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to accuse government officials of misconduct in office

concurrent powers

powers that are shared by both the federal and state governments


supporters of the stronger central govt. who advocated the ratification of the new constitution

interest groups

organization of people who share political, social or other goals; and agree to try to influence public policy to achieve those goals.


a statute in draft before it becomes law

bill of attainer

a law that declares a person guilty without a trail. The state legislatures and congress are forbidden to pass such laws under article I of the constitution.


a person whom a member of Congress has been elected to represent


formal agreements with other countries; negotiated by the president and requiring approval by two-thirds of the Senate

executive agreements

Agreements between the US president and the leaders of other nations that do not require Senate approval

domestic policy

decisions, laws, and programs made by the government which are directly related to issues in the United States. Sometimes domestic and foreign policies influence each other.

articles of confederation

this document, the nations first constitution, was adopted by the second continental congress in 1781during the revolution. the document was limited because states held most of the power, and congress lacked the power to tax, regulate trade, or control coinage

popular sovereignty

The concept that political power rests with the people who can create, alter, and abolish government. People express themselves through voting and free participation in government

habeas corpus

the civil right to obtain a writ of habeas corpus as protection against illegal imprisonment

declaration of independence

the document recording the proclamation of the second Continental Congress (4 July 1776) asserting the independence of the colonies from Great Britain


Approved; to have made a written document official by signing it.


a form of government in which power is divided between the federal, or national, government and the states

checks and balances

A system that allows each branch of government to limit the powers of the other branches in order to prevent abuse of power

president pro tempore

Officer of the Senate selected by the majority party to act as chair in the absence of the vice president

congressional district

Area within a state representing about 600,000 people. Each member of the House of Representatives represents the people in one district.

pocket veto

a bill fails to become law because the president did not sign it within ten days before Congress adjourns


system of managing government through departments run by appointed officials

executive branch

the branch of government, headed by the president, that carries out the nation's laws and policies

executive privilege

The power to keep executive communications confidential, especially if they relate to national security.

virginia plan

Virginia delegate James Madison's plan of government, in which states got a number of representatives in Congress based on their population

miranda rights

A list of rights that police in the United States must read to suspects in custody before questioning them, pursuant to the Supreme Court decision in Miranda v. Arizona.

judicial review

review by a court of law of actions of a government official or entity or of some other legally appointed person or body or the review by an appellate court of the decision of a trial court


Official changes, corrections, or additions to the Constitution

reserved powers

Powers not specifically granted to the federal government or denied to the states belong to the states and the people

three fifths compromise

the agreement by which the number of each state's representatives in Congress would be based on a count of all the free people plus three-fifths of the slaves

speaker of the house

the leader of the majority party who serves as the presiding officer of the House of Representatives

floor leaders

A political party leader in Congress who works for the passage of bills the party favors


a legislator who gives long speeches in an effort to delay or obstruct legislation that he (or she) opposes


a periodic and official count of a country's population


the president and his political appointees, who are responsible for directing the executive branch of government


the highest-ranking officials representing a government in a foreign country


persons appointed by a head of state to head executive departments of government and act as official advisers

new jersey plan

Opposite of the Virginia Plan, it proposed a single-chamber congress in which each state had one vote. This created a conflict with representation between bigger states, who wanted control befitting their population, and smaller states, who didn't want to be bullied by larger states.

14th amendment

Declares that all persons born in the U.S. are citizens and are guaranteed equal protection of the laws

civil disobedience

a form of political participation that reflects a conscious decision to break a law believed to be immoral and to suffer the consequences.


a legislature consisting of two parts, or houses

great compromise

Compromise made by Constitutional Convention in which states would have equal representation in one house of the legislature and representation based on population in the other house

foreign policy

a nation's overall plan for dealing with other nations


a procedure that allows each senator to speak only 1 hour on a bill under debate


a summary of intended expenditures along with proposals for how to meet them


representatives of interest groups who contact lawmakers or other government officials directly to influence their policy making

direct democracy

A form of government in which citizens rule directly and not through representatives

john locke

English empiricist philosopher who believed that all knowledge is derived from sensory experience (1632-1704)

baron d montesquieu

• Adopted idea of John Locke
• "The Spirit of the Laws"
o Described perfect government
o Outlines three branches of government
• Set up a system of check and balances - influenced U.S. Constitution

absentee ballot

(election) a ballot that is cast in absentia (usually mailed in prior to election day)

plea bargain

Agreement between a prosecutor and a defendant that the defendant will plead guilty to a lesser offense to avoid having to stand trial for a more serious offense.

26th amendment

Lowered the voting age from 21 to 18


a formal document written for a prosecuting attorney charging a person with some offense

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