the Court to present their positions and answer questions posed by the justices.
Amicus Curiae Brief
Literally, a "friend of the court" brief, filed by an individual or organization to present arguments in addition to those presented by the immediate parties to a case.
A judgment by a higher court that the judgment of a lower court was correct and should stand
A judgment by a higher court that the judgment of a lower court was incorrect and should be changed
to send a case back to a lower court to be tried again
Counter-Majoritarian Difficulty
The argument that judicial review is problematic because it allows unelected judges to overrule the decisions of elected representatives, thus undermining the will of the majority.
Judicial Review
the power of the Supreme Court to declare laws and actions of local, state, or national governments unconstitutional
Marbury vs. Madison
(1803) Announces the federal judiciary's power to declare federal laws unconstitutional (establishes Judicial Review)
Judicial Activism
A philosophy of judicial decision-making whereby judges allow their personal views about public policy (liberal or conservative) to guide their decisions and feel no hesitation in declaring laws to be unconstitutional; likely to use loose constructionism.
Judicial Restraint
A philosophy of judicial decision-making whereby judges give significant deference to the decisions made by elected representatives in the legislative and executive branches; likely to use strict constructionism
Strict Construction
Way of interpreting the Constitution that allows the federal government to take only those actions the Constitution specifically says it can take
Loose construction
Way of interpreting the constitution that expands the written meaning to reflect changing conditions...
an approach to constitutional interpretation that narrowly interprets the text of the Constitution in a manner that is consistent with what most people understood those words to mean at the time that they were written
A ruling that is used as the basis for a judicial decision in a similar case. (Use previous case to decide current one).
Stare Decisis
"Let the decision stand"; the principle that new cases must be decided in ways consistent with prior cases
The right & power to make decisions in a particular area. Before a court can hear a case it must establish that it has the power to hear this type of case.
One who brings a court action against another.
The state or federal government attorney in a criminal case.
An individual or group being sued or charged with a crime.
The losing party in a court case who appeals the case to a higher court.
The party opposing an appeal from a lower court to a higher court.
Civil Law
Body of law dealing with private rights of individuals.
Criminal Law
Group of laws that defines and sets punishments for offenses against society
A sum of money paid in compensation for loss or injury (can be emotional).
A judicial remedy issued in order to prohibit a party from doing or continuing to do a certain activity (like a restraining order).
The process by which a political party nominates ("selects") a candidate to run in a general election.
Party Caucus (historical)
A meeting of important party members to select party candidates. Attacked as corrupt and anti-democratic so not used anymore.
Primary Election
Election to select party's candidate for each office. It is now the main way of selecting party candidates. Most democratic method, greatly weakens the power of party leaders.
Closed Primary
Only registered party members can vote in the primary. Maximum party control.
Open Primary
Anyone can vote in the primary, but you can only vote in the primaries of one party (can't vote in Dem and Rep primaries).
Political Party
A group of individuals with broad common interests who organize to nominate candidates for office, win elections, conduct government, and determine public policy.
American Party System
2 main parties with other smaller and less powerful parties, all fighting for power/seats in government.
Single-Member Plurality District
Winner-take-all electoral system where the winner only needs a plurality, not a majority. Used to elect Representatives & Senators. Discourages third parties.
Winner-Take-All System
The electoral system in which the candidate with the most votes (even only slightly) wins all of the electoral votes of that state.
Proportional Representation
The system by which legislative seats are awarded to a party in proportion to the vote that party wins in an election (50% vote for Dem in AZ, Dems get 50% of AZ's seats).
Third Party
Any political party that appears as an alternative to the two main parties of the Democrats and the Republicans. Often extremist, single-issue or candidate-centered. Not major feature of US political system because of winner-take-all electoral system. Can have spoiler effect (Nader in 2000) or are absorbed into major party (Tea Party in 2008).
Spoiler Effect
When a 3rd party take votes away from a candidate and can make him/her lose the election (even if he/she was winning before). Ex., Ralph Nader & Green Party may have caused Al Gore to lose 2000 election.
Electoral Realignment
Changes in coalitions that make up each political party. May occur in one critical election (ex., 1860) or over time (ex., African Americans switch from Republican Party to Democratic Party during Civil Rights Era)
Critical Election
Election in which existing patterns of party loyalty shift. Ex. Northern Democrats switch parties in 1860 to vote for Republican Party (Lincoln).
Electoral Dealignment
A lessening of the importance of party loyalties in voting decision (more independent voters, more split ticket voting, more divided government).
Ticket Splitting
Voting for one party for one office and for another party for other offices. Frequent among independent voters; leads to divided government.
Divided Government
When policymaking institutions of government (President, Senate, House) are divided among the parties (e.g., Democratic President, Republican Congress). Requires more compromise; can lead to gridlock.
Local Party Organization
Get-out-the vote activities (grassroots organization). Can be very unorganized. The initial point of entry for those seeking involvement in politics (volunteers, organizers, or candidates)
State Party Organization
Links local level to national level. State committee (some paid membership, like a job, might have an office [more formal]). Major jobs are to support state level candidates and to hold primary elections to select candidates.
National Party Organization
Holds the national convention to select the presidential candidate & writes the party platform.
National Committee
National party organization that runs party affairs between national conventions, (DNC and RNC, each is headed by a chairperson).
National Convention
The meeting of party delegates every four years to choose a presidential ticket and write the party's platform.
National Chairperson
Person responsible for the day-to-day activities of the party and is usually hand-picked by the presidential nominee.
Party Platform
A political party's statement of its goals and policies for the next four years. Issued at National Convention.
Blanket Primary
A primary election in which any voter may vote for candidates from both parties. Encourages raider effect. Declared unconstitutional (violates party freedom to associate)
1968 DNC
Party leaders secure nomination of VP Hubert Humphrey who did not run in any state primaries. The supporters of "the people's choice" in the primaries (George McGovern) were enraged. This event led to a huge uproar which leads to the McGovern Fraser Commission.
McGovern Fraser Commission
A Democratic Party commission in 1968 that made changes to delegate selection process for National Convention to promote democracy and more representation of women and minorities in the delegate selection process. Led to affirmative action policy in delegate selection and use of primaries.
"Unpledged Delegates" (usually important party members) at national party convention (about 20% of total delegates) who, unlike "pledged delegates" selected in primaries or caucuses, are not committed to a particular candidate. Used by party leaders to retain some control over candidate selection.
Primary Frontloading
The recent tendency of states to hold primaries early in the calendar in order to capitalize on media attention
National Convention Delegates
Presidential Nomination Reform
Single national primary (but would require runoff election and would hurt less well known candidates)
Federal Election Campaign Act
First major federal law (1971) to regulate federal elections. Created Federal Election Commission (FEC). Required disclosure of sources of campaign funds (transparency), set limits on contributions to candidates (individuals = $1000, PACs = $5000), spending limits for candidates, limits on independent expenditures.
Political Action Committee
A committee set up by a corporation, labor, union or interest group that raises and funnels money to political candidates. Money limited by FEC rules (hard money).
Buckley v Valeo
1974 campaign finance case declared some federal limits on campaign contributions in FECA violated First Amendment (ex. maximum spending limit and limits on candidates' spending their own money).
Presidential Election Campaign Fund
Qualified Presidential candidates can receive federal government funds to pay for their political campaigns in both the primary and general elections. Attempt to limit campaign spending & corruption.
Soft Money
Unregulated and unlimited contributions to political campaigns, parties or organizations (527s). FECA shut down these contributions to candidates. McCain-Feingold shut down these contributions to political parties. Unlimited contributions still flow to 527s.
Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act
aka McCain-Feingold Act; banned soft money donations to political parties; tried to impose limits on issue advocacy and independent expenditures before elections (declared unconstitutional by Citizens United case)
Independent Expenditures
Spending by PACs, 527s corporations, or labor unions that is done to help a party or candidate but is done independently of them. This spending is unlimited.
Citizens United v FEC
A 2010 decision by the United States Supreme Court holding that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited under the First Amendment.
Republican Party
One of the two major modern American political parties. It emerged in the 1850s as an antislavery party and consisted of former northern Whigs and antislavery Democrats. Now the party is conservative (pro-life, anti-affirmative action, anti-too much government intervention, anti-taxing on the rich, pro-death penalty)
Emancipation Proclamation
A document/speech issued/given by president Abraham Lincoln in 1862 that freed the slaves in rebel states.
The period after the Civil War in the United States when the southern states were reorganized and reintegrated into the Union (1865-1877)
Party Caucus (modern)
With primaries, a way for a state party to select delegates to send to the National Convention. Consists of a series of meetings (local, county, state) to choose candidate.
Affirmative Action
Government policy favoring a historically disadvantaged minority group (ex. university admissions); raises 14th Amendment equal protection problems (reverse discrimination); limited by Bakke v. University of California (no racial quota system for college admissions)
Campaign Tactics
Mobilize party base (grassroots, door to door)
Focus on key issues & interest groups (e.g., war, gay marriage...)
Focus on president's image / personality (I can lead because...)
Attack Ad
Negative ad attacking opposing candidate (ex., swift boat veterans, willie horton)
Presidential Debates
Televised from 1960 (JFK v. Nixon)
Bush v. Gore
5-4 Supreme Court declared that Florida vote recount violated equal protection clause (some votes would be examined more closely than others); ended Gore's challenge to 2000 election results.
527 Organization
An independent organization set up to influence the outcome of an election by running ads; can receive unlimited "soft money" donations; cannot have any connection to a candidate. Ex., Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
Baker v. Carr
Equal protection clause requires "one man, one vote" principle for redistricting (legislative districts must be equal in population)
Democratic Party
African Americans, Jews, Women, Labor Unions, Poor
Support liberal policies (government aid, gay marriage, no death penalty...)
Republican Party
White, Protestants, Corporations, Rich
Support conservative policies (no welfare, traditional marriage, tough on crime...)
Voter Turnout
About 50-60% of eligible voters in Presidential elections; much less in midyear elections (30-40%)
Congressional Incumbency
Incumbent= candidate running for reelection for office they are holding;
Incumbent reelection rates VERY high (90+%); higher in house than senate (senate has stronger challengers, higher visibility..._
Incumbents lose because of scandal, anti-incumbent anger...
Electoral College Reform
Constitutional Amendment (won't happen)
Proportional allocation of electors (reduces importance of state)
Tell electors to vote for winner of national popular vote?
Faithless Elector
Electors that don't vote for the person they promised to vote for;
Occurred 156 times (never affected outcome of election)
Major problem with Electoral College
Sound Bites
Quote or "snippet" from politician's speech used by media to represent whole speech. Used by candidates to spread message (slogan); Used by media to avoid serious (boring) discussion of issues.
Staged appearance by politician (ex., at a hospital or work-site) with media coverage for maximum positive publicity
Sunshine Laws
Require government meetings to be open to the public (ex., congressional committees, bureaucratic agency meetings...)
Fairness Doctrine
Old FCC rule requiring media stations to provide different viewpoints for any issue
Equal Time Rule
FCC rule requiring media stations to offer advertising time to all candidates
Federal Communications Commission
Federal agency that regulates the media
Elite Theory
View that American democracy is a sham; we really live in a plutocracy
Pluralist Theory
View that American democracy works well; competing interest groups all get heard at different times and places in government
Hyperpluralist Theory
Pluralism gone wrong; view that government is paralyzed by too many interest groups demanding things from government
Federalist 10
Topic = factions (interest groups); minority factions controlled by majority; majority faction controlled by greater size of USA + virtuous leaders
Federalist 51
Separation of powers (legislative, executive & judicial) in three branches protects against tyranny
Federalist 47
Checks and balances among three branches protects against tyranny
Executive Enumerated Powers
Commander-in-chief of armed forces; pardon power (except for impeachment); treaty power; appointment power; veto power
Concurrent Powers
Powers that are given to both federal and state governments. Ex., the power to tax and create courts. Exclusive powers are given only to one level of government (ex., the power to declare war)
Powers denied to Congress
Article 1, section 9
Cannot suspend writ of habeas corpus unless rebellion or invasion; Cannot pass bill of attainder or ex post facto laws
Inherent Power of President
Used to expand constitutional power of president (like implied power doctrine for Congress); ex., executive agreements, orders, privilege, signing statements...
Full Faith & Credit Clause
States must recognize laws & judicial decisions of other states (ex., marriage, child custody & alimony laws); public policy exception...
Defense of Marriage Act (1996)
Defines marriage as man-woman. No state is forced to recognize same-sex marriage (unconstitutional exception to full faith & credit clause?)
Unfunded Mandates
Federal laws that require the states to carry out without any federal money. Ex., ADA (wheelchair ramps), NCLB (AIMs testing)
US v. Lopez (1995)
Supreme Court declared Gun Free School Zones Act exceeded Congress's Interstate Commerce Clause power and was therefore unconstitutional. First federal law declared to exceed commerce clause since the 1930s (Devolution Revolution?)
Bill of Rights
First ten amendments to the Constitution; major source of civil liberties; applies to states via selective incorporation doctrine; promised to Anti-Federalists to secure ratification of Constitution
Establishment Clause
1st Amendment clause: Congress cannot "establish" a religion. Accomodationists (establishment = government-funded religion) vs. Separationists (establishment = ANY involvement with religion); Lemon test (no excessive entanglement standard)
Engle v. Vitale (1992)
Mandatory nondenominational school prayer violates Establishment Clause (see also Santa Fe School District v. Doe striking down student-led prayer at school football games)
Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971)
Lemon Test for Establishment Clause
(1) Primary purpose and effect of law must be secular; (2) Law cannot create "excessive entanglement" of government with religion
Free Exercise Clause
1st Amendment clause; Government cannot make a law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. Beliefs are 100% protected but religious practices are not exempt from neutral laws that affect everyone (ex., polygamy & illegal drugs)
Free Speech Clause
1st Amendment clause; Congress can make no law abridging freedom of speech (including symbolic speech); Gitlow v. NY incorporates clause into 14th Amendment.
Fighting Words Doctrine
One major category of unprotected speech (words that will cause breach of peace); Chaplinsky v. NH
Clear & Present Danger Test
Used in Schenck v. US (1919) to determine whether speech is unprotected "incitement" to illegal activity. Replaced by "imminent lawless action" test in Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969)
Free Press Clause
1st Amendment Clause: Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of the press. No prior restraints unless major national security threat (Pentagon Papers Case). Major protection against libel (NY Times v. Sullivan).
Prior Restraint
Government censorship of written material (preventing publication). Almost impossible due to 1st Amendment (only when major threat to national security). See Pentagon Papers Case (NY Times v. US)
Patriot Act (2001)
Law responding to 9/11. Expands anti-terrorist powers (wiretapping, surveillance); 4th Amendment concern for civil liberties.
Due Process
Means fairness in legal process; protected by 5th, 6th, 7th & 8th Amendments.
Cruzan v. Missouri (1990)
The constitutional right to privacy does NOT include the right to die (assisted suicide).
Glass Ceiling
Metaphor describing discrimination against women & minorities being promoted into top ranks of corporations
Title IX
Major anti-gender discrimination law that applies to universities and schools that accept federal funding. Controversial because many universities cut male sports programs so as not to violate Title IX
Equal Rights Amendment
Proposed constitutional amendment requiring full equal treatment for men and women (ex. allow women special forces). Proposed by Congress in 1972 but never ratified
Americans With Disabilities Act (1990)
Major anti-discrimination law for disabled; requires access (ramps, braille, etc.); unfunded mandate
Don't Ask Don't Tell
Compromise gay policy in military; finally ended by Obama
Lawrence v. Texas (2003)
State laws making sodomy (gay sex) a crime violate equal protection clause
Congressional Committee System
Evolved as a way for Congress to handle large and complex work-load; divides up law-making into major subject areas; major responsibility for debating & marking up bills + oversight of execution of laws (the bureaucracy)
Constituent Services
Services a congressperson provides for his/her constituents (ex., helping with government claims like social security & veterans benefits)
Legislative Veto
Power of Congress to veto executive decisions & actions; declared unconstitutional in INS v. Chadha (1983) (violates separation of powers)
Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
Legislative non-partisan agency to help Congress create budget (like President's OMB)
White House Chief of Staff
Closest presidential advisor (gatekeeper); does not require confirmation
White House Press Secretary
Member of White House staff that controls flow of information from president, holds daily press briefings, tries to spin/control media
Council of Economic Advisors
Three economic experts to help president understand and develop economic policy; must be confirmed by senate
Line Item Veto
Law giving president power to veto portions of budget bill; purpose = reduce size of national deficit; declared unconstitutional (violates separation of powers)
Signing Statement
Explanations added to bills by President as he signs them into law; criticized as executive law-making
Chief Justice Earl Warren
Chief Justice from 1953-1969; led activist liberal court; known for cases expanding rights of criminal defendants (Mapp v Ohio, Gideon v Wainwright, Miranda v Arizona)
Chief Justice John Robers
Current Chief Justice (appointed by Bush in 2005); moved court in conservative direction; known for pro-corporation cases (Citizens United)
Government Corporation
Corporation set up and run by the government; provides a service to the public (ex. US Postal Service)
Iron Triangle
Creation of powerful (iron) relationship of mutual benefit & support among congressional committee, government agency and regulated interest group(s). Can lead to corruption and "agency capture" (where the agency is controlled by the target of regulation). Problem exacerbated by revolving door.
Proposition 209 (1996)
California initiative that banned all affirmative action programs.
Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)
Abortion case that applied new flexible test (instead of rigid trimester framework of Roe v Wade): Does state regulation of abortion place "undue burden" on women's right to an abortion? Court used test to uphold some regulations like waiting periods and parental notification.
Judicial Appointment Factors
Political ideology (litmus test); acceptability to Senate (not too radical); judicial experience; diversity
American Political Culture
Core values = liberty, equality, democracy, rule of law
The modern media trend for TV and radio shows to target very narrow ideological audiences (ex. conservatives watch Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly); results in greater political polarization
The attempt of politicians to recast media coverage of their activities in a more flattering light
Grassroots Politics
Political action on the local level; fundraising, volunteering, get-out-the-vote activities; important function of local party organization
Political Participation
Main form = voting. Also joining political party, volunteering on political campaign, campaign contributions, running for office, protests...
Election Timeline
Phase 1: Invisible Primary (year prior to election year) - exploratory committees, straw polls, media exposure...
Phase 2: Front-Loaded Primaries, including Super Tuesday (Jan-Feb of election year)
Phase 3: Delegate Race in remaining primaries & caucuses (March-June of election year)
Phase 4: Nominating Convention (July/August)
Phase 5: The General Election Campaign (from Labor Day)
Phase 6: Election Day (November)
Invisible Primary
Informal raising of support (and money) before first primaries
Democratic Party Coalition (modern)
Major supporters of Democratic Party = African-Americans, Jews, Women, Labor Union members, poor people
Republican Party Coalition (modern)
Major supporters of Republican Party = WASPs, business people, the rich
Voter Turnout
Low in America compared to other western democracies (50-60% for presidential elections; 40-50% for midterms)
Faithless Elector
Elector who does not vote for the candidate they promised to vote for. These have never determined outcome of presidential election but is a major problem with electoral college system
Fletcher v Peck (1812)
created judicial review for the states
Mapp v Ohio (1961)
created the exclusionary rule for the states because it was not being followed by the states
Woodson v North Carolina
said that it is unconstitutional for a law to have an automatic death penalty as a punishment
Escobedo v Illinois (1948)
said if a defendant asks for a lawyer, anything the defendant says after the request and before he/she gets the lawyer may not be used against them
Chaplinsky v U.S.
said that fighting words are not protected by the first amendment
President's Budget Request
Detailed budget outline prepared by President & OMB. Sets priorities in discretionary spending & proposes changes to entitlement programs. Start of annual budget process.
Voting Rights Act (1965)
Federal law protecting against racial discrimination in voting. Major accomplishment of civil rights movement vs. Jim Crow. Bans all discriminatory voting procedures. Requires ballots to be printed in minority languages. Section 5 = federal policing of states with history of discrimination (still necessary?)