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Legislative Branch

the branch of government that makes the laws.

Executive Branch

the branch of government that enforces the laws.

Judicial Branch

the part of government that decides the meaning of laws

Full Faith and Credit Clause

the clause in the Constitution stating that acts or documents considered legal in one state must be accepted as valid by all other states


Process by which governments return fugitives to the jurisdiction from which they have fled.

Republican Government

A system for ruling in which power is held by the people who are eligible to elect representatives to run the government for the common good.

Necessary and Proper Clause

constitutional authorization for Congress to make any law required to carry out its powers

Supremacy Clause

The constitutional provision that makes the Constitution and federal laws superior to all conflicting state and local laws.

Bill of Rights

The first ten amendments to the Constitution

Articles of Confederation

The first constitution of the 13 American states, adopted in 1781 and replaced in 1789 by the Constitution of the United States.


U.S. system of government in which power is distributed between a central government and individual states

Popular Sovereignty

This principle of government states that political power rests with the people. This power is expressed by voting and free participation in government.

Rule of Law

Principle that the law applies to everyone, even those who govern.

Separation of Power

The division of a central government into two or more branches, each having its own responsibilities and authorities.

Checks and Balances

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


Supporters of the Constitution that were led by Alexander Hamilton and John Adams. They firmly believed the national government should be strong.


They opposed the ratification of the Constitution because it gave more power to the federal government and less to the states, and because it did not ensure individual rights.

Great Compromise

Plan to have a popularly elected House based on state population and a state-selected Senate, with two members for each state.

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