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Majority rule
A fundamental democratic principle requiring that the majority's view be respected. 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
Checks and balances
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.
Unitary System
System of government in which all power is invested in a central government
federalism
A system of government in which power is divided by a written constitution between a central government and regional governments. As a result, two or more levels of government have formal authority over the same geographic area and people.
expressed powers
Powers specifically granted to the federal government by the Constitution (power to coin money, impose taxes, regulate interstate commerce). Also called enumerated powers.
implied powers
Powers of the federal government that go beyond those enumerated in the Constitution. Derived from the elastic or necessary and proper clause.
reserved powers
Powers not specifically granted to the national government or denied to the states. Reserved powers are held by the states through the Tenth Amendment.
cooperative federalism
Situations in which the national and state governments work together to complete projects. Also called fiscal federalism.
Categorical Grant
Funds provided for a specific and clearly defined purpose.
Block Grant
Funds granted to the states for broadly defined purpose. Because block grants shift resources from the federal government to the states, they contribute to the growing number of state and local government employees.
Mandates
Rules telling states what they must do to comply with federal guidelines. Unfunded mandates require state and local government to provide services or comply with regulations without the provision of funds
Devolution
A movement to transfer the responsibilities of government from the federal government to state and local governments.
John Locke
Argued that people are born with "natural rights" that include "life, liberty, and property".
Government is a contract in which the rulers promise to project the people's natural rights. If the ruler betrays the social contract, the people have the right to replace the ruler.
Charles de Montesquieu
Wrote that the ideal government separated powers among legislative, executive, and judicial branches. This prevented any one branch from getting too powerful
Jen-Jacques Rousseau
Argued that the sovereign power in a state does not lie in a ruler but instead resides in the general will of the community as a whole.
Rulers are servants of the community
Articles of Confederation
Each state retained its sovereignty, freedom, and independence.
Created a unicameral Congress with each state having one vote.
No executive or judicial branches, congressional committees handled these functions.
Problems with the Articles
Lacked the power to levy taxes, had to ask the states for money.
Lacked executive and judicial authority, had no way to enforce its will.
Did not have the ability to regulate or promote commerce among the states.
Amendments required a unanimous vote of all 13 states
Connecticut (Great) Compromise
Virginia Plan: Bicameral legislature with both houses based on population.
New Jersey Plan: Unicameral legislature with equal representation for all states.
Connecticut Plan: Bicameral legislature with one house based on population and one with equal representation.
Consequences: Less populous states actually have a disproportionate voice in Congress. Top 10 states have 20 Senators to represent 53% of the population, while the bottom 10 have 20 Senators to represent 3%.
Three-Fifths Compromise
Agreed that all 'free persons' and 'three-fifths of all other persons' should be counted for representation in Congress and for purposes of taxation.
Eliminated by the Thirteenth Amendment.
Economic Powers
The Framers understood that to be successful, the new government had to have greater economic power. Congress given the power to:
Individual rights
Prohibit the suspension of habeas corpus
No bills of attainder
No ex post facto laws
Guaranteed trial by jury in criminal cases
Prohibits the imposition of religious qualifications for holding office
Disadvantages of Federalism
Promotes inequality since states differ in the resources they can devote to providing services.
Enables local interests to delay or thwart majority support for a policy.
Creates confusion between different levels of government.
Advantages of Federalism
Promotes diverse policies that encourage experimentation.
Provides multiple power centers and makes it hard for one faction or interest group to dominate government policies.
Keeps government close to the people by increasing opportunities for political participation.
Fiscal Federalism
Refers to the pattern of spending, taxing, and providing grants in the federal system.
In 2010, state and local governments received about $480 billion in federal grants which accounted for 21% of all funds spent by state and local governments. Types of grants
Dual Federalism
The system of government in which national and state governments remain supreme within their own spheres (i.e. the national government is responsible for foreign policy, while state have exclusive responsibility for public schools).
Cooperative Federalism
System of government in which the national and state governments work together to complete projects (i.e. the interstate highway system where federal and state governments share costs and administration duties).
McCulloch v. Maryland (1819
Confirmed the right of Congress to utilize implied powers to carry out its expressed powers and validated the supremacy of the national government over the states.
Gibbons v. Ogden (1824):
Established a broad definition of commerce and enabled Congress to greatly expand its reach
Confederate
A decentralized system of government in which a weak central government has limited power over the states. The United Nations is an example of a confederation
Federal
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. The United States, Mexico, Canada, Germany, and India all have federal systems of government
Insulated Senate
Senate to be a bulwark against irresponsible majorities in the House.
State legislatures originally chose senators (changed with 17th Amend.)
Staggered terms of office made them resistant to popular pressure.
The Senate was to "cool" popular sentiment by delaying and deliberating on legislation. Why they have the filibuster
Independent Judiciary
Appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.
Serve for life (or retire / impeached) and pay can not be reduced
Indirectly elected President
Not elected by popular vote but by Electoral College
Political Party
A group of citizens who organize to win elections, hold public offices, operate governments and determine public policy
Plurality Election
The winning candidate is the person who receives more votes than anyone else, but less than half the total
Single-Member District
An electoral district from which one person is chosen by the voters for each elected office. This type of electoral system typically leads to legislatures dominated by two political parties
Party Era
An historical period dominated by one political party.
Critical Election
An election when significant groups of voters change their traditional patterns of party loyalty
Party Realignment
: Triggered by a critical election. The majority party is displaced by the minority party, thus ushering in a new party era. For example, in 1932, FDR led the New Deal coalition of blue-collar workers, racial minorities, Southerners, and farm laborers to a sweeping electoral victory.
Divided Government
A government in which one party controls the presidency while another party controls Congress. The pattern of divided government has dominated U.S. politics since the 1970's.
Interest Groups
An organization of people whose members share views on specific interests and attempt to influence public policy to their benefit. Unlike political parties, interest groups do not elect people to office.
Political Action Committee (PAC
A committee formed by business, labor, or other interest groups to raise money and make contributions to the campaigns of political candidates whom they support.
Free Riders
People who benefit from an interest group without making any contribution. Labor unions and public interest groups often have a free-rider problem because people can benefit from the group's activities without joining
Power Elite Theory
The theory that a small number of very wealthy individuals, powerful corporate interest groups, and large financial institutions dominate key policy areas.
Pluralist Theory
The theory that many interest groups compete for power in a large number of policy areas
Hyperpluralist Theory
The theory that government policy is weakened and often contradictory because there are so many competing interest groups.
Mass Media
Means of communication such as newspapers, radio, TV, and the Internet that can reach large, widely dispersed audiences.
Horse-Race Journalism
The tendency of the media to cover campaigns by emphasizing how candidates stand in the polls instead of where they stand on the issues
Linkage Institutions
Institutions that connect citizens to government
political party
A political party is a group of citizens who organize to win elections, hold public offices, operate the government, and determine public policy.
The Mass Media as a Linkage Institution
Connects people to their government officials by interviewing citizens, presenting poll results, and covering protests.
Connects government to the public by interviewing political leaders and reporting on government committees and programs
Agenda Setting:
The policy agenda consists of issues that attract the serious attention of public officials and the mass media play an important role in drawing public attention to particular issues.
Candidate-Centered Political Campaigns
Political campaigns have become more centered on candidates and less focused on the issues
Power Elite Theory
Belief that a small number of super rich individuals, powerful corporations, corporate interests groups, and financial institutions dominate key policy areas.
PACs encourage a close connection between money and politics and since business PACs command immense resources, they gain access and influence over policymakers
Lobbying the Executive Branch:
Most executive lobbying focuses on presenting a point of view to White House aides and other government officials.
Most presidents have created staff positions to provide interest groups with access to their administration.
Interest groups direct particular attention to establishing access to regulatory agencies.
Fundamental Goals
Gain access to policymakers
Influence public policy
Support sympathetic policymaker
Lobbying Congress
Approximately 30,000 lobbyists currently work in D.C. and spend over $2 billion a year lobbying Congress.
Lobbyists often testify before congressional committees.
Lobbyists provide members of Congress with information on technical issues, many time providing the very material used on the floor of Congress.
Often meet informally with congressional aides and bring influential constituents to Washington to discuss important policy matters with their representatives.
Public Interest Groups
Over 2,000 groups advocate for the public good and include groups like Common Cause and the League of Women Voters. They support causes such as consumer rights, alternative energy, and electoral reform.
Equality Interests
The NAACP is one of the oldest civil rights organizations and fights against racial discrimination.
The National Organization of Women (NOW) is the largest feminist organization and fights for gender equality
Single-Issue Groups
Focus their efforts on a single-issue (duh!), such as the National Right to Life committee opposes abortion, while Planned Parenthood lobbies for reproductive rights.
The National Rifle Association is one of the best known and most influential single interest groups. It works to support the right for people to bear arms for recreation and self-defense.
political culture
A set of widely shared political beliefs and values. America's political culture is characterized by strong support for individual liberty, political equality, legal equality, the rule of law, and limited government.
political socialization
The process by which political values are formed and passed from one generation to the next. he family is the most important agent of political socialization
political ideology
A cohesive set of beliefs about politics, public policy, and the role of government
political efficacy
The belief that one's political participation makes a difference
Public Opinion
Attitudes about institutions, leaders, political issues, and events.
Split-Ticket Voting
Voting for candidates of different parties for different offices in the same election. Recent elections have witnessed a significant increase in split-ticket voting as the number of voters who identify themselves as independents increases
Core Values
Liberty/Freedom:
Freedom of speech and religion are fundamental parts of the American political culture.
People should be free to lead their lives with minimum government interference.
Mistrust of Government
Since the 1950's, American's have become less trusting of their leaders and political institutions.
This mistrust is linked to a decline in political efficacy (a belief that one's political participation really matters).
Agents of Socialization
The Family:
The family is the most important agent of political socialization.
Children raised in households in which both parents strongly identify with the same political party are likely to identify with their parents' party.
Education:
Class elections, student government, and social studies classes play a key role in teaching students the values of liberty, equality, individualism, and democracy.
College graduates have a higher level of political participation than do other Americans.
Liberal Ideology
Supports:
Political and social reform
Government regulation of the economy
Expanded programs for the poor, minorities, and women
National health care system
Abortion rights
Opposes:
Increased military spending
Committing troops to foreign wars
School Prayer
Conservative Ideology
Supports:
Expansion of American military power
Free-market solutions to economic problems
Less government regulation of business
School prayer
Opposes:
Expensive federal social and welfare programs
Abortion rights
National health care system
Straw Polling
American political leaders have a long history of trying to gauge public opinion.
Early attempts included counting the size of a crowd, noting the level of audience applause, and asking random people on the street to express their opinion.
These tactics are all called straw polling. The name comes from the practice of tossing straw into the air to see which way the wind is blowing.
Errors:
The above methods often resulted is horribly skewed results that did not reflect the actual opinion of the public as a whole.
In 1936, Literary Digest sent 10 million postcards asking people if they supported in the upcoming election between FDR and Alf Landon. The 2 million respondents heavily favored Landon and Literary Digest called the election for Landon. We know how that election turned out... a landslide victory for FDR (took all but Vermont & Maine).
Sampled according to telephone directories and car registration lists. Poor people didn't have telephones or cars but did support FDR.
Scientific Polling
Define the universe or population to be surveyed.
Construct a sample or representative slice of the population. Most polls use random sampling in which every member of the population being studied must have an equal chance of being sampled. If this happens, a small sample should represent the whole population.
Construct carefully designed survey questions that avoid bias.
Conduct the poll by using either telephone or face-to-face interviewing procedures.
Analyze and report the data.
The Expansion of Voting Rights
Two Long-Term Trends:
Federal laws and constitutional amendments have eliminated restrictions on the right to vote, thus dramatically expanding the American electorate.
Federal laws and constitutional amendments have significantly reduced the power of individual states over a citizen's right to vote.
The Original Electorate:
In 1789, property and tax qualifications restricted the electorate to white male property owners (also limited who could run for office).
Only about one in fifteen adult white males had the right to vote.
Jacksonian Democracy:
Andrew Jackson and his supporters had great respect for the common sense and abilities of the common man. As a result, the Jacksonians eliminated property ownership and tax payments as qualifications for voting.
By 1850, almost all white adult males had the right to vote.
The Fifteenth Amendment, 1870
Prohibited voting restrictions based on "race, color, or previous condition of servitude."
Despite 15th Amendment, a combination of literary tests, poll taxes, white primaries, and the grandfather clause systematically disenfranchised African Americans.
The Nineteenth Amendment, 1920
Prior to 1920, women had full voting rights in New York and a number of Western States (such as Wyoming).
The 19th Amendment removed voting restrictions based on gender.
The Twenty-Third Amendment, 1961
Prior to 1961, residents of the District of Columbia could not vote in presidential elections.
The 23rd Amendment gave residents of D.C. the right to vote and three electoral college votes.
The Twenty-Fourth Amendment, 1964
Prior to 1964, a number of states used poll taxes as a means of discouraging citizens from voting (mainly minorities).
The 24th Amendment outlawed the poll tax or any other tax as a qualification for voting.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965:
Prohibited any government from using voting procedures that denied a person the vote on the basis of race or color.
Abolished the use of literacy requirements for anyone who had completed the sixth grade.
Authorized federal registrars to protect African Americans' right to vote in Southern states and counties with histories of discrimination.
The Twenty-Sixth Amendment, 1971
The 26th Amendment provided that the minimum age for voting in any election cannot be less than 18 years.
Note that any state may set a minimum voting age of less than 18
Gender
Women vote at a higher percentages than men.
Women generally favor Democrats, while men generally favor Republicans. Known as the 'gender gap', it first appeared in 1980.
Religion
Jews and Catholics are more likely to vote than Protestants.
Historically, a majority or Protestants have supported Republicans, while a majority of Jewish and Catholic voters have supported Democrats.
Race
Whites tend to have higher turnout rates than minorities. It is important to note that when the effects of income and education are eliminated, black citizens vote at a higher rate than white citizens.
The presidency of FDR witnessed a major shift of African American voters from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party. The overwhelming majority of African Americans now support Democratic candidates
Cross-Pressures
Voters belong to more than one group and it is important to note that anything that produces cross-pressures reduces voter turnout
Factors That Decrease Voter Turnout
Voter Registration:
With the exception of N. Dakota, all states have voter registration laws requiring eligible voters to first place their name on an electoral roll in order to be allowed to vote.
Registration law have significantly reduced fraud. However, they have created an obstacle that discourages some from voting.
The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (also known as the Motor Voter Act) made voter registration easier by allowing people to register to vote while applying for or renewing a driver's license
Congressional Redistricting
The reallocation of the number of representatives each state has in the House of Representatives.
Gerrymandering
The legislative process by which the majority party in each state legislature redraws congressional districts to ensure the maximum number of seats for its candidates.
Incumbent
An officeholder who is seeking reelection. Incumbency is the single most important factor in determining the outcome of congressional elections.
Franking Privilege
The right of members of Congress to mail newsletters to the constituents at the government's expense.
Standing Committees
Permanent subject-matter congressional committees that handle legislation and oversee the bureaucracy
Conference Committees
Temporary bodies that are formed to resolve differences between House and Senate versions of a bill.
House Rules Committee
Sets the guidelines for floor debate. It gives each bill a rule that places the bill on the legislative calendar, limits time for debate, and determines the type of amendments that will be allowed.
House Ways & Means Committee
House committee that handles tax bills.
Seniority
: Unwritten rule in both houses of Congress reserving committee chairs to members of the committee with the longest records of continuous service.
Filibuster
A way of delaying or preventing action on a bill by using long speeches and unlimited debate to "talk a bill to death."
Cloture
A Senate motion to end a filibuster. Requires a 3/5 vote.
Logrolling
Tactic of mutual aid and vote trading among legislators
Oversight
Congressional review of the activities of an executive agency, department, or office.
Delegate Role of Representation
When members of Congress cast votes based on the wishes of their constituents
17th Amendment (1913)
mandated that senators be elected by the voters in each state.
Reasons Why the Framers Created a Bicameral Legislature
Drawing on Historical Experience:
The Framers were intimately familiar with the British system of Govt.
The British system was bicameral with a House of Lords and a House of Commons.
Most of the colonial/state legislatures were bicameral.
Fulfilling the Connecticut Compromise:
Led by Virginia, the large states wanted a bicameral legislature based on population. Led by New Jersey, the small states wanted a unicameral Congress with equal representation for each state.
The Framers resolved the dispute by agreeing to a compromise calling for a bicameral Congress with representation in a House of Representatives based on population and a Senate in which the states would have equal representation.
Implementing Federalism:
Bicameralism provided for two types of representation. The House represented the interests of the people, while the Senate represented the interests of the states.
A bicameral legislatures fragmented power, thus checking majority interests while protecting minority interests.
A bicameral legislature slowed the legislative process, thus encouraging careful deliberation and compromise.
Size, Terms, & Qualifications
House of Representatives:
435 members
Two-year terms
Must be at least 25 years old, an American citizen for 7 years, and a resident of the state from which he or she is elected.
Senate:
100 members
Six-year terms
Must be at least 30 years old, an American citizen for 9 years, and a resident of the state from which he or she is elected.
Election:
Members of the House have always been elected by eligible voters. When the Constitution was ratified, the House was the new government's only body directly elected by the people.
House of Representatives
Initiates revenue bills.
Brings charges of impeachment against the president, vice president, and all civil officers of the United States.
Chooses the president when the electoral college is deadlocked
Senate
Ratifies treaties negotiated by the president.
Possesses the sole power to try or judge impeachment cases.
Confirms judicial appointments, including United States attorneys, federal judges, and Supreme Court justices.
Confirms executive appointments, including cabinet heads, the director of the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney General
Districts
The Constitution does not define or discuss congressional districts.
In 1842, Congress stipulated that all seats in the House would be filled from single-member districts.
The 1842 law assigned each state legislature the responsibility of drawing the boundary lines of its congressional districts
Size & Apportionment
The Constitution does not set the exact size of the House of Representatives. It does stipulate that its size shall be apportioned or distributed among the states based on their respective populations.
The Constitution guarantees that each state will have at least one representative, regardless of population. Seven states currently only have one seat in the House.
Reapportionment
The Constitution directs Congress to reapportion (reallocate) House seats after a census taken at ten-year intervals.
As the population of the U.S. increased, so did the number of representatives in the House. By 1929 it had grown to 435 seats.
The Reapportionment Act of 1929 set the permanent size of the House at 435 members. Each seat now represents an avg. of 700,000 people.
Reapportionment is important because it increases or decreases both the number of seats a state has in the House and the number of electoral votes it has in the electoral college.
As a state's representation increases, so does its potential influence and vice versa.
Gerrymandering
The process by which the majority party in a state legislature redraws congressional districts to ensure the maximum number of seats for their party.
Gerrymandering has the following consequences:
It protects incumbents and discourages challengers.
It strengthens the majority party while weakening the opposition party.
It increases or decreases minority representation
Incumbents Usually Win:
During the last 50 years, incumbency has been the single most important factor in determining the outcome of congressional elections.
Over 90% of House incumbents seeking reelection win.
Over 75% of Senate incumbents seeking reelection win
Wesberry v. Sanders (1964)
set forth the principle of "one person, one vote" in drawing congressional districts. The case triggered widespread redistricting that gave cities and suburbs greater representation in Congress.
Supreme Court decisions
have placed the following limitations on congressional redistricting:
Districts must be equally populated.
Districts must be compact & lines must be contiguous (connected).
Redistricting cannot dilute minority voting strength.
District lines cannot be drawn based solely on race. However, race can be one of a variety of factors that are considered.
It is important to note that Supreme Court decisions have not eliminated gerrymandering for partisan political purposes.
Reasons Why Incumbents Win
Money:
Incumbents are usually able to raise more campaign contributions than their challengers.
PACs contribute more money to incumbents than to their challengers.
Incumbents outspend challengers by a ratio of more than 2 to 1.
Visibility:
Incumbents are usually better known to the voters than are their challengers.
Incumbents have opportunities to participate in highly visible activities that are covered by local media.
Consequences of the Incumbency Advantage
Congress contains a large number of experienced leaders, thus enabling it to maintain continuity of leadership and policy.
The continuity discourages radical change while encouraging close relations with interest groups.
Because incumbents benefit the most from existing campaign finance laws, they have no incentive to reform them.
The Role of Political Parties
Political parties play a key role in the organization of both houses of Congress.
The majority party is the party in each chamber with the most votes.
The minority party is the party in each chamber with the second most votes.
The majority party enjoys the following advantages:
It holds committee chairs.
It chooses the Speaker of the House.
It assigns bills to committees.
It holds the majority on each committee.
It controls the House Rules Committee.
It sets the legislative agenda.
The House of Representatives
The House has always been much larger than the Senate and as a result, it has a more formal structure and is governed by stricter rules. For example, debate is much more restricted in the House than the Senate.
The Speaker of the House:
Presides over the House of Representatives.
Oversees House business.
Stands second in line for presidential succession.
Other House Leaders:
The Majority Leader is the elected leader of the party that controls the House.
The Minority Leader is the elected leader of the party with the second highest number of representatives.
Both parties have elected whips who maintain close contact with their members and try to ensure party unity on important votes.
The Senate:
The Senate is smaller and thus less formally organized than the House. In contrast to the House, the Senate operates on informal rules.
The Vice President:
The Constitution makes the vice president the president of the Senate.
The vice president may only vote to break a tie.
Other Senate Leaders:
The president pro tempore presides over the Senate in the absence of the vice president. The position is held by the member of the majority party with the longest service in the Senate.
The Majority Leader is the elected leader of the party that controls the Senate and is the true leader of the Senate.
The Minority Leader is the elected leader of the minority party.
The Senate also employs majority/minority Whips as well.
The Importance of Committees:
Both the House and Senate are divided into committees and they play a dominant role in congressional policymaking.
The committee system is particularly important in the House.
Standing Committees
Permanent bodies that continue from one Congress to the next and focus on legislation in a particular area such as foreign relations.
All bills are referred to standing committees, where they can be amended, passed, or killed.
Standing committees foster expertise among their members.
Divided into subcommittees where the details of legislation are worked out.
Select:
Special panels formed for a specific purpose and for a limited time, typically to conduct an investigation.
Joint
Include members of both houses and function similar to select committees to focus attention on a major issue
Conference
: Temporary bodies to resolve the differences between House and Senate versions of a bill. Members drawn from the committees that considered the bill
How Members Vote
In the instructed delegate model, members of Congress cast votes that reflect the preferences of the majority of their constituents.
In the trustee model, members of Congress use their best judgment to make policy in the interests of the people.
In the politico model, members of Congress act as delegates or trustees depending on the issue.
In the partisan model, they vote according to what their party leadership directs.
Foreign Policy
The Constitutional Division of Power:
Congress has the power to declare war. The Senate has the power to ratify treaties.
The president is the commander-in-chief and has the power to wage war. In addition, the president has the power to negotiate treaties.
The War Powers Resolution
Passed by Congress in 1973, the War Powers Resolution was a response to presidential actions during the Vietnam War. The resolution was designed to ensure that Congress had a greater voice in presidential decisions.
The War Powers Resolution requires the president to notify Congress within 48 hours of deploying troops. The president must bring troops home from hostilities within 60 - 90 days unless Congress extends the time.
Oversight:
Refers to congressional review of the activities of an executive agency, department, or office.
The Senate exercises a special oversight function by confirming cabinet heads and presidential appointments to the federal courts.
Methods of congressional oversight include:
Setting guidelines for new agencies.
Holding hearings and conducting investigations.
Using budget control.
Reorganizing an agency.
Evaluating an agency's programs.
Conference Action:
If a bill is passed in different versions by the House and the Senate, a conference committee will be formed to work out the differences. The conference committee is comprise of members from the original House and Senate committees.
The bill is then returned to each chamber for a vote.
The House Committee on Ways and Means
Has jurisdiction on all taxation, tariffs, & other revenue-raising measures.
Members on this committee can not serve on any other committee.
The House Rules Committee
Controlled by the Speaker and often referred to as the "traffic cop."
Gives each bill a rule that places it on the legislative calendar, limits time for debate, and determines the type of amendments allowed.
A closed rule sets strict limits on debates and forbids amendments from the floor.
An open rule sets less strict time limits and allows amendments from the floor.
Committee Chairs and the Seniority System
Committee chairs exercise great power and enjoy considerable prestige.
They call meetings, schedule hearings, hire staff, recommend majority members to sit on committees and select subcommittee chairs. They often receive favors from lobbyist and PACs.
Historically chosen by seniority and though now elected positions, the still tend to follow the seniority system.
Bureaucracy
A large, complex organization of appointed officials
Executive Order
A directive, order, or regulation issues by the president. Executive orders are based on constitutional or statutory authority and have the force of law.
Iron Triangle
An alliance among an administrative agency, an interest group, and a congressional committee. Each member of the iron triangle provides key services, information, or policy for the others.
Issue Network
: A network that includes policy experts, media pundits, congressional staff members, and interest groups who regularly debate an issue
Policy Agenda
: A set of issues and problems that policy makers consider important. The mass media play an important role in influencing the issues which receive public attention
Key Definitions and Facts
A bureaucracy is a large, complex organization of appointed officials.
The federal bureaucracy includes all of the agencies, people, and procedures through which the federal government operates.
There are approximately 2.7 million civilian and 1.4 million military federal government employees.
Half of all the civilian federal employees work for the Department of Defense and an additional 28% work for the Postal Service.
Key Features of a Bureaucracy
Hierarchical Authority: A chain of command in which authority follows from the top down.
Job Specialization: Each employee has defined duties and responsibilities.
Formal Rules: All employees must follow established procedures and regulations.
The Spoils System
The federal bureaucracy was originally drawn from an elite group of upper-class white males.
Proclaiming "to the victor belong the spoils," Andrew Jackson awarded federal posts to party loyalists.
The Pendleton Act (1883
created the federal civil service. In a civil service system, workers are selected according to merit, not party loyalty.
Federal and State Employees
Federal government employees currently account for 3% of all civilian jobs.
The number of federal government employees has remained constant since 1950.
The number of state and local government employees has steadily increased since 1950.
Block grants have contributed to the widening gap between the number of federal and state employees by shifting resources from the federal government to state and local governments.
Federal mandates have also shifted more responsibility to states, causing an increase in the number of public employees.
The Cabinet Departments
There are 15 cabinet departments. With the exception of the Department of Justice (headed by the attorney general), each dept. is headed by a secretary.
All 15 heads are chosen by the president and approved by the Senate.
The Treasury Department has authority over the printing of currency.
Cabinet secretaries often develop a strong loyalty to their departments. As a result, cabinet members are often not close presidential advisors.
Government Corporations
Provide a service that could be provided by the public sector.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Amtrak, and the U.S. Postal service are the best know Govt. Corp
Independent Executive Agencies
Include most of the non-cabinet departments.
NASA, the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Government Services Administration (GSA) are all independent executive agencies.
Independent Regulatory Agencies
Created to protect the public by regulating key sectors of the economy.
The Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) are among the best-know independent regulatory agencies.
The independent regulatory agencies are led by small commissions appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate
Implementation:
The translation of policy goals into rules and standard operating procedures.
Implementation can break down for multiple reasons, including conflicting goals, faulty program design, a lack of financial resources, and the fragmentation of responsibilities. For example, prior to the formation of the Office of Homeland Security in 2001, forty-six federal agencies were involved in counterterrorism efforts.
Congress usually provides federal agencies with general mandates. As a result, the agencies often have administrative discretion to set specific guidelines for a given problem or situation.
Regulation
Regulation is the use of governmental authority to control or change practices in the private sector.
The Supreme Court first upheld the right of government to regulate businesses in Munn v. Illinois (1877).
During the administrations of presidents Reagan and George W. Bush, the federal government deregulated or lifted a number of restrictions on business. For example, in 1984, Congress disbanded the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB
Appointments
Presidents have the power to appoint senior agency heads and subheads. This enables the president to exercise influence over and agency.
The president's power is limited. The Senate has the power to approve the president's appointments. In addition, agency heads often develop a strong loyalty to their departments and thus do not aggressively pursue a president's policy agenda.
Executive Orders
An executive order is a directive, order, or regulation issued by the president.
Executive orders are based on constitutional or statutory authority and have the force of law.
Divided Authority
The U.S. has a system of divided supervision in which both the president and Congress exercise authority over the federal bureaucracy.
The system of divided supervision creates checks and balances while at the same time often encouraging agencies to play one branch of government against the other.
Oversight
Congress has the responsibility to exercise legislative oversight over the federal bureaucracy.
Congress uses the following methods to oversee the federal bureaucracy:
Exercising budgetary control by setting aside funds for each agency.
Holding hearings and conducting investigations.
Reorganizing an agency.
Setting new guidelines for an agency.
Spreading out responsibilities in order to prevent any one agency from becoming too powerful.
Iron Triangles
An iron triangle is an alliance among an administrative agency, an interest group, and a congressional committee. Each member of the iron triangle provides key services, information, or policy for the others.
Iron triangles are so pervasive and powerful that they are often called subgovernments
Issue Networks
An issue networks includes policy experts, media pundits, congressional staffs, and interest groups who regularly debate an issue.
The president often fills agency positions with people from an issue network who support his or her views.
Closed Primary
A primary in which voters are required to identify a party preference before the election and are not allowed to split their ticket.
Frontloading
The recent pattern of states holding primaries early in order to maximize their media attention and political influence. Three-fourths of the presidential primaries are now held between February and mod-March
Soft Money
Contributions to political parties for party-building activities. Soft money contributions are used to circumvent limits on hard money.
527 Group
A tax-exempt organization created to influence the political process; 527 groups are not regulated by the Federal Election Commission because they do not coordinate their activities with a candidate or party.
Veto
The president's constitutional power to reject a bill passes by Congress. Congress may override the veto with a 2/3rds vote in each chamber.
Line-Item Veto
The power to veto specific dollar amounts or line items from major congressional spending bills. The Supreme Court struck down the line-item veto as an unconstitutional expansion of the president's veto power.
Executive Agreement
: A pact between the president and a head of a foreign state. Executive agreements do not have to be approved by the Senate. However, unlike treaties, executive agreements are not part of U.S. law and are not binding on future presidents
Executive Privilege
The president's power to refuse to disclose confidential information. In U.S. v. Nixon (1974), the Supreme Court ruled that there is no constitutional guarantee of unqualified executive privilege.
Lame-Duck Period
The period of time in which the president's term is about to come to an end. Presidents typically have less influence during a lame-duck period.
Reasons Why the Electoral College Has Not Been Abolished
It would require a constitutional amendment to abolish the electoral college.
The electoral college collectively benefits the small states that are guaranteed at least 3 electoral votes.
The electoral college benefits racial minorities and interest groups located in key states.
There is no consensus on how to reform the electoral college. The most popular option to to just go to a straight popular
Executive Power
The Constitution declares that "the executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America."
As the nation's chief executive, the president enforces the provisions of federal laws and administers a vast federal bureaucracy that spends more than $3 trillion a year and includes 2.7 million civilian employees.
Appointment Power
The president has the power to appoint all of the following top-ranking officers of the federal government:
Cabinet members and their top aides.
The heads of independent agencies.
Ambassadors and other diplomats.
All federal judges, U.S. Marshals, and attorneys.
These appointments are all subject to confirmation by a majority of the Senate.
The appointment power is limited by an unwritten rule known as senatorial courtesy, where the Senate will not approve an appointment opposed by a majority party senator from the state in
Removal Power
Presidents have the power to dismiss most of the officials he or she appoints.
It is important to note that the president cannot dismiss federal judges or commissioners of independent regulatory agencies.
The Cabinet
The cabinet currently includes 14 executive department heads and the attorney general. The 15 executive departments employ nearly 2/3rds of the federal government's civilian employees.
Cabinet members often have divided loyalties. Their loyalty to the president can be undermined by loyalty to the institutional goals of their own department.
The following factors explain why presidents often experience difficulty in controlling cabinet departments.
The White House Staff
The White House staff includes key presidential aides such as the chief of staff and press secretary.
The chief of staff is the highest-ranking member of the EOP. The chief of staff's duties include selecting and supervising key White House staff and managing the flow of people and information into the Oval Office.
The White House staff must be personally loyal to the president.
The president can appoint and dismiss members of the White House staff without Senate approval.
The White House staff's primary responsibility is to provide the president with policy options and analysis.
Legislative Powers
The Constitution does not actually call the president the chief legislator.
The Constitution does give the president the following powers:
The president is required to give a State of the Union address to Congress.
The president can bring issues to the attention of Congress "from time to time."
The president can veto congressional legislation.
The Veto Power
Presidential Options:
The president can sign a bill into law.
The president can veto a bill (Congress can override with a 2/3 vote).
The president can wait 10 days. If Congress is in session it becomes law.
The president can wait 10 days. If Congress is not in session it does not become law. This is known as a pocket veto.
Using the Veto
Congress is usually unable to override a presidential veto. Less than 10% of vetoes have been overridden.
Presidents often use the threat of veto to persuade Congress to modify a bill.
A vetoed bill is often revised and then passed in another form.
Congress often inserts provisions the president wants into an objectionable bill in order to reduce the chances of a veto
Working With Congress
Presidents prefer to establish a cooperative bipartisan relationship with Congress.
Presidents use the following strategies to influence Congress to pass legislation:
Assigning legislative liaisons from the EOP to lobby legislators.
Working with both the majority and minority leaders.
Using the media to focus public attention on important issues.
Using high presidential approval ratings to persuade legislators to support presidential programs.
Bargaining with wavering legislators by offering concessions and pork that benefit a member's district
Formal Constitutional Powers
The president is the commander-in-chief and this has the power to deploy troops.
The president appoints all ambassadors subject to Senate confirmation.
The president negotiates treaties, which are then subject to Senate ratification.
The president has the sole power to recognize nations.
The president receives ambassadors and other public ministers
Informal Powers
The president can negotiate executive agreements with the heads of foreign governments.
The president is a recognized global leader who meets with world leaders to build international coalitions.
The president is expected to manage international crises.
The president has access to confidential information that is not available to Congress or the public.
The President As Chief Diplomat
The president's role as chief diplomat is derived from delegated powers stated in the Constitutions. Congress normally defers to the president in foreign affairs.
The president can both extend diplomatic relations to foreign governments and also terminate them. President Carter recognized the People's Republic of China and severed relations with Iran.
The president has sole power to negotiate treaties with other nations. Wilson negotiated the Treaty of Versailles and Carter negotiated the Panama Canal Treaty. The Senate then has the power to approve or reject treaties by a 2/3 vote. The Senate rejected Versailles and approved Panama.
Presidents rely more and more on executive agreements rather than formal treaties.
An executive agreement is a pact between the president and the head of a foreign state and do not have to be approved by the Senate. They do not become part of American law and are not binding on future presidents. The destroyer-for-bases deal with Great Britain, the Vietnam peace agreement, and SALT I agreement are all examples.
Granting Reprieves & Pardons:
The Constitution gives the president the power to grant reprieves and pardons.
A reprieve is the postponement of the execution of a sentence.
A pardon is the legal forgiveness for a crime. For example, in 1974, President Ford pardoned former president Nixon for crimes he committed during the Watergate scandal.
Only can be applied to those convicted of federal crimes
Appointing Supreme Court Justices
president has the power to appoint justices to the Supreme Court. Presidential nominees must be confirmed by the Senate.
Presidents use this power to select justices with judicial philosophies that are compatible with their interpretation of constitutional questions.
The Importance of Public Support
Public support is critical to presidential success.
One top aide to President Reagan underscored the importance of public support when he said, "Everything here is built on the idea that the President's success depends on grassroots support."
Presidential Approval Levels
For over 50 years, the Gallup Poll has asked Americans, "Do you approve or disapprove of the way [name of the President] is handling his job as president?"
Data from the Gallup Poll and other public opinion surveys show that the following factors increase presidential approval ratings:
The President & The Media
The media play a key role in influencing how the public perceives the president.
The president is general more successful than congressional leaders in using the media to set the policy agenda.
The following factors give the president an advantage over Congress in gaining media attention:
The president represents the entire nation. In contrast, members of Congress only represent one district or state.
The president is leader of the "free world."
The president is more powerful than any individual member of Congress.
The president speaks with a single voice. Congress speaks with 535 competing voices.
Appellate Jurisdiction
The authority of a court to hear an appeal from a lower court.
Senatorial Courtesy
An unwritten tradition whereby the Senate will not confirm nominations for lower court positions that are opposed by a senator of the president's own party from the state in which the nominee is to serve.
Writ of Certiorari
An order by the Supreme Court directing a lower court to send up the record in a given case for its review
Rule of Four
: The Supreme Court will hear a case if four justices agree to do so.
Solicitor General
The solicitor general is responsible for handling all appeals on behalf of the U.S. government to the Supreme Court.
Amicus Curiae Brief
A friend of the court brief filed by an interest group or interested party to influence a Supreme Court decision
Stare Decisis
Latin phrase meaning "let the decision stand." The vast majority of Supreme Court decisions are based on precedents established in earlier cases
Judicial Restraint
Philosophy that the Supreme Court should use precedent and the Framers' original intent to decide cases
Judicial Activism
Philosophy that the Supreme Court must correct injustices when other branches of government or the states refuse to do so.
Adversarial
A court provides an arena for two parties to bring their conflicts before an impartial arbiter, or judge.
The plaintiff brings the charge.
The defendant is the one being charged.
Passive
Federal judges are restrained by the Constitution to deciding actual disputes or cases rather than hypothetical ones.
The judiciary is thus a passive branch of government that depends on others to take the initiative.
Jurisdiction:
Jurisdiction is a court's authority to hear a case.
Types of jurisdiction:
Original: Courts in which a case is first heard.
Appellate: Courts that hear cases brought to the on appeal from a lower court.
Exclusive: Cases that can be heard only in certain courts.
Concurrent: Cases that can be heard in either federal or state courts.
A Complex Dual Court System
Because of its federal system, the U.S. has two separate court systems.
Each of the 50 states has its own system of courts. Over 97% of all criminal cases are heard in state and local courts.
The federal judiciary system spans the entire country.
The Constitution
The Supreme Court is the only court specifically mentioned in the Constitution.
The Constitution gives Congress the power to create all other federal courts.
The Judiciary Act of 1789
Established the basic three-tiered structure of the courts that still exist.
Set the size of the Supreme Court at six justices, raised to nine in 1869
District Courts
There are currently 94 district courts staffed by just under 700 judges. Every state has at least one district court.
The district courts handle over 300,000 cases a year, or about 80% of the federal caseload.
Most cases end in a plea bargain negotiated by the defense and prosecution. Only about 2% of the cases are decided by trials
The Courts of Appeals
The courts of appeals are appellate courts authorized to review all district court decisions. In addition, they are empowered to rule on decisions of federal regulatory agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission.
The courts of appeals do not hold trials or hear testimony
The Supreme Court
The Court is America's "court of last resort." It reviews cases from the U.S. courts of appeals and state supreme courts.
The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of the Constitution. Supreme Court decisions establish precedents that are binding on the entire nation.
Marbury v. Madison and judicial review
The Court established the power of judicial review in the case of Marbury v. Madison.
Judicial review is the power of the Court to declare federal legislation invalid if the legislation violates the Constitution
The Lower Courts
All federal judges are appointed by the president and confirmed by a majority vote of the senate.
Senatorial courtesy prevents judges from being confirmed if a senator of the same party of the president from the state in which the judge would serve does not approve the nominee
The Confirmation Process
The names of possible nominees are sent to the FBI for a thorough background check. In addition, the names of nominees are usually sent to the American Bar Association (ABA) for a professional rating.
Interest groups are playing an increasingly important role in he confirmation process. Interest group tactics include public protest demonstration, appearances on TV and radio talk shows, media advertisements, editorials, and emails to senators.
The Senate Judiciary Committee holds public hearings on each Supreme Court nominee. The committee then makes a recommendation to the full senate.
Writs of certiorari
The Court's original jurisdiction only generates two or three cases a year. The remaining cases come under the Court's appellate jurisdiction.
Nearly all appellate cases now reach the Court by a writ of certiorari. A writ of certiorari is an order by the Court directing a lower court to send up the record in a given case for its review.
The certiorari process enables the Supreme Court to control its own caseload. Cases must involve a serious constitutional issue or the interpretation of a federal statute, action, or treaty.
Selecting Cases
The Supreme Court exercises original jurisdiction in cases involving the following:
Two or more states.
The United States and a state government.
The United States and foreign ambassadors and diplomats.
The Rule of Four
Supreme Court clerks screen the approx. 9,000 petitions that come to the Court each term. The clerks are exceptional law school graduates who usually have experience clerking for a judge on one of the courts of appeal.
The justices conduct weekly conference meeting where they discuss petitions prepared by their clerks.
For a case to be heard on appeal, at least four of the nine justices must agree to hear the case. This is called the Rule of Four
The Solicitor General:
The solicitor general is the fourth-ranking member of the Dept. of Justice.
The solicitor general is responsible for handling all appeal on behalf of the United States government to the Supreme Court.
The solicitor general plays an important role in influencing the Court's decision on which cases to hear
Filing Briefs
Each party is required to file a brief, or detailed written statement, arguing one side of a case. Brief cite relevant facts, legal principles, and precedents that support their arguments.
Interested persons and groups that are not actual parties to the case may file amicus curiae "friend of the court" briefs. Cases involving controversial issues such as affirmative action and abortion attract a large number of amicus curiae briefs. These briefs are used to lobby the court
Oral Arguments
Oral arguments are open to the public & attorneys are allowed exactly 30 min. to present their case.
Discussion & Voting
The justices discuss each case in a closed meeting held on Friday.
The Chief Justice presides over the meeting.
Majority Opinion
Officially known as "the opinion of the Court," & becomes the law of the land.
Concurring Opinion
Supports the majority opinion but stresses different constitutional or legal reasons for reaching the judgment
Minority or Dissenting Opinion
Expresses a point of view that disagrees with the majority opinion. Dissenting opinions have no legal standing.
Marbury v. Madison
the Court established the principle of judicial review as applied to Congress and the president
Martin v. Hunter's Lessee
the Court extended the power of judicial review to overrule state courts.
Baker v. Carr
the Court established the principle of one person, one vote.
Wesberry v. Sanders
, the Court applied this principle to congressional districts.
Plessy v. Ferguson was overturned by Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
and outlawed "separate but equal."
Monetary Policy
Involves regulating the money supply, controlling inflation, and adjusting interest rates. Monetary policy is controlled by the Federal Reserve Board.
Fiscal Policy
Raising and lowering taxes and government spending programs. Fiscal policy is controlled by the executive and legislative branch.
Entitlement Program
A government-sponsored program that provides mandated benefits to those who meet eligibility requirements. Social Security and Medicare are the government's largest entitlement programs.
Office of Management and Budget (OMB):
): The OMB is responsible for preparing the budget that the president submits to Congress
The 16th Amendment
permitted Congress to levy and income tax
Corporate Taxes
Corporations pay a tax that ranges from 15 to 35% of taxable income.
Corporate income taxes generate approx. 12% of federal tax revenue
Social Security Taxes
Employers and employees each pay a Social Security tax equal to 6.2% of the first $110,100 of earnings.
For Medicare, employees pay 1.45% tax on their total annual income. Employers must match the amounts withheld from their employees.
The social insurance taxes are regressive because they are levied at a fixed rate without regard to the level of a taxpayer's income.
Social insurance taxes now generate approx. 36% of federal revenue
Excise Taxes
A tax on the manufacture, sale, or consumption of a good or service.
Currently imposed on the sale of gasoline, tobacco, alcohol, airline tickets, and many other goods and services.
Excise taxes currently generate approx. 2.7% of federal tax revenue.
Uncontrollable Spending
Congress and the president have no power to directly change uncontrollable spending.
Over 60% of all federal spending now falls into the non-discretionary category and are therefore already 'spent
Entitlement programs:
Programs that guarantee a specific level of benefits to persons who meet requirements set by law.
Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance, and veterans' pensions and benefits are the largest entitlement programs.
Entitlement programs are by far the largest portion of uncontrollable spending in the federal budget. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are now responsible for approx. 44% of all federal expenditures
Borrowing:
The federal debt now exceeds $18 trillion. Approx. 5-9% of federal expenditures go to paying the interest on the debt. This all depends on interest rates, thus can vary from year to year.
The President and the Budget
The president initiates the budget process by submitting a proposed budget to Congress, typically in February.
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has the primary responsibility for preparing the federal budget.
The budget reflects the priorities and goals of the president's policy agenda.
Congress and the Budget
The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974:
Designed to reform the budgetary process and regain power lost to the executive branch.
Created a fixed budget calendar.
Established a budget committee in each house of Congress.
Created the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to advise Congress by forecasting revenues and evaluating the probably consequences of budget decisions.
Congress and the Budget
The president's budget is sent to both the House and Senate Budget Committees, which hold hearings on key items. Once spending levels are set by the budget committees it then goes to the Appropriations Committees of each house.
All tax proposals are referred to the House Ways and Means Committee and to the Senate Finance Committee.
Congress is required to pass thirteen major appropriations bills by the beginning of the federal government's fiscal year on October 1st.
Budget Barriers To Achieving a Balanced Budget
Entitlement programs now account for over 60% of the total federal budget. This limits what the president & Congress can do.
Federal agencies assume that their annual budgets will increase by a small amount each year. This process of small bur regular increases is called incrementalism. Because this is built into the budgetary process, it is very difficult to make spending cuts.
The fragmented federal system enables interest groups to successfully resist tax increases and defend favored programs.
Consequences of Budget Deficits
Budget deficits require huge interest payments. In 2011, the federal government paid $230 billion just to service the debt.
Budget deficits will place a heavy burden on future generations and make it difficult to fully fund key policy goals.
Social Security Background
Signed into law in 1935 by FDR.
In 1965, Congress added Medicare to the Social Security program and is designed to assist the elderly with medical costs.
These two programs are the most expensive programs in the budget.
Demographic Trends That Threaten the Future of Social Security:
When the Social Security program began, there were 25 workers for every beneficiary, now that ratio is 3.3 workers to every beneficiary.
The Baby Boom generation includes 76 million people born between 1946 & 1964. As this generation begins to retire, the number of workers who fund the program will decline, while the number of people eligible for benefits will increase.
As a result of improved health care, average life expectancy is increasing. This will put additional pressure on the system.
Civil Liberties
Civil liberties are legal and constitutional rights that protect individuals from arbitrary acts of government.
Civil liberties include freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press, as well as guarantees of a fair trial.
Civil Rights:
Civil rights are policies designed to protect people against arbitrary or discriminatory treatment by government officials or individuals.
Civil rights include laws against racial and gender discrimination.
Barron v. Baltimore (1833)
John Barron owned a wharf in Baltimore Harbor. When the city of Baltimore finished a construction project, he complained that the city had made the water too shallow for most vessels and damaged his business. He argued that the Fifth Amendment required the city to provide him with just compensation.
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Bill of Rights "contains no expression indicating an intention to apply them to the state governments. This court cannot so apply them."
The Supreme Court thus established a precedent that the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights did not restrict the state governments.
The 14th Amendment:
Ratified in 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment declared, "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
The Fourteenth Amendment contains two key clauses that have had a significant impact on Supreme Court decisions and U.S. politics:
Gitlow v. New York (1925)
Benjamin Gitlow wrote a pamphlet entitled "The Revolutionary Age" urging workers to strike and join a revolution to overthrow the government.
Gitlow was arrested and convicted for violating a New York law that made it a crime to advocate the violent overthrow of the government.
Gitlow argued that the New York law violated his rights to freedom of speech and the press.
The Supreme Court voted to uphold Gitlow's conviction. However, the Court also ruled that "freedom of speech and of the press...are among the fundamental and personal rights and liberties protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from impairment by the states..."
Barron v. Baltimore
the Supreme Court ruled that the federal courts could not stop the enforcement of state laws that restricted rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights
Gitlow v. New York
began the incorporation process of using the Due Process Clause
The Establishment Clause
A wall of separation between Church and State"
Jefferson contended that the 1st Amendment forbade the government from supporting any religion.
Although Americans have opposed the creation of a national church, school prayer and aid to church-related schools have caused controversial court cases that have resulted in landmark
Engel v. Vitale (1962
In 1951, the NY State Board of Regents approved the following prayer for recital each morning in NY schools: "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence on Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country."
The father of two students, Steven Engel, objected to the prayer and argued that it violated the Establishment Clause.
The Supreme Court ruled state-sponsored prayer unconstitutional.
Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971)
Pennsylvania's 1968 Nonpublic Elementary & Secondary Education Act allowed the state to reimburse church-related schools for secular textbooks, instructional materials, and salaries of teachers who taught secular subjects.
The Supreme Court declared that aid to church-related schools must meet the following tests: a government's action must have a secular legislative purpose, it must neither advance nor inhibit religion, and must not foster 'excessive entanglement' between government and religion.
Lemon Test
the Supreme Court struck down the Pennsylvania law saying that the state violated the Establishment Clause.
The Free Exercise Clause
General Points:
The 1st Amendment's Free Exercise Clause guarantees each person the right to believe what they want.
However, a religion cannot make an act legal that would otherwise be illegal. The government can act when religious practices violate criminal laws, offend public morals, or threaten community safety
Oregon v. Smith (1990)
The Supreme Court banned the use of illegal drugs in religious ceremonies.
Reynolds v. United States (1879)
George Reynolds was a Mormon who married two women and argued that his conviction for polygamy should be overturned because it was his religious duty to marry multiple times.
The Supreme Court made a distinction between religious beliefs and religious practices. The government can't restrict beliefs but could legislate against activities that violate the law of the land.
The Court ruled against Reynolds, arguing that permitting polygamy would "make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself."
"Clear and Present Danger"
The Espionage Act of 1917 prohibited forms of dissent deemed harmful to the war effort during WWI. Charles Schenck, the general secretary of the American Socialist party, opposed America's participation in the war and sent 15,000 leaflets to potential draftees comparing the draft to slavery and urging them to 'assert their rights' and resist the draft.
Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969),
the Supreme Court limited the clear and present danger test by ruling that the government could punish the advocacy of illegal action only if "such advocacy is directly inciting or producing imminent lawless action"
In New York Times v. Sullivan (1964),
), the Supreme Court ruled that statements about public figures are libelous only when they are both false and purposely malicious.
Roth v. United States (1957
the Supreme Court ruled that "obscenity is not within the area of constitutionally protected speech or press."
Miller v. California (1973),
the Court listed a number of tests for obscenity. It is important to note that it is up to each community to implement these tests.
Tinker v. Des Moines ISD (1969
the Court ruled that the school violated the 1st & 14th Amendments, stating the students and teachers do not 'shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech at the school house gate".
Texas v. Johnson (1989),
), the Supreme Court ruled that flag burning is a form of symbolic speech and is protected.
Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier (1988
the Supreme Court ruled that school administrators can exercise "editorial control over the style and content of student speech in school-sponsored expressive activities so long as their actions are reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns."
Habeas Corpus
Expressly states, "The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it."
It is a court order directing that a prisoner be brought before a court and that court officers show cause why the prisoner should not be released. It prevents unjust arrests and imprisonments.
Bills of Attainder
The Constitution prohibits Congress and state legislatures from passing bills of attainder, which are legislative acts that provides for the punishment of a person without a court trial
Ex Post Facto Laws
The Constitution prohibits Congress and the state legislatures from enacting ex post facto laws, which are laws applied to an act committed before the law was enacted
Weeks v. United States (1914
Prohibits evidence obtained by illegal searches or seizure from being admitted in court.
Mapp v. Ohio (1961).
This case illustrates the process of incorporation by which the Fourth Amendment was applied to the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)
Clarence Gideon was accused of breaking and entering a Florida poolroom and stealing a small amount of money. At the trial, the judge refused Gideon's request for a court-appointed free lawyer.
Gideon appealed his conviction, arguing that by refusing to appoint a lawyer to help him, the Florida court violated rights promised by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments.
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Sixth Amendment right-to-counsel provision applies to those accused of major crimes under state law. This case illustrates the process of incorporation, by which the Sixth Amendment was applied to the states by the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment
Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
Ernesto Miranda was a mentally challenged drifter accused of kidnapping and raping an 18 year-old woman near Phoenix.
After two hours of police interrogation, Miranda signed a written confession. The police did not inform Miranda of his constitutional rights at any time during the questioning.
The Supreme Court overturned Miranda's conviction, declaring that the police must inform criminal suspects of their constitutional rights before questioning suspects after arrest.
The Miranda rules include informing a suspect that he or she has the right to remain silent, to stop answering questions at any time, and the right to have a lawyer present during questioning. Suspects also must be told that what they say can be used against them in court.
The Right to Privacy
Justice Brandeis defined privacy as "the right to be left alone."
The Bill of Rights does not specifically grant Americans a right to privacy. However the following constitutional provisions imply a right to privacy:
The 1st Amendment's guarantee of freedom of religion.
The 3rd Amendment's prohibition against the government forcing citizens to quarter soldiers in their homes.
The 4th Amendment's protection against unreasonable search and seizure.
The 5th Amendment's rule that private property cannot be seized without "due process of law".
Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)
Estelle Griswold, the executive directory of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut, challenged the constitutionality of an 1879 Connecticut law that prohibited the use of "any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception."
The Supreme Court ruled that the Connecticut law criminalizing the use of contraceptives violated the right to marital privacy.
The majority argument, written by Justice Douglas, argued that the right to privacy was found in the unstated liberties implied by the explicitly stated rights in the Bill of Rights.
Roe v. Wade (1973
Jane Roe (a pseudonym for Norma McCorvey) challenged the constitutionality of a Texas law allowing abortions only to save the life of the mother.
Roe argued that the decision to obtain an abortion should be protected by the right to privacy implied by the Bill of Rights.
The Supreme Court struck down the Texas law by a vote of 7 to 2.
Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989),
the Supreme Court upheld a Missouri law prohibiting abortions (except those preserving the mother's life) in any publicly operated hospital or clinic in Missouri.
Planned Parenthood of SE Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992)
the Court ruled that a state may place reasonable limits that do not place an "undue burden" on a woman's right to have an abortion. This allowed later rules for 24-hour waiting periods and requiring parental consent.
The Declaration of Independence
Famously declared that "all men are created equal"
U.S. political culture has interpreted this to mean a belief in political equality, legal equality, and equality of opportunity.
Again, U.S. political culture does not support economic equality
Reasonable Classification
The Court has ruled that government must have the power to make reasonable classifications between persons and groups (ex. denying the right to vote to citizens under 18, or imposing taxes on smokers).
Strict Scrutiny
: The Court has ruled that classification by race and ethnic background is inherently suspect and must meet a strict scrutiny test. Such classifications must be justified by "compelling public interest".
Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857):
The Court ruled that Black people were not citizens of the United States and therefore could not petition the Court.
Established the principle that national legislation could not limit the spread of slavery into the territories. Repealed the Northwest Ordinance of 1789 and Missouri Compromise of 1820.
13th Amendment
abolished Slavery and involuntary servitude
14th Amendment
made former slaves citizens, thus invalidating the Dred Scott decision. The Due Process and Equal Protection clauses were designed to protect the rights of newly freed African Americans.
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896):
Dispute over the legality of a Louisiana law requiring "equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races" on railroad coaches.
The Court upheld the law, ruling that segregated public facilities were constitutional so long as the accommodations were "separate but equal". This sanctioned segregation and strengthened the states vs. the federal government.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954):
The Court ruled that racial segregated schools violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Reversed the principle of "separate but equal" by declaring that racially segregated schools were inherently unequal.
Civil Rights Act of 1964
Finally passed when the Senate invoked cloture to end a filibuster that lasted 83 days. The act did the following:
Ended Jim Crow segregation by making racial discrimination illegal in hotels, motels, restaurants, and other public accommodations.
Prohibited discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, or gender.
Created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Authorized the Dept. of Justice to initiate lawsuits to desegregate public facilities and schools.
Eliminating the Poll Tax
The 24th Amendment (1964) prohibited poll taxes in federal elections and in 1966, the Supreme Court voided poll taxes in state elections.
Voting Rights Act of 1965:
Outlawed literacy test and other discriminatory practices and provided for federal oversight of voter registration in areas with a history of discrimination. Significantly improved black voter registration and office holders.
Racial Gerrymandering
Following the 1990 census, several state legislatures created oddly shaped districts designed to give minorities a numerical majority. In Shaw v. Reno (1993), the Court ruled that oddly shaped minority-majority districts would be held to a standard of strict scrutiny. Subsequent Court decisions refined the Shaw ruling and held that using race as a "predominant factor' in drawing districts was unconstitutional.
Seneca Falls Convention (1848):
Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Lucretia Mott organized and led the Convention. Adopted resolutions calling for the abolition of legal, economic, & social discrimination against women
The Equal Rights Amendment
Congress passed the ERA in 1972 and it provided that "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the U.S. or by any state on account of sex." Unfortunately it fell three states short of ratification.
Affirmative Action
is a policy requiring federal agencies, universities, and most employers to take positive steps to remedy the effects of past discrimination
Supporters:
Believe that affirmative action is needed to make up for past injustices. "Freedom is not enough," insisted President Johnson. "you do not take a person who for years has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him to the staring line of a race and then say, 'you are free to compete with all the others' and still justly believe that you have been completely fair." Supporters also argue that increasing the number of women and minorities in desirable jobs is an important social goal.
Critics
Argue that affirmative action programs create reverse discrimination that unfairly penalizes members of the majority group. They also contend that laws and policies should promote equal opportunity, not equal results.
Regents of the University of Calfornia v. Bakke (1978):
The medical school at UC Davis opened in 1968 with 50 students. The first class did not have an admissions program for minorities and did not have any African American, Mexican American, or Native American students.
In 1971, the school increased the size of the incoming class to 100 and to remedy the absence of minority students, the Regents reserved 16 of the 100 spaces for "disadvantaged or minority" applicants and did not have to meet the same academic standards as the other applicants.
Allan Bakke, a 37 year old white NASA engineer, applied for admission and was rejected even though his test scores were higher than those of all the minority candidates who were accepted.
The Supreme Court ruled that the school's strict quota system denied Bakke the equal protection of the 14th Amendment and ordered the school to admit him. The Court did also rule that race can be one factor among others in the competition for available places.
Grutter v. Bollinder (2003
the Court upheld the policies of University of Michigan Law School and upheld the Bakke ruling that race could be a factor but that quotas were illegal.
Marbury v. Madison (1803
Established the principle of judicial review.
Strengthened the power of the judicial branch by giving the Supreme Court the authority to declare acts of Congress unconstitutional
McCulloch v. Maryland (1819
Confirmed the right of Congress to utilize implied powers to carry out its expressed powers.
Validated the supremacy of the national government over the states by declaring that states cannot interfere with or tax the legitimate activities of the federal government.
Gibbons v Ogden (1824)
Strengthened the power of the federal government to regulate interstate commerce.
Established the commerce clause's role as a key vehicle for the expansion of federal power.
Engle v. Vitale (1962
Struck down state-sponsored prayer in public schools.
Ruled that the Regents' prayer was an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause.
Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971):
Struck down state funding for private religious schools.
Ruled that state aid to church-related schools must meet three tests:
The purpose of the aid must be clearly secular.
The government's action must neither aid or inhibit religion.
The government's action must not foster an 'excessive entanglement' between government and religion.
Reynolds v. United States (1879):
Banned polygamy.
Distinguished between religious beliefs that are protected by the Free Exercise Clause and religious practices that may be restricted.
Ruled that religious practices cannot make an act legal that would otherwise be illegal.
Oregon v. Smith (1990):
Banned the use of illegal drugs in religious ceremonies.
Ruled that the government can act when religious practices violate criminal laws.
Schenck v. United States (1919):
Ruled that free speech could be limited when it presents a "clear and present danger".
Established the "clear and present danger" test to define condition under which public authorities can limit free speech.
New York Times v. Sullivan (1964):
Ruled that public officials cannot win a suit for defamation unless the statement is made with "actual malice."
Established the "actual malice" standard to promote "uninhibited, robust, and wide-open" public debate.
Roth v. United States (1951
Ruled that obscenity is not constitutionally protected free speech.
Created the "prevailing community standards" rule requiring a consideration of the work as a whole.
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District (1969):
Protected some forms of symbolic speech.
Ruled that students to not "shed their rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."
Texas v. Johnson (1989):
Ruled that flag burning is a form of symbolic speech and protected.
Barron v. Baltimore (1833
Ruled that the Bill of Rights cannot be applied to the states.
Gitlow v. New York (1925
Established the precedent for the doctrine of selective incorporation, thus extending most of the requirements of the Bill of Rights to the States.
Miranda v. Arizona (1966):
Ruled that the police must inform criminal suspects of their constitutional rights before questioning suspects after arrest.
Required police to read the Miranda rules to criminal suspects
Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857
Ruled that African Americans were not citizens and therefore could not petition the Supreme Court. Overturned by 14th Amendment
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896
Upheld Jim Crow segregation by approving "separate but equal" public facilities for African Americans
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978
Ruled that the medical school's strict quota system denied Bakke the equal protection guaranteed by the 14th Amendment and ordered the school to admit him.
Ruled that race could be used as one factor among others in the competition for available places.
Grutter v. Bollinger (2003)
Upheld the affirmative action policy of the U of M Law School and ruled that race could be a consideration but that quotas are illegal
Griswold v. Connecticut (1965):
Ruled that a Connecticut law criminalizing the use of contraceptives violated the right to marital privacy.
Established an important precedent for Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade (1973):
Ruled that the decision to obtain an abortion is protected by the right to privacy implied by the Bill of Rights.
Baker v. Carr (1962
Ruled that the judicial branch of government can rule on matters of legislative apportionment.
Used the principle of "one person, on vote."
Ordered state legislative districts to be as equal as possible.
Wesberry v. Sanders (1963):
Established the principle of "one person, one vote" in drawing congressional districts.
Triggered widespread redistricting that gave cities and suburbs greater representation in Congress.
Korematsu v. United States (1944
Upheld the constitutionality of the relocation of Japanese Americans as a wartime necessity.
Viewed by contemporary scholars as a flagrant violation of civil liberties
United States v. Nixon (1974):
Ruled that there is no constitutional guarantee of unqualified executive privilege.
Buckley v. Valeo (1976):
Upheld federal limits on campaign contributions.
Struck down the portion of the Federal Election Campaign Act limiting the amount of money individuals can contribute to their own campaigns.
Ruled that spending money on one's own campaign is a form of constitutionally protected free speech.
Complicated congressional efforts to enact significant campaign finance reform.
Clean Air Act (1970
Increased the power of the federal government relative to the states.
Established national air quality standards.
Required states to administer the new standards and to appropriate funds for their implementation.
Included a provision allowing private citizens to bring lawsuits against individuals and corporations that violated the act.
War Powers Resolution (1973):
Enacted to give Congress a greater voice in presidential decisions committing military forces to hostile situations overseas.
Requires that the president notify Congress within 48 hours of deploying troops.
Requires the president to bring troops home from hostilities within 60-90 days unless Congress extends the time.
Budget & Impoundment Control Act of 1974
Enacted to help Congress regain powers previously lost to the executive branch.
Created the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to evaluate the president's budget.
Established a budget process that includes setting overall levels of revenues and expenditures
Federal Elections Campaign Act (1974):
Created the Federal Election Commission.
Tightened reporting requirements for campaign contributions.
Provided full public financing for major party candidates in the general election.
Americans With Disabilities Act (1990
Increased the power of the federal government relative to the states.
Requires employers and public facilities to make "reasonable accommodations" for people with disabilities.
Prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.
Extends the protections of the Civil Rights Act of '64 to people with disabilities.
Welfare Reform Act (1996):
Increased the power of states relative to the federal government.
Replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program with block grants to the states.
Illustrated the process of devolution by giving states greater discretion to determine how to implement the federal goal of transferring people from welfare to work.
No Child Left Behind Act (2001):
Requires the states to set standards and measurable goals that can improve individual outcomes in education.
Requires the states to develop assessments in basic skills to be given to all students in certain grades.
Represents a dramatic expansion of the federal role in education.
USA Patriot Act (2001):
Expands the definition of terrorism to include domestic terrorism.
Authorized searches of a home or business without the owner's or the occupant's permission or knowledge.
Increases the ability of law enforcement agencies to search telephone, e-mail communications, medical, financial, and other records
The Incumbency Advantage
Incumbency is the single most important factor in determining the outcome of congressional elections.
Incumbent members of the House of Representatives are more likely to be reelected than are incumbent senators (90% vs. 75%).
Incumbents are able to use "pork barrel politics" to get money for projects the benefit their districts. This helps incumbents earn a reputation for service to their constituents.
Incumbents can take advantage of the franking privilege, which enables them to send mail to their constituents at government expense.
African American Voting Patterns
African Americans have consistently supported Democratic presidential candidates since the New Deal.
African Americans tend to support the more liberal candidates within the Democratic Party.
Studies reveal that, when the effects of race and education are eliminated, African Americans have higher voting rates than do whites.
Federalism:
Is the system of government in which power is divided by a written constitution between a central government and regional governments.
When the powers of the federal & state governments conflict, the federal government prevails.
The necessary & proper clause, commerce clause, Civil Rights Act of 1964, categorical grants, and federal mandates have all increased the power of the federal government relative to the states.
The procedure for amending the Constitution illustrates the federal structure of the American government.
Federalism decentralizes political conflict, provides interest groups with multiple points of access, and creates opportunities for experimentation and diversity of public policy.
Federalism enables interest groups to delay or even thwart majority support for a policy.
Selection of Supreme Court Justices:
Supreme Court justices are appointed by the president and confirmed by a majority vote of the Senate.
The process by which Supreme Court justices are nominated and confirmed illustrates the system of checks and balances.
Presidents select justices who have impressive credentials and possess needed racial, ethnic, and gender characteristics.
Presidents with a philosophy of judicial restraint look for candidates who use precedent and the Framers' original intent to decide cases.
President with a philosophy of judicial activism look for candidates who believe the Court must correct injustices when other fail to do so
The Articles of Confederation:
The Articles established a decentralized system of government with a weak central government with limited powers over the states.
The Articles created a unicameral Congress that lacked the power to levy taxes or regulate interstate trade
Electoral College
The president & vice president are not elected by a direct vote of the people. Instead, they must receive a majority of the votes in the electoral college.
The electoral college is a winner-take-all system in which the candidate who wins a plurality of the votes in a state wins all of that state's electoral votes.
Winner-take-all makes it difficult for third-party candidates to succeed.
The electoral college system encourages presidential candidates to focus on campaigning in the most populous states.
If none of the candidates receives a majority of the electoral votes, the selection process moves to the House of Representatives, where each state has one vote.
The electoral college benefits the small states.
The Role of State Legislatures
In the original Constitution, state legislatures chose U.S. senators. As a result of the 17th Amendment, senators are now elected by voters in each state.
State legislatures have the power to determine the boundary lines of congressional districts.
State legislatures can ratify constitutional amendments by a vote of three-fourths of the states.
Voter Turnout
The voter turnout in the United States is lower than that of most Western democracies.
The majority of the U.S. electorate does not vote in a nonpresidential election.
People with more education are more likely to vote than people with less education.
People with more income are more likely to vote than people with less income.
Older People are more likely to vote than younger people.
Women are more likely to vote than men.
Cross-pressures, a low level of political efficacy, and voter registration are all factors that reduce voter turnout.
The Mass Media
The mass media play a key role in affecting which issues the public thinks are important and thus reach the government's policy agenda.
Horse-race journalism refers to the media's tendency to focus on polls, personalities and sound bites rather than on in-depth analysis of key issues
The Presidents and the Cabinet
The president appoints cabinet heads subject to confirmation by the Senate. However, the president can fire a cabinet hard without Senate approval.
Cabinet members often have divided loyalties. Their loyalties to the president can be undermined by their loyalty to the institutional goals of their own department.
Presidents often experience difficulty in controlling cabinet departments because they form iron triangles with interest groups and congressional committees
Political Action Committees
Business PACs have dramatically increase in number since the 1970s.
PACs play a critical role in supporting incumbent members of the House.
The amount of money that PACs can directly contribute is limited by law.
Political Socialization:
The process by which political values are formed and passed from one generation to the next.
The family is the most important agent of political socialization. Parents usually pass their party identification to their children
Sequester:
This refers to one portion of the spending cuts included in the Budget Control Act, passed and signed in August 2011. FISCAL CLIFF!
Legislative Veto:
A veto exercised by a legislature nullifying or reversing an action or decision of the executive branch. Unconstitutional since 1983.
Substantive and Procedural Due process
Substantive refers to the law and its application to people.
Procedural Due Process refers to actions towards people.
Electioneering:
A politician or political campaigner taking part in the activities of an election campaign. GOTV, commercials, rallies, etc
McConnell v. Federal Election Commission: (2003
A case in which the United States Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of most of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), often referred to as the McCain-Feingold Act.
Citizens United v. FEC: (2010
Restored the First Amendment protection to political speech. Small businesses, corporations, unions, and membership based organizations may now have a voice in the public discourse.
McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission: (2014)
A landmark campaign finance case before the United States Supreme Court challenging Section 441 of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), which imposed a biennial aggregate limit on individual contributions. SCOTUS invalidated 441!