God's or nature's law that defines right from wrong and is higher than human law.
separation of powers
constitutional division of powers among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, with the legislative branch making law, the executive applying and enforcing the law, and the judiciary interpreting the law.
checks and balances
constitutional grant of powers that enables each of the three branches of government to check some acts of the others and therefore ensure that no branch can dominate.
governance divided between the parties, especially when one holds the presidency and the other controls one or both houses of Congress.
election in which voters choose party nominees.
procedure whereby a certain number of voters may, by petition, propose a law or constitutional amendment and have it submitted to the voters.
procedure for submitting to popular vote measures passed by the legislature or proposed amendments to a state constitution.
procedure for submitting to popular vote the removal of officials from office before the end of their term.
the power of a court to refuse to enforce a law or government regulation that in the opinion of the judges conflicts with the U.S. Constitution or, in a state court, the state constitution.
writ of mandamus
court order directing an official to perform an official duty; Marbury vs Madison.
formal accusation against a public official, the first step in removal from office; Andrew Jackson and Bill Clinton (Richard Nixon resigned).
directive issued by a president or governor that has the force of law.
the power to keep executive communications confidential, especially if they relate to national security.
presidential refusal to allow an agency to spend funds authorized and appropriated by Congress.