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191 terms

AP Gov

Every word in the American Government textbook
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Activist Approach
The view that judges should discern the general principles underlying laws or the Constitution and apply them to modern circumstances.
Activists
People who tend to participate in all forms of politics.
Ad Hoc Structure
Several subordinates, cabinet officers, and committees report directly to the president on different matters.
Adverserial Press
The tendency if the national media to be suspicious of officials and eager to reveal unflattering stories about them.
Affirmative Action
Programs designed to increase minority participation in some institution by taking positive steps to appoint more minority-group members.
Amendment
A new provision in the Constitution that has been ratified by the states.
Amicus Curiae
A brief submitted by a "friend of the court" (16)
Antifederalists
Those who favor a weaker national government.
Appropriation
A legislative grant of money to finance a government program or agency.
Articles of Confederation
A weak constitution that governed America during the Revolutionary War.
Assistance Programs
A government program financed by general income taxes that provides benefits to poor citizens without requiring contribution from them. (19)
Australian Ballot
A government-printed ballot of uniform dimensions to be cast in secret that many states adopted around 1890 to reduce voting fraud associated with party-printed ballots cast in public. (8)
Authority
The right to use power.
Authorization Legislation
Legislative permission to begin or continue a government program or agency. (15)
Background
A public official's statement to a reporter that is given on condition that the official not be named (12)
Benefit
A satisfaction that people believe they will enjoy if a policy passes.
Bicameral Legislature
A lawmaking body made up of two chambers or parts.
Bill of Attainder
A law that declares a person, without a trial, to be guilty of a crime. (2)
Bill of Rights
First ten amendments to the Constitution.
Bipolar World
A political landscape with two superpowers.
Blanket Primary
A primary election in which each voter may vote for candidates from both parties.
Block Grants
Money from the national government that states can spend within broad guidelines determined by Washington.
Blog
A series, or log, of discussion items on a page of the World Wide Web.
Brief
A written statement by an attorney that summarizes a case and the laws and rulings that support it.
Budget
A document that states tax collections, spending levels, and the allocation of spending among purposes.
Budget Resolution
A congressional decision that states the maximum amount of money the government should spend.
Bully Pulpit
The president's use of his prestige and visibility to guide or enthuse the American public. (14)
Bureaucracy
A large, complex organization composed of appointed officials.
Bureaucratic View
View that the government is dominated by appointed officials.
Cabinet
The heads of the fifteen executive branch departments of the federal government. (14)
Categorical Grants
Federal grants for specific purposes, such as building an airport.
Caucus
A meeting of party members to select delegates backing one or another primary candidates. (9, 10, 13)
Charitable Choice
Name given to four federal laws passed in the late 1990s specifying the conditions under which nonprofit religious organizations could compete to administer certain social delivery and welfare programs. (19)
Checks and Balances
Authority shared by three branches of government.
Circular Structure
Several of the presidents assistants report directly to him. (14)
Civic Competence
A belief that one can affect government policies.
Civic Duty
A belief that one has an obligation to participate in civic and political affairs.
Civil Disobedience
Opposing a law one considers unjust by peacefully disobeying it and accepting the resultant punishment.
Civil Rights
The rights of people to be treated without unreasonable or unconstitutional differences.
Class Consciousness
A belief that you are a member of an economic group whose interest are opposed to people in other such groups.
Class-Action Suit
A case brought by someone to help him or her and all others similarly situated.
Clear-and-Present-Danger Test
Law should not punish speech unless there was a clear and present danger of producing harmful actions.
Client Politics
A policy in which one small group benefits and almost everybody pays.
Closed Primary
A primary election in which voting is limited to already registered party members.
Closed Rule
An order from the House Rules Committee that sets a time limit on debate; forbids a bill from being amended on the floor. (13)
Cloture Rule
A rule used by the senate to limit or end debate. (13)
Coalition
An alliance of factions.
Coattails
The alleged tendency of candidates to win more votes in an election because of the presence at the top of the ticket of a better-known candidate, such as the president. (10)
Command-and-Control Strategy
A strategy to improve air and water quality, involving the setting of detailed pollution standards and rules. (21)
Committee Clearance
The ability of a congressional committee to review and approve certain agency decisions in advance and without passing a law.
Competitive Service
The government offices to which people are appointed to on the basis of merit, as ascertained by a written exam or by applying certain selection criteria. (15)
Concurrent Powers
Powers shared by the national and state governments.
Concurring Opinion
A signed opinion in which t=one or more members agree with the majority view but for different reasons.
Conditions of Aid
Terms set by the national government that states must meet if they are to receive certain federal funds.
Conference Committees
A joint committee appointed to resolve differences in the House and Senate versions of the same bill.
Congressional Campaign Committee
A party committee in Congress that provides funds to members and would-be-members.
Conservative Coalition
An alliance between Republican and conservative Democrats.
Constitutional Court
A federal court authorized by Article III of the Constitution that keeps judges in office during good behavior and prevents their salaries from being reduced. They are the Supreme Court and appellate and district courts created by Congress.
Containment
The belief that the United States should resist the expansion of aggressive nations, especially the former Soviet Union.
Cost
A burden that people believe they must bear if a policy is enacted.
Cost Overruns
When the money actually paid to military suppliers exceeds the estimated costs.
Courts of Appeals
Federal courts that hear appeals from district courts; no trials. (16)
Critical or Realignment Period
Periods when a major, lasting shift occurs in the popular coalition of supporting one or both parties.
De Facto Segregation
Racial segregation that occurs in schools, not as a result of law, but as a result of patterns of residential sentiment.
Deficit
What occurs when the government in one year spends more money than it takes from taxes.
De Jure Segregation
Racial segregation that is required by law.
Democracy
The rule of many.
Devolution
The effort to transfer responsibility for many public programs and services from the federal government to the states.
Direct or Participatory Democracy
A government in which all or most citizens participate directly.
Discharge Petition
A device by which any member of the House, after a committee has had the bill for thirty days, may petition to have it brought to the floor.
Discretionary Authority
The extent to which appointed bureaucrats can choose courses of action and make policies that are not spelled out in advance by laws.
Disengagement
The belief that the United States was harmed by its war in Vietnam and so should avoid supposedly similar events. (20)
Dissenting Opinion
A signed opinion in which one or more justices disagree with the majority view.
District Courts
The lowest federal courts; federal trials can be held only here.
Diversity Cases
Cases involving citizens of different states who can bring suit in federal courts. (16)
Divided Government
One part controls the White House and another party controls one or both houses of Congress.
Division Vote
A congressional voting procedure in which members stand and are counted.
Double-Tracking
A procedure to keep the Senate going during a filibuster in which the disputed bill is shelved temporarily so that the Senate can get on with other business.
Dual Federalism
Doctrine holding that the national government is supreme in its sphere, the states are supreme in theirs, and the two spheres should be kept separate.
Due Process of Law
Denies the government the right, without due process, to deprive people of life, liberty, and property.
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
A provision of a 1975 law that entitles working families with children to receive money from the government if their total income is below a certain level. The program was expanded in the early 1990s.
Economic Planning
The belief that the government plans, such as wage and price controls or the direction of investment, can improve the economy.
Electoral College
The people chosen to cast each state's votes in a presidential election. Each state can cast one electoral vote for each senator and representative it has. The District of Columbia has three electoral votes, even though it cannot elect a representative or senator.
Elite
Persons who possess a disproportionate share of some valued resource, like money or power.
Entitlements
A claim for government funds that cannot be changed without violating the rights of claimant. (18)
Entrepreneurial Politics
A policy in which almost everybody benefits and a small group pays the cost.
Enumerated Powers
Powers given to the national government alone.
Environmental Impact Statement
A report required by federal law that assesses the possible effect of a project on the environment if the project is subsidized in whole or part by federal funds.
Equal Protection of Law
A standard equal treatment that must be observed by the government.
Equal Time Rule
An FCC rule that if a broadcaster sells time to one candidate, it must sell equal time to other candidates.
Equality of Opportunity
Giving people an equal chance to succeed.
Equality of Result
Making certain people achieve the same result.
Establishment Clause
First Amendment ban on laws "respecting an establishment of religion."
Ex Post Facto Law
A law that makes an act criminal although the act was legal when it was committed.
Exclusionary Rule
Improperly gathered evidence may not be introduced in a criminal trial.
Exit Polls
Polls based on interviews conducted on Election Day with randomly selected voters.
External Efficacy
The willingness of the state to respond to the citizenry.
Faction
A group with a distinct political interest.
Feature Stories
Media stories about events that, though public, are not regularly covered by reporters.
Federalism
Government authority shared by national and state governments.
Federalists
Those who favor a stronger national government.
Federal-Question Cases
Cases concerning the Constitution, federal laws, or treaties. (16)
Fee Shifting
A rule that allows a plaintiff to recover costs from the defendant if the plaintiff wins.
Filibuster
An attempt to defeat a bill in the Senate by talking indefinitely, thus preventing the Senate from taking action on the bill.
Fiscal Policy
Managing the economy by the use of tax and spending laws. (18)
Fiscal Year
For the federal government, October 1 through the following September 30. (18)
527 Organizations
Organizations that, under section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, raise and spend money to advance political causes. (10)
Franking Privilege
The ability of members to mail letters to their constituents free of charge by substituting their facsimile signature for postage. (13)
Freedom of Expression
Right of people to speak, publish, and assemble.
Freedom of Religion
People shall be free to exercise their religion, and government may not establish a religion.
Free-Exercise Clause
First Amendment requirement that law cannot free exercise of religion.
Gender Gap
Difference in political views between men and women.
General Election
An election held to choose which candidate will hold office.
Gerrymandering
Drawing the boundaries of legislative districts in bizarre or unusual shapes to favor one party.
Gold Plating
The tendency of Pentagon officials to ask weapons contractors to meet excessively high requirements.
Good-Faith Exception
An error in gathering evidence sufficiently minor that it may be used in trial.
Grandfather Clause
A clause in registration laws allowing people who do not meet registration requirements to vote if they or their ancestors voted prior to 1867.
Grants-in-Aid
Money given by the national government to the states. (3)
Great Compromise
Plan to have a popularly elected House based on population and a state-selected Senate, with two members for each state.
Gridlock
The inability of the government to act because rival parties control different parts of the government.
Gross Domestic Product
The total of all goods and services produced in the economy during a given year.
Habeas Corpus
An order to produce an arrested person before a judge.
Human Rights
The view that we should try to improve the lives of people in other countries.
Ideological Interest Groups
Political organizations that attract members by appealing to their political convictions or principles.
Ideological Party
A party that values principled stands on issues above all else.
Impeachment
Charges against a president approved by a majority of the House of Representatives.
In Forma Pauperis
A method whereby a poor person can have his or her case in federal court without charge.
Incentive
Something of value one cannot get without joining an organization.
Income Strategy
A policy giving poor people money to help lift them out of poverty.
Incumbent
The person already holding an elective office.
Independent Expenditures
Spending by political action committees, corporations, or labor unions that is done to help a party or candidate but is done independently of them.
Initiative
Process that permits voters to put legislative measures directly on the ballot. (3)
Insider Stories
Media Stories about events that are not usually made public.
Insurance Program
A self-financing government program based on contributions that provide benefits to unemployed or retired persons. (19)
Interest Group
An organization of people sharing a common interest or goal that seeks to influence the making of public policy.
Interest Group Politics
A policy in which one small group benefits and another small group pays.
Internal Efficacy
The ability to understand and take part in politics.
Iron Triangle
A close relationship between an agency, a congressional committee, and an interest group. (15)
Isolationism
The opinion that the United States should withdraw from world affairs.
Issue Network
A network of people in Washington D.C.--based interest groups, on congressional staffs, in universities and think tanks, and in the mass media, who regularly discuss and advocate public policies. (15)
Joint Committees
Committees on which both senators and representatives serve.
Joint Resolution
A formal expression of congressional opinion that must be approved by both houses of Congress and by the president; constitutional amendments need not be signed by the president.
Judicial Review
The power of the courts to declare laws unconstitutional.
Keynesianism
The belief the government must manage the economy by spending more money when in a recession and cutting spending when there is inflation.
Laissez-faire
An economic theory that government should not regulate or interfere with commerce.
Lame Duck
A person still in office after he or she has lost a bid for reelection. (14)
Legislative Courts
Courts created by Congress for specialized purposes whose judges do not enjoy the protections of Article III of the Constitution. (16)
Legislative Veto
The authority of Congress to block a presidential action after is has taken place. The Supreme Court has held that Congress does not have this power. (14, 15)
Legitimacy
Political authority conferred by law or by a state or national constitution.
Libel
Writing that falsely injures another person.
Line-Item Veto
An executive's ability to block a particular provision in a bill passed by the legislature.
Literacy Test
A requirement that citizens pass a literacy test in order to register to vote.
Litmus Test
An examination of the political ideology of a nominated judge.
Loaded Language
Words that imply a value judgement, used to persuade a reader without having made a serious argument.
Logrolling
A legislator supports a proposal favored by another in return for support for his or hers.
Majoritarian Politics
A policy in which almost everybody benefits and almost everybody pays.
Majority Leader
The legislative leader elected by party members holding the majority of seats in the House or Senate.
Malapportionment
Drawing the boundaries of legislative districts so that they are unequal in population.
Mandates
Terms set by the national government that states must meet whether or not the accept federal grants.
Marginal Districts
Political districts in which candidates elected to the House of Representatives win in close elections typically by less than 55% of the vote. (13)
Marxist View
View that the government is dominated by capitalists.
Material Incentives
Money or things valued in monetary terms. (11)
Means Test
An income qualification program that determines whether one is eligible for benefits under government programs reserved for lower-income groups.
Military-Industrial Complex
An alleged alliance between military leaders and corporate leaders.
Minority Leader
The legislative leader elected by party members holding a minority of seats in the House or the Senate.
Monetarism
The belief that inflation occurs when too much money is chasing too few goods.
Monetary Policy
Managing the economy by altering the supply of money and interest rates.
Mugwumps (Progressives)
Republican part faction of the 1890s to the 1910s composed of reformers who opposed patronage.
Multiple Referral
A congressional process whereby a bill may be referred to several committees.
Name-Request Job
A job that is filled by a person whom an agency has already identified.
National Chairman
Day-to-day party manager elected by the national committee. (9)
National Committee
Delegates who run party affairs between national conventions.
National Convention
A meeting of party delegates held every four years.
National Debt
The total deficit from the first presidency down to the present.
"Necessary and Proper" Clause
Section of the Constitution allowing congress to pass all laws "necessary and proper" to its duties, and whicn has permitted congress to exercise powers not specifically given to it by the constitution.
New Jersey Plan
Proposal to create a weak national government.
Norm
A standard of right or proper conduct. (7)
Nullification
The doctrine that a state can declare null and void a federal law that, in the state's opinion, violates the Constitution.
Office-Bloc Ballot
A ballot listing all candidates for a given office under the name of that office; also called a "Massachusetts" ballot. (9)
Open Primary
A primary election in which voters may choose in which party to vote as the enter the voting place.
Open Rule
An order from the House Rules Committee that permits a bill to be amended on the floor.
Opinion of the Court
A signed opinion of a majority of the Supreme Court.
Orthodox
A belief that morality and religion ought to be of decisive importance.
Party Polarization
A vote in which a majority of Democratic legislators oppose a majority of Republican legislators.
Party-Column Ballot
A ballot listing all candidates of a given party together under the name of that party; also called an "Indiana" ballot.
Per Curiam Opinion
A brief, unsigned court opinion.
Personal Following
The political support provided to a candidate on the basis of personal popularity and networks.
Plaintiff
The party that initiates a lawsuit.
Pluralist View
The belief that competition among all affected interests shapes public policy.
Pocket Veto
A bill fails to become law because the president did not sign it within ten days before Congress adjourns.
Plurality System
An electoral system in which the winner is the person who gets the most votes, even if he or she does not receive a majority; used in almost all American elections.