497 terms

Mass Media and Public Opinion

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Public Opinion
It is the attitudes about government and politics shared by many people. It reflects the most popular views of the people.

The attitudes held by a large number of people concerning government and politics. The people must express these views in order for them to be considered public opinion. The attitudes and opinions can be spoken or written. They can also be displayed on billboards or expressed at demonstrations. Voting for a candidate with similar views is another way people express their opinions.
Public
There are many publics in the United States. A public is a group of people who have the same ideas and views about a public issue. For example, people may belong to a public that believes in national health insurance. Education and the environment are other issues of concern for many people

.It is also important to note that public opinion is only concerned with public affairs
Public Affairs
Public affairs are events and issues that concern a great many people. Politics, political parties, taxes, the economy, national defense, and healthcare are considered public affairs. People are also interested in many other things, such as music, entertainment, or sports. The opinions of people concerning these interests are usually not considered public opinion, however.
Opinions about public affairs often vary widely across the voting population. In the summer before the 2008 election, voters had different opinions about which issues were most important.
How do Family and Education Influence Public Opinion
Family and education have a huge influence on a person's political opinions. Children first learn attitudes about concepts like authority, property, and other people from the family. Later, children form political opinions based on these attitudes. Many tend to vote as their parents vote. Others form opinions of their own.

Although the family strongly influences the political development of a child, schools also play an important role. Schools teach American values. They stress good citizenship and patriotism. Children learn to salute the flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance. They are taught about the importance of government, its development, and its outstanding leaders.

Schools also provide a place for informal learning. At school, children must learn to make decisions and to get along with all types of people.

Family and education are not the only factors in the making of public opinion. They do, however, play a leading role.
What Other Factors Influence Public Opinion
One important factor that influences public opinion is occupation. For example, national health insurance is a topic of great concern in America. Many working people are not given health insurance where they work. These people tend to support candidates who promise a plan to provide that type of insurance to everyone.

Gender and place of residence also influence public opinion. Candidates who believe in equal pay for women or fight for programs that benefit all Americans are often supported by women and minority groups. Cleaning up a lake will often be of interest to people who live near that lake. These people may support the candidate or party that supports an environmental project that could have a direct impact on their lives.
Mass Media Influences Public Opinion
Types of communication that reach large audiences at the same time, especially television, radio, printed publications, and the Internet
The mass media often tries to shape public opinion.
Peer Group Influences Public Opinion
People with whom one regularly associates, including friends, classmates, neighbors, and co-workers

As a child grows into adulthood, the peer group expands to include friends, neighbors, and co-workers. A person's peer group has a strong influence on his or her attitudes and actions. Because trust usually develops within the peer group, the members of the group tend to share experiences and support each other's opinions.
Opinion Leaders Influence Public Opinion
a person who has a strong influence on others. Many opinion leaders hold public office. Others are writers, broadcasters, important business people, and professionals. People listen to the ideas of these leaders, and so they often help to shape public opinion.
Historical Events Influence Public Opinon
People's attitudes about public policy are greatly affected by historical events. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, changed many people's views on national security and foreign policy. The Great Depression of the 1930s also changed many people's views about government. During that crisis, people began to expect the national government to take a bigger part in the economy.

The events of the 1960s and early 1970s also shaped public opinion about government. After World War II, most people felt optimistic about the place of the United States in the world. That attitude changed after several tragic events.

In the 1960s, President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., were both shot and killed. The civil rights movement that followed brought turmoil to the country. In 1974, the Watergate scandal brought about the resignation of President Richard Nixon. These years of unrest caused some people to distrust the federal government. This attitude still exists today among some groups of citizens.
Public Opinion Measured
There are many ways to measure public opinion. Voting statistics, editorial comments on television and radio, Internet blogs, and paid advertising are all ways to measure public opinion. The American political system depends on the effort to find an accurate idea of what people think and want.
Mandate
The party believes the majority of the people want them to carry out their campaign promises.
The instructions or commands of the people given to their elected officials
Public Opinion Measured by Interest Groups
Interest groups are private organizations whose members have the same views or opinions about what government should do about a particular matter. Sometimes these groups are called pressure groups or special-interest groups. Interest groups express their views through lobbyists, letters, telephone calls, e-mails, and other efforts. It is hard for political leaders to know just how many people belong to an interest group.
Public Opinion Measured by the Media
The media are another measure of public opinion. It is important to remember, however, that magazines, television commentators, and blogs are not only mirrors of public opinion. They are also shapers of opinion.
Public Opinion Measured on Election Day
In a democracy, the voice of the people is expressed on election day. In this way, election results are important indicators of public opinion. The people who cast votes for a candidate often do so because they believe in the candidate's views. The votes may also show approval for the candidate's political party. After a successful election, the winning party may claim to have a mandate. This means the party believes the majority of the people want them to carry out their campaign promises.

Election results, though, are often not the best measure of public opinion. Some voters are not sure of the candidate's or the party's views. The reasons for voting for a particular candidate are varied. Elections can be said to give only broad ideas about public opinion.
Government on the Internet
The Internet has many Web sites that offer information about the federal government. Each department has its own home page which provides information you might want to know about that department. Internet users can click on a topic or link to find additional information. For example, the Web site for the White House is www.whitehouse.gov. People who use the Internet can learn a great deal about the executive branch of government from the White House Web site. They can look at government documents and also connect to other government departments and agencies. The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate each has its own Web site, as does the Supreme Court.
Measuring Public Opinion by Personal Contact
Public officials spend a great deal of time connecting with the people in their districts. Members of Congress stay in touch with the public through mail, phone calls, and e-mail. Other officials, such as governors, mayors, and legislators, also make direct contact with the public. They do this in their offices, public meetings, and social events. Some public officials are better than others at understanding what the people want. Unfortunately, they too often listen only to views that agree with their own.
Public Opinion Polls
Public opinion is best measured by public opinion polls. Opinion polls are taken in order to collect information by asking people questions. There are two major types of opinion polls: straw polls and scientific polls.
Straw Vote
Early polling efforts relied on the straw vote. A straw vote is a poll that tries to measure public opinion by asking the same question to a large number of people. Straw polls are still used today. For example, radio talk-show hosts ask questions, and listeners can call in with their responses. This type of polling is not reliable, however, because the people who respond to the poll do not accurately represent the total population. The straw vote may get a large number of responses, but those responses are only from a narrow segment of the population. They do not reflect the opinions of the majority of the people.
In 1936, the Literary Digest conducted a famous straw poll before the presidential election. The magazine sent out more than 10 million postcards. More than 2 million people responded. The people who were sent postcards were chosen from automobile registration lists and the phone book. As a result of this poll, the magazine predicted that Republican Alfred Landon would win the presidency. Instead, Franklin Roosevelt won. He was elected by a 60 percent majority of the popular vote. Many of the people who voted for Roosevelt in the election were poor. They did not own cars or have telephones, so they did not receive postcards. They were not represented in the poll
Scientific Poll
A scientific poll is the other type of opinion poll. In America today, there are more than 1,000 groups that conduct scientific opinion polls. Many of these polls are conducted to judge consumer likes and dislikes. More than 200 companies conduct scientific polls about politics. The best-known polling groups are the Gallup Organization and the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. Scientific polls have developed over the decades and have become very sophisticated.

Even though scientific polls receive criticism, they are the best way we have to measure public opinion. They may not be precise. However, they do give a reasonable guide to public opinion. They also focus attention on issues and encourage people to discuss them.
What is the Polling Process
Scientific poll-taking is a very difficult process. Analyzing the results of these polls also can be difficult. In general, however, the polling process can be described in five steps:

1. Define the universe to be surveyed.
2. Construct a sample.
3. Ask well-written questions.
4. Conduct interviews.
5. Analyze and report the findings.
Universe
The whole group that a poll wants to measure. For example, all voters in California make up a universe as does every high school student in a state.
Sample
In most cases, a universe is too large a group to be able to poll everyone in it. Instead, a sample of the universe is taken. A sample is a smaller group that represents the larger group.
Random Sample
Many pollsters use a random sample. This is a certain number of people who are randomly picked. It is a sample in which each member of the universe and each geographic area within it has an equal chance of being included. As few as 1,500 people may be polled to reflect the views of the entire country. The law of probability says that this number (1,500) will accurately reflect the views of the nation within a margin of plus or minus 3 percent. This margin of error means a spread of 6 percentage points.
Quota Sample
Other pollsters use a quota sample. For example, the exact ratio of males and females are picked to match the ratio in a universe. This kind of sample is less reliable than random samples.
Well Written Questions
Questions used by pollsters must be easy to understand. They also must be carefully worded because the way a question is asked can affect how it is answered. Responsible pollsters try to avoid questions that lead the respondent to a particular answer. For example, if asked "Should taxes be reduced?" most people would probably answer "Yes." The same people would probably also answer "Yes" if asked "Should the police force be increased to fight rising crime?" Yet increasing the size of the police force would almost certainly require raising taxes.
Conduct Interviews.
For a long time, most polls were taken door-to-door. Today most polls are done by telephone, with a sample selected by random digital dialing. In random digital dialing, calls are made to randomly chosen numbers within randomly chosen area codes around the country. Most professional pollsters agree that only one method should be used in any given poll. Pollsters do not recommend that in-person interviews and random digital dialing be used together.

Whichever method is used, the way the interview is handled is very important. Tone of voice and choice of words will influence the answers given by the people questioned. Therefore, people who do the interviews are carefully chosen and trained by the polling groups.
Analyze and Report the Findings.
Polling groups collect huge amounts of information. The results usually are reported to the public or to the organization that commissioned, or requested, the poll. To do this, computers and other electronic hardware are used to analyze the information. Conclusions are then drawn and published.
How are Polls Evaluated
Most polls are reliable but not perfect. People who conduct the polls know that there are limits to their accuracy. Some problems that are difficult to overcome concern the intensity, stability, and relevance of the opinions that polls report. Intensity has to do with the strength of a person's opinion. Is it strong or weak? Stability has to do with the permanence of the opinion. Is the person likely to change his or her mind? Relevance has to do with the importance of the opinion. Will the person continue to be guided by the opinion?
Who is Responsible for the Poll
Polls sponsored by political campaigns may aim to mislead as much as inform
Why is the Poll Being Conducted
Polls meant to boost a candidate's approval ratings are not reliable
When was the Data Collected
Opinions change quickly during elections- so knowing when the data was collected is important
What are the Limits on the Impact of Public Opinion
Public opinion has a strong influence on the making of public policy. A number of other influences are working at the same time, however. The United States government works on a system of checks and balances. There is a separation of power among the three branches of government. These safeguards protect minority interests and allow them to be heard.
Medium
A means of communication
Media
Plural form of the word medium
Mass Media
Mass media are means of communication that can reach many people at the same time. In America, there are five types of mass media that are important in politics. They are television, newspapers, radio, magazines, and the Internet.

Mass media provide entertainment but also provide people with political information. News can be reported directly as it happens or given in radio and television programs, stories, and blogs. Public affairs are often covered in these ways. Most information people receive comes from the mass media.
Television- Mass Media
Television is the most widely used form of mass media. The first public use of television was seen at the New York World's Fair in 1939. Some people watched on small screens as President Franklin Roosevelt opened the fair. Since that time, television has played an important role in politics.

Television increased in popularity in the 1950s. By the 1960s, television was the major provider of news to most Americans. Today, there are more than 1,700 television stations. Three networks—CBS, ABC, and NBC—provide programming that accounts for nearly half of all television viewing time today.

In recent years, the dominance of these three networks has been declining. There are now several independent broadcasting companies and cable broadcasters. The most popular are the Fox Network and the Cable News Network (CNN). The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) also has more than 350 stations.

Television reaches millions of people. News programs and popular entertainment shows have up to 40 million viewers. Cable systems are now used by almost three fourths of our country's households.
Newspapers- Mass Media
Newspapers are another form of mass media. In 1704, the Boston News-Letter began publication. Soon, other newspapers appeared in the colonial cities of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Most were small weekly papers. Daily newspapers began to appear in 1783. During revolutionary days, papers spread information about the fight for independence and printed the text of the Declaration of Independence. When the Constitution was written, the 1st Amendment was added to guarantee freedom of the press. The Framers knew that this freedom was important to democracy.

Today, there are still thousands of newspapers in the United States. Daily and weekly papers in some foreign languages are published. Almost half of the adults in the nation read a newspaper every day.

Radio, television, and the Internet have caused a decline in the number of daily newspapers. In 1920, more than 2,000 daily papers were printed. Today, that number has fallen to about 1,400.

Nevertheless, newspapers are still a major source of information about the government and politics for many people. Newspapers usually cover stories in greater detail than television does. Also, editorial sections of newspapers present different views concerning issues and candidates. Some influential newspapers today are the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. These papers are available around the country on the day they are published.
Radio- Mass Media
A third form of mass media, radio, began in 1920. Station KDKA broadcast the presidential election returns that year. By 1930, radio was a major medium of entertainment and news. President Franklin Roosevelt was the first President to make good use of radio. He broadcast weekly fireside chats with a strong, confident voice. Americans, for the first time, could hear a President in their own homes.

Some people thought that television would bring an end to radio. Radio has survived because it can be used anywhere—cars, outdoors, offices, and homes. Radio is still a major source of public information. The average person listens to about 15 hours of radio a week.
Magazines- Mass Media
The magazine is another type of mass media with its roots in colonial days. Most magazines published in the early days of our country, into the 1900s, were concerned with literature and social graces. Beginning in the mid-1800s, a few did cover political issues, including Harpers Weekly and Atlantic Monthly.

Today, there are more than 12,000 magazines published in the United States. Many cover topics such as trades or personal interests. The magazines with the highest circulation are AARP the Magazine, Readers Digest, and National Geographic. News magazines include Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News and World Report. They are important sources of political news and opinions.
The Internet- Mass Media
The Internet is quickly becoming the leading medium for news and information. The origins of the Internet can be traced back to a project of the Defense Department. During the Cold War era, the Defense Department established a four-computer network. Soon, it grew to connect computers at 15 locations across the country.

From those beginnings, the Internet has expanded massively. By the 1990s, the Internet began to be used in the private sector. Today, it is a mass medium. The Internet is used as a source for political news and information more often than newspapers, radios, and magazines. Only television is more popular.

Other media have recognized the Internet's popularity. Nearly all newspapers now have Web sites. Magazines are also available online. Government agencies also use the Internet. Interest groups, political parties, elected officials, and campaign organizations all have Web pages as well.
Weblog
A Website posting, usually devoted to a specific subject
Usually called blogs
A single weblog author may write a series of posts. Many weblogs also allow visitors to post their own comments. Those blogs devoted to government usually have links to and commentaries from other sources.
Public Agenda
The public issues on which the people's attention is
The media play an important role in American politics. This influence is seen mostly in the shaping of the public agenda and electoral politics. The public agenda includes the issues on which people's attention is focused.
How Do the Media Influence Politics
The media help to shape the public agenda by focusing the public's attention on particular issues. Placing a political issue on the front page of a newspaper is one way of getting the public's attention. Mentioning an issue on a newscast is another tactic. People will discuss issues they hear about in the media even if they disagree with the opinion given. Most people rely on the media for political information on public issues. Even the President receives a daily report on all broadcasts and published news reports.

The media is important in electoral politics. Television, for example, allows political candidates to appeal directly to the people without the help of political parties. Campaign managers are aware that the impression the candidate displays on television is important. They carefully pick the location and other details before allowing the candidate to be televised. Newscasts of candidates are usually short and feature sound bites.
What are the Limits on Media Influence
The impact of the media on American politics is fed for several reasons. First, few people follow political events very closely. Studies show that only about 15 percent of the people who vote are well-informed. In addition, the media carries content that deals more with entertainment than with politics. Finally, radio and TV news shows do not usually report in depth. However, in-depth coverage is available in all media to those who want to find it.
Benefits of Mass Media
Help shape the public opinion
Influence electoral politics
In-depth media coverage is available to those who look for it, particularly on the Internet
Changing nature of the media allows for more people to actively participate in discussions
Publication of poll results allows media to show how public opinion is measured
Limits of Mass Media
Only a small number of people follow media very closely
People tend to be selective in choosing political coverage
Much media content is shallow and unrelated to political affairs
Media such as radio and television tend to carry only short reports on general news and politics
Newspapers and televisions depend on advertising revenue, which can sometimes dictate coverage
Tom Broknow
Tom Brokaw is a television journalist. He was the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News from 1983 through 2004. Since 1962, he has reported on many national events. He covered the civil rights movement in Atlanta, Georgia, in the 1960s. He was White House correspondent during the Watergate era. In 1995, he reported on the Oklahoma City bombing.

Mr. Brokaw was born in Webster, South Dakota. He studied political science and graduated from the University of South Dakota. He married former Miss South Dakota and current author Meredith Auld. They have three daughters.

Tom Brokaw has written many books, and he has received a number of honorary degrees. Although he stepped down from NBC Nightly News in 2004, he was asked to be a television host again after the death of his friend and colleague Tim Russert. He plans to work part time for NBC through 2014, serving as an analyst and documentary producer.
Sound Bites
Short reports that are 30 or 40 seconds long.
Interest Groups
Groups of people who share the same views on public matters and work to shape public policy
Public Policy
Describes the laws and goals that a government follows or pursues. Some main areas of public policy include the economy, human services, public services, natural resources, and defense. Interest groups provide an effective way to get government to make public policy in response to the needs of the people.
What is the Role of Interest Groups
Interest groups, sometimes called "pressure groups," try to influence public policy. By doing so, they are much more powerful than a few people acting alone could ever be. Interest groups are known as leagues, associations, clubs, or unions. They are protected under the 1st Amendment of the Constitution, which protects people's right to assemble and to petition the government.

Interest groups are found everywhere in America and are involved with every level of government. The United States is composed of many cultures, religions, and ethnic groups. Members of these diverse communities can shape public policy by joining or supporting an interest group. Joining an interest group can also be a way to take part in government.
Early Interest Groups
Interest groups have always had a wide variety of goals. The people pictured in this interactive graphic fought for equality, labor, and economic changes.
How are political parties and interest groups alike? How are they different?
Interest groups are like political parties because both types of groups join together for a political purpose. Even though they share this basic purpose, however, interest groups and political parties do differ in three main ways:

1. Parties nominate candidates. Interest groups may support candidates, but they do not nominate them.
2. Interest groups try to influence the policy of government no matter which candidate wins the office. On the other hand, political parties are primarily focused on winning elections for their candidates.
3. Interest groups are private organizations. They focus on the concerns of their members. Political parties are expected to be interested in the concerns of all voters. They are judged by voters, while interest groups are judged only by their own members.
Interest Groups- Good
Alexis de Tocqueville, from France, visited the United States and was amazed at all of the different organizations in America. He noted that Americans of all ages and incomes joined together to advance their interests. He said, "Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions [natures], constantly form associations . . . not only commercial and manufacturing . . . but . . . of a thousand other kinds—religious, moral, serious, futile [useless], extensive or restricted, enormous or diminutive [small]."
Interest Groups- Bad
In the early days of the United States, interest groups were feared. In 1787, James Madison said that interest groups, or "factions," as he called them, could become too strong.
Reasons Why Interest Groups are Valuable
1. They either support or oppose public policies, inform people, and raise awareness of public affairs.

2. They represent people with similar interests or needs no matter where they live. For example, AARP is an interest group that responds to the needs of older Americans who live anywhere in the U.S. These common interests are often more important than where people live.

3. They provide the government with useful information.

4. They allow citizens to participate in government without running for office. Citizens share ideas and can unite with others to change public policy.

5. They are an informal part of the system of checks and balances. They keep track of officials and public agencies to be sure they are performing well.

6. Interest groups compete with one another. This competition creates a balance and a limit on the power of each group.
Reasons Why Interest Groups are Criticized
Sometimes there are concerns that certain interest groups only represent a few people and yet have enormous influence. In addition, those groups that are well organized and well financed get their way more often, which is not always good for the majority of the American people.

Sometimes a group's name may imply that the group has more members than it really has. For example, a group's title may start with "American Citizens for . . ." but really only represent a very few people. Groups do not always represent the views of everyone for whom they claim to speak

Finally, some groups use unfair methods, such as bribery or threats, to influence others. Although these practices are not common, they do exist. If illegal practices were to become widespread in the groups, the whole political system might be damaged.
Why are Interest Groups an American Tradition
There are thousands of interest groups of all sizes in the United States today. Some have millions of members and are well-known, wealthy, and very well-organized. Others are small, with very little money and few members. Economic interests provide the basis for the largest number of interest groups. Other groups were formed to promote a cause, such as protection of the environment or gun control. Many interest groups form to help certain types of people, such as veterans, senior citizens, or people with disabilities. People can belong to any number of interest groups at the same time.
Business Groups
Business groups have always depended on government to protect their interests. Some of the largest today are very organized and represent thousands of businesses. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Chamber of Commerce of the United States are the best-known groups. NAM represents "big business." The Chamber of Commerce represents the nation's smaller businesses. There are thousands of chambers throughout the country with a total of more than 3 million members.
Trade Association
Interest group within the business community
Support most parts of the business community. A couple of examples are the American Trucking Association and the National Restaurant Association. The most powerful trade associations are those that represent pharmaceuticals, oil, and gas. These groups sometimes fight among themselves.
Labor Group/ Labor Union
A group of workers who do the same job or work in the same industry. These workers push for government policies that will help their members. Automotive workers or steel workers are examples of people who may be in a labor union. The largest labor group is the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor- Congress of Industrial Organizations). It has 56 separate unions and 10 million members. Each member union is organized on a national, state, and local level.

In the past, labor unions were very powerful and obtained many benefits for their members. Today, the strength of labor unions has declined, as has the number of members. As a result, the AFL-CIO is looking for new member unions. The AFL-CIO now includes migrant farmworkers and public employees in its union. Several unions have left the AFL-CIO because of disagreements. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters left the AFL-CIO to form a new group, the Change to Win Coalition.

Labor unions usually work together on such issues as minimum wages, unemployment, and social welfare. Sometimes disagreements over issues divide union members. Blue-collar workers do not always agree with white-collar workers. Sections of the country may also have different concerns. In the transportation industry, the concerns and needs of truckers, railroad workers, and airplane workers may be different.

Union membership has declined as the economy has shifted from manufacturing to services. However, the voice of unions remains strong politically. Education, training, and library occupations have the highest rates of union membership. Unions have also become increasingly diverse demographically.
Agriculture Groups
For much of our history, most Americans lived on farms. The first census, taken in 1790, found that 94.9 percent of Americans lived in rural areas. Since then, the population has increased dramatically, but the farm population has dropped. Less than 2 percent of Americans now live on farms.

Although the farm population has decreased over the years, farmers still have an influence on government's agricultural policies. There are many active agricultural groups. Some groups, for example, represent farmers who raise a certain crop, such as wheat or cotton.

The most well-known agricultural groups are the National Grange, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and the National Farmers Union. The Farm Bureau is the largest and favors the free market economy, but it also supports government programs to promote agriculture. The National Farmers Union supports small farmers and calls itself the "champion of the dirt farmer."

Farm groups sometimes compete with each other to influence state and federal laws. Those who raise corn may disagree with dairy farmers, for example. Farmers in California may have different goals than those in Florida.
Professional Organizations
Members of professions, such as medicine, law, and teaching, have associations as well. These groups usually are not as organized or well-financed as some business or labor groups. However, three of these professional organizations are especially well-organized and successfully influence public policy. They are the National Education Association (NEA), the American Bar Association (ABA), and the American Medical Association (AMA). Other professional groups that are smaller and less well-known serve pharmacists, librarians, and people in other fields.
What Other Interest Groups Exist
Many interest groups were formed to promote a cause or specific idea. One important group is the American Civil Liberties Union. It is concerned with civil and political rights. Common Cause was formed in 1970 to work for political reforms. And the League of Women Voters helps promote participation in and knowledge of public affairs.

Conservation and protection of the environment is a popular cause of many interest groups. A few of the largest environmental groups are the National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, and the Wilderness Society.

Other groups were formed to support opposing ideas. Among these groups is the National Right-to-Life Committee, which is opposed by the Planned Parenthood group. The National Rifle Association works against most forms of gun control. Other interest groups support gun control. Some groups even work to influence international events.
Influencing International Events
In Africa, there have been years of terrible conflict in the Sudan between the government and rebel groups. Hundreds and thousands have died, and millions of people today remain without a home. Amnesty International and many other human rights groups provide resources to the vast number of refugees. Groups like Amnesty International also ask for support from the United States and other nations to act on the situation.
Research groups are also thought of as interest groups. Many are located in Washington, D.C. They are staffed by experts in their fields. Two of these research groups are the Heritage Foundation and the Brookings Institute. Most research groups print their views in books, newspapers, and journals. They may also promote their findings or issues on television.
Veterans, senior citizens, and ethnic communities all have interest groups devoted to their needs. The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars take interest in veterans. AARP promotes the needs of senior citizens. Most ethnic groups in this country have interest groups that support their needs and encourage public policy in their favor.
Religious interest groups work to promote public policy for their members. The National Council of Churches includes many Protestant churches. The National Catholic Welfare Council represents the Roman Catholic Church. The American Jewish Congress and B'nai B'rith's Anti-Defamation League promote the interests of the Jewish population.
What are Public Interest Groups
Interest groups usually represent a certain group of citizens. They try to influence public policy to serve the interests of their members. Public-interest groups, on the other hand, work for the benefit of all citizens, not just a certain group. Public-interest groups may be interested in issues such as consumer rights, voting practices, or product safety. They may also be interested in air and water quality or the protection of the environment. The best-known public-interest groups are Common Cause and all the groups that are part of Ralph Nader's Public Citizen, Inc. One of the oldest groups, the League of Women Voters, began by helping women earn the right to vote.
Public Interest Groups
An interest group that works for the benefit of all citizens
Al Gore
Al Gore, the son of a United States congressman, served as a congressman (1977-1985) and as a senator (1985-1993). During his time in Congress, Gore was always active on issues related to the environment. Presidential candidate Bill Clinton chose him as his running mate in 1992. Gore was elected Vice President in 1992 and again in 1996. In 2000, he ran for the U.S. presidency but lost to George W. Bush in one of the nation's most controversial elections. Since his defeat, Gore has worked on problems related to global warming. His efforts related to the environment earned him a Nobel Peace Prize.
Lobbying
Process of directly approaching policymakers to affect their decisions.
Lobbyists
A person who tries to influence members of a lawmaking group
People who contact public officials to let them know what the interest group wants. Wherever public policy is made, lobbyists can be found—from Washington, D.C., to the smallest city hall. Lobbying is a big business, and most of the lobbyists are professionals. There are about 30,000 lobbyists in the country. They spend about $2 billion a year doing their jobs.
Larger companies and labor unions often have lobbyists. Many lobbyists work for law firms or public relations agencies. New rules about lobbyists have been in effect since 2007. Lobbyists must register with the clerk of the House and the secretary of the Senate. They must also report their income quarterly. Former senators and top-level executive branch officials must wait two years before they can become lobbyists. Former House members must wait one year. Members of Congress may not accept gifts from lobbyists or their clients.
Indirect Lobbying
The goal of indirect lobbying is the same as the goal of direct lobbying. Lobbyists want to influence public policy in favor of the interest group they represent. There are three main indirect lobbying approaches: grass-roots lobbying, public-opinion shaping, and election-related activities.
How do Lobbyists Work with Congress
Congress is the main place for the making of public policy in the federal government. Because of this, lobbyists try to keep close ties with members of Congress, especially the members of House and Senate committees, where most legislation is written and debated.

Lobbyists testify before Congress when new legislation is being considered. The lobbyists present the views of their organizations and may also give Congress useful information on the subject of the legislation. Often, many lobbyists representing different interests attend committee hearings if the proposed legislation will affect a variety of groups.

Lobbyists will often help lawmakers by writing speeches, providing information, or even writing legislation. The information is usually accurate and the writing well done. Lobbyists need to be honest and effective to earn the respect of the lawmakers.
Lobbying in Action/Steps
1. Proposal
2. Debate begins
3. Government action
4. Final decision
Lobbying in the Executive Branch
When the executive branch receives a law that Congress has passed, there is still more work to be done. For example, the executive department decides which manufacturer will be chosen to supply military equipment. Lobbyists from manufacturing companies may contact officials in the White House and the executive agencies involved. By doing this, the lobbyists hope to get contracts for their clients.

Lobbyists try to influence the President's selection of the top officials in many agencies of the executive branch because this may result in better treatment for their interest group in the future. The very successful lobbyists have friends in many agencies. These contacts are valuable for their clients.
Lobbying in Courts
Lobbyists can work through the courts to promote the ideas of their interest group clients. The American Civil Liberties Union and other interest groups often take legal action to promote their interests. The lawsuits may involve issues that would not be likely to succeed in Congress, but may win in the courts.

An interest group may file an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief. This type of brief is presented as support for one side of a case being tried. The interest group in this case has not actually taken the legal action, but it does support one side in the case. Sometimes, many interest groups will present briefs for the same case. Interest groups also try to influence the selection of federal judges.
Amicus Curiae Brief
Latin for "friend of the court"; a brief that supports one of the sides in a case being tried
Grass-Root Lobbying/Pressure
Grass-roots lobbying involves putting demands on government from the members of an organized interest group or a group of regular citizens. This method is called grass-roots pressure. It can include phone calls, letters, faxes, and e-mails. This type of lobbying is often done on short notice. AARP, with 35 million members, is most effective at grass-roots lobbying. Members of Congress receive more contact from members of AARP than any other group when pending legislation might affect retirees.

The Internet has also helped interest groups promote their causes. Today, almost every organization has a Web site. Groups with low budgets may use the Internet to get started. At election time, the Internet is used to inform and encourage people to vote for the candidates that an interest group supports.
Grass-Roots Organizing
Advances in technology have changed the way interest groups organize at the grass-roots level. Having access to Web sites and cell phones makes it easier to communicate. Using these tools, smaller groups can organize and raise money as quickly as can larger interest groups.

Organizers can set up Web sites based on their interests and connect with other members remotely

Other popular methods of grass-roots lobbying are marches and demonstrations. Some are very organized and may take place near important public buildings. Many have been held in Washington, D.C. Interest groups may also keep records of how legislators vote on issues that are important to them. They use these records to change the voting behavior of the official or to defeat the official in future elections.
How Public opinion is Shaped
Organized groups use several means to shape public opinion. Most of these methods are expensive. They include television ads, newspaper reports, and magazine articles. The large, wealthy interest groups (such as oil, drug, and insurance companies) hope to become well-known, trusted, and supported by the general public. The American Medical Association (AMA) spent many years working against national health insurance proposals. The AMA asked doctors to post signs in waiting rooms and talk to patients about this issue. Because patients usually trust their doctors, the AMA knew they would be more willing to respect this viewpoint when it came from them.

Another method used to shape public opinion is the support of well-known people, especially from movies or television. The use of the mass media, however, is by far the most effective way of shaping public opinion. The public sometimes ignores paid ads, but coverage by the media lends importance to any event involving an interest group. Press releases, interviews, and studies are often produced by interest groups for media use.

Propaganda is a method of persuasion used to influence individuals or groups. Propaganda often uses only evidence, true or false, that agrees with the ideas being presented. The media encourage the use of propaganda in its advertising and in politics. Two different types of propaganda are name-calling (putting a label on a person, such as "communist") and card stacking (presenting only one side of the issue). Propaganda is spread through the newspapers, radio, television, books, speeches, posters, and other outlets.
Electioneering
Working to get someone elected to office. It is one of the many ways that interest groups try to influence the making of public policy. Groups help candidates through their political action committees (PACs), which make financial contributions and offer advice to candidates. PACs also help in campaign offices and provide a variety of support on election day.
Labor Unions Sponsor a Bus Tour for the Jobless
On March 24, 2004, an eight-day bus tour began. It started in St. Louis, stopped in eighteen cities, and ended in Washington, D.C. It was sponsored by labor unions and a national organization for nonunion families. On the tour were 51 people who had no jobs or poor jobs. One purpose of the tour was to show support for workers in areas of heavy job loss. Another purpose was to show the personal and economic effects of being jobless. The workers felt that legislation was needed to protect workers from outsourcing—the practice of sending jobs to other countries to avoid labor laws and taxes. The group held rallies, and the news media covered them. When the tour ended on April 1, a television advertising campaign began. The ads told viewers to let public officials know about the needs of the jobless and to work together to make a change in government policies.
Bicameral
A legislative body made up of two houses, or chambers
The Framers of the Constitution decided on a bicameral legislature.
Congress is made up of two houses—the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Reasons Why the Framers of the Constitution Decided on a Bicameral Legislature.
Past governments were set up this way. The British Parliament had two houses. Most Americans were familiar with the British Parliament, so the Framers followed the Parliament's example. Today in the United States, all state legislatures are also bicameral, except for Nebraska's. It has only one legislative body.

Having two houses settled a conflict during the Constitutional Convention. The large and small states could not agree on the size and makeup of the Congress. There was much debate. Ultimately, the Framers decided to compromise. Each state would have two representatives in the Senate. In the House of Representatives, each state would be represented according to its population.

The two houses of Congress check each other. The Framers thought this would keep each chamber of the Congress from becoming too powerful. For example, both the Senate and the House must pass a new bill. Only then can the bill be sent to the President for approval.
Session
The period of time each year when Congress meets

The Senate and House of Representatives begin their sessions in Washington, D.C., early in January. They work at the Capitol building. A session is a period of time each year when Congress meets to talk about laws.

Each session usually lasts until the work is completed.

Sometimes Congress does not end the meeting, or adjourn, until late fall. Near the end of the session, Congress votes to adjourn. If a serious problem comes up after Congress has adjourned, the President may ask Congress to come back and hold a special session.
Term
Each term of Congress has two sessions. The first session begins in January of odd-numbered years. For example, the first session of the 111th Congress began in January 2009.

An assigned period of time for an elected official to serve
Adjourn
To bring a meeting to an end
Special Session
A special session lasts until the problem is solved. For example, in 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt called a special session. Many people did not have jobs and needed help. The President wanted Congress to pass laws that would help these people.

A session called to deal with an emergency
Representation of Congress
Each state is represented by senators and House members. There are two senators for each state. The number of House members for each state is determined by the state's population
Both Wyoming and California, for example, are each represented by two senators. However, California has many more House members because of its much larger population.
How Many Members are in the Senate
The writers of the Constitution wanted to be sure that every state would be represented equally in the Senate. The 1st Congress had 26 senators representing the 13 original states. Today, each of the 50 states elects two senators to serve in the Senate. Each state, no matter how large or how small its population, has the same number of votes in the Senate. There are 100 senators serving in the Senate today, and senators may serve for any number of terms.

The Framers of the Constitution hoped the smaller Senate would be a more responsible body than the House. They reinforced that hope by giving senators a longer term than the representatives.

A representative's term is only two years. The six-year term of a senator is three times as long. The senators represent the entire state and need a range of knowledge to serve well. Senators are often concerned with issues that affect the entire country. They are interested in topics such as social security, national healthcare, and international issues.
What are the Qualifications of the House
Just like the House, there are qualifications to run for the Senate:

Senators must be at least 30 years old.

Senators must have been citizens of the United States for at least nine years.

Senators must be residents of the state they represent.

A senator serves a six-year term. Only one-third of the Senate membership is elected at any one time. Only one senator from a state is elected to a full term in any given election. The Senate is a continuous body.


Just as members of the House of Representatives have informal qualifications, so do the senators. They often need political experience and a familiar name, and they must appeal to a wide range of voters.
Members Leaving the House
The Senate can judge the qualifications of its members just as the House does. In the past, 15 members of the Senate have been expelled, or forced to leave office. The first was in 1797. Later, during the Civil War, 14 senators from Confederate states were expelled. In 1995, Senator Bob Packwood resigned. He was one of the few senators ever to do so.
Personal and Political Backgrounds of Members of Congress
The 535 members of Congress are all well-educated, and most have college degrees. Only a few members of Congress were born outside the United States. Most were born in the states they represent. Members of the House of Representatives have an average age of 57. The average age of senators is 60.

Although men outnumber women in Congress, the number of women is growing. Many women are leaders in the Congress. Nancy Pelosi (D., California) was recently Speaker of the House. This position makes her second in line for the presidency. The number of African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians in Congress is also increasing. Representative David Wu (D., Oregon) is the first Chinese American to serve in Congress. Five African Americans have been elected to the Senate.

Most members of Congress are married and have families. Many different religions are represented by members of Congress. More than half of the senators are lawyers, and well over a third of the representatives are lawyers as well. Members of Congress usually have many years of political experience. Many have served as state officials, governors, Cabinet members, or important members of federal agencies.

In general, senators and representatives can be described as a group of well-educated, upper-middle-class Americans. They are experienced in politics and are expected to serve Americans they represent.

Over time, the membership of Congress has become more educated, older, and more diverse.
Margaret Chase Smith and Barbara Jordan
Two pioneers who worked toward equality and equal representation in the U.S. Congress.
Margaret Chase Smith
Margaret Chase Smith was born in Maine in 1897. In 1940, she was elected to complete her husband's term when he died. She was reelected for four terms in the House of Representatives, and later was elected to the Senate. She was the first woman elected to both houses of Congress. In 1964, Smith became the first woman to be placed in nomination for President at a major party convention. Smith served in the Senate until 1973.
Barbara Jordan
Barbara Jordan was born in 1936. She became a lawyer and served as a state senator in Texas. In 1973, she became the first southern African American woman elected to the House of Representatives. She served three terms. After she left Congress, Jordan taught courses in government and politics at the University of Texas at Austin.
What is the Job of a Member of Congress
Senators and representatives work for the people who elect them. They cast hundreds of votes for or against laws during each session of Congress. Voting is the most important job they do. When casting a vote, the members of Congress have four options. They can vote as delegates of the people of their state. They decide if they would vote for the bill or not. They can vote as trustees according to their personal opinion of the bill. Members of Congress can also vote as partisans, in line with the ideas of their party. The last option is to vote as a politico and combine their own views, the opinions of the people they represent, and their party's views.

Senators and representatives serve as committee members. Part of their job as committee members is to decide which bills go before Congress for floor consideration. Only when it is chosen for floor consideration can a bill be acted on by the full membership.
Bill
A proposed law
Trustee
A person who is given power to act for others
Partisian
A person who votes by the party line
Politico
A person who tries to balance being a delegate, trustee, and partisan
Floor Consideration
The consideration of and action on a bill by the full membership of the House or Senate
Benefits of Being a Congress Member
Members of Congress are paid $174,000 a year. The Speaker of the House and the majority and minority floor leaders receive even more. Salaries and benefits help members of Congress who must maintain two residences, one in their home state and one in Washington, D.C. Travel allowances, low insurance rates, and medical care are other benefits. Members of Congress are also provided with offices and money for hiring a staff. The franking privilege allows them to mail letters and other materials for free. In addition, there are restaurants, gyms, swimming pools, and parking spaces available for members of Congress to use, free of charge.

The Constitution gives members of Congress a privilege that is not related to money. Article 1, Section 6, states, ". . . for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place." This means that members of Congress cannot be questioned in the courts. This article applies to debates in Congress. However, it does not protect members of Congress if they attack another person verbally or in writing. The Supreme Court has ruled that members of Congress may be sued for statements made in public documents, such as newspapers.
Franking Privilege
A benefit for members of Congress to mail letters and other materials for free
Teens Testify Before Congress
Sometimes teenagers are asked to testify before congressional committees to share their views. Two teens who testified a few years ago were Elisa Svenson and Danielle Shimotakahara.

In 1999, Elisa Svenson, a freshman in college, worked at the Institute for Youth Development. This organization provides information to help young people avoid smoking, alcohol, and other drugs. Svenson testified before Congress about teen smoking and addiction. Several of her family members had died due to smoking that they had begun in their teen years.

That same year, Danielle Shimotakahara, age 12, started a campaign to prevent children from being exposed to violent video games, and later testified before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee. In 2001, she spoke before the Oregon state senate and helped get a state resolution passed that strongly urged the video game industry to reduce violence in games for young people and to label video games for children under 17. Shimotakahara's testimony was later sent to the U.S. Senate Committee on Science and Transportation.
Delegated Powers
Sections 8 and 9 of Article I of the Constitution list many of the powers of Congress. These are the delegated powers. Delegated powers are those given to Congress by the Constitution. The Framers of the Constitution limited those powers in several ways. For example, Congress can pass a bill into law. The President does not have to sign the bill, however, and the Supreme Court can say that the law goes against the Constitution. These are two ways that the powers of Congress are limited.
The Constitution gives the states power over some issues. This means that the federal government has no power in these areas. They include such matters as creating a public school system or setting a minimum age for marriage licenses.
Even though the Constitution limits the powers of Congress, it also grants many powers. These powers are delegated in three different ways. The expressed powers are set out specifically in Article I. The implied powers are not stated specifically, but are based on the expressed powers. The inherent powers are those that all national governments have.
Expressed Powers
The delegated powers of the national government that are written plainly in the Constitution
Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution lists 27 of the expressed powers of Congress. The powers include collecting taxes, regulating trade, and raising an army. To find the real meaning of these powers, though, you must look at how Congress has used them over the years. Supreme Court rulings have also shaped the meaning of the expressed powers.
EX: Constitution grants Congress the power to regulate immigration
Implied Powers
Powers of the national government that are suggested by the expressed powers set out in the Constitution
Many of the implied powers and much of what Congress does every day is based on two of the expressed powers: the commerce power and the taxing power.
EX: Congress established the U.S. Border Patrol to regulate immigration
Inherent Powers
Powers the Constitution is presumed to have given to the national government because it is the government of a sovereign state within the world community
EX: Power to control the nation's borders
Serving in the National Guard
Congress's war powers include the ability to call up the National Guard or the Air National Guard. The National Guard has a long history and was actually used during the American Revolution, when it was called the militia. While the regular military services require a full commitment, the Guard only requires members to work weekends and two weeks a year for six to eight years. After three years, a Guard member can become a reserve. There are hundreds of job opportunities in the Guard, including military police and public affairs. Guard members can serve while attending school or while holding a job. They receive a monthly paycheck and other benefits. Twenty Presidents have served in the Guard. Both the state and the federal government can call up the National Guard. The Guard has been needed during natural disasters, such as major hurricanes, and in times of war.
Commerce Confusion Resolved
Commerce is trade, or the buying and selling of goods. The Framers were concerned about trade when they wrote the Constitution. Because Congress had no power over interstate trade under the Articles of Confederation, the states had passed their own trade laws. These laws caused confusion. To solve this problem, the Framers added the Commerce Clause to the Constitution.
Commerce Power
Exclusive power of Congress to regulate trade between states and foreign countries
power of Congress to regulate trade. Congress can regulate both interstate trade—trade between states—and foreign trade, which is trade with other countries. This power has been very important to the growth of the United States into a world leader.


The Supreme Court decided its first case involving the Commerce Clause in 1824. Aaron Ogden was running a steamboat line between New York City and New Jersey. Ogden had a contract from the State of New York. A man named Thomas Gibbons got a contract from the federal government and began running another steamboat line in the same area. Ogden sued Gibbons, and the case went to the Supreme Court.

The Court decided Gibbons could continue his steamboat business because the State of New York had no power over interstate commerce. As a result of this decision, many more steamboat companies began to do business. Railroads also developed. Soon, transportation in the United States was dramatically transformed. Over the years since the case was decided, the commerce power has allowed the federal government to become involved in many areas of life.
Limits on Commerce Power
Some limits on the commerce power must be noted. For example, Congress cannot tax exports. It also cannot favor the port of one state over another or force vessels from one state to pay taxes to another state.
Congress Power to Tax
The Articles of Confederation did not give Congress the power to tax. This caused major problems during the nation's early years. When the Framers wrote the Constitution, they made sure that they included the taxing power.
Tax
A charge collected by government on persons or property to meet public needs

An amount of money charged by the government on persons or property. The major purpose of taxes is to raise money for public needs. Taxes called protective tariffs can be imposed on foreign goods to protect industries in this country`. Tariffs make the cost of foreign goods higher than that of goods made at home. Another purpose of taxes is to protect public health and safety. That is why the federal government requires a proper legal license to make or sell narcotics, for example. Licensing is a form of taxation.
Constitution Limits on Congress to Impose Taxes
Congress may only tax for public purposes, such as defense or paying debts.

Congress cannot tax exports, which are goods sent out of the country. Imports (goods brought into the country) may be taxed.

Direct taxes must be equally divided among the states. Direct taxes are paid by a person directly to the government. Taxes on land or buildings are examples of direct taxes.

Income tax is another kind of direct tax. It does not
have to be divided equally among the states. This is
because wealth is not divided equally.

All indirect taxes must be collected at the same federal rate throughout the country. Examples of indirect taxes are those collected on gasoline, alcoholic beverages, and tobacco products. An indirect tax is one that is first paid by one person but then passed on to another in the cost of an item.
Federal Spending
Categories of spending in the federal budget in 1800, 1900, and 2008. Notice that the following categories did not exist in 1800 or 1900: Health, Social Security, and Public Welfare; Transportation; Scientific/Medical Research; and Education.
Currency- Early Stages
Our country did not have a national money system in its early years. English coins, Spanish money, paper money, and money issued by several of the 13 states were all being used. The many forms of money caused great confusion. In 1789, the Framers gave Congress the currency power. Currency is money in any form used as a medium of exchange. The states are denied the currency power.

At first, the United States issued coins made of gold, silver, and other metals. The first Bank of the United States was created by Congress in 1791. It had the power to issue bank notes (paper money). These were not legal tender.

It was not until 1862 that Congress created a national paper currency. These bills were called Greenbacks. Private bank notes, issued by state banks, competed with these new Greenbacks. After Congress charged a tax on the private bank notes, they soon went out of use.

There were several Supreme Court cases involving Greenbacks. In 1884, the Supreme Court decided that Greenbacks were constitutional. The Court said that issuing paper money as legal tender was a proper use of the currency power. The Court agreed that the currency power could be implied from the borrowing and war powers.
Legal Tender
Any kind of money that a creditor must, by law, accept in payment for debts
Borrowing Power
Article I of the Constitution allows Congress to borrow money for any purpose. The Constitution does not limit the amount of money that may be borrowed. Congress has, however, put a limit on the public debt. The public debt is all the money borrowed by the federal government, along with the interest on that money. Congress has had to raise that limit many times. The public debt now stands at more than $10 trillion.

Over the years, the government has used deficit financing. To make up the difference, the government borrows money. The government has used deficit financing to deal with such matters as the Great Depression, wars, and social programs. In all but seven years since 1930, the federal government has been in debt. Not until 1998 did the government take in as much as it spent. The government was only out of debt until 2002, however. Deficit spending returned in that year.
Deficient Finance
Spending more money than is taken in
Bankruptcy Power
The Constitution gives Congress the power to make laws about bankruptcy in the United States. The states and the national government both have the power to regulate bankruptcy. Because the federal bankruptcy law is very broad, however, the federal district courts hear most of the bankruptcy cases.
Bankruptcy
If a person is bankrupt, that means that he or she does not have enough money to pay his or her debts. Bankruptcy is a legal procedure in which the bankrupt's assets, or everything the person owns, are paid to those to whom a debt is owed. The person or company is then free from all debts incurred before the bankruptcy.
Personal Bankruptcy
Regulating bankruptcy is one of the expressed powers of Congress. The bankruptcy process can't be used for certain kinds of debts, such as mortgages and taxes. It can be used for credit cards, medical expenses, and other debts.
Steps in Filing for Backruptcy
1. A debtor must choose one of two kinds of bankruptcy
-Liquidation bankruptcy
- Reorganization bankruptcy
2. The application for bankruptcy requires detailed documentation of income, expenses, assets, liabilities, and all recent financial transactions
3. When a bankruptcy application is filed, the court assumes responsibility for the debtor's finance. The court issues an order informing all creditors, stopping them from taking steps to collect their debts without court permission
4. With a court appointed trustee, the debtor meets with the creditors to negotiate and agree on how much each will be paid. The trustee's job is to recover as much money as possible for the creditor
5. At a hearing, a federal judge then declares the debt discharged, or dimissed
Foreign Affair Powers
The Constitution gives the President most of the responsibility for foreign policy, but Congress also plays an important part. The foreign affairs powers of Congress come from two sources. One is the expressed powers. The war powers and the power to control foreign commerce are especially important. The second is the lawmaking responsibility of Congress. This responsibility includes the power to act on matters that affect the nation's security. These matters include controlling immigration and fighting terrorism.
War Powers
The war powers of Congress are found in Section 8 of Article I of the Constitution. These powers are very important. Only Congress has the power to declare war. Congress can also raise and support armies and provide and maintain a navy. Congress can make rules for governing the nation's military forces. Congress can also call forth the militia (National Guard) and organize, arm, and discipline that force.

forces in combat without a declaration of war by Congress. Many argue that this is unconstitutional. This use of the war powers raised serious concerns when Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon committed American troops to a long war in Vietnam (1964-1973). After the war, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution. It was meant to limit the President's war-making powers. The resolution states that Congress must declare war or at least approve the action in order for the President to commit American troops to combat abroad.

However, if the United States or its armed forces have been attacked, the President can call troops into action. In this case, the President must report to Congress within 48 hours of the action. If American troops are deployed in this way, the commitment must end in 60 days, unless Congress authorizes a longer commitment. Congress can end a commitment at any time. The question of whether or not this resolution is constitutional has yet to be decided.
Copyright
A copyright is the exclusive right of a person or company to reproduce, publish, and sell a creative work. Copyrights are registered by the Copyright Office in the Library of Congress. The copyright is good for the life of the artist plus 70 years. Copyrights cover many creative works, including books, music, paintings, maps, movies, and more. The federal courts, not the Copyright Office, hear cases involving copyright violations.
Domestic Powers
Congress has the power to grant copyrights and patents
The postal power (Article I, Section 8, Clause 7) gives Congress the power to set up post offices and postal routes.
Congress also has the power to "fix the Standard of Weights and Measures" in the United States.
Congress also has the power to set the rules for naturalization
Some of the domestic powers of Congress have to do with the courts. Most importantly, Congress can set up and organize all of the federal courts below the Supreme Court.
Another judicial power of Congress is the power to define federal crimes and set the punishment for them.
Patent
Gives a person or company the exclusive right to make and sell an invention. Patents cover art, machines, manufacturing processes, or new ways of doing things. A patent is good for up to 20 years. It is issued by the Patent and Trademark Office of the Department of Commerce.
How is Copyright Different from Patent
A copyright protects creative works for the life of the artist plus 70 years. A patent is a license to use or sell exclusively an invention or creation for up to 20 years.
Postal Power
Postal routes include airlines, rail lines, and waterways within the United States. The United States Postal Service began in the colonial period. Today the country has over 33,000 post offices, and the Postal Service employs more than 685,000 people.

Congress has made it a federal crime to obstruct the mail or to use the mail to commit a criminal act. The law says that many items cannot be sent through the mail, including obscene materials, certain live animals, or dangerous goods. The states may not interfere with the mail. Also, states may not tax the post offices or other property of the Postal Service.
Congress's Power to "Fix the Standard of Weights and Measures" in the United States.
In the 1800s, Congress made both the English and metric systems legal in this country. The National Institute of Standards and Technology keeps the original standard measures in our country. All other measures in the United States are tested and corrected against these standards.
The Constitution Gives Congress the Power to Manage Federal Areas
This includes the District of Columbia, federal arsenals, dockyards, post offices, prisons, parks, and many other federal possessions. It also includes the federal territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. These territories are not states, but they are part of the United States. They have their own systems of government.
Territory
A part of the United States not included in any state but organized with a separate system of government
The Power of Eminent Domain
The power of eminent domain is the power of the federal government to take private property for public use. The 5th Amendment requires the government to pay the owner a fair price if his or her property is taken. The courts are often called in to decide in cases of eminent domain.
Naturalization
The process by which a citizen of one country becomes a citizen of another country. There are more than 14 million naturalized citizens in the United States today.
Congress Has the Power to Define Federal Crimes
Three are mentioned in Article I of the Constitution: counterfeiting, piracies and felonies on the high seas, and the breaking of international law. Treason is listed in Article III. Congress has also decided on more than 100 other federal crimes using its implied powers.
Necessary and Proper Clause
The writers of the Constitution knew that issues would come up that were not covered in the Constitution. To handle these, they added the last part of Article I, Section 8. This part is called the Necessary and Proper Clause. The clause is also known as the Elastic Clause because it has been stretched so far over the years. It tells Congress that it can make all laws necessary to carry out its duties.

For example, Congress was given the power to set up an army and navy to protect citizens. After a few years, Congress saw that military colleges were needed to train officers. However, the Constitution did not specifically give Congress the power to set up military schools. So Congress passed a law that gave money to states to set up and run military colleges. This is an example of how Congress used the power granted by this clause to provide better military defense for the United States.

allowed the government to meet the needs of the country through changing times. Every use of the implied powers must be based on one of the expressed powers. Most often, the use of an implied power is based on the commerce power, the power to tax and spend, and/or the war powers.
Congress and Education
The Constitution does not mention education. The power to act in that major area of public policy is, instead, left to the states. Still, Congress has relied on several of its implied powers to establish important programs in the nation's public schools.
Strict Constructionist
One who wants Congress to use only those powers specifically given to it in the Constitution
Feared a strong national government. They wanted Congress to exercise only the expressed powers. They believed the government should be able to expand its powers only when needed. They wanted the states to be strong and powerful.
Liberal Constructionist
Believed in a strong national government. They believed government should be able to create new power as the country changes, or whenever necessary.
One who believes government should be able to create new power when needed
Supreme Court Using Implied Powers in Many of its Decisons
The Supreme Court has agreed with the use of the implied powers in many of its decisions. The most important case was McCulloch v. Maryland in 1819. Over the years, the power of the national government has grown. The liberal constructionists have won the argument about the powers of Congress.

Many factors have caused this growth of national power. They include wars, economic problems, and other national emergencies. Advances in technology, transportation, and social programs have required government involvement. Many Americans agree with the liberal constructionist view. Still, controversies exist about the proper limits of the federal government.
Using Commerce Powers
The Commerce Clause has been broadly defined to include all types of economic activity. Congress can now regulate manufacturing, foods and drugs, air travel, and more. The federal government builds highways, protects consumers, and protects the environment.

In 1998 and again in 2007, Congress used its commerce power to stop a tax on Internet sales and other online activities. There are limits on the commerce power, however. At times, the Supreme Court has also found that Congress has gone too far in using its implied powers.
Using War Powers
The war powers give Congress the authority to protect the country. In doing so, Congress cannot violate any part of the Constitution. Over the years, lawmakers have used the Elastic Clause to stretch these powers to include many things. For example, Congress has passed a law allowing the national government to draft men to serve in the military. The Supreme Court has upheld this use of the war powers.
Ada E. Deer
Ada E. Deer headed the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) from 1993 to 1997. She was the first woman to hold this office. Deer was born on the Menominee Indian Reservation in Wisconsin. She won a tribal scholarship to study at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and graduated from that school. She later received a Master of Social Work degree from Columbia University.

During her career, Ada Deer sought to restore sovereignty to Indian tribes. She thought they should be able to decide how to meet their own needs without government interference. This made necessary the doing away with the 1954 Termination Act, a federal government effort to assimilate Indians into the mainstream. Deer led the struggle to eliminate this act. In 1973, President Nixon signed the Menominee Restoration Act, which reversed the Termination Act. This is one of Deer's many accomplishments for social justice
Constitutional Amendment Power
According to Article V of the Constitution, Congress can propose amendments to the Constitution. Two thirds of the members of each house must vote in favor of an amendment. Amendments to the Constitution have been proposed 33 times. Article V also allows Congress to call a national convention to propose an amendment if it has the request from two thirds of the state legislatures. This has never happened.
States have asked Congress for amendments to the Constitution. Among the proposals were:
Require the federal government to balance the budget every year

Allow prayer in public schools

Place term limits on members of Congress

Prohibit flag burning

Outlaw abortion

Prohibit same-sex marriages
Electoral Duties of Congress
Congress has certain electoral duties, although they are hardly ever used. The 12th Amendment states that if no one receives a majority of electoral votes in a presidential race, the House will choose the President. Congress chooses from among the top three winners in the electoral college. A majority of the states must vote, and each state gets one vote. This has happened twice. In 1801, the House elected Thomas Jefferson. In 1825, the House chose John Quincy Adams.

The Senate is called on to choose the Vice President if no candidate receives a majority of the electoral votes. A full Senate is required. Each senator gets one vote. This happened in 1837 when Richard M. Johnson was chosen. If the office of Vice President becomes vacant, the 25th Amendment states that the President will pick a replacement. The Congress must approve this choice by a majority vote in both houses. This has happened twice. Gerald Ford was approved in 1973, and Nelson Rockefeller was approved in 1974.
Running for the General Election
No law says that only two people may run in the general election, but the Constitution does say that the winner must receive the majority of the Electoral College votes, which is now 270.
Impeach
To bring formal charges against a public official
Impeachment Powers of Congress
The President, Vice President, and all civil officers may be removed from office for committing a crime that is written in the Constitution in Article II, Section 4. Congress can cause them to be removed by using its power to impeach. The House is given the power to impeach, which means to accuse or charge an official with a crime. Impeachment requires a majority vote. If the person is impeached, the Senate will hold a trial, which may result in a conviction

Conviction requires a two-thirds vote in the Senate. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court leads the Senate trial when a President is tried. A conviction results in removal from office. If there is a crime involved in the impeachment proceedings, this crime may be tried separately in a regular court. To this point, there have been 17 impeachments and 7 convictions. All 7 convictions were federal judges.

The House has impeached two Presidents: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Both men were found not guilty in the Senate trials. Andrew Johnson became President after Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865. President Johnson tried to carry out Lincoln's policies in the recently defeated Southern states.
Acquit
Find not guilty of a charge
Impeachment of Bill Clinton
The House impeached Bill Clinton in 1998. President Clinton had admitted to an "inappropriate relationship" with a White House intern. The President was charged with perjury. The President refused to give information about his behavior with the intern. Some House members wanted his immediate removal from office. Others wanted only censure. The Senate received the articles of impeachment in 1999, and Clinton was acquitted.
Impeachment of Edward Stanton
Radical Republicans wanted the states treated more harshly. President Johnson removed Edward Stanton, the Secretary of War, because he opposed Johnson's policies. This action went against the newly passed Tenure of Office Act. This Act required Senate approval for removing a person from office. The impeachment of Johnson was based on his violation of the Tenure of Office Act. The Senate acquitted Johnson by a one-vote margin.
Cenure
A formal disproval
Perjury
The act of lying under oath
Resignation of President Nixon
Perhaps the biggest political scandal in our history was Watergate. In 1972, members of President Nixon's Republican Party attempted to break into the Democratic Party's national offices in the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C. The media, especially the Washington Post, began an investigation. Many illegal acts were uncovered, including bribery, perjury, fraud, and illegal campaign contributions.

The House Judiciary Committee charged President Nixon with obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and failure to answer subpoenas (legal orders to appear or give evidence to the court). When it was certain that the House would impeach Nixon and the Senate would convict him, Nixon resigned. Numerous other officials involved in the scandal were convicted of a variety of crimes, and many of them went to jail.
Subpoena
A legal order to appear or give evidence to the court
Executive Powers of Congress
The Constitution gives two executive powers to the Senate: the powers to confirm or reject presidential appointments and to give advice and consent to treaties made by the President.
Presidential Appointments
Presidential appointments must be confirmed by a majority vote in the Senate. The Senate usually approves Cabinet officers and other top federal officials quickly. An unwritten rule known as "senatorial courtesy" can sometimes dictate appointments. According to this rule, the Senate will turn down an appointment by the President if it is opposed by a senator of the President's own party from the state involved. Senators who want to grant favors to their supporters can influence the President's selections. The President will sometimes honor the senator's choice by granting the appointment as a courtesy to the senator.
President Making Treaties
According to the Constitution, the President is allowed to make treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate. Two thirds of the senators must approve a treaty. In the past, the President consulted with the Senate when developing a treaty. Now, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and other influential senators often advise the President.
Investigative Powers of Congress
The congressional power to investigate is implied in the Constitution in Article I, Section I. Senate and House committees and subcommittees investigate many matters involving the lawmaking power.

Investigations are carried out for five main reasons:

1. To gather information when writing new laws

2. To oversee the executive agencies

3. To inform the public about certain matters

4. To expose the questionable actions of public officials, persons, or groups

5. To promote the interests of some members of Congress

In recent years, several new agencies have been created to help Congress with investigations. They are the Congressional Budget Office, the Congressional Research Service, and the Government Accountability Office.
When Does Congress Come Together
Congress comes together every two years on January 3 of every odd-numbered year. On this day, they start a new term. The clerk of the House calls the members to order. Next, the Speaker of the House is chosen. The Speaker is always a member of the majority party, according to custom. The Speaker swears in the members of the House.

The House then elects a clerk, sergeant-at-arms, chief administrative officer, and chaplain. After members have been assigned to committees, the House of Representatives can begin its work.

In the Senate, only one third of the seats are open to election every two years. The Senate is a continuous body from one term to another. On opening day, new and reelected senators are sworn in, committees are filled, and other details are discussed.

Once Congress is organized, the President gives a speech to both houses. It is called the State of the Union address. The President describes the country's condition and the administration's policies.
Speaker of the House
The leading officer of the House of Representatives, chosen by and from the majority party in the House

The House has always elected one of its own members as Speaker. The Speaker is the leader of the majority party but is expected to act fairly to both parties. He or she is the most important leader in both houses of Congress. The duties include keeping order during discussions on the floor and presiding over each House session. The Speaker sends bills (proposed laws) to committees. If there is a tie in the voting, he or she may be called on to break the tie. After the Vice President, the Speaker is next in line to become President of the United States.
Presiding Officers
The presiding officers of the House of Representatives and the Senate are chosen according to Article I of the Constitution. The Speaker is the leader of the House, and the Vice President of the United States is the president of the Senate.

The Senate does not pick its own presiding officer. According to the Constitution, the Vice President of the United States is the president of the Senate but is not a member of the Senate. The president of the Senate may not even be a member of the controlling party in the Senate. The position has less power than the Speaker. The president of the Senate may not debate issues in Congress and may only vote to break a tie. If the Vice President cannot be present, the president pro tempore, who is elected by the Senate, takes the Vice President's place. The president pro tempore follows the Speaker as next in succession for the presidency.
President of the Senate
The leading officer of the Senate; also, the Vice President of the United States
President Pro Tempore
The member of the Senate chosen to take the place of the Vice President when he or she is absent
Party Officers
Both the House and the Senate have important leaders from the Republican and Democratic parties. They are chosen at the party caucus meeting held before Congress organizes. These party officers are the majority and minority floor leaders. The majority leader is powerful because his or her political party has more seats. The floor leader of the party that has the smaller number of seats in each house is the minority leader.

The assistants to the floor leaders are the party whips.
Party Caucus
A closed meeting of the members of each party in each house. These party officers are the majority and minority floor leaders.

A closed meeting of a party's House or Senate members
Floor Leaders
Political party leaders in Congress
Majority Leader
The floor leader of the party that holds the majority of seats in each house of Congress
Minority Leader
The floor leader of the party that holds the minority of the seats in each house of the U.S. Congress
Whips
Assistants to the floor leaders in the U. S. House and Senate
The floor leaders depend on the party whips to encourage party members to be present for voting and to vote with the party leaders.
Committee Chairmen
A member of Congress who leads a standing committee

The leaders of the standing committees in both houses of Congress. The standing committees do most of the work in Congress. The committee chairmen hold much power. They schedule meetings, decide on bills to consider, and lead all discussions of the bills. The title chairman, rather than chairperson, is used in both houses of Congress today. Only 20 women have ever chaired a standing committee.
Seniority Rule
A custom that gives the most important jobs in Congress to the members who have served the longest
Cons of the Seniority Rule
It does not allow new ideas and leaves out the younger, newer members
Pros of the Seniority Rule
It ensures that members of Congress with the most experience become the committee chairmen
Standing Committees
A permanent committee that considers certain topics

Committees were first used in Congress in 1789. Soon, permanent groups called standing committees were used. Similar bills were all sent to the same standing committee. Each standing committee considers a certain topic, such as how the United States gets along with foreign countries. One standing committee takes care of the needs of the armed services. Another committee called the House Ways and Means Committee decides how to raise money for the federal government.

Today there are 20 standing committees in the House and 16 in the Senate. House of Representative members usually serve on one or two standing committees, and senators serve on three or four.

Standing committees carefully study the bills assigned to them. Sometimes, more than one committee will study a bill. If the committee accepts the bill, it is presented to the entire House or Senate for discussion. After the discussion, there is a vote.

Some standing committees have more influence than others. Members of both houses try to serve on important committees such as Rules, Ways and Means, Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, or Judiciary.

Members of committees are chosen according to the seniority rule. The majority party always holds the most seats on a standing committee. The committee chair is the leader of a committee.
Subcommittes
A smaller part of a standing committee

Most standing committees have a number of subcommittees. Subcommittees do much of the work of the standing committees. Each subcommittee has a name. The Judiciary Committee has three subcommittees: Crime and Drugs, Human Rights, and The Constitution. Members of the standing committee may serve on more than one subcommittee. Subcommittees may hold hearings, write bills, and handle legislation of the Senate or the House.
House Rules Committee
Many bills are introduced in the House each term and then discussed in committees. Made up of only 13 members, the House Rules Committee is a very powerful standing committee. It decides what new bills are brought to the floor to be reviewed by the full House. Only a few new bills are chosen for full review.
Select Committees
A House or Senate committee that is set up for a limited time

Formed in either the House or the Senate. The committees are set up for a limited time. They handle issues of national importance. For example, in the 1970s, the Senate Watergate Committee was a select committee. The committee investigated the Watergate scandal involving President Nixon's administration. It found evidence of illegal activities. These findings led to the resignation of President Nixon in 1974.

Later, in the 1980s, the House and Senate select committees worked together. The combined committee was known as the Iran-Contra Committee. It investigated actions of President Reagan's administration that involved Iran and Nicaragua which were prohibited by an act of Congress.
Joint Committees
A few committees are made up of members of both the Senate and the House. These joint committees can be temporary or permanent. Joint committees deal with matters best handled by the two houses working together, such as government printing or the Library of Congress.
Conference Committee
A committee that settles Senate and House differences in a bill

For a bill to be sent to the President, it must be passed in the same form in both the Senate and the House. A special committee known as a conference committee settles any differences in a bill. Leaders of the Senate and the House choose the members of this committee. After a bill is worked on by the conference committee, it goes back to both houses for approval. No changes may be made to the bill at this time. If both houses pass the bill, it is sent to the President for approval
Government on Cable TV
C-SPAN stands for Cable Satellite Public Affairs Network. This television network shows only political events and meetings.
C-SPAN started in 1979 by televising sessions in the House of Representatives. C-SPAN2, a second channel, televises Senate sessions and political news. C-SPAN3 covers national events such as Senate and House hearings, political conventions, news conferences, and history programs. C-SPAN also has viewer call-in programs so viewers can talk with policymakers. Employees of both houses control the cameras. No reporters and no commercials are allowed. Every two years, at the beginning of each new session of Congress, the leaders of both houses call for a vote from the members on whether or not to allow C-SPAN cameras to broadcast live from the floors of the House and Senate.
Bill
A bill is an idea for a new law or for a change in an old law. An idea for a bill can come from citizens who write to their senators or representatives. Ideas for bills can also come from various groups, such as businesspeople, veterans, or parents. Senators, representatives, and the President of the United States can also suggest ideas for bills. Often, before a member introduces a bill, he or she will send around a letter telling the other members about it. The person introducing th6w0124578e bill hopes to gain support for it before he or she introduces it. Once members have read the bill, they may sign on with their support. Some members become cosponsors of the bill.
Types of Bills
The two types of bills are public and private. Public bills apply to the whole country. Public bills could include such matters as tax increases or war policy. These bills may involve a change in a law or creation of a new law. Private bills apply to certain places or people.
Joint Resolution
A proposal for action that has the force of law when passed
When passed, has the same power as a law. It may deal with a temporary matter, such as granting money for a special presidential event.
Concurrent Resolution
Document that explains the government's position; requires that the House and Senate act together
They are not as strong as law. They are often used by Congress to explain the government's position on matters such as foreign affairs.
Resolutions
The Senate and the House each use resolutions to manage rules within one house of Congress. Resolutions do not have the force of a law that is signed by the President.
Rider
Unrelated provision added to an important bill so that it will "ride" through the legislative process
An addition to the measure and may be unrelated to the content of the bill or resolution. A rider is included because it would not pass on its own. Riders are often added to bills involving money. They get accepted if Congress and the President want the main bill or resolution passed.
What Happens at Introduction and First Reading
The clerk of the House numbers each bill as it is introduced and gives it a short title. A record is kept of every bill in the House Journal and in the Congressional Record. When this numbering is done, the bill receives its first reading. The bill is then printed and given to the members.

As the bill is considered in the House, it receives a total of three readings to be sure the bill is considered carefully. After the first reading, the next step is to send the bill to a standing committee that deals with all bills of the same subject. The second reading occurs during discussion on the floor and the third during voting.
What Happens to Bills in Committees
Standing committees decide which bills are important enough to send to the House or Senate for all members to consider. Most bills are rejected by committees and are pigeonholed. Pigeonholed means that the bill is set aside and no longer considered. Sometimes these bills are held by a committee and then released when a member files a discharge petition. The petition has to be signed by a majority of the House.

The committees do most of their work through their subcommittees. In addition to the members of Congress, many other people are involved. Sometimes an important bill receives a public hearing. The hearing allows important people who come to speak to the committee to present more information about the bill. After a subcommittee works on a bill, the full committee goes into action. It does one of the following:

1. Recommends passing the bill

2. Pigeonholes the bill

3. Presents the bill with changes or amendments

4. Makes unfavorable comments about the bill (not
done often)

5. Presents an entirely new bill as a replacement
Pigeonhold
To set aside a bill that is no longer being considered
Discharge Petition
A petition that releases a bill from being pigeonholed
Congressional Committee Staffers
There are more than 2,500 staffers on the congressional committees. These people are experts in the subjects that their committees cover. They are also experts on political action. Their hard work makes Congress more effective.
Floor/Bill Debates Scheduling
Bills are scheduled for discussion after being placed on one of the five House calendars. There is the Calendar of the Committee of the Whole for money or property bills. There is also the House Calendar for public bills, the Private Calendar, the Corrections Calendar, and the Discharge Calendar. The House has a very exact schedule of when bills are to be considered. For example, bills from the Corrections Calendar are heard on Tuesdays. Wednesdays are set aside for bills from the Union Calendar or the House Calendar.

The Rules Committee sets a day when a bill is taken from the calendar and discussed on the floor. Some bills are special and can be called at any time ahead of other bills.

The rules of the House may also be suspended for important measures that need to be considered right away. All of the rules used by the House have developed over time. The House is very large and hears a great many measures. The rules and calendars help the House of Representatives organize and complete its work.
What Happens to Bills on the Floor
Bills that reach the floor of the House are read for a second time. If they are minor bills, they may be passed quickly. The more important bills are considered by the Committee of the Whole, which helps bills to pass quickly. The entire House acts as one large committee, not as the House itself. It is normally led by a member, not the Speaker. Sections of the bill are read and voted on.

Normally, for a vote in the House, there needs to be a quorum (majority) of the House members present. In contrast, only 100 people need to be present in the Committee of the Whole. After the vote, the Committee of the Whole disbands and the House resumes its business with the Speaker in charge.

Debate on bills has limits imposed by rule. A member may speak for one hour unless all agree that he or she may go on. A member may demand a vote on the issue to stop the debate. Another rule says a bill may be voted on several times if it has amendments. Votes also may be called to table the bill (put it aside). The process can take time, but it is necessary and effective. The public does not always think so.

The House has several ways of taking votes. In 1973, the House began using a computer voting system to replace roll call by the clerk. Members have cards and use them in the 48 computers at stations in the House. They push buttons to record the vote—"Yea," "Nay," or "Present." The "Present" button is mostly used if a quorum of members is present in the House. Otherwise, it is used when a member does not wish to vote on a question but still wants to be recorded as present.

A bill is printed in its final form after it is approved at the second reading. Then a third reading is done and the final vote taken. If the bill is approved at this third reading, the bill is sent to the desk of the president of the Senate.
Quorum
A majority
The Honorable Samuel Rayburn
Samuel (Sam) Rayburn was born in 1882. He grew up on a farm in Texas. After working his way through East Texas Normal College, he taught school and then became a lawyer.

He was first elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1912. He served in the House for 48 years. He served on important committees and coauthored six important laws.

In 1940, he became Speaker of the House. He held that position for 17 years. Rayburn described himself as a Democrat and was often called "Mr. Democrat."
What Happens on the Senate Floor
Senators may introduce bills only in the Senate. The bills are given a number, read twice, and then sent to a standing committee. The steps a bill follows after this are much the same as in the House. The Senate, however, has only one calendar for bills after they come out of committee. The House has five calendars. The majority leader handles the bills on the Senate floor. Sometimes the minority leader will also help with the bills.
Rules for Debate
Rules for debate are not limited in the Senate as they are in the House. Senators may speak as long as they like and on any topic. At times, all Senate members may agree on important bills that come to the Senate floor. Floor time given to one of these bills is short if no senator objects to the bill or any of its amendments.

Senators are limited by the "two-speech rule" that allows only two speeches on a topic on a legislative day. By recessing at night (only interrupting for a time) instead of ending a session, the rule can extend for much longer than an actual day. This practice prevents senators from making too many speeches. Senators are given more freedom to debate than members of the House. This debate may result in a filibuster.
Filibuster
An effort to keep talking long enough to prevent a vote on a bill

A filibuster is an effort to keep talking long enough to prevent the Senate from voting on a bill. This is usually only done by a few senators. The Senate may run out of time or change the bill to please the minority. There have been a few famous filibusters in the country's history. One filibuster lasted over 24 hours. Senator Strom Thurmond was trying to prevent measures that eventually led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957. Over 200 measures have been defeated in the Senate by filibusters.

In recent years, filibusters have been used when one party has a large minority. For example, the Senate was evenly split with 49 Democrats and 49 Republicans during the 110th Congress. The two Independent members supported the Democrats. Filibusters have been successful because they can protect the minority. On the other hand, they can prevent any action by the Senate—a tactic that is not popular with the public.
Cloture Rule
The Senate adopted the Cloture Rule in 1917. The rule provides for cloture (limiting debate). This rule is not always in force. It must be voted in by three fifths of the Senate. Once voted in, only 30 hours of floor time are allowed for discussion of each measure on the floor. The measure then must be voted on. Many senators do not like the Cloture Rule. They think it takes away the Senate tradition of free debate and the effective use of the filibuster.
Conference Committees
Both houses of Congress must pass the exact same bill before it can be sent to the President. If the House and Senate pass different versions, often the first house will agree to the other's changes. Sometimes this agreement does not happen and the measure is given to a conference committee. This is a temporary committee made up of important members of both houses. This committee is usually able to settle the differences. The committee cannot add new material to the bill.

After the conference committee completes its work, both houses vote on the bill again. The bill usually passes then. Many important decisions and compromises are made in conference committees.
Actions the President Can Take on a Bill
The Constitution requires that every bill, order, and resolution be presented to the President. Then the Constitution states four things the President can do:

The President can sign the bill into law.

The President can veto the bill. It is then returned to the house where it was introduced. Congress can still pass the bill by a two-thirds majority vote in both houses. Congress rarely does this.

The President can allow the bill to become a law by not signing it within ten days of receiving it. Sundays are not counted.

The President can use the pocket veto. This means if Congress adjourns its session within 10 days of submitting a bill to the President, and the President does not act on it within that time, the measure dies.

Congress rarely has enough votes to override a presidential veto. If the Congress thinks the President may veto a bill it are considering, Congress may change the provisions of the bill.

Congress added the line-item veto in 1996, which allows the President to reject single items in appropriation bills. In 1998, in Clinton v. New York, the Supreme Court declared the line-item veto law unconstitutional.

There are many steps that go into the process of turning a bill into federal law. And even if the President vetoes a bill, Congress can still make it law.
Veto
To reject a proposed law
Pocket Veto
The indirect veto of a bill by the President not acting on it
President Roles
There is only one President of the United States. This one person must fill a number of different roles at the same time. These roles are: (1) chief of state, (2) chief executive, (3) chief administrator, (4) chief diplomat, (5) commander in chief, (6) chief legislator, (7) party chief, and (8) chief citizen

.The six presidential roles you just read about are written in the Constitution. The President must also fill two other roles—chief of party and chief citizen.

The President must carry out each of these roles at the same time. Sometimes, the failure to perform one duty can lead to failure in another area. For example, President Richard Nixon was forced to resign from office in 1974 because of the Watergate scandal. The people who had elected and trusted him were unhappy with the way he chose to fulfill the roles of party leader and chief citizen.
Chief of State
The President as ceremonial head of the United States.

Refers to the President as the head of the government. He is the symbol of all the people. In the United States, the President also rules over the government. In many countries, the chief of state reigns over government but does not rule. Examples of this can be found in England, Denmark, Japan, Italy, and Germany.
Chief Executive
The President as the holder of the executive power of the United States

Vested by the Constitution with broad executive powers. This power is used at home on domestic issues and also extends to foreign affairs. The executive power is limited, however, by our government's system of checks and balances.
Chief Administrator
The President as the leader of the executive branch of the federal government
President is in charge of the executive branch of the federal government. This branch employs more than 2.7 million civilians.
Chief Diplomat
The President as the main architect of American foreign policy and the nation's chief spokesperson to other countries
The main author of American foreign policy. Everything the President says and does is closely followed, both at home and in other countries.
Commander in Chief
The top person in charge of a nation's armed forces; in the United States, the President
This power gives the President direct and immediate control of the military.
Chief Legislator
The President as the main author of public policy
President shapes public policy. The President may suggest, request, and insist that Congress enact laws he believes are needed. Sometimes, Congress does not agree with the President and decides against particular legislation. Working with Congress takes up a major part of the President's time.
Chief of Party
The President as the leader of his or her political party

The leader of the political party that controls the executive branch. Political parties are not mentioned in the Constitution, but they are an important part of government.
Chief Citizen
The President as the representative of all the people

This means the President should represent all of the people of the United States. Citizens expect the President to work for their interests and provide moral leadership.
Formal Qualifications for President
The Constitution says that a candidate for President must meet certain formal qualifications. The President must be the following:

A natural born American citizen

At least 35 years old

A resident of the United States for at least 14 years.
Random Facts About Presidents
Most Presidents have been in their 50s when they entered the White House. At 43, John F. Kennedy was the youngest to be elected President. Theodore Roosevelt succeeded to the office at the age of 42 after President William McKinley was assassinated. Ronald Reagan was elected at age 69. He left office at age 77, the oldest person ever to hold the presidency.
How Long Can a President Serve
The Framers debated between a single term for the President, lasting six or seven years, and a four-year term, with the possibility of reelection. They finally chose the second option. The Framers did not set a limit on the number of times a President could be reelected.

During the 1930s and 1940s, Franklin Roosevelt was elected President four times. As a result, Congress passed, and the states ratified, the 22nd Amendment, which limits a President to two full terms. A Vice President who succeeds to the presidency serves out the remainder of that term and is then free to run for election to a full term. If elected, the incumbent President can run for a second full term—but in compliance with the 22nd Amendment—only if the total years in office do not exceed ten.
Pros and Cons of the 22nd Ammendment
Many people have criticized the 22nd Amendment. Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, and Reagan each called for its repeal. They claimed it should be left to the people to decide how long a President should serve. Others say it weakens the President's authority at the end of the second term. Those in favor of the 22nd Amendment claim it prevents one person from having too much power over an extended period of time.
Pays and Benefits of Being President
Congress sets the President's salary, and it cannot change during a President's term. Since 2001, the President has been paid $400,000 a year. The President also has a $50,000 expense account to spend any way he or she chooses each year. The President is also given many additional benefits. One benefit is living in the 132-room White House in the center of Washington, D.C. The President also has use of a fleet of cars, Air Force One, and several other planes and helicopters.
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan was born in Tampico, Illinois, on February 6, 1911. He graduated from Eureka College in Illinois and became a radio sports announcer. This led to a career in the movies. He also served in the army from 1942 to 1945. After his wartime service, Reagan became president of the Screen Actors' Guild. This was the beginning of his political career.

When he was first elected governor of California in 1966, he fought for lower taxes and reductions in government spending. In 1980, he was elected President of the United States and served two terms. President Reagan became known for his grace and wit. His economic policies were known as "Reaganomics."

Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, returned to their ranch in California at the end of his second term. He suffered from Alzheimer's disease the last ten years of his life. Reagan died in 2004.
What Does the Constitution Say About Presidential Succession
The Constitution did not originally have a way to fill the office of President if it became vacant. It stated only that the "powers and duties" of the President were to be transferred to the Vice President, not the office itself. In 1841, President William Henry Harrison died and Vice President John Tyler succeeded him as President. This became the practice for filling a presidential vacancy. This practice became part of the Constitution when the 25th Amendment was adopted in 1967. It said that the Vice President would become President if the President died, resigned, or was removed from office.
Presidential Succession
The plan to fill a vacancy in the presidency. If the President dies, resigns, or is impeached and convicted, the Vice President becomes President.
Presidential Succession Act of 1947
Set the order of succession following the Vice President. If the Vice President is unable to take the office, the Speaker of the House is next in line for the presidency.
Who is Next in Line for Presidency
The Vice President is first in line to succeed to the presidency should the office become vacant. A vacancy has occurred nine times. In each case, the Vice President did succeed to the office.

1. Vice President
2.Speaker of the House
3. President pro tempore of the Senate
4. Secretary of State
5. Secretary of the Treasury
6. Secretary of Defense
What Happens if the President Becomes Disabled
Before 1967 and the passage of the 25th Amendment, no guidelines existed in the Constitution for deciding what to do when a President was disabled. The 25th Amendment filled this gap in the Constitution. It says that the Vice President will become Acting President if the President informs Congress that he or she cannot carry out the duties of the office. Or, the Vice President and a majority of the members of the Cabinet can inform Congress that the President is disabled. The President decides when to go back to the duties and informs Congress. The Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet may challenge this decision. In that case, Congress has 21 days to decide the matter.
Duties of the Vice President
The Vice President has only two formal duties according to the Constitution. The first duty is to preside over the Senate. The second is to help decide if the President is disabled. Through the years, the office of Vice President has been considered unimportant.

Vice Presidents themselves have described the office that way. In fact, however, the office is very important, because the Vice President is "only a heartbeat away" from the presidency.
Vice President
The low opinion of the vice presidency is partly due to the way candidates for the office are chosen. The President is carefully selected based on his or her qualifications, but the Vice President is chosen mostly to balance the ticket. This means the choice of the vice-presidential candidate is meant to attract voters, perhaps from a particular geographic region. Political parties do not usually consider the possibility of succession to the presidency when choosing a vice-presidential candidate.
Balance the Ticket
The practice of choosing a presidential running mate who can strengthen a presidential candidate's chance of being elected
the vice-presidential candidate is meant to attract voters, perhaps from a particular geographic region
Vice Presidency Today
The vice presidency has taken on more importance in recent years. Vice President Dick Cheney was considered the most influential Vice President in the country's history to that point. Vice President Joe Biden had a 36-year Senate career and significant foreign relations experience before becoming Vice President.

Even though the Vice President has risen in importance, none has yet become a true assistant to the President. One reason for this may be that the Vice President is not subject to removal from office by the President. The President can never fire the Vice President. If the office of Vice President becomes vacant, the 25th Amendment says that the President must nominate a new Vice President. Both houses of Congress must confirm this nomination by a majority vote. This is written into the 25th Amendment.
The Original Provisions for Choosing Presidents
The Framers considered many methods for selecting a President. At first, many delegates favored the idea of Congress choosing the President. Those against this plan argued that the choice of President should be controlled by the people, not the legislature. However, only a few delegates favored choosing the President by popular vote. Most felt that the country was too large and spread out for voters to be able to learn enough about the candidates to make a wise decision.

Finally, after weeks of talking, the Framers chose a plan suggested by Alexander Hamilton. According to this plan, the President and Vice President were to be chosen by a special body of presidential electors. These electors would be chosen in each state. Each state would have as many electors as it has senators and representatives in Congress. These electors would each cast two electoral votes, each for a different candidate. The person with the most votes would be President. The person with the second largest number of votes would become Vice President. The Framers believed the electors chosen by each state would be informed and respected citizens.
Presidential Elector
A person elected by the voters to represent them in making a formal selection of the Vice President and President
Electoral Vote
Vote cast by electors in the electoral college
Rise of Political Parties Affect the Process of Choosing a President
The electoral college is the group of people chosen from each state and the District of Columbia to formally select the President and Vice President. The original version of the Framers' plan only worked until 1796. By that time, two political parties existed: the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans. The electors chose John Adams (a Federalist) as President. His rival from the Democratic-Republican Party, Thomas Jefferson, was elected Vice President. He had received the second largest number of votes. This meant Jefferson had to serve under Adams. In our government today, the President and Vice President are always from the same party.

In the election of 1800, the electoral system completely failed. Political parties were now well-established. Each party nominated presidential and vice-presidential candidates. They also nominated presidential electors in each state. Those electors were expected to vote for their party's presidential and vice-presidential nominees.
Electoral Collage
People chosen in each state and the District of Columbia every four years to formally select of the President and Vice President

The Framers saw the electoral college as an appropriate way to select the President and Vice President. They did not foresee the development of political parties, however, and the parties' participation in the election of 1800 caused a serious breakdown in the Framers' original plan.

After the election of 1800, the 12th Amendment was added to the Constitution. The amendment made one major change in the electoral college. It separated the presidential and vice-presidential elections. The 12th Amendment says, "The Electors . . . shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President."
How Does a National Convention Work
Political parties first used congressional caucuses to nominate their presidential candidates. That arrangement ended because it represented the views of too few people. By 1832, both major parties had begun to use national conventions to nominate presidential candidates. The national convention is still used today.

The convention was developed by the two major parties rather than federal or state law. In both parties, a committee decides on the place and date of the convention. The conventions are very large. In 2008, the Republicans had 2,380 delegates and the Democrats had 4,233.

Delegates from each state are chosen by the parties to attend the convention. The number of delegates from each state is based on that state's electoral vote. Both parties now award bonus delegates to some states. These are the states that have supported a party's candidate in the past.

The selection of delegates to the convention produces a struggle in each party. State laws and/or party rules set the procedures for picking delegates in each state. The Republican Party allows the individual state organizations to choose its delegates. The Democratic Party process is governed by national rules to include more people in the selection process.
Presidential Primary
When a party's voters in a state choose delegates to their national convention, and/or express a preference for their party's presidential nomination

Many states use a presidential primary to select delegates for the national convention and/or to express a preference for their party's presidential nominee. The media pay close attention to these primaries. Any candidate who hopes to have a chance at his or her party's nomination must do well in the primaries.

The presidential primary began in the early 1900s. Corrupt party bosses had dominated the convention system. The process needed to be reformed. Primaries allowed more input from party members. Wisconsin passed the first law providing for the popular election of delegates to the national convention. By 1916, about half of the states had similar laws. Today, some form of the presidential primary is used in most states. For 2008, 40 states used the presidential primary system.
Primaries Today
Primaries today are difficult to describe. Each state has a different way to choose its delegates. In addition, the Democratic Party has reformed its rules many times since 1968. Even the dates of the state primaries are confusing. New Hampshire holds its primaries first and has done so since 1920. It has a state law that says its primary is to be held at least a week before that of any other state. Most states want an early date for their primary. As a result, 16 states now hold their primaries early in February on a date known as "Super Tuesday." Three fourths of the primaries are held by mid-March.

In the recent past, primaries were used both to select delegates and to show preference for a presidential candidate. Several primaries were winner-take-all contests. Candidates who won the preference vote also won the support of all the delegates chosen at that primary. These winner-take-all contests have almost all disappeared. The Democrats now have a proportional representation rule. A candidate who wins at least 15 percent of the primary votes gets the number of that state's delegates that matches his or her share of that primary vote. Most states had to change their primary laws to account for the Democrats proportional representation rule.

The presidential primary is very confusing, but also very important in our system of government. Presidential primaries allow the people to decide on candidates for President. In addition, they force potential nominees to test their abilities in real political action. In this way, the less capable candidates are eliminated. This does not often happen with the party in power, however, because that party may have the President running for reelection or giving his backing to someone he favors regardless of that person's capabilities or qualifications.
Winner-Take-All
An almost obsolete system whereby a presidential candidate who won the preference vote in a primary automatically won all the delegates chosen in the primary
Proportional Representation
Rule applied in Democratic primaries whereby any candidate who wins at least 15 percent of the votes gets the number of that state's Democratic convention delegates based on his or her share of that primary vote
Reforming Presidential Primaries
Some people believe the presidential primary process should be reformed again. One idea is for each of the major parties to hold one nationwide primary just to choose their presidential candidate. National conventions would be done away with. Others suggest a series of regional primaries, held by groups of states every two or three weeks. Hope for any of these reform plans is uncertain because both houses of Congress would have to work with the states and the major political parties. Neither party seems to have much interest in reform. They see the national convention as a way to promote party unity and strengthen party influence
Caucus
Some states do not hold primaries. In these states, the delegates to the national convention are chosen in a system of local caucuses and district and/or state conventions. A caucus is a closed meeting of members of a political party who gather to select delegates to the national convention. Caucuses are meetings held locally, usually in a precinct (a local polling district). At this meeting, the party members choose delegates to a local convention. At this local convention, delegates to a state convention are chosen. At this state convention, delegates to the national convention are finally selected.

The caucus method is very old and has declined over the years. In 2008, less than one fourth of all delegates to both major party conventions were selected by the caucus-convention method.

The Iowa caucuses have been the first delegate-selection event in every presidential election since 1972. In the election of 2008, the Iowa caucus was held five days before the New Hampshire primary.
How is the Presidential Candidate Chosen at the National Convention
After all the primaries and caucuses are over, it is time for each major party to hold its national convention. The convention is just one step in the very long race to the presidency. The convention has three main goals: 1) naming the party's presidential and vice presidential candidates; 2) promoting party unity; and 3) adopting the party's platform.

During the first days of the convention, many important party leaders make speeches. The most important is the keynote address. The keynote address is a speech given to set the tone for the convention and campaign to come. It prompts loud demonstrations and an enthusiastic show of support for the party.

On the last two days of the convention, delegates choose the party's vice-presidential and presidential candidates. Delegates first choose the vice presidential candidate. The nominee then gives an acceptance speech meant to get the party ready for the next big event, which is the vote for the presidential candidate.

As the convention chairperson calls the states in alphabetical order, each state announces its choice. Each complete roll call of states is called a ballot. Usually a candidate wins the party's nomination on the first ballot. If no candidate receives a majority of votes on the first ballot, the chairperson calls for a second ballot.

All of the excitement at the convention leads up to the presidential candidate's acceptance speech. This speech, and the convention that precedes it, are meant to inspire voters and win support for the party. The convention ends and the party's general election campaign is launched.
National Convention
Meeting at which a party's delegates pick the presidential and vice-presidential candidates
Platform
A political party's statement of ideas, policies, and beliefs
Keynote Address
Speech given at a party convention to set the tone for the convention and the campaign to come
Nomination for President
A President who has only served one term usually runs for a second term. In this case the nomination is easy for the party in power. When a President is not eligible to run again, as in the 2008 election, many people may try for the nomination. Usually only two or three become serious candidates at convention time.

The candidate nominated by a party is usually someone who the party believes can win. This person has usually held other elective office and has won elections in the past. The person is often well known, with a good public record free of controversy. Governors of larger states are often chosen. In the past, candidates were usually from the more populated states. However, the impact of television and the Internet have allowed several prominent personalities from smaller states to win nominations in recent years.

In 2008, Senator Hillary Clinton of New York became the first woman to be seriously considered for nomination as the Democratic Party's presidential candidate. She competed against the Democratic Party's chosen candidate, Barack Obama, who was born to a white mother from Kansas and an African father from Kenya. When he was elected, the racial barrier to the presidency was broken. The Republicans also broke a historical record. John McCain, at 72, was the oldest candidate ever to run for President as the nominee of a major political party.
Presidential Campaign
The presidential campaign is an all-out effort to win the election. The candidate must convince the voters that he or she will be the best President. Voters learn about the candidate on television, the radio, the Internet, as well as in newspapers and magazines. Candidates travel to many states and attend rallies and parties in an attempt to become well known.

At the start of the campaign, about one third of voters have not yet decided which candidate they will support. These swing voters attract much attention as each candidate tries to swing them to their side. Presidential candidates are also interested in the states that are too close to call. These states are called the battleground states. Any major candidate could win these states.
Swing Voters
Voters who have not yet decided which candidate they will support at the start of the campaign and who are open to persuasion by either side
Battleground States
States in which the outcome is too close to call and either candidate could win
Political Campaigns and Propaganda
During a political campaign, candidates present their beliefs and ideas to address the country's problems. They also attack other candidates' views. A "get on the bandwagon" approach tries to convince you that everyone else will vote for the candidate, so you should too. Name-calling happens when a candidate attacks another as unpatriotic or fiscally irresponsible to promote fear of what would happen if the other candidate is elected. Card stacking is when a candidate presents only the facts that support his or her point of view. The "plain folks approach" is used to convince voters that candidates are just ordinary people by dressing in work clothes, visiting farms, talking with people, and holding babies. These types of misleading messages appeal to emotions rather than reason. Voters should focus instead on a candidate's experience and position on the major issues.
Presidential Debates
Presidential debates are now very important factors in deciding an election. In 1960, the Republican candidate, Vice President Richard Nixon, and the Democratic candidate, Senator John F. Kennedy, held the first televised debate. Kennedy performed well and went on to win the election. Since then, debates have taken place in every campaign.
Voting for the Electoral College
When people vote in the presidential election, they are really voting for presidential electors. According to the Constitution, the electoral college elects the President. Each state has as many electors as it has members of Congress. The Framers expected the electors to choose whichever candidate they believed most qualified. Today, however, that does not happen. Instead, the electors are expected to vote for their party's candidates for President and Vice President.

Electors are chosen by popular vote in each state. They are chosen on a winner-take-all basis. The presidential candidate who receives the largest number of popular votes wins all of that state's electoral votes.

Voters usually know which candidate has won a majority of electoral votes by midnight of election day. But it is not until the electors from each state meet the Monday after the second Wednesday in December that the formal election of the President and Vice President actually takes place. On that date, the electors cast their votes and the signed and sealed ballots are sent to the President of the Senate in Washington, D.C. In early January, the sealed votes are opened and counted before a joint session of Congress. The President and Vice President are then declared elected.

If no candidate wins a majority of electoral votes (270 out of 538), the election is decided in the House of Representatives. Each state has one vote in the House election, and it takes a majority of 26 to elect the President. If the House fails to choose a President by January 20, the 20th Amendment says that the Vice President shall act as President until a decision is made.
Flaws in the Electoral College
There are three major flaws, or defects, in the electoral college system. First, there is always the danger that the winner of the popular vote will not win the presidency. This has happened four times, most recently in 2000. The winner-take-all factor means that any votes won by the loser of the popular vote are not reflected in the electoral vote. For example, in 2008, Barack Obama won only 51 percent of the popular vote in Ohio. Still, he won all of Ohio's 20 electoral votes, even though 2.5 million Ohioans voted for John McCain.

The second flaw is that the Constitution does not require the electors to vote for the candidate who wins the popular vote. Electors do not usually refuse to vote for their party's presidential nominee. It has happened only eleven times. In none of these contests did this action change the outcome of the election.

Third, if neither candidate wins a majority in the electoral college, the election would have to be decided in the House of Representatives. This is a problem because each state would then have one vote. States with smaller populations would count as much as larger states. Plus, if a state could not decide on a candidate, it would lose its vote. Finally, if a strong third-party candidate were involved in an election, it is possible that the House could not make a decision by Inauguration Day.
2008 Presidential Election
Although John McCain won 46 percent of the popular vote in the 2008 election, he received only 32 percent of the electoral vote.
What Reforms Have Been Proposed
Through the years, several plans have been suggested to reform, or fix, the electoral college. Under the first, the district plan, two electors would be chosen from each state. They would be required to vote in line with their state's popular vote. Other electors for each state would come from that state's congressional districts. These electors would cast their votes to match the popular vote in their districts.

Under the proportional plan, each candidate would get a share of the electoral vote. This share would equal his or her share of the popular vote. Neither of these two plans would require a change to the Constitution. But neither plan would ensure that the winner of the popular vote would become President.

The direct popular election would do away with the electoral college. Each vote in the nation would count equally. The winner would always be the majority choice.

Many Americans favor this plan but obstacles stand in its way. For one, the small states do not like this change because they would lose their advantage in the electoral college. Other people feel it would weaken the federal system by taking away the states' role in the choice of President. Still other critics feel that candidates would be stretched too thin as they tried to campaign in every state. Voter fraud could also be a factor in a direct popular election.

Direct Popular Election
National Popular Vote Plan
Proportional Plan
District Plan
District Plan
Proposal to choose presidential electors in which two electors are selected in each state in a statewide popular vote and the other electors are selected separately in each of the state's congressional districts
Proportional Plan
Proposal by which each presidential candidate would receive the same share of a state's electoral vote as he or she received in the state's popular vote
Direct Popular Election
Proposal to do away with the electoral college and allow the people to vote directly for President and Vice President
National Popular Vote Plan
Proposal to elect the President by national popular vote; each state's election laws would provide for all of the state's electoral vote and involve an interstate compact

a fairly new plan that would not call for a change in the Constitution. This plan calls for the states to amend their election laws. The new state laws would provide that all of a state's electoral votes are to be awarded to the winner of the national popular vote. This change has been passed in four states to date: Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, and New Jersey. The plan has gotten national attention and has been considered by at least 20 states. This new plan answers all the major objections about the electoral college without a need to amend the Constitution.
Benefits of the Electoral College
Some people do defend the electoral college system. They say critics often exaggerate the dangers of the system. Only two elections have been sent to the House and none in the last 180 years. Another point defenders of the system make is that the winner of the popular vote has lost the election only four times in 56 presidential elections. Defenders of the electoral college list these three strengths: the electoral college is a known process, it identifies the President quickly and certainly, and it helps promote the nation's two-party system.
Article II
Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution set up the office of President. It states that "the executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States." The Constitution goes on to explain the duties and responsibilities of the President. The President is responsible for the executive branch. The President's main duty is to see that laws are carried out.
Although Article II lists most of the presidential powers, it describes them in broad, sketchy terms. For that reason, it has been used as an outline of the powers. Over the years, different meanings have been given to some of the powers. For example, civil rights issues, transportation needs, and safety concerns have changed. The President must take action to solve problems in those areas, with the approval of Congress.
Why the Presidential Power Has Grown
Many of the current powers of the President are not written in the Constitution. As the country developed and grew, the power of the President grew. The federal government now plays a larger role in such issues as health, education, and welfare.
President Sending Troops
The President has to act quickly during times of war. As commander in chief, the President can send troops anywhere in the world if there is danger to the United States. President Harry Truman used his power to help end World War II. He made the decision in 1945 to drop the atomic bomb on Japan.

Throughout the nation's history, Presidents have used military force more than 200 times. Three Presidents sent troops to Vietnam, although Congress had not declared war. After the Vietnam War ended, Congress passed the War Powers Act. The War Powers Act limits the military actions a President can take. President George W. Bush sent troops to Afghanistan and Iraq with the agreement of Congress.
Congress Preventing the President from Acting
Sometimes the Supreme Court prevents the President from acting. In 1952, a labor problem almost shut down the country's steel mills. The war in Korea would have been affected. President Harry Truman ordered the Secretary of Commerce to continue to run the steel mills. The Supreme Court did not allow the President's order to be carried out. The Court said only Congress could make the decision to keep the mills going.

In 2006, the Supreme Court did not allow President George W. Bush to set up military tribunals to bring captured fighters to trial. He wanted to use these tribunals against people captured in the war against terrorism. The Supreme Court ruled that only Congress could create these courts.
Tribunal
A court of forum of justice
No Child Left Behind
Most students in the United States have been affected by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. It was endorsed by President Bush and passed by Congress in 2002. The NCLB Act greatly expanded the educational power of the President. This law was enacted to improve the performance of schools in the United States. Requirements were set for all schools, but each state set its own testing program. Federal funds were not given to states that had failing schools according to NCLB standards. In 2007, the President and the administration suggested changes to the law. More freedom would be given to schools that use federal money. The NCLB Act has been criticized by many educators. They claim there is too much interference by the federal government. In 2007, some members of Congress introduced legislation to change some parts of the NCLB Act.
The Presidential View
The President is the most powerful elected official in the country. The Constitution gave the President many powers. At certain times when the country was in trouble, Presidents wanted to take quick action. They wanted to expand presidential power. For example, when Franklin Roosevelt was elected, the country was in an economic depression. Millions of Americans were without jobs. Roosevelt quickly set up programs to help farmers and businesses. He created hundreds of new government agencies that Congress quickly approved.
Presidents Acting According to the Constitution
Other Presidents have had the opposite view. They believed the President should act only as directed by the Constitution. President William Howard Taft put these views in writing in 1916 when he wrote that "the true view of the Executive function is, as I conceive it, that the President can exercise no power which cannot be fairly and reasonably traced . . . in the Federal Constitution or in an act of Congress. . . ."

People sometimes worry that the President will make decisions in secret. Many people fear the President will make decisions illegally. In 1973, President Nixon was investigated for illegal acts he may have encouraged. He tried to keep recordings of his conversations a secret from Congress and eventually was forced to resign because of the Watergate scandal.
How Does the President Execute the Law
The President carries out the laws. This is only one of his duties. When the President is elected, the U.S. Chief Justice swears the President into office. In this oath of office, the President swears to "faithfully execute the office of President . . . ." The Constitution, in Article II, Section 3, states, "He shall take care that all the laws be faithfully executed." This power includes all federal laws. Even if the President does not agree with a law, the President must still make sure all laws are followed.

Sometimes, the President and the executive department need to interpret the details of a law. For example, Congress passes tax laws and the executive department may have to decide to whom the tax applies and the amount of the tax. During wartime the President may have to set up programs because of the needs of the military.

President Roosevelt began a program of gasoline rationing during World War II. In 2002, the Homeland Security Act was passed, and the President was called on to make decisions about border and transportation security, especially at airports.

The executive branch is made up of many departments, bureaus, boards, and other agencies. There are more than two million men and women who work in the executive branch. The President is in charge of these groups.
Oath of Office
Oath taken by the President on the day he or she takes office
Ordinance Power
The power of the President to issue executive orders

The President has the power to make an executive order. An executive order is an order the President gives based on the authority of the Constitution or that given by Congress. This power is known as the ordinance power. The President also has the power to allow other members of the executive department to issue orders. Over the years, Congress has given more power to the executive department to carry out the many programs needed to run the country.
Executive Order
An order the President gives based on the authority of the Constitution or that given by Congress
Appointment Power
The Constitution states that the President "shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers . . ."

The President appoints most of the top-ranking officers of the federal government. This means the President names or chooses a person for an office, but not by election. The Senate must approve these appointments. Sometimes the officers are accused of "parroting" (copying) the President's views to get appointed. Among these officials are ambassadors, Cabinet members, the heads of the independent agencies, federal judges, U.S. marshals, and attorneys.
Appoint
To name or choose a person for an office, but not by election
Appointing a Member
There is an unwritten rule that applies to federal officers who serve within a state. If the senators from that state are members of the President's party and approve the President's choice, then the Senate usually confirms the appointment. This is a custom that has been followed for years. Only some officials are appointed. Civil service tests are used to select more than half of all federal civilian workers. The Office of Personnel Management hires these workers.
Who Gets Appointed?
1. The President nominates a candidate
2. The Senate Committee examines the candidate
3. The Senate debates the candidate
4. The nominee is confirmed or rejected
Removal Power
The President has the power to remove any official he has appointed, except for federal judges. The nation's first Congress debated this issue before granting the power. Some members wanted the President to get approval of Congress before removing an official. Other members of Congress said the President should have the power to remove anyone he appointed.

Congress has tried to stop the President from removing officials. In 1867, Congress passed the Tenure of Office Act. This act held that a person holding office by presidential appointment could not be removed until the Senate confirmed someone to take his or her place.

President Andrew Johnson vetoed the bill, but his veto was overridden. Ignoring the law, Johnson removed several top officers. This led to an impeachment trial, but Johnson was acquitted. The law was finally repealed in 1887.

In the 1920s, the President's removal power was tested again. President Woodrow Wilson, in 1920, had removed Frank Meyers, a postmaster, from his appointed position. Meyers sued for the salary for the rest of his term based on a law passed in 1876. The Supreme Court finally ruled on the case in 1926, declaring that the 1876 law was unconstitutional and that President Wilson did have the authority to remove Meyers.
The Executive Powers of the President
Execute the law
Direct the administration
Appoint key officials
Remove officials
Executive Privilege
At times, the executive department and the President need to keep information private. President Eisenhower and his advisors referred to this as "executive privilege." During a Senate investigation of communism, questions were asked about the loyalty of members of the executive department. Eisenhower, using his executive power, refused to release information to the Senate's investigative committee.

During the George W. Bush administration, Vice President Dick Cheney kept information secret during meetings about energy policy. He wanted the advice of experts in the energy field. The Sierra Club sued to have information from the meetings released. The Supreme Court accepted Cheney's claim of executive privilege. The Court said the information in question did not have to be made public.
Power to Make Treaties
The President of the United States is the country's chief diplomat. The President deals with heads of foreign governments and helps prepare treaties. The President attends summit meetings with heads of other governments and suggests peace agreements. Summit meetings with leaders of the G8, or Group of Eight, major industrial nations, have become a regular event.

When preparing a treaty, the President usually works with the secretary of state. Treaties are made with other countries and involve issues such as regulating trade or maintaining peace.

The Senate must approve treaties by a two-thirds majority. The President ratifies the treaties with the country involved. The terms of a treaty cannot go against the Constitution. The Supreme Court has never declared a treaty unconstitutional.
Diplomat
A person whose work is to manage relations between nations
Treaty
An agreement between two or more countries or states about trade, peace, or other matters
Power to Make Executive Agreements
Although agreements do not have to be approved by Congress, they are legally binding. When a new President takes office, the executive agreements expire and need to be agreed upon by the new President.
Executive Agreement
A pact between the President and the head of a foreign country. These pacts do not require the approval of Congress. Some of the agreements follow after a treaty is made.
Power of Recognition
To accept the legal existence of another country

The power of recognition means the President will accept the legal existence of another country. When the leader or representative of another country visits the United States, the President greets him or her. By this action of recognition the President shows that the United States accepts the country as a nation in the world community.

This does not mean that the President approves all of the actions of the other country. If a serious problem arises with a foreign country, the President may ask for its ambassador to be removed from our country. In this instance, the ambassador is called persona non grata, an unwelcome person. The President may also recall an American ambassador from a foreign country. This act would show that the United States disapproves of the actions of that country. Sometimes, this is the first step to a war.
Persona Non Grata
An unwelcome person
President's Duties as Commander in Chief
The President is commander in chief of the armed forces. The President does not lead forces into battle but can send military forces anywhere in the world. The President is always in close contact with the country's military leaders.

The President must report to Congress in writing within 48 hours after sending troops to a foreign country. The troops can only remain for 60 days, unless Congress approves a longer time. If Congress does not approve, the troops must return.

In 2002, Congress agreed with President George W. Bush that the United States military should take steps to eliminate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in Iraq. By 2003, Saddam Hussein and his government were removed from power, and American troops stayed in Iraq to keep order.
Commander
A person who has full control of a group
Diplomatic and Military Powers of the President
Make treaties and executive agreements
Recognize other countries
Act as commander in chief of the armed forces
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Born in Hyde Park, New York, Roosevelt attended Harvard University and Columbia Law School. He married Anna Eleanor Roosevelt in 1905. Roosevelt was elected to the New York Senate in 1910. President Wilson appointed him Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and he was a nominee for Vice President in 1920.

At age 39, Roosevelt developed polio, a disease that causes muscles to shrink and deform. Roosevelt would never walk again and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. In 1928, he became governor of New York. Then, in 1932, Roosevelt was elected President of the United States, the first of four terms. At this time, the United States and many other countries were in a deep economic depression. Millions of Americans were without jobs. Roosevelt set up programs to bring recovery to business and farming and to create many new jobs. He greatly expanded the power of the presidency by taking strong actions to help the American people during hard times.

Although Roosevelt tried to keep the United States out of World War II, he did send considerable aid to Great Britain. The United States entered the war when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. During the war years that followed, Roosevelt planned the creation of the United Nations, an organization to help keep international peace in the future.
Legislative Powers
The President is the nation's chief legislator. All bills passed by Congress must be sent to the President to be signed or vetoed. The President can also suggest laws to Congress.

The Constitution directs the President to "give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary . . ." Once each year, the President makes a speech to Congress. This is called a State of the Union address. In this message, the President tells Congress and the nation about the condition of the country. Soon after the State of the Union address, the President prepares a budget and then presents it to Congress for approval. This is followed by the annual Economic Report.

The veto power, which gives the President the power to reject a new bill, is written in the Constitution. Congress must present every order and resolution to the President, according to the Constitution. If the President vetoes a bill passed by Congress, it can still become law. It goes back to Congress, and if the bill is passed by a two-thirds majority vote in each house, the veto is overridden and becomes law. In the past, Congress has had trouble getting a two-thirds majority after a presidential veto.

If the President does not sign or veto a bill, the bill will automatically become law in 10 working days. If the President does nothing and Congress adjourns before the 10-day period, the bill does not become law. This is called a pocket veto. This veto has been used often because Congress passes many bills in the last days of a session.

When the President signs a bill into law, the President can still comment and write additional information about the bill. The information might include criticisms of the new law or how he plans to enforce the law. These written issues are called signing statements. Andrew Jackson issued signing statements in the 1830s. In recent times, President George W. Bush used these statements in place of a veto. In the statements, he said how he thought the law should be applied and used.

Other legislative powers of the President include the power to call Congress into special session. This was done after World War II to discuss economic actions. The President can also adjourn Congress whenever the two houses cannot agree on a date. This has never happened.
Signing Statements
Statements used to point out problems in a new law
Line Item Veto Act
A President's cancellation of specific dollar amounts (line items) from a congressional spending bill

In 1996, Congress passed The Line Item Veto Act, but the Supreme Court struck it down. A line-item veto means the President can cancel some parts of a new law. Most Presidents are in favor of being allowed to do this as part of the veto process. People who favor line-item vetoes say it would cut down on federal spending. Some people say line-item vetoes would give too much power to the executive branch. According to the Supreme Court decision, an amendment to the Constitution would have to be passed to allow a line-item veto.
Veto Power
The veto power is used when the President opposes a piece of legislation. When the President and the majority of Congress belong to the same party, opposition is rare. However, under a divided government, a struggle over legislation is more likely.
The President's Judicial Powers
The President gets judicial powers from the Constitution. The Constitution states that the President can "grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment." A reprieve is the delay in carrying out a sentence. A pardon is the legal forgiveness of a crime. These are powers of clemency

.Clemency is mercy granted to an offender. The President may pardon a federal offender before the person is tried or charged. There has been some debate about the accused person accepting pardons, since some feel it is an admission of guilt. The Supreme Court finally ruled that a pardon must be accepted for it to be put into effect.

The President also has amnesty power. Amnesty is a pardon that affects many people. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter granted amnesty to Vietnam War draft evaders.
Bureaucracy
A large, complex structure that handles the everyday business of an organization. Bureaucracies have three main features: structure, job specialization, and formal rules.

A bureaucracy is organized like a pyramid with several levels. Each level reports to the level above it. This structure is often referred to as a hierarchy. Officials or units at the top have control over the units in the middle. Officials at the middle levels direct those at the bottom. Each person working in the bureaucracy is called a bureaucrat. Each worker has specific duties.

A bureaucracy is an effective way to get work done for several reasons. First, the hierarchical structure helps speed action by reducing conflicts over who has power. The higher a person's rank in the organization, the greater the decision-making power he or she has. Two other features of the bureaucracy help it to run efficiently: job specialization and formalized rules. Job specialization means that each person in the organization is required to focus on one particular job. Therefore, the worker gains a set of specialized skills and knowledge.

Formalized rules mean that decisions are based on a set of known standards, not on someone's likes and dislikes. These rules help everyone in the organization understand what is expected.
Major Elements of the Federal Bureacracy
The federal bureaucracy is made up of all the agencies through which the government operates. Almost all of the federal bureaucracy is found in the executive branch. The executive branch is made up of three broad groups of agencies. They are the Executive Office of the President, the 15 Cabinet departments, and a large number of independent agencies. Congress and the federal court system are examples of bureaucracies not in the executive branch.

At the top of the pyramid is the President, who has the highest position in the country. The President is responsible for seeing that all parts of the executive branch operate as they should. At the next level is the Executive Office of the President. The individuals and agencies in this office directly assist the President. Below the Executive Office are the executive departments. Their department heads and the attorney general make up the President's Cabinet. The bottom part of the pyramid, or base, is made up of many agencies. This level is the largest part of the federal government.
Names Given to the Executive Branch Units
The name department is reserved for agencies that make up the Cabinet. Many other titles are used for the other units in the executive branch. These include agency, administration, commission, corporation, and authority. Agencies that regulate business are usually called commissions, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Agencies that carry on business may be called corporations or authorities, such as the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Bureau is the name given to a section of a department. For example, under the Department of Justice is the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Many federal agencies are known by their initials or a nickname. Some examples are the FBI, IRS, FCC, and CIA. The Government National Mortgage association is called Ginnie Mae. Amtrak is the nickname for the National Railroad Passenger Corporation.
Staff and Line Agencies
The agencies that make up the administration are called either staff agencies or line agencies.

They work together to meet goals
Staff Agencies
An agency that supports the chief executive and other administrators

Staff agencies give support. For example, the agencies that make up the Executive Office of the President are staff agencies. Each exists to support the President.
Line Agences
An agency that performs tasks to meet its goals

Line agencies are given goals to meet and actually carry out public policy. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a line agency. It is responsible for seeing that the antipollution laws are followed. Staff agencies help line agencies meet their goals by advising, budgeting, planning, and managing.
Executive Office of the President
An organization of several agencies staffed by the President's closest advisors

The group of agencies that work most closely with the President. These agencies are made up of many advisors and aides. These individuals help the President carry out the duties of the presidency. They manage his day-to-day work. Most of the people in the executive office work in the White House or in nearby buildings. The Executive Office of the President now is staffed by 900 of the President's closest advisors and assistants. President Franklin D. Roosevelt persuaded Congress to set up the EOP in 1939.
Who Works in the White House
The people who are closest to the President work in the White House Office. This is part of the EOP. Its workers often are longtime supporters of the President. The White House Office includes key officials, such as the press secretary, who supplies White House news to the press. Another assistant helps write the President's speeches. The President also has a personal doctor.

The President's chief of staff has the most influence and leads the White House Office. The White House advisors give the President legal advice about policy decisions. Other assistants and deputy assistants keep the President informed about such subjects as foreign policy, the economy, Congress, and the public. Most of these people work in the West Wing of the White House.
West Wing of the White House
The White House is a large structure that includes two office buildings and the President's home. The East and West wings extend from the residence and host key presidential aides and advisors. The President's closest advisors are located in the West Wing, only steps away from the Oval Office.
National Security Council
The National Security Council (NSC) advises the President about security, or the safety, of the country. The NSC is concerned with military and foreign policy. It often meets on short notice to deal with critical situations as they arise. The President, Vice President, and secretaries of state and defense are all on the National Security Council. The Director of National Intelligence, the President's chief advisor on national security, attends meetings of the NSC. The NSC is a staff agency. This means its job is only to advise the President, not to carry out any policies.
Office of Management and Budget
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is in charge of preparing the federal budget. This budget is prepared yearly and lists all the income (money) that is expected and the ways it will be spent by the government. When the budget is ready, the President presents it to Congress. The OMB also studies how the executive branch is run. It makes suggestions to the President for improvements and changes.

The federal budget is very detailed. Each federal agency submits an estimate of the money it will need that year. The OMB holds hearings to decide how much money to give to each federal agency. The OMB also watches over the spending of federal money after Congress authorizes that spending. In addition, the OMB helps write executive orders and the President's veto messages.

The OMB must consider a variety of factors before it creates the President's final budget proposal.
-What can the government spend?
-What do Americans want
-What does the President want
Other Office in the EOP
The Office of National Drug Control Policy was set up in 1989. It prepares an annual plan to help with the country's war on drugs. The goals of this plan are to reduce illegal drug use and associated crime. The director of this office also helps the other federal agencies involved in drug control.

The Council of Economic Advisers gives the President information and advice about the nation's economy. The President uses this information to prepare the annual Economic Report to Congress.

The Office of Policy Development advises the President on domestic affairs. Domestic affairs are all matters not directly connected to foreign affairs.

The Council on Environmental Quality seeks to maintain clean water and air, and fosters careful use of natural resources. It sees to it that federal agencies comply with the nation's environmental laws.

The Office of the Vice President is made up of more than 50 employees who help the Vice President with the duties of the office. Over the years, the duties of the Vice President have grown, and so has the size of this office.

The Office of United States Trade Representative advises the President on everything related to foreign trade. The agency has more than 200 people who are experts on trade issues. They travel to all regions of the world for the President to arrange trade agreements and settle problems. The head of this office is an ambassador and may represent the President at foreign trade meetings.

The Office of Science and Technology Policy advises the President on the development of scientific and technological policies. This office also works with private groups to improve the environment, national security, and education in the field of science and engineering.

The Office of Administration provides clerks, data processors, librarians, financial managers, drivers, messengers, and other support people. These people assist the other units of the Executive Office of the President.
Domestic Affairs
All matters not directly connected to foreign affairs; events that happen at home
Lillian Gordy Carter
Lillian Gordy Carter was born in 1889. As a nurse, she cared for many poor neighbors in Plains, Georgia, without pay. Later, Lillian joined the Peace Corps and served in India for two years. She worked as a nurse in Godrej Colony, about 30 miles from Mumbai. Here she saw extremes of poverty and disease. Communication was difficult because she did not know the native language. She was often cold and her diet was poor. Lillian Carter died of cancer in 1983.
The purpose of the Office of Administration within the Executive Office of the President is
To support the other units of the Executive Office
What are the Executive Departments
Often called the Cabinet departments, they are traditional units of federal administration

There are 15 executive departments that carry out much of the work of the federal government. Two thirds of the federal government's civilian workforce is employed by the executive departments. A secretary, aided by a deputy secretary, leads each department, except the Department of Justice. The Attorney General leads this department.
Civilian
A person not on active duty in a military, police, or fire-fighting force
Secretary
An official in charge of a department of government
Attorney General
The head of the Department of Justice
Inside the Executive Departments
The executive departments are made up of smaller units called bureaus, offices, services, or divisions. These units carry out the day-to-day work of the department. These offices are not all in Washington, D.C. They are found throughout the country wherever they are needed to serve the people. The Department of Agriculture, for example, has offices in every state to help farmers and consumers. The Food and Nutrition Service provides food stamps and maintains the school lunch program. These programs make food available to those in need.
When and Why Were the Executive Departments Established and Their Sizes
The executive departments were actually established by Congress over time. The responsibilities of each department reflect the conditions of the period and the issues that the nation faced when each department was created.
The departments vary in size. The Department of Defense is the largest. It has more than 700,000 civilian workers and more than 1.4 million men and women in uniform. The Department of Homeland Security, created in 2002, is the newest.
The Cabinet
The President has a group of advisors called the Cabinet. The Cabinet is not mentioned in the Constitution. It came about to fill a need and has grown over time. Cabinet members meet with the President as a group to make top-level decisions.

The Cabinet is made up of the heads of the 15 executive departments. These department heads, or secretaries, are appointed by the President. However, the Senate must approve each appointment. Since 1789, the Senate has only rejected 12 Cabinet nominees of Presidents.
How are Cabinet Members Chosen
A member of the President's Cabinet must have knowledge and experience. The Secretary of Agriculture, for example, may be a farmer or have a background in farming. The Secretary of the Treasury should have experience in the world of finance.

Most of the members of the Cabinet come from the President's party. The President selects members from all across the country. For example, the Secretary of Agriculture usually comes from the Midwest. Interest groups also influence the President's choices.

The President considers abilities, experience, race, and gender in selecting the heads of departments. In the past, Presidents did not consider race, ethnicity, or gender in making selections. It was not until 1933 that Frances T. Perkins became the first female Cabinet member. She was the Secretary of Labor. Robert C. Weaver was the first African American appointed to the Cabinet. He was selected by Lyndon Johnson in 1966. George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama all appointed several women and people of different cultural backgrounds to their Cabinets.
Role of the Cabinet
The members of the Cabinet have two main responsibilities. Each member is the leader of an executive department. Each member is also an advisor to the President. In the past, the Cabinet was the main source of advice for the President, although the President can choose whether or not to follow that advice. With the growth of the Executive Office of the President, the importance of the Cabinet has decreased. The EOP has many advisors who help the President. However, Presidents still call Cabinet meetings today—usually to seek support for policies rather than asking for help in forming these policies.
Independent Agencies
Agencies or offices created by Congress which exist outside of the Cabinet departments
Why are There Independent Agencies
Independent agencies work outside the Cabinet departments. Many of them were set up because they did not fit within the existing Cabinet departments. Others were formed to provide services for government agencies. For example, the General Services Administration (GSA) takes care of the construction and operation of public buildings. The GSA also provides supplies and equipment to federal agencies.

Some agencies are independent to protect them from the influence of political parties and interest groups. Other independent agencies came about as the need arose or to take care of sensitive and high-security matters. The independent agencies are divided into three groups: (1) independent executive agencies, (2) independent regulatory commissions, and (3) government corporations.
Independent Executive Agencies
Independent executive agencies handle specific concerns of the government. One person heads each independent agency. Some agencies have many employees and are run like large businesses. Other agencies have only a few employees and small budgets. Some agencies provide services to the public and do not have power to enforce rules or regulations.
NASA
Congress established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 to help develop peaceful uses for the exploration of outer space. NASA has put satellites and astronauts into space and made it possible to walk on the moon. This agency researched the creation of Spacelab. Scientists have used Spacelab for experiments as it traveled high above the Earth.

NASA's space shuttle program has allowed people to go into space several times in the same vehicle. The shuttle missions have been used to explore outer space, to repair damaged satellites, and to perform experiments for industry and medicine. NASA has also led efforts to build a permanent space station with Canada, Japan, Russia, and many European countries.
OPM
The Office of Personnel Management is a government agency that hires, promotes, and pays the employees of all the government agencies. Nearly three million people work for the federal government. These civilians hold all types of jobs needed to run the agencies. There are secretaries, computer programmers, lawyers, engineers, truck drivers, FBI agents, and many more. Most of these workers are part of the civil service.
Civil Service
The group of career government employees whose hiring and pay are regulated by Congress.

Civilian employees whose hiring and pay are regulated by Congress
History of the Civil Service
In the early years of the country, government jobs were given to friends of government leaders. This is known as the patronage system. It is also called the spoils system. This system led to corruption in government. In 1881, a person who did not get a government position assassinated President Garfield. The new President, Chester Arthur, convinced Congress to pass the Pendelton Act. The new act made the quality of a person's work the basis for hiring and awarding promotions.
Patronage System / Spoils System
The practice of giving jobs to supporters and friends
Pendelton Act
The Pendelton Act set up two categories of employment. The two categories are classified and unclassified. All of the classified jobs are based on merit determined by examinations given by the Civil Service Commission (now the OPM). At first, only about 10 percent of the federal government's jobs were classified. By 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt had extended the coverage to two thirds of the federal jobs. Today, nearly 90 percent of government workers are classified.
Civil Service Today
The civil service system was created to recruit the best possible employees to work for the federal government. Today, most of these employees are hired through the merit system set up by the civil service. Another agency, the Merit Systems Protection Board, was created to enforce the merit system. It is made up of members of both political parties appointed by the President and Senate. This board reviews problems reported to it by federal workers. These problems often involve firings, salaries, or promotions.
The Civil Service Program
Early in American history, government jobs were given to people from the President's political party. Sometimes these people did not have the skills for the job. This practice changed in 1883 when Congress passed the Civil Service Act. This law, which is still in effect, sets rules for how the government hires its employees. Citizens take a civil service exam to see if they have the skills for a government job. If they pass the exam, their name goes on a list. According to the law, an agency can only hire from this list. Most federal workers are hired through the Civil Service System. These workers are called classified employees because they are hired on the basis of ability. Another group of workers are unclassified employees. They are usually appointed to their jobs. For example, members of the President's Cabinet are unclassified employees.
Selective Service System
The military in the United States has usually depended on volunteers. However, from 1940 to 1973, the draft was used. A draft is a way of choosing individuals from a group. In this instance, the draft was for selecting young men for required military service. Before 1940, the draft was used in a limited way during the Civil War. In 1917, almost half of the men who served in World War I were drafted under the terms of the Selective Service Act.

World War II, before the United States became directly involved, brought the nation's first peacetime draft. The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 was passed. More than 10 million Americans entered military service under this law. The draft ended after the war but was quickly brought back in 1948. It lasted until 1973.

During the years that the draft law was used, it required all males between the ages of 18 and 26 to register for military service. The local selective service boards picked the people who would serve. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued an executive order to start the draft registration again. It required men to register soon after their eighteenth birthday.
Draft
Choosing individuals from a group; required military service
Independent Regulatory Commissions
Independent agencies created by Congress to regulate important aspects of the nation's economy

Eleven agencies are independent regulatory commissions. They make rules for activities that are important to the country's economy. They are mostly beyond the President's control. A board or commission of five to seven members leads each agency. The President appoints the members, and the Senate must approve them. These agencies have executive, legislative, and judicial powers.
Government Corporations
Government corporations are under the control of the executive branch. Unlike the other agencies, they were set up by Congress to carry out business activities. The first one created was the Bank of the United States in 1791. Government corporations are said to have more flexibility than the typical government agency.

During World War I and the Great Depression, Congress created more corporations to carry out emergency programs. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insures bank deposits. The Export-Import Bank of the United States makes loans to help in the sale of American goods. Both of these corporations still exist today.

There are now more than 50 government corporations. Some of these are well-known. Two of the best known are the U.S. Postal Service and the National Railroad Passenger Corporation.

Most government corporations operate like private corporations. They have a board of directors, and the income earned goes back into the business. The difference is that Congress decides on the purpose of the government corporations, and the President selects most of the top officers.
Why Did the United States Go from Isolation to Internationalism
The first 150 years of United States history was a busy time for the American people. After winning independence from England, the country needed to take care of domestic affairs. Domestic affairs are events that happen at home. Foreign affairs were not a concern at that time. Foreign affairs are the nation's relationships with other nations. During this time, the United States practiced isolationism. Isolationism is a refusal to be involved with other countries. This policy changed when the country became involved in World War II. After U.S. troops were sent overseas to protect America and help other countries during and after the war, isolationism effectively ended.

The security and safety of America depends on good relations with other countries. If there are conflicts with other countries, the United States tries to find solutions. Effective solutions, however, are not always possible. The United States has fought five major wars over the past century, and terrorism continues today to threaten the security of the United States.

Economic conditions worldwide affect the United States economy. The American economy has become global. American corporations and other businesses operate in many countries of the world. Because the world is so interconnected, the United States now practices internationalism, realizing that the well-being of everyone in this country is affected by events everywhere around the world.
Isolation
A refusal to be involved with other countries
Foreign Policy
The plan a country follows in dealing with other countries

All the actions a nation takes in dealing with other countries of the world. American foreign policy is carried out by the federal government. The government makes treaties and trade alliances with other countries. The government also provides economic aid to countries and participates in cultural exchange programs. To aid foreign policy efforts, the United States belongs to the United Nations and a number of other international organizations.

The President has always been responsible for making and carrying out foreign policy. To do this huge job effectively, the President gets help from many officials and agencies, including the State Department and the Department of Defense.
State Department
The State Department is one of the 15 executive departments that are part of the executive branch under the President. Congress created the department in 1789. It handles foreign affairs for the country. The President works closely with the State Department when dealing with foreign countries. The State Department has four goals for its foreign policy: protecting America, advancing democracy, promoting American values, and protecting and supporting diplomatic officials abroad.

The secretary of state is the head of the State Department. The President names the secretary of state and the Senate must approve that choice. Thomas Jefferson was the first secretary of state. The duties of the office are now concerned mostly with foreign affairs. The secretary of state is one of the President's top advisors and the most important member of the President's Cabinet.

There are many agencies in the State Department. Some of these agencies focus on different areas of the world. For example, the Bureau of African Affairs deals with issues in Africa. Other agencies handle special issues, such as narcotics or law enforcement. An assistant secretary is in charge of each agency.
Overseas Representatives
The Foreign Service has about 12,000 men and women, most of whom are serving in other countries. The right of legation, a part of international law, states that countries have the right to send and receive diplomats. International law is a set of rules followed by all countries.
Ambassador
A person appointed by the President to represent the United States in a foreign country. Ambassadors are stationed at the capital of each nation recognized by the United States. American embassies are located in more than 180 countries around the world. Consular offices are also located abroad. These offices encourage trade, gather information about other countries, and help American citizens who are abroad.
Diplomatic Immunity
Ambassadors are granted diplomatic immunity. This means they are not bound by the laws of the country where they are serving. They cannot be arrested, sued, or taxed by that country. Diplomats' houses cannot be searched, and diplomats' property is protected. Most countries follow the rules of diplomatic immunity.
There are exceptions, however. An extreme case happened in Iran on November 4, 1979. Radical Iranian students took over the American embassy in an angry protest against United States support of the existing Iranian government. They took 52 Americans hostage and held them for 444 days. The hostages were released when Ronald Reagan became President on January 20, 1981.
Passports
Governments give passports to citizens who want to leave the country. A passport identifies a person as a legal citizen of a country. Most countries require a person to have a passport to enter their borders. The United States issues more than 10 million passports to citizens each year.
Visa
A permit that allows a person to enter another country. It is issued by the country one wishes to enter. Visas to enter the United States are usually issued at American consulates in foreign countries.
Department of Defense
Congress created the Department of Defense in 1947 when it combined the Department of War and the Department of the Navy. All of the country's armed forces are under the control of this department. Today, more than 1.4 million men and women serve in the armed forces. More than 1 million serve in the National Guard and Reserves, and some work in the Defense Department.

The Framers of the Constitution knew that defense was vital to the success of the nation. They mentioned defense in the Preamble to the Constitution and throughout the Constitution itself. The Framers also saw the possible danger if the nation's military power was abused. To keep this from happening, they gave some of the controlling power over the armed forces to civilians. The power to declare war, for example, was given to Congress—the people's elected representatives, and the President was named commander in chief of the armed forces.

The secretary of defense is appointed by the President and must be confirmed by the Senate. He or she leads the Defense Department and advises the President on defense policies. The Department of Defense headquarters is called the Pentagon. This massive five-sided building is located in Virginia, across the Potomac River from the Capitol. The work of the Defense Department takes about one fourth of all federal spending. It has increased greatly since the September 11 terrorist attacks. In 2009, spending for the Department of Defense was expected to reach about $600 billion.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff is made up of six members. It is led by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. The other members are the vice chairman, the army chief of staff, the chief of naval operations, the commander of the Marine Corps, and the air force chief of staff. All are appointed by the President and approved by the Senate. They are the main military advisors to the secretary of defense. They also advise the President and the National Security Council (NSC). The NSC is part of the executive office and advises the President about the safety of the country.
Civilian Control of the Miliary
The principle of civilian control has always been a major factor in the making of defense policy. It has also played an important role in the creation and staffing of the various agencies responsible for executing the nation's defense policy. The importance of civilian control is clearly illustrated by this fact: The National Security Act of 1947 provides that the secretary of defense cannot have served on active duty in the armed forces for at least 10 years before being named to that post.
Military Departments
The military departments are part of the Defense Department. There are three military departments: army, navy, and air force. The secretary of each department is a civilian. He or she is named by the President and reports to the secretary of defense.

The United States Army, established in 1775, is the largest and oldest of the armed forces. It was set up by the Second Continental Congress even before the Declaration of Independence was written. It handles land-based military operations throughout the world as directed by the President, the secretary of defense, and the military chain of command.

The army stands ready to defeat any attack on the United States and to take action to protect American interests around the world. The active-duty forces include the Regular Army, the Army National Guard, and the Army Reserve. The army chief of staff is in charge of these active-duty forces.

The Regular Army, which now includes women, is made up of the infantry, artillery, and armored cavalry. Many other units provide services and supplies for the troops. These include the military police, medical corps, transportation units, and more.

The United States Navy takes care of sea warfare and defense. It was also created by the Second Continental Congress. The chief of naval operations is in charge of the navy. The chief is responsible for keeping the officers and enlisted members ready for combat.

The United States Marine Corps is a separate service within the Navy Department. It was created in November 1775. The leader of the marines is the commandant, who reports directly to the secretary of the navy. The marines carry out land and air operations for the navy.

The United States Air Force was not established as a separate branch of the military until 1947. Today, the air force takes care of military air and aerospace missions. During peacetime and wartime, it is the country's first line of defense. The air force attacks enemy targets, defends the United States, and provides transportation for all troops.
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
The director of national intelligence is the head of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI). This agency was created in 2005 to collect and share information following the September 11 attacks. The DNI is now the President's chief advisor for national intelligence. Intelligence is the gathering of information about other countries to help defend the nation. The duties of the DNI include overseeing those who gather information needed to defend the country. This information comes from all parts of the world.
Some agencies now under the control of the DNI have been operating for a long time. Those agencies include the FBI, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), and the CIA. Other agencies are less well-known. For example, the world's largest spy agency, the National Security Agency, is involved in espionage. Sometimes, even Congress does not know about all the activities of the NSA. Most Americans agree that these agencies are all very important to keeping them safe. However, most people also agree that too much government secrecy can be dangerous to a democratic society.
Espionage
Spying
Department of Homeland Security
protects the American homeland and citizens from terrorism. Terrorists are people who use violence or force to achieve political goals.

Congress created the Department of Homeland Security in November 2002. The DHS became operational in 2003. Before the DHS was formed, many different government groups handled homeland protection. Now, the DHS is responsible for the coordination and the direction of the antiterrorist activities of all public agencies that participate in national security. These agencies include thousands of police departments, fire departments, emergency medical and search-and-rescue units, and other disaster response agencies across the country.
Terrorism
The use of violence or force to achieve political goals
Safeguarding the Nation's Security
The 9/11 attacks showed that the United States was not well-protected from terrorist attacks. After that tragic day, the Department of Homeland Security was created to protect the nation. To do the best job possible, the DHS gets help from several federal agencies, state and local governments, and the American people.

1. Prevention
2. Protection
3. Response

has a huge responsibility. Its mission is to keep Americans safe. This job involves trying to secure more than 600,000 bridges; 170,000 water systems; and 5,000 power plants; as well as roads, airports, harbors, and much more. The Department of Homeland Security provides, in all, five main services:

Protects the necessary infrastructure of communities, including waterways, roads, and bridges

Provides safeguards from terrorist weapons

Makes the country's borders and its ports secure

Works with local governments to prepare citizens for possible emergencies

Studies intelligence (information about an enemy) from all government agencies

Given the huge job facing the DHS, the best it can do is to prevent most terrorist attacks from taking place and bring to justice those responsible for planning or carrying out such attacks.
American Foreign Policy Before WWI
Isolationism was a foreign policy goal that lasted for the first 150 years of American history. In his Farewell Address in 1796, George Washington advised the nation to stay away from involvement with other countries. During this time, the United States was just beginning as a new nation and was busy with matters at home. Of course, the country was not completely cut off from the rest of the world. The government sent diplomats abroad, made treaties, and built up trade with other countries. These activities were confined mostly to the Western Hemisphere.

The Monroe Doctrine, delivered to Congress by President James Monroe in 1823, encouraged isolationism. The President wanted America to stay out of European affairs. He also warned Europe to stay out of the affairs of North America and South America. Countries in Latin America had begun breaking away from Spain and Portugal. The United States feared that European countries would come to help. This could have threatened the security and economy of America.

The Monroe Doctrine was first put to the test in 1867, when France invaded Mexico. The United States helped Mexico defeat the French.

Later, many Latin Americans criticized the Monroe Doctrine. They claimed the United States was looking out only for its own interests and not really concerned with the independence of Latin American countries.

After the Revolutionary War, the United States had made two purchases of land that greatly increased the size of the country. To the west, the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 doubled the size of the country. The Florida Purchase Treaty in 1819 expanded the country to the south. Most Americans believed it was this nation's mission to expand its boundaries. They called this the nation's "Manifest Destiny." By 1900, the United States had acquired all the land west to the Pacific Ocean. During this time, the United States also had become a world power.

Problems in Central America and South America threatened the United States in the late 1800s. There were many revolutions in South America. Dangerous conditions existed in the countries involved. During President Theodore Roosevelt's administration, the United States began to help countries such as Haiti and Cuba. The United States became involved in Cuba's fight for independence from Spain in 1898. Its victory in that war gave the United States colonies of its own.

Panama revolted against Columbia in 1903 and became an independent country. The new country agreed to let the United States buy rights from Panama to build a canal across the Isthmus of Panama. The United States bought the Virgin Islands from Denmark to protect the canal. Many countries in Latin America began to resent the involvement of the United States in their region.

When Franklin Roosevelt became President, he made a major change in foreign policy. He believed in reducing the amount of military involvement with Latin America. This was called the Good Neighbor Policy. President Roosevelt wanted to win friends in the region.

Today, the United States is the strongest power in the Western Hemisphere. The Monroe Doctrine is still an important part of American foreign policy.

The United States also has had major dealings in Asia, beginning in the mid-1800s. Secretary of State John Hay began the Open Door policy with China in 1899. America had always traded in Asia. This trade, especially with China, had become threatened. Other countries, such as France and Germany, were claiming parts of China for their own trade. The Open Door policy insisted on equal trade opportunities for all countries. It also insisted that China be allowed to govern itself. As a result of this policy, America and China became allies. This alliance ended in 1949 when China became a Communist country.
Foreign Policy Changed During the Two World Wars
The United States was forced to enter World War I in 1917. American ships had been attacked by Germany in the North Atlantic. This ended American isolationism. The country had to be protected. After Germany and the Central Powers were defeated, however, the United States returned to its isolationism. Congress refused to have the United States join the League of Nations, which was formed after the war. Many Americans, including the government, still believed the concerns of Europe were not important to the United States.

Isolationism finally ended when the United States entered World War II. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the country was completely involved in the war. The United States and its allies—Great Britain, Russia, and China—defeated the Axis Powers. The countries that made up the Axis Powers were Germany, Italy, and Japan. After the war, the United States became the strongest military power in the world.
Collective Security
Principle that calls for countries to act together to promote peace and security

The United States and other countries were determined to keep the peace after World War II. Many countries looked to the principle of collective security. Collective security means countries act together to promote peace and security. The United Nations was formed in 1945. It was created to promote peace in the world. It soon became clear, however, that the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union was a key factor in world peace. That relationship was tense for 40 years. Then the Soviet Union broke apart, and the United States was the only remaining superpower in the world. In that role, this country has built a network of security alliances.
Deterrence
Another principle of United States foreign policy since World War II is known as deterrence. Deterrence is the strategy of building a very strong military. This military must be able to deter (prevent) any country from attacking the United States. Hostile countries will not attack if they know the United States will strike back with great force. President Truman began this strategy. It is still followed today.
Two Principles That Emerged After World War II
Deterrence and Collective Security
The Cold War
refers to the 40 years in which the United States and the Soviet Union were unfriendly toward each other. There was no actual war, but both sides made many threats. After World War II ended in 1945, the Soviets had promised to set up democratic governments in Europe. The Soviet Union broke its promise and set up dictatorships in those countries. These actions led to the beginning of the Cold War.

Congress approved the Truman Doctrine in 1947. It was a program of economic and military aid to countries threatened by the Soviet Union. It became part of the policy of containment (holding in) of communism in countries where it already existed. This was a key American foreign policy. The policy of containment was followed from 1947 to the end of the 1980s. Containment was based on the belief that if communism could be kept within its existing boundaries, it would collapse.

Twice during the Cold War, war almost broke out. During 1948 and 1949, the Soviets tried to overrun the German city of West Berlin. In 1962, the Soviet Union placed missiles on the island of Cuba. They were within striking distance of the United States. The United States threatened to attack Cuba unless the missiles were removed. The Soviets backed down in both West Berlin and Cuba. The United States did fight in two wars in Asia, however: the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Containment
A policy based on the belief that if communism could be kept within its existing boundaries, it would collapse
The Korean War
The Korean War began in 1950 when communist North Korea invaded democratic South Korea. The United Nations asked all members to help South Korea. The United Nations Command fought against the North Koreans and the communist Chinese troops helping them. The war lasted more than three years. In the end, the Republic of South Korea remained a democratic country. Although it was not a definite victory for the UN, the aggression was contained. Several countries had joined forces with the United States under the United Nations flag. This was the first time in history a united effort had happened.
The Vietnam War
Shortly after World War II, communist nationalists in Vietnam won a long war with their French colonial rulers. After the war, they signed truce agreements and Vietnam became two zones: North Vietnam became communist, and South Vietnam was anticommunist. The Viet Cong communist forces, helped by those from the north, began a civil war in South Vietnam. The United States, under President Eisenhower, helped South Vietnam. The United States believed it was important for the security of all of Southeast Asia.
Shortly after World War II, communist nationalists in Vietnam won a long war with their French colonial rulers. After the war, they signed truce agreements and Vietnam became two zones: North Vietnam became communist, and South Vietnam was anticommunist. The Viet Cong communist forces, helped by those from the north, began a civil war in South Vietnam. The United States, under President Eisenhower, helped South Vietnam. The United States believed it was important for the security of all of Southeast Asia.
When John F. Kennedy became President, he supported the Vietnam War. It became a full-scale war in 1965 under President Lyndon Johnson. Thousands of Americans were killed in Vietnam. As the war was being fought, many Americans opposed it. Then President Richard Nixon gradually pulled troops out of Vietnam. In 1973, a cease-fire was reached and the United States troops left Vietnam.
American Policies Succeed
After the Vietnam War, the Nixon administration began a program of détente. Détente means a "relaxation of tensions." The program was an attempt to improve relations with the Soviet Union and China. In 1972, President Nixon visited China. This visit led to diplomatic ties with the country.

Soon after, Nixon went to Moscow to meet with Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev. The two leaders signed SALT I (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks), an agreement to control nuclear weapons in both countries. The Soviets continued, at this time, to help revolutionary actions in other countries. They tried to set up a communist regime in Afghanistan, but failed. The United States helped Afghanistan.
The Cold War ended soon after Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union in 1985. President Ronald Reagan met with Gorbachev and they talked about limiting weapons stockpiles. The two leaders had more meetings and were able to come to other agreements. These meetings and other events led to the end of the Cold War. During this time, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union were in turmoil. The Soviet Union fell in 1991 when the communists lost power. The United States policies of deterrence and containment contributed to the fall of some communist countries.
Dangers in the World Today
The end of the Cold War brought international peace in some regions. Today, however, conflicts continue in the world, making it a dangerous place. Terrorist groups, especially al Qaeda, worry most people in democratic countries. Countries such as Iran and North Korea are interested in becoming nuclear powers. Civil wars in parts of Africa, and trouble between India and Pakistan, threaten those countries. Closer to the United States, Venezuela's former president Hugo Chavez has sharply criticized America. Many other countries in South America support Chavez.

Middle Eastern oil is vital to the United States, and so is the United States' relationship with Israel. Soon after Israel was created as an independent state in 1948 by the United Nations, other countries in the area invaded it. The United States has remained Israel's friend and supporter. The United States also tries to maintain friendly relations with the other countries in the Middle East. In 1979, President Carter helped Israel and Egypt create a peace agreement known as the Camp David Accords. Israel has also made treaties with Jordan and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The Israeli-Palestinian relationship is, however, still filled with problems and, at times, violence.

The Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979. They controlled the country for nine long years. Influential groups within Afghanistan tried to gain control, and civil war broke out. The Taliban, an Islamic group, gained power in the country. In 2001, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, the United States fought against the Taliban. The Taliban had protected Osama bin Laden and the terrorists who had carried out the attacks. NATO helped a new democratic government take control in Afghanistan. The Taliban had not been destroyed, however. Since 2002, the Taliban has reasserted itself and begun activities again in Afghanistan.

The United States defeated Saddam Hussein and Iraq in the first Gulf War in 1991. That war was fought because Iraq had invaded the country of Kuwait. After the 1991 war, Saddam Hussein agreed to destroy Iraq's chemical and biological weapons.

In 2003, President George W. Bush believed Saddam Hussein had not kept his promise and was a threat to the security of the United States and the world. President Bush tried to persuade the United Nations Security Council to take action, but his attempt was unsuccessful. The President then proposed a plan to Congress. Despite the controversy of the issue, Congress passed a joint resolution which allowed the President to take the necessary actions to remove Iraq's threat to the world.

Operation Iraqi Freedom began in March 2003. This second war against Iraq was more successful, and Saddam Hussein was defeated in six weeks. Since that time, Iraq has been in a state of unrest and violence. The United States will most likely be involved in the rebuilding of Iraq for many more years.
Helping to Ease the Oil Crisis
In 2008, oil prices reached an all-time high. During the crisis, the U.S. government looked for ways to help ease the oil crisis in the country. Some government officials wanted to end America's need for foreign oil and to expand domestic production. Many wanted legal barriers lifted that prevent the greater use of nuclear energy. Some encouraged the production and use of methanol and ethanol. People contributed to the effort to offset the rising cost of oil and gas. For example, some began to use public transportation, drive less, or drive more fuel-efficient vehicles.
Foreign Aid
Economic and military aid given to other countries

The United States has long helped other countries with money, food, and other supplies. This foreign aid began before the United States entered World War II. President Franklin Roosevelt started the Lend-Lease program to help Great Britain. Great Britain needed war supplies to fight Nazi Germany, but it had no money. In return for the supplies, Britain leased land to the United States. This land was to be used for air and naval bases abroad. As the war went on, Lend-Lease was extended to other countries. The United States has sent more than $500 billion in aid to foreign countries since World War II.

The United States also helped European allies rebuild after World War II. Under the Marshall Plan, named after Secretary of State George C. Marshall, the United States gave $13 billion in foreign aid. This money helped people in 16 nations in Western Europe from 1948 to 1952.

Today, the United States continues to provide military aid to foreign countries. Since the 1950s, the largest amount of aid has gone to Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. Most aid is given to countries that are critical to United States foreign policy. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) works with the Department of State and the Department of Agriculture to handle aid programs.
Security Alliances
Since World War II, the United States has built many regional security alliances, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). NATO promotes peace and provides a common defense against military attacks. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the countries of Eastern Europe joined NATO. NATO now has 26 members.

The United States is a partner in many other security alliances around the world. The Organization of American States is a group of nations from North, Central, and South America. It tries to promote policies that improve economic and social development in the Americas. The United States, Canada, and 32 Latin American countries signed the Rio Pact in 1947. The treaty commits those nations to defending one another against attacks and settling their arguments peacefully.

Cuba is not part of this agreement. The United States also has alliances with Japan and Korea. The Japanese Pact of 1951 commits the United States to protecting Japan. In return, the Japanese allow the United States to keep military forces in and around its territory.

Another treaty, the ANZUS pact, was signed in 1951. It joined the United States, Australia, and New Zealand in an alliance that covers the South Pacific.
Regional Security Alliances
Agreement among nations to act together to meet any attack against any member
NATO
The members of NATO have agreed that an attack against one or more of them will be considered an attack against them all. In 2001, the United Nations created a military force made up of many nations. This military is called the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). NATO now commands the ISAF. Today, the ISAF includes more than 40,000 troops from 37 nations.

Membership in NATO has extended beyond Western Europe with the addition of several nations that were once part of the Soviet-dominated Eastern Bloc.
United Nations
An international organization of 180 member nations created to develop peace and friendly relations, and to protect human rights worldwide

An international organization that was established in 1945. After World War II ended, the Allies wanted to help ensure that no such war could ever happen again. Fifty countries met in California to write a charter that listed the basic principles of the United Nations. The United States was the first to ratify the charter. The document said that the United Nations would help keep peace in the world. It would help develop friendly relations among nations and protect human rights. Today, the UN has 192 member nations.
How is the United Nations Organized
The United Nations has six main divisions. The first is the General Assembly. The General Assembly has been called "the town meeting of the world." Every UN member has a seat and a vote in the Assembly. It meets once a year in New York City.

The second part of the UN is the Security Council. It has 15 members and is responsible for keeping peace around the world. It often provides forces to keep violence from breaking out in trouble spots.

The Economic and Security Council is made up of 54 members elected by the General Assembly. It carries out the UN's economic, cultural, educational, and health activities.

The Trusteeship Council was formed to oversee the world's trust territories. All eleven trust territories are now able to govern themselves, so this council is no longer needed. The council exists in name only.

The last two UN divisions are the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the Secretariat. The ICJ acts as the World Court. It has 15 judges and handles cases brought by both members and nonmembers. The Secretariat is headed by the secretary-general, who manages the staff of 9,000 people who do the daily work of the UN.
Security Council
A 15-member panel of the United Nations that has the major responsibility for keeping international peace
How Does the United Nations Work
The United Nations acts as a mediator between countries and groups within countries that are having disagreements. The UN can place sanctions, or trade limits, on countries that break rules. The United Nations can call on member countries to send troops to act as peacekeepers in troubled areas. The Security Council must vote on these actions. Nine of the 15 member countries of the Security Council must agree before an action is taken.

The UN also tries to help poor nations, improve world health and the environment, and address issues related to human rights. The UN has many agencies that help to achieve its goals.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is concerned with ending hunger in countries around the world.

The goal of the Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is to end extreme poverty.

The World Bank Group supports programs that fight poverty and improve living conditions in developing nations.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) was created after World War II to provide food, clothing, and healthcare to children in Europe.

The World Health Organization (WHO) supports health around the world.
How is the United States Working with the United Nations?
The United States holds a permanent seat in the Security Council. Although there are 192 members of the UN, the United States pays more than 20 percent of the UN budget. At times, the United States has criticized some decisions of the UN and has withheld money. Even so, the United States still works closely with the UN to aid needy countries.
Carol Bellamy
Carol Bellamy has a long history of helping others. In 1995, she was named executive director of UNICEF. As director, she challenges world leaders to use national resources for the benefit of children. Before joining UNICEF, Bellamy was the director of the Peace Corps, another group that helps developing countries. She was the first former Peace Corps volunteer to head UNICEF. Bellamy has worked as a banker and a lawyer on Wall Street and was the first woman elected head of the New York City Council. Bellamy also served in the New York state senate from 1973 to 1977.
National Judiciary
Under the Articles of Confederation, there was no national judiciary and no national courts. Each state decided how to interpret the laws of the United States. This system did not work because each state ignored the rulings of the other states. There was a need for a national court system to apply and enforce the laws. When the Framers met in Philadelphia in 1787, they created a national judiciary. They did so in Article III of the Constitution.
Dual Court System
The United States has two separate court systems. The Constitution created a national system of courts. These federal courts are located in all 50 states. The second court system is the state courts. Every state has its own system of courts. The state courts hear most of the cases in the country.
Federal Courts
The two types of federal courts are constitutional courts and special courts. Congress created these inferior courts based on Article III of the Constitution.
Inferior Courts
The lower federal courts that are beneath the Supreme Court
Special Courts
The special courts handle cases that arise from the expressed powers of Congress described in Article I of the Constitution. There are many types of special courts. Each court hears a very narrow range of cases.
Constitutional Courts
The constitutional courts include the courts of appeals, the district courts, and the United States Court of International Trade.
Jurisdiction of the Federal Courts
The Constitution gives federal courts the authority to hear cases that involve the following:

A person or group who violates any part of the Constitution

A person or group who breaks a federal law

A foreign nation or ambassador sues the United States or a U.S. citizen.

An American citizen sues a foreign government or person.

A crime occurs on a U.S. ship at sea or on federal property.

A disagreement arises between states or between citizens of different states.
Types of Juristiction
There are many types of jurisdiction. Exclusive jurisdiction means that only a federal court may try certain cases. For example, if a person commits a crime on an American ship, that person must be tried in a federal court. Cases involving federal taxes are always tried in a federal court.

Some cases may be tried in either a federal or a state court. The courts then have concurrent jurisdiction. Many of these cases involve money disagreements between citizens of different states. The person who files the cases is called the plaintiff. The plaintiff may choose whether to be heard in a state or a federal court. The defendant is the person about whom the complaint is made. The defendant can have the trial moved under certain circumstances.

A court has original jurisdiction if the case must be heard in that court first. A court that hears the case on appeal following a lower court ruling has appellate jurisdiction. This court can change the decision of the lower court or uphold that decision. District courts have only original jurisdiction. Appeals courts have only appellate jurisdiction. Only the Supreme Court has both types of jurisdiction.
Concurrent Jurisdiction
The power shared by federal and state courts to hear certain cases
Appellate Jurisdiction
The authority of a court to review decisions of inferior (lower) courts
Federal Judges Appointment
The Constitution gave the President the power to appoint Supreme Court justices. The President needs the approval of the Senate. The Senate also has a part in the appointment of all other federal judges. The Constitution does not set any qualifications for federal judges. When choosing judges, the President often takes advice from the senators from the State where the judge will serve. This practice is called senatorial courtesy. The President also asks for advice from the Attorney General and political advisors.

Federal judges are often former attorneys, professors of law, members of Congress, or state judges. Presidents often choose judges from their own political party.
Judicial Philosophy
A President may consider the judicial philosophy of candidates for judge. A judge may practice either judicial activism or judicial restraint. Judicial restraint means a judge will consider precedent (what was decided in previous cases) when making decisions about a case. The judge will also consider the Constitution and what the law originally intended. Judicial activism means the judge tends to be more aware of changes in society since the law was originally made. The judge might interpret the law according to newer values or beliefs in the country. A judge's belief in either judicial activism or judicial restraint is called judicial philosophy.

Judges think about many factors when making a decision on a case. They must look at the facts of the case and consider precedent. They must follow the Constitution and think about their own judicial philosophy. Over time, a judge may change his or her philosophy.
Term and Pay of Judges
Supreme Court justices are appointed for life and can only be removed by impeachment. This is stated in the Constitution. The Framers wanted judges to be independent and did not want them to worry about whether or not they would be reappointed. Special court judges are not appointed for life. They are named to terms of 8 to 15 years, depending on the court.

Congress sets the salaries of all federal judges. Federal judges may retire at age 70 and receive full salary for the rest of their lives, if they have served 10 years.
Court Officers
There are many people who work in the federal courts and support federal judges. There are clerks, bailiffs, court reporters, probation officers, and others.

Federal judges also appoint U.S. magistrates to help run the district courts. Magistrates are justices who handle minor civil complaints and misdemeanor cases. There are more than 400 magistrates in the federal court system.

Bankruptcy judges are assigned to each federal judicial district. They are appointed for a 14-year term by judges of a federal court of appeals. There are about 300 bankruptcy judges.

The President and the Senate appoint a U.S. attorney for each federal judicial district. These U.S. district attorneys assist law enforcement agencies. They also help in all civil actions against the federal government.

United States marshals also serve in each of the district courts. Their duties include making arrests, choosing people to serve on juries, and responding to emergencies, including possible terrorist attacks.
District Courts
Federal cases are heard in the district courts. Each state has at least one district court. Some larger states are divided into two or more districts. There are a total of 94 district courts with more than 650 judges. Several judges are assigned to each district court. District courts are the only federal courts that use a jury. In most other federal courts, judges make decisions without a jury.
District Court Jurisdiction
District courts are the main trial courts in the federal court system. Because of this, they are known as the "courts of first instance." They have original jurisdiction over most federal criminal and civil cases. A criminal case is one in which a defendant is tried for breaking a law, such as kidnapping. A civil case is one that involves a noncriminal matter. This may be an argument over the terms of a contract, for example.

Most of the decisions from the 94 district courts are final. Occasionally, those decisions are appealed to the courts of appeals or the Supreme Court.
Jury Trial
The 6th Amendment gives an accused person the right to a speedy public trial by a jury in the state where the crime took place. A defendant must be told what the charges are and is entitled to have a lawyer. A trial jury is usually made up of 12 persons. Jurors typically live in the community in which the crime took place. The jury members are chosen at random from lists of voters or taxpayers. They must decide, after hearing both sides of the case, whether a person is guilty or innocent. If a jury cannot agree on a verdict, a new trial may be held, or the charges may be dropped.
Courts of Appeals
The courts of appeals were created by Congress in 1891. They were needed because the Supreme Court had so many cases to hear that the justices could not keep up. They were three years behind in hearing these cases. People accused of crimes who feel that their trial was unfair in the district court may appeal. They may ask a higher court to review their cases. These reviews take place in courts of appeals, which are sometimes called appellate courts.

Courts of appeals have only appellate jurisdiction. They only hear cases on appeal from the lower courts in their districts. Some cases do come from the U.S. Tax Court and territorial courts. Sometimes the courts of appeals hear cases from a federal regulatory agency.

There are now 13 courts of appeals in the federal judicial system, which include a total of 179 judges.

When a court of appeals receives a case to review, the judges study the history of the case. The judges cannot ask for new facts to be presented. Instead, they review the original trial record and carefully consider the arguments for each side. If the judges decide the trial was unfair, they can reverse the district court's decision. They also may send the case back to the district court for a new trial.

If the judges decide that the original trial was fair and the verdict justified, the district court judgment stands. Very few of their decisions are appealed to the Supreme Court.
Constitutional Courts
Congress has established one two other constitutional courts. One of these is the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, located in the District of Columbia. Unlike the other courts of appeals, it hears cases from all over the United States. It is mostly concerned with appeals of decisions in patent, copyright, and international trade cases.

The other constitutional court is called the Court of International Trade. It hears civil cases related to taxes on imported goods collected by customs officials and other trade-related issues. It is also called the Trade Court. The Trade Court has nine judges. During court trials, the judges sit in panels of three. They often hold trials at such major ports as San Francisco, New Orleans, Boston, and New York.
Judicial Reviews
As both federal and state courts settle cases involving constitutional questions, they interpret the meaning of the Constitution. This is known as the power of judicial review. The Constitution does not list this power, but it is certain that the Framers intended that the federal courts, and especially the Supreme Court, should have it.

The Supreme Court is the final authority on the meaning of the Constitution. Using the power of judicial review, the Court can declare laws and actions of local, state, or national governments to be unconstitutional.
Marbury vs. Madison
The Supreme Court established its power of judicial review in the case of Marbury v. Madison in 1803. William Marbury was appointed a justice of the peace on the last day of John Adams's term as President. The commission confirming the appointment was not delivered before Thomas Jefferson took office.
When Jefferson became President the next day, he would not allow his new secretary of state, James Madison, to make the appointment. Marbury sued Madison. Marbury cited the Judiciary Act of 1789. It stated he could take his case to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decided this part of the Judiciary Act went against Article III of the Constitution. The Court refused Marbury's request. By doing so, it claimed the power of judicial review. Since that time, many laws passed by Congress have gone to the Supreme Court. The Court then decides whether or not they are constitutional and how they should be interpreted.
Supreme Court's Jurisdiction
The Court has both original and appellate jurisdiction. It hears most cases under its appellate jurisdiction, from the lower federal courts and the highest state courts. Someone has to challenge, or question, the law involved in a case before it can go to the Supreme Court.

In a small number of cases, the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction. This happens when a state is a party in a case. The Court also has original jurisdiction when an ambassador, minister, or consul is involved. The Court hears only one or two cases each year under its original jurisdiction.
How Does the Supreme Court Operate?
The Supreme Court is in session from October to about July. When the High Court hears a case, the justices listen to oral, or spoken, arguments from both sides. The justices usually ask questions of each attorney during oral arguments. The justices also review the written statements, or briefs, provided by each side.

More than 8,000 cases are appealed to the Supreme Court each year. The Court considers only a few hundred of those. This is because the Court usually agrees with the lower court's decision or because the case doesn't raise any important constitutional issues. Of the cases the Court agrees to consider, less than 100 involve a full hearing.
Court Opinions
The decisions made in the Supreme Court are reached by a majority vote of the nine justices. Six justices must be present to call for a vote. After the Court votes, the Chief Justice or one of the associate justices writes the majority opinion. This is a carefully worded statement that explains why the decision was made.
Majority Opinion
Officially called the Opinion of the Court; announces the Supreme Court's decision and states the reasoning upon which it is based
Who is on the Court Today
A President often appoints justices who share his or her views. Today's Supreme Court is often divided in its decisions, likely due to the controversial nature of the cases that it hears. The Court has recently made 5-4 decisions on topics such as protection for wetlands and capital punishment for juvenile offenders.

The Court's opinions are very important. They are used as precedents in similar cases. Sometimes, a justice may write a concurring opinion to add facts to the majority opinion. Other times, the justice might write a concurring opinion to state different reasons for reaching the decision. Those justices who did not agree with the majority opinion often write a dissenting opinion. Dissenting opinions cannot become precedent in the lower courts.
Concurring Opinion
Written explanation of the views of one or more judges who support the majority of the court
Dissenting Opinion
Written explanation of the views of one or more judges who disagree with a decision reached by the majority of the court
Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
Congress began setting up a system of military courts in 1789. These courts are called courts-martial. These military courts take care of the needs of the armed forces. They are not a part of the federal court system. The judges and other persons who work in these courts are members of the military. Usually they are officers. A trial in a court-martial is similar to a trial held in any other court.

Congress set up the Court of Military Appeals in 1950. It is now called the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. This court is a civilian tribunal and reviews serious court-martial convictions. As a civilian tribunal, it is separate from the military. Sometimes, but not often, cases heard in it are appealed to the Supreme Court. Most often it is the court of last resort for cases involving military law.
Court-Martial
A court composed of military personnel for the trial of those accused of violating military law
Civilian Tribunal
A court operating as part of the judicial branch separate from the military establishment
Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims
Hears appeals from decisions made by the Board of Veterans Appeals in the Department of Veterans Affairs

Congress created the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in 1988. This court hears appeals from decisions made by the Board of Veterans Appeals in the Department of Veterans Affairs, known as the VA. Cases involve claims for benefits that the VA has denied. If the case loses in this court, it may be appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Military Commissions
Military commissions are boards of five commissioned officers. They are not part of the courts-martial system. Instead, they are separate groups set up to try suspected terrorists captured in Afghanistan and Iraq.

George W. Bush created these military commissions by executive order in 2001. He was acting as commander in chief. In the past, military tribunals had been set up during wars such as the Mexican-American War, Civil War, and World War II. In 2006, however, the Supreme Court decided that the President could not set up these commissions without an act of Congress. The Court told the President to work with Congress to resolve this issue.
Court of Federal Claims
The United States cannot be sued unless it agrees to that suit. When Congress declares the government open to suit on a particular matter, the case goes to the Court of Federal Claims. This court hears cases involving money claims against the federal government from all across the country. A decision in favor of the person bringing the suit usually results in money being paid to that person. Congress appropriates the money. Cases heard in this court may be appealed to the Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit.
Sometimes, those who lose in the Claims Court may still win some money. Several years ago, a Puget Sound mink rancher had claimed that low-flying Navy planes scared his animals and the females stopped reproducing. He was asking for $100 per mink. He lost. Then his congressman introduced a bill that eventually paid him $10 for each animal.
Appropriate
To assign to a particular use
Territorial Courts and District of Columbia Courts
The territorial courts were created for the country's territories. These territories are Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the Northern Marianas. They serve the same function as the local courts in the 50 states.

The District of Columbia has a judicial system that includes a district court and court of appeals for the district. Congress has also set up two local courts for the District of Columbia: a superior court and a Court of Appeals.
United States Tax Court
Congress set up the United States Tax Court in 1969. The United States Tax Court hears appeals concerning payment of federal taxes. This court does not hear criminal cases. It settles disagreements about the amount or type of tax. The cases come from the Internal Revenue Service and other agencies. The decisions of the United States Tax Court may be appealed to the federal courts of appeal.

Remember that the Tax Court really is not a part of this system. It is included here because its cases are generated by agencies in the federal government.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
In 1981, Sandra Day O'Connor was the first woman to become a Supreme Court justice. She was born in El Paso, Texas, and grew up on her family's ranch. After attending Stanford University, she graduated from Stanford University Law School in 1952. She practiced law for several years, and then became assistant attorney general in Arizona. Later, O'Connor served as a state senator in Arizona. She was voted Senate majority leader in 1973, becoming the first woman in the United States to hold that position.

Sandra O'Connor was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan. She was considered conservative because she believed that the Court should interfere with laws only when necessary. Over the years, Sandra Day O'Connor supported more liberal policies. Liberal policies favor change and support individual rights. For example, she voted in favor of policies that promote equality for women and minorities in the workplace. Sandra Day O'Connor resigned from the Court in 2006.
Unalienable
Unable to be surrendered
Endowed
Given as a gift
Why do Americans Believe in Personal Freedom
The commitment to personal freedom in this country reaches back before colonial days. The people of England had struggled to win individual rights for many years. Later, the colonists brought the idea of freedom with them to America. After the Revolutionary War was fought and won, a Constitution was written and approved. This new plan for government guaranteed freedom for all Americans.
Constitution- Personal Freedom
At first, the Constitution did not include a list of the rights for the people. Before all the states would ratify the Constitution, the Bill of Rights had to be added. It became part of the Constitution in 1791. The later amendments, especially the 13th and 14th, added more personal freedoms to the Constitution.

The Constitution guarantees both civil liberties and civil rights to the American people. Civil liberties are the freedoms that the government may not take away. They include freedom of religion, press, speech, assembly, petition, and the right to a fair trial.

Civil rights are the protections granted by government. For example, the Constitution protects us against discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religious belief, or national origin.
Assembly
A coming together for a common purpose
Petition
Written request to the government for a right or benefit
Discrimination
Treating people unfairly because of their race, sex, age, religion, or physical condition
Limited Government
Limited government is a basic principle of the U.S. government. The Constitution sets limits on the power of government. By contrast, in a government ruled by a dictator, the rights of the citizens are often ignored. Although our government has the authority to rule, it may never take away a person's basic freedoms. These freedoms are listed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which are the first ten amendments.

The many rights granted to citizens in our government are limited, or relative to the rights of others. No person can prevent another from exercising a right. In addition, when exercising his or her own rights, no person can infringe on the rights of others. For example, everyone has a right to free speech. That freedom, however, does not allow a person to use speech to spread false statements about another person. Also, the press may not print or broadcast material that damages a person's reputation or gives away security or military secrets.

Different rights sometimes conflict with one another. One example of this is when freedom of the press collides with a person's right to a fair trial. Some famous trials have been appealed in the courts because publicity may influence people who end up serving on a jury.

The rights listed in the Constitution are guaranteed to all citizens, as well as to aliens. An alien is a person who lives in one country but is a citizen of another country. Aliens are sometimes denied certain rights, such as the right to vote and to travel freely throughout the country.

After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in World War II, all persons of Japanese descent living on the Pacific Coast of the United States were moved from their homes. Many lost their homes and other possessions. This action caused great hardship for those who were targeted—many of whom were lawful American citizens. The action was widely criticized, especially after the war ended. In 1988, the U.S. government finally agreed it had been wrong. Money was paid to each living person who had been forcibly relocated by the government.
Federalism Affects Individual Rights
The U.S. government is based on the principle of federalism. This means the power of government is divided between national and state governments. The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution to make the national government less powerful.

The power of the states is discussed in part of the 14th Amendment. This part of the Amendment is called the Due Process Clause, which guarantees that no state may deny basic rights to its people. The Supreme Court has used the 14th Amendment often to uphold basic rights. The Court has held that most of the guarantees in the Bill of Rights are also covered in the 14th Amendment.

This has become known as the process of incorporation. It guarantees that most freedoms listed in the Bill of Rights are covered in the Due Process Clause. The Supreme Court first decided this in 1925 in Gitlow v. New York. Gitlow had been convicted in New York of a criminal act. He had made speeches calling for the violent overthrow of the United States. Gitlow appealed his case to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court upheld the conviction. The important part of this decision was not Gitlow's guilt or innocence. Instead, it was important because the Court decided that freedom of speech and press are protected by the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. This was the first time the Court had ruled that a right guaranteed in the Bill of Rights must also be guaranteed by the states. Thirteen more cases were decided the same way.
Due Process Clause
Part of the 14th Amendment which guarantees that no state can deny basic rights to its citizens
Process of Incorporation
The process of incorporating, or including, most of the guarantees in the Bill of Rights into the 14th Amendment's Due Process Clause
9th Amendment
The Constitution contains most of the rights and freedoms granted to citizens. The 9th Amendment says that there are other rights, even though they are not written in the Constitution. The Supreme Court has decided many cases using the 9th Amendment. They include the guarantee that an accused person cannot be tried using evidence gained illegally.
Freedom of Religion
The 1st Amendment guarantees that Americans may worship as they choose, or not worship at all. The first guarantee separates church and state, and is called the Establishment Clause. It prohibits an establishment of an official religion in the United States. The second guarantee is called the Free Exercise Clause. It guarantees the right of each person to believe whatever he or she chooses about religion. This religious liberty is also protected by the 14th Amendment's Due Process Clause. It prevents the states and local governments from interfering with the people's right to worship.
Separation of Church and State
The Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment does not allow the government to set up or support any one religion. Although the church and government (state) are separated by the Constitution, religion is encouraged. Many public officials use the name of God in taking the oath of office. Sessions of Congress open with prayer. The nation's anthem and money both use the name of God. On the Washington Monument there is an aluminum cap at the very top that says "Lau Deo." This means "praise be to God" in Latin.
Everson v. Board of Education (separation of religion and education)
The Supreme Court's first ruling on the Establishment Clause occurred in 1947. The case of Everson v. Board of Education is often called the New Jersey School Bus case. The Court upheld a state law that provided busing for all students attending schools in New Jersey, including parochial (church-related) schools. The Court said the law was not a support of religion. Instead, the justices said, it was needed to keep all students safe. Since then, the Court has heard many cases involving religion and education.
McCollum v. Board of Education (separation of religion and education)
Zorach v. Clauson (separation of religion and education)
Some public schools allow "released time" during school hours. This means public school students may leave school to attend religious classes. In McCollum v. Board of Education, 1948, the Supreme Court struck down the released time program because the religious classes were held in public facilities. A few years later, in 1952, the Court upheld New York City's released time program in Zorach v. Clauson. In that case, the classes were held in private places, such as homes.
Stone v. Graham (separation of religion and education)
Reciting prayers and using the Bible in public schools have been challenged many times and have been declared unconstitutional at least seven times by the Supreme Court. For example, in the case of Stone v. Graham, 1980, a law that ordered the posting of the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms was struck down by the Court.
Separation of Religion and Education
In Rhode Island, a prayer used as part of a graduation program was declared unconstitutional. In a Texas school district, students led prayers before football games. The Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that this should no longer be allowed.

According to the Equal Access Act of 1984, student religious groups are allowed to meet in schools in the same way as other student groups. When the law was challenged, the Supreme Court found in favor of the Act. The Court said that not allowing the meetings violated the students' 1st and 14th amendment rights.

Over the years, the Court has also ruled against laws that forbid the teaching of the scientific theory of evolution. Such a case was decided in Arkansas in 1968. There, the Court said the state should have no interest in protecting any or all religions from views they do not agree with.

There have been many cases on aid to parochial schools. In these cases, the Supreme Court must decide what types of aid are constitutional. Aid may be given in the form of books, transportation, testing, and equipment. Supporters of this aid by the state claim that parochial schools save the state money. Opponents of aid argue that parents choose the parochial school and must accept the cost.
After the Case of Lemon v. Kurtzman
After the case of Lemon v. Kurtzman, 1971, the Supreme Court decided the Establishment Clause was written to prevent three things when aiding private or parochial schools.

1. The purpose of the aid must not be religious.

2. The aid must not advance or inhibit religion.

3. The aid must avoid "excessive entanglement of government with religion"—or too much mixing of government and religion.

Over the years, many aid programs have passed the Lemon test.
Cases that Involve the Establishment Clause
Other church and state cases have involved seasonal displays, chaplains, and the Ten Commandments.

In Rhode Island, the Supreme Court decided the city of Pawtucket could display a nativity scene celebrating the birth of Jesus. The display featured other seasonal items, such as Santa's sleigh and candy canes. In 1989, in County of Allegheny v. ACLU, the Supreme Court ruled against a large similar display in the county courthouse. That display included only a religious celebration of the birth of Jesus. The Court said it violated the 1st and 14th amendments.

Chaplains (people who lead religious meetings) offer prayers in Congress and in state legislatures. The Supreme Court has ruled that this is constitutional, pointing out that prayers have been offered since colonial times. Also, the Court said legislators are not influenced by religious teaching the way schoolchildren are.

Displays of the Ten Commandments have been challenged several times, twice in 2005. The Supreme Court ruled that a monument displaying the Ten Commandments at the Texas State Capitol did not violate the Constitution. The reason given was that the monument had been put up 40 years earlier, and it was part of a large historical and cultural display. Then, in ruling on a case in Kentucky, the Supreme Court said a display of the Ten Commandments at a county courthouse was clearly meant to support religion and, therefore, was unconstitutional.
Free Exercise Clause
The Free Exercise Clause, part of the 1st Amendment, allows people to believe what they choose in matters of religion. It does not give people the right to violate the law or the safety of others. It also does not give people the right to force their beliefs on others.

Indeed, there are limits on what people may do. The Supreme Court has heard many cases concerning free exercise and has agreed with the laws that were challenged. For example, the Supreme Court agreed with laws that require schoolchildren to be vaccinated. The Court also agreed with a law that requires businesses to be closed on Sundays in some areas. The Court also decided that people who have religious objections to serving in the military still could be drafted.

Sometimes the Supreme Court has struck down government laws. For example, Amish children do not have to attend school past the eighth grade. The Amish hold that their lifestyle as farmers and their religious faith are harmed by modern education.

Other religious groups, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, have refused to salute the flag. In 1940, in Minersville School District v. Gobitis, the Supreme Court upheld a school rule that children salute the flag. The Court felt that saluting the flag did not interfere with a religious belief. Three years later in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, the Supreme Court reversed that decision and said a flag salute law was unconstitutional.
Free Expression
The 1st Amendment guarantees all people the right to express themselves in speech or in writing. The amendment guarantees this expression even if the words offend others. This freedom is meant to allow everyone to hear the opinions and ideas of others. In our democracy, the people must have as much information and discussion as possible in order to make the best choices on public issues.

Freedom of the press is another guarantee of the 1st Amendment. This means that people can speak freely and write their opinions. These opinions can then be published in newspapers, magazines, and pamphlets. The opinions can also be presented online, on television, or on the radio.

In the United States, the government does not own the press. Private individuals or groups of persons own the press. The press can print what it believes to be true and fair. It cannot print or broadcast material that damages someone's reputation or reveals national security secrets.

The restrictions on free expression also include libel and slander. Libel is the use of false or unjust statements in writing. These statements are called slander if they are spoken. There are also laws restricting material that encourages people to commit a crime or overthrow the government by force.
Seditious Speech
Sedition is a crime. It is an effort of people or groups to overthrow or harm the government using violence. Seditious speech is used to influence people to commit the crime of sedition. This type of speech is not protected by the 1st Amendment. Congress has passed laws against sedition.

Seditious Speech- speech that encourages an effort of people or groups to overthrow or harm the government by using violence
Espionage Act of 1917
Espionage- Spying

The Espionage Act of 1917 was passed during World War I. Among other things, this act made it illegal to encourage disloyalty in the military. It also made it illegal to speak or print disloyal statements about the government. Many people were found guilty of violating the Espionage Act.

In Schenck v. United States, 1919, the Supreme Court heard the appeal of Charles Schenck, who was convicted of harming the war effort. He encouraged men to resist the draft in leaflets that he wrote. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. wrote the opinion of the Court in this case, which upheld the conviction of Schenck. In his opinion, Justice Holmes established the "clear and present danger" rule. He said that words can be weapons and can create a clear and present danger. He felt that Congress should have a right to prevent that danger.
Obscenity
Obscenity is material that is indecent. The Court has had many discussions about what materials should be considered obscene. The difficulty of the matter lies in the fact that moral standards differ among people. In 1973, the Court set up a three-part test to decide whether material is obscene. These rules have generally been followed ever since.
Prior Restraint
Means placing a ban on written or spoken words before they are expressed. The 1st Amendment does not allow the government to practice prior restraint. The Supreme Court heard the leading case, Near v. Minnesota, concerning prior restraint in 1931. The state of Minnesota passed a law outlawing the publication of any magazine or article that intended to cause harm. On the basis of that law, a local court forbade the publication of the Saturday Press newspaper. That paper had printed several articles attacking public officials for corruption.

The justices ruled in favor of the Saturday Press. The Court said the paper's publication could not be stopped just because the state thought it would print a malicious, or mean, article.

In the case New York Times v. United States, 1971, concerning the Vietnam War and the Pentagon Papers, the Court ruled against the government. The Pentagon Papers were stolen and leaked to the press. The government claimed these papers were classified, or secret, documents. The Court ruled that the government had not proved that printing these documents would threaten national security.

The Supreme Court has approved some prior restraints. The CIA rule that agents must never publish information about the CIA without the agency's permission was found to be constitutional. Also, the Court has ruled that school newspapers may be censored or edited by school authorities.
Students' Rights
Students have most of the same rights as adults. They have the right of free speech. They are protected from unreasonable searches. They may refuse to be questioned by the police in a criminal case. However, certain rights are restricted when students are at school, since schools are permitted to have and enforce certain rules. For example, schools can limit the type of articles published in a school newspaper. Schools can limit the use of offensive speech, and they can set a dress code. But the police and school staff cannot search students' possessions or lockers without a search warrant or a good reason. Schools are required to have, and distribute to students, a policy manual outlining their rules.
Supreme Court's Limits on the Media
News reporters demand the right to keep the sources of their information private. If not, people might not feel comfortable revealing information the public needs to know. Reporters have gone to jail rather than reveal a source. The Supreme Court has heard appeals from reporters in several cases. The Court has said reporters must answer questions in a grand jury investigation or criminal trial. Some states, on the suggestion of the Court, have passed shield laws. These laws give some protection to news reporters.

In 1915, the Supreme Court ruled that the showing of motion pictures is a business. It is not part of the press. As a result of this decision, movie review boards were set up. The Court later reversed this decision, but it has never given the film industry the same level of freedom from prior restraint that it gives newspapers. The Supreme Court upheld a rule that a group of people (called censors) may review films before they are released. These reviews are very uncommon now. Today, most people rely on the rating system set up by the film industry.

The Federal Communications Act of 1934 regulates both radio and television broadcasting. The companies that use public airwaves must have a license. Congress does not allow the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to censor programs before they are broadcast. The FCC can ban the use of obscene language and refuse to renew a station's license

The Supreme Court has given the cable television industry more 1st Amendment freedoms than network television. The Court struck down an attempt by Congress to limit certain programs to late-night hours. The Court said this violated the 1st Amendment rights of adults.

The Internet has created only a handful of Supreme Court cases. Each of these cases has involved attempts by Congress to regulate access to pornography on the Web. The goal of Congress was to protect minors from obscene material. The Communications Decency Act of 1996 made it a crime to purposely send obscene speech and images to people under the age of 18. The Court promptly declared the law unconstitutional. It said the language in the law was too vague. It also said that the law denied adults access to material that is protected by the 1st Amendment.

In recent cases, the Supreme Court has upheld laws concerning public libraries and the Internet. Libraries must place filters on their computers to block access to obscene Internet sites.
Shield Laws
Laws that give reporters some protection against having to reveal their sources
Freedoms of Speech and Press
The 1st Amendment stands as a monument to the central importance of free speech and the media in a free society. Various forms of speech, however, are regulated by government.
Symbolic and Commercial Speech
Symbolic speech is a way to communicate without words. For example, carrying a sign can be a type of symbolic speech. Facial expressions can also send a message. Picketing, when groups of striking workers come together at a business site, is another example of symbolic speech. Picketing, done peacefully, is allowed by the 1st and 14th Amendments. Picketers are trying to show they do not like what a company or business is doing. The Supreme Court has protected the right to picket several times. In 1940, the Court struck down a state law that said it was a crime to picket a place of business.

The Supreme Court has censored some types of symbolic speech. It upheld a state law in Virginia that banned the burning of crosses. The Court said burning crosses was done only to scare people. Cross burning at rallies or parades is not a crime. The Court also ruled in favor of symbolic speech in a case in 1969. Students in an Iowa school district had worn black armbands to protest the Vietnam War. The school suspended them. The Court ruled the school officials had violated the students' rights.

The Supreme Court has also struck down flag-burning laws. This form of political protest is protected by law in the 1st and 14th Amendments.

Commercial speech is speech for business purposes, most often for advertising. This type of speech was not protected by the Constitution until Bigelow v. Virginia, 1975. In this case, the Supreme Court struck down a state law banning advertising for abortions. The next year, the Court struck down a law that forbade the advertisement of prescription drug prices. There are some cases in which the government can ban commercial speech. False advertising is not allowed. Cigarette ads were banned in 1970. Chewing tobacco and snuff ads were banned in 1986.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Justice Holmes was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1841. His father was the famous writer and physician Oliver Wendell Holmes. Justice Holmes graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. Holmes was a Civil War veteran and a professor of law at Harvard. Appointed by Theodore Roosevelt, he served on the United States Supreme Court for 30 years. He retired from the Court at age 90.

Justice Holmes is one of the most quoted members of the Supreme Court. He was known for his opinions on many Bill of Rights cases. He declared that the "due process of law" was the basic principle of freedom. In Schenck v. United States, Justice Holmes declared that expressions that represented a clear and present danger should be punished. In this same case, he said the 1st Amendment would not protect a person that was causing panic by falsely shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater.
Constitution Guarentees
Assembling in a peaceful way and for peaceful purposes is protected by the 1st Amendment. In some countries this is not allowed. Any group in the United States has the right to hold meetings. It does not matter if the group's ideas are popular. Both outdoor or indoor meetings and protests are allowed.

The Supreme Court has ruled that people can assemble in public places. These assemblies can be stopped only if there is a danger to citizens. State and local officials can make rules for such gatherings, but they cannot stop the gatherings. A city usually requires people to get a permit for these types of gatherings.

Another guarantee in the 1st Amendment is the right to petition. People can ask government officials to do something or to stop doing something. These petitions, or requests, can come from individuals or from groups. The petitions may be letters, e-mails, or formal written requests. Group petitions can also be prepared and signed by many people and sent to government officials. For example, people may send petitions to ask that the construction of a highway or a shopping center be stopped.
Rules on Time, Place, and Manner of Assembly/Petitioning
The government can make rules about the time, place, and manner of assemblies. For example, people may not gather near schools. In Cox v. Louisiana, 1965, the Supreme Court upheld a state law that prohibits parades near a courthouse. The people involved in this case were attempting to influence that particular court.

The government's rules must be content neutral. This means assemblies may not be stopped because of what might be said. In Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement, 1992, the Supreme Court stopped a law that charged a $1,000 fee for public demonstrations. A group that challenged the law had gathered to protest the creation of a national holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr. The Court found that the law was not content neutral.
Content Neutral
A doctrine that the government may not regulate assemblies on a basis of what might be said
Assembly on Private Property
Most demonstrations are held in protest. They are usually held in public places to gain attention for a cause. These protests may threaten the peace, or put people in danger. Because of this, a license is often required for a demonstration or parade. The Supreme Court has upheld laws that require prior notice or permits for assemblies in public places.

How much regulation can authorities use to control demonstrators? Can police order them to stop if they are causing a safety problem? In Gregory v. Chicago, 1969, Dick Gregory and a group of supporters marched five miles. They walked through a neighborhood to the mayor's house. This group was demanding an end to segregation in Chicago's schools. When the crowd watching the march became unruly, the police ordered the marchers to leave. Gregory and the marchers were arrested because they would not leave. The Supreme Court overturned their convictions, saying the crowd became unruly not the marchers.

The Supreme Court has held that the rights of assembly and petition do not give people the right to trespass on private property. This means, for example, that no one has the right, based on the U.S. Constitution, to hand out leaflets or to ask people to sign petitions in privately owned shopping centers.

However, a state's supreme court can interpret that state's constitution to permit a reasonable exercise of the right to petition on private property. So a state can require, based on the state's constitution, the owners of shopping centers to allow the right of petition on their property.
The Right of Association
The right of association means citizens may freely associate with, or join with, others to promote a cause. The Constitution does not set out this right. Still, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of this freedom because it is an important freedom of expression. An example is National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Alabama, 1958. This case is one of the earliest right-to-associate cases. A state law required the Alabama branch of the NAACP to provide a list of all its members in the state. The Supreme Court overturned the Alabama law. It said there was no acceptable reason why the state should have the NAACP's membership list.

There is no absolute right of association, however. In New Jersey, the Boy Scouts of America banned a homosexual boy from joining a troop. However, the state supreme court ordered the New Jersey troop to readmit James Dale, an eagle scout.

The case, Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, 2000, went to the Supreme Court. The Court overturned the ruling by the New Jersey supreme court. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a state cannot force an organization to accept members when doing so goes against the organization's beliefs.
Due Process
Due process refers to the fact that the government must act fairly and follow established rules. The 5th Amendment introduced due process. The Amendment prevents the federal government from depriving a person of life, liberty, or property unless all the rules of due process are followed. The 14th Amendment extends the due process rules to state and local government. The Supreme Court has refused to give an exact definition of due process. Because due process is not clearly defined, the Court makes decisions about it on a case-by-case basis. The Court decides if the government's methods are fair (procedural due process) and if the law involved in a case is fair (substantive due process)

The following limit is placed on the federal government in the 5th Amendment, and on state and local governments in the 14th Amendment:

Government cannot deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without following due process of law.

Both the procedures and the laws of government must be in accord with due process.

In one case where procedural due process was involved (Rochin v. California, 1952), extreme methods were used to obtain evidence. A person's home was broken into illegally and a man's stomach was pumped to search for drugs. In this case, the Court decided the 14th Amendment was violated and the suspect could not be tried.

In another case where substantive due process was involved (Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 1925), the State of Oregon had passed a law requiring all children to attend public school. The Roman Catholic Church challenged the law. When the Court heard the case, it decided the law was unconstitutional. The Court said the law interfered with the parents' right to control their children's upbringing.
Procedural Due Process
An idea that the government must use fair procedures and methods
Substantive Due Process
The idea that the government must create fair policies and laws
Police Power
Police power allows each state, along with its local governments, to guard the safety, health, and welfare of citizens. In other words, it is the power of each state to keep its people safe.

This police power often involves problems with civil rights and other rights of individuals. The right of privacy, for example, may be violated if a driver is stopped for reckless or drunken driving. The tests used on the suspected drunk or reckless driver must be fair. If the procedure is challenged in court, the safety of the public usually wins out over the right of the individual. This has happened often in the state and federal courts.

The leading case to test police power over drunk drivers is Schmerber v. California, 1966. The Supreme Court found no objection to the police ordering a doctor to draw blood from the suspect. The Court gave three reasons for its decision:

The blood was drawn in a safe way.

The officer had reasonable grounds to believe the suspect was drunk.

The officer had no time to secure a search warrant because the evidence would have disappeared from the suspect's system. (A search warrant is a court order authorizing a search.)

States take the following actions to safeguard the health, welfare, and morals of its citizens:

Limit the sale of alcoholic beverages and tobacco

Require vaccination of school children

Regulate gambling and outlaw obscene material and prostitution

Make education laws

Help the medically needy

Limit the profits of public utilities
Right to Privacy
The guarantees in the due process clauses imply a right to privacy. This means a person has the right to be free from government invasion. The Constitution does not mention this right of privacy in so many words. The Supreme Court has, however, ruled on the right of privacy many times. In a very controversial case, Roe v. Wade (1973), the Court struck down a Texas law that made abortion a crime. The Court said the 14th Amendment's right to privacy includes a woman's right to control her pregnancy, especially in the first 12 weeks.

In later cases, the Supreme Court rejected several challenges to Roe v. Wade. Over the years, the Court has shifted to permit more state restrictions on abortions. For example, in Missouri, a law strictly limiting abortions in public hospitals after 20 weeks of pregnancy was upheld. In Ohio, a law was allowed that says a minor must inform a parent before an abortion.
How does the 13th Amendment address slavery and forced labor?
The protection of civil rights was left mostly to the individual states until the Civil War of 1861-1865. Both in 1863 and at the end of the Civil War, the federal government declared that the slaves were free people. The document that gave enslaved people their freedom in 1863 is called the Emancipation Proclamation. However, the proclamation applied only to the eleven states that had left the United States to form a new country—the Confederate States of America.

After the Civil War ended, Congress passed the 13th Amendment to end slavery and involuntary servitude. Involuntary servitude means forced labor. The issue of slavery had been one of the causes of trouble between the North and the South. There had always been an antislavery movement. There were also many who wanted to keep slavery legal. The Civil War finally ended the dispute.

In 1867, it also became illegal to force someone to work to fulfill a contract or pay off a debt. The Supreme Court has ruled that the military draft and imprisonment, however, do not violate the 13th Amendment.

Section 2 of the 13th Amendment gives Congress the power to enforce the amendment by passing laws. Congress passed several civil rights laws after the Civil War. When one of these laws was challenged, the Supreme Court held that discrimination (unfairness) against African Americans by private persons was permitted because it was not slavery.

The Court changed its mind in 1968. Congress upheld an old civil rights law from 1866. That law said citizens of any race or color could hold, buy, or sell property. In the case of Jones v. Mayer, 1968, Mayer refused to sell property to Jones, who was African American. The Court ruled in favor of Jones and decided the law of 1866 was constitutional.
Right to Keep and Bear Arms
During the Revolutionary War, the British tried to take weapons away from the American colonists. Colonists believed they needed the guns to serve in their state militias and to defend themselves. The 2nd Amendment was added to the Constitution to protect the right of each state to keep a militia. The amendment's aim was to preserve the concept of the citizen-soldier. The amendment states "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed [violated]."

One interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is that it grants individuals the right to keep and bear arms. The Supreme Court has heard two cases involving this interpretation. First, in United States v. Miller, 1939, the Court rejected the individual right argument. It upheld a section of the National Firearms Act of 1934. This act made it a crime to ship a sawed-off shotgun or submachine gun across state lines without a license. The Court said that it could find no link between the shotgun involved in the case and "the preservation of a well-regulated militia."

In 2008, however, the ruling in Miller was basically overturned in District of Columbia v. Heller. In this case, the Supreme Court found Washington, D.C.'s very strict gun control law to be unconstitutional. It ruled, for the first time, that the 2nd Amendment forbids "the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home." The Court's decision in this case did not overrule other restrictions on firearms. For example, it is still prohibited to carry firearms in certain places, such as schools and government buildings. It is also illegal for felons or the mentally ill to possess firearms.

Over the next several years, many cases will challenge the state and federal laws that limit the right to keep and bear arms. The Supreme Court has never found that the 14th Amendment's Due Process Clause covers the 2nd Amendment. Today, many people hold that the right to bear arms is as important as the rights given in the 1st Amendment, such as free speech and religion.
Security of Home and Person
The security of home and person dates back to colonial days. The British had forced many colonists to allow soldiers to stay in their homes. This resulted in the 3rd Amendment, which protects people from having to let soldiers stay in their homes. This amendment has never been challenged in the Supreme Court and has little importance today

The 4th Amendment makes it illegal, in most cases, for the government to search a home without good reason. In colonial days, people in authority felt free to enter and search private homes. Sometimes, the authorities doing the searching were looking for stolen goods. At other times they had no valid reason to search a home.

In 1967, the Supreme Court extended the scope of the 4th Amendment and ruled that it protects people from listening devices. It is illegal to install a hidden listening device in telephone lines or offices without a special court order.

The 4th Amendment says, in part, that warrants, or court orders, are needed to search for evidence. The warrants can only be given if there is probable cause, which means there is a real suspicion of a crime. If the police take evidence or search anywhere without a warrant, the evidence may not be allowed in court.

Police officers can arrest a person if they have probable cause. They must believe a crime has been committed or is about to be committed. For example, if a person runs away when he sees a police officer approaching, a court may decide the act of fleeing was probable cause for the arrest. Police may also search an arrest site for a weapon or evidence.

Automobiles are often searched without a warrant. The Court has upheld this practice many times. In 1991, the Court set a rule about automobile searches, stating that when police officers stop a car, they do not need a warrant to search anything in the vehicle. But they need to have reason to believe the car holds evidence of a crime. There needs to be probable cause for the search. This rule also protects any passengers and their belongings from unlawful searches.
Exclusionary Rule
The 4th Amendment protects against unlawful searches and seizures. To make sure that the amendment protects citizens, the Supreme Court adopted the exclusionary rule. This rule states that if police find evidence as the result of an illegal search, this evidence cannot be used in court. The rule was first used in a court case in 1914. Then, for many years, the Court let the states decide the issue of illegal evidence. In 1961, the exclusionary rule was finally extended to cover state courts. State officials now must also follow the exclusionary rule.

Some people have criticized the exclusionary rule. For various reasons, the Supreme Court has limited the rule's use in a few cases. For example, the Court found in one case that "good faith" changed the rule. The officials thought they had a legal warrant but discovered later the warrant was illegal. The Court ruled in the officials' favor because they had acted in "good faith." Drug tests may also be done without warrants or probable cause. The Court has decided this in several cases. The cases have involved armed drug enforcement officers, railroad workers, and student athletes.

A recent law that allows exceptions to the exclusionary rule is the Patriot Act. This law was passed by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush six weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The law was renewed in 2006. It allows the federal government increased powers to guard against terrorism in the United States, as well as in foreign countries.

The Patriot Act allows the government to use new provisions to investigate suspected terrorists and control immigration. One new provision in the Patriot Act allows investigators to enter a home or place of business when no one is there and conduct a search. The person being investigated does not have to be told either beforehand or afterwards. Searches may continue to occur for months without being discovered.

Wiretapping, electronic eavesdropping, and videotaping are now covered by the 14th Amendment. They are the newest forms of "searches" and "seizures." No one has to enter a building to obtain evidence with these new methods. In the first case heard by the Supreme Court involving wiretapping, the conviction was upheld. The Court said the home was not invaded and, therefore, the 4th Amendment was not violated.

Years later, this ruling was changed in Katz v. United States, 1967. The evidence against Katz came from a "bugging" device outside of a phone booth. The Court said the evidence could not be used because Katz was entitled to make a private phone call. The Court also said listening devices may only be used with a search warrant. As a result, Congress passed laws requiring the use of warrants in wiretapping within the United States.
Writ of Habeas Corpus
A writ of habeas corpus is a court order telling an officer to bring his or her prisoner to the court. The officer must explain to the court why the prisoner is being held. According to the Constitution, a writ of habeas corpus can be taken away only if public safety is in jeopardy. Only Congress and the President may suspend a writ and only if there is war. The governor of Hawaii tried to take away the writ during the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Supreme Court later ruled that the governor did not have the power to take that action.
Bill of Attainder
A bill of attainder is a legislative act that inflicts punishment on a person without a court trial. There is a ban on bills of attainder written into the Constitution by the Framers. They knew that the colonial legislatures and the English parliament had passed many bills of attainder. In the United States, a legislative body cannot pass a law that says a person is guilty of a crime and set the punishment of the person. However, laws can be passed that define a crime and explain the penalties if the crime is committed. In only a few rare cases has the Supreme Court struck down a law as a bill of attainder.
Ex Post Facto Laws
An ex post facto law (Latin for "after the fact") is a criminal law that applies to a crime committed before the law was passed. For example, a law may be passed changing the punishment for murder from a life sentence to the death penalty. This law could not then apply to a person who committed murder before the law was passed. Ex post facto law does not happen very often in our country. Neither Congress nor the states may pass ex post facto laws.
Right to a Grand Jury
The 5th Amendment says a person cannot be accused of a serious crime without going before a grand jury. A grand jury is a group of citizens from the area of a federal district court. The grand jurors hear the evidence in a case. If at least 12 jurors decide there is enough evidence for a trial, the grand jury makes an indictment.

The 14th Amendment's Due Process Clause does not extend the grand jury indictment procedure to the states. The states use an information to bring criminal cases to trial. In this document, the prosecutor swears that there is enough evidence to hold a trial.
Indictment
A formal complaint before a grand jury which charges the accused of one or more crimes
Double Jeopardy
The 5th Amendment also guarantees against double jeopardy, which means that a person cannot be tried twice for the same crime. Many common situations are not double jeopardy. A person may violate both a state and a federal law with one crime. He or she can be tried for the federal crime in a federal court and also tried in a state court for the state crime. If a jury cannot come to a verdict in a trial, there is no jeopardy. It is the same as not having a trial. The accused criminal may be tried again for the same crime. Also, if the case is appealed to a higher court, that situation is not considered double jeopardy.
Right to a Speedy and Public Trial
The 6th Amendment guarantees a speedy trial. The Supreme Court has decided that a reasonable time frame for a speedy trial is different in each case. In 1972, the Court listed these four considerations for deciding if the speedy trial guarantee in the Constitution is violated: length of delay, reasons for delay, harm caused by the delay, and whether the accused asked for a speedy trial. The Speedy Trial Act of 1974 decided on 100 days as the time between arrest and the beginning of a trial

The 6th Amendment also says a trial must be public. A judge can, however, limit or ban people from a courtroom. A judge can also order the courtroom to be cleared if the information about to be heard may embarrass a witness or others in the courtroom. A public trial open to the general public is usually open to the media. There can even be television cameras in the courtroom.

The 6th Amendment also guarantees that a fair and impartial jury must be used to try those accused of a federal crime. The trial jury is usually a petit jury, from the French word for "small." The jury members must come from the state and district where the crime took place. If the defendant thinks the jurors are prejudiced, he or she may ask that the trial be moved to another location. The defendant can also waive (give up) the right to have a jury trial. The defendant would then have a bench trial, which is heard by a judge without a jury. If the defendant pleads guilty, there is usually no trial.

Juries in federal courts must have 12 members. Most states follow this rule. Some states have juries of only six members. The Supreme Court has ruled that no person can be kept from serving on a jury because of race, religion, national origin, or sex.
Right to Adequate Defense
According to the 6th Amendment, a defendant in a federal court has certain rights. The defendant must be told the reasons for the charge and allowed to question the witnesses against him. The defendant can also call witnesses to court that will help in his defense. These favorable witnesses can be subpoenaed, or forced to appear in court.

The last guarantee of the 6th Amendment states that the defendant has the right "to have the Assistance of Counsel for his Defense," or help of a lawyer. In 1963, the Supreme Court said that a defendant must be provided with a lawyer if he cannot afford one.
Guarantee Against Self-Incrimination
A rule against self-incrimination is one of the protections written into the 5th Amendment. It means that no person can be forced to be a witness against him- or herself. The prosecution must prove the defendant's guilt in a criminal case. The guarantee can be used in any government proceeding where a person must answer a question. The defendant still may be fingerprinted or appear in a line-up. He or she must also give evidence that may incriminate others. A defendant cannot be tortured or questioned for an exceedingly long period of time to get a confession. In 1944, the Court overturned a conviction of a man who was questioned continually for 36 hours.

The Miranda Rule states that a person must be told of his or her rights before being questioned. The rule is based on the case of a man, Ernesto Miranda, who confessed to a crime after two hours of questioning. He had not been told of his constitutional rights. When the case (Miranda v. Arizona) went to the Supreme Court in 1966, Miranda's conviction was overturned.
Bail and Preventative Detention
Bail is an amount of money paid to the court by an accused person to be released from prison temporarily. The bail acts as a guarantee that the accused person will show up for the trial. Once released on bail, the defendant can prepare for his or her trial. The 8th Amendment states that bail may not be "excessive" (too much). If the defendant cannot afford the bail, the court may still release him or her on their honor.

Some people accused of federal crimes are held in jail without the option of bail. This action is called preventative detention. The judge may decide the accused will commit another crime if released. Some believe this is really punishment for a crime before the trial. Congress made preventative detention a law in 1984. The Supreme Court upheld this law in United States v. Salerno, 1987. Every state has now passed preventative detention laws to better protect their communities.
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
The 8th Amendment forbids "cruel and unusual punishment." The amendment was written to prevent barbaric punishments such as crucifixion and burning at the stake. Most cases that have been heard have involved being punished by death. Issues such as the overcrowding of jails have also been discussed. In both matters, the Supreme Court usually rejects the "cruel and unusual" argument.

In one case (Robinson v. California, 1962), the Court did reverse a conviction of a person jailed for narcotics addiction. California had a state law making narcotics addiction a crime. The Court said this was a cruel and unusual punishment because narcotics addiction is a disease, not a crime. The addiction needed to be treated and not punished. The Court said that only the buying, selling, and possession of narcotics is classified as a crime.
Capital Punishment
Capital punishment is punishment for a crime by death. Some people believe this is cruel and unusual. For many years, the Supreme Court did not hear many cases about capital punishment. Then, in 1972 (Furman v. Georgia), the Court struck down all state laws allowing the death penalty. The Court argued that the judges and juries had too much power to decide the ultimate punishment. The Court also found that the death penalty was chosen over imprisonment too randomly or without good reason.

Congress and the states then quickly passed new capital punishment laws. Some states required the death penalty for certain crimes. Other states passed laws requiring two steps in a capital punishment case. First, a trial is held to decide on the guilt or innocence of the accused. Second, a hearing is held to decide if the punishment should be death. The Supreme Court found the mandatory laws unconstitutional. The two-step method in capital cases was allowed.

The Court also decided the death penalty can only be used in crimes resulting in death. The death penalty cannot be used on mentally retarded criminals or those who were under 18 when the crime was committed. The Supreme Court has decided in many cases that the death penalty is constitutional if applied fairly.

Capital punishment continues to be a hot topic today. Public opinion polls show that there is support for capital punishment. The people that support capital punishment also realize that it needs to be applied fairly. The Death Penalty Information Center reports that over the last 30 years, 125 people that were sentenced to death have been released from prisons. They were found to be not guilty. As retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor noted, "If statistics are any indication, the system may well be allowing some innocent defendants to be executed."
Capital Punishment Debate
Capital punishment has a long history, and so does the controversy around it. The punishment has been a part of American law since the colonial period. Many States allow capital punishment. Nearly 1,100 people have been killed in the United States since the Supreme Court allowed capital punishment again in 1976. Only about 3 of 100 death sentences are ever carried out. Forty-two persons were killed in 2007. More than 3,200 persons are in prisons today waiting for the death penalty.
Treason
Treason is the only crime defined in the Constitution. According to Article III, Section 3, treason is either making war against the United States or giving aid to the enemies of the United States. Treason is a federal crime. It can only be committed during times of war. Treason applies to all citizens, even if they live outside of the United States. No one has ever been executed for treason against the United States.

Congress has defined other crimes against the government. It is a crime to attempt to overthrow the government by force, to spy on or sabotage the government, or to join together with others to do these things.
Heterogeneous Society
Heterogeneous means "different kinds." Hetero is Greek for "different." Genos is Greek for "kind." A heterogeneous society is made up of different kinds of people.

The United States is a heterogeneous society. It is made of many different races and has become more diverse over time. In 1790, more than 80 percent of Americans were white. About 20 percent of the population were African American. The government did not count Native Americans. At the present time the white population is still the largest group.

Since the 1960s, though, other ethnic populations have grown faster than the white population. Minority groups include African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans. Immigrants from around the world have arrived in the country in large numbers. Immigrants are aliens—people from other countries—admitted to the United States as legal residents. Women are not a minority. They represent about 51 percent of the population and have for the last fifty years.
Race Based Discrimination
Race-based discrimination is not giving people of different races a full and equal place in social, economic, and political life. The groups that have been affected the most by race-based discrimination are African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans.
African Americans
The ancestors of most African Americans were brought to this country as slaves. The slaves were freed after the Civil War when the 13th Amendment abolished slavery. Although free, African Americans continued to be discriminated against in jobs, housing, voting, and other areas. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., led the effort to get equal rights for African Americans. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a result of his work. Another result was the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Today, more than 40 million African Americans make up the second-largest minority group in the United States.
Native Americans
Large numbers of white settlers came to America beginning in the 1600s. At that time, about a million Native Americans already lived here. By 1900, their number was much smaller. Many natives died from diseases brought from Europe. As the settlers moved west, many Native Americans were victims of war. Their land was taken by white settlers, and Native Americans were forced to move to poor lands. At the present time, there are approximately 3 million Native Americans in the United States. A third of them live on reservations. A reservation is public land reserved for their use by the federal government. Some of the problems facing Native Americans are lack of jobs, poverty, and alcoholism.
Hispanic Americans
Hispanic Americans share a Spanish-speaking background. Since 2000, Hispanic Americans have been the largest minority group in the United States. The Hispanic population is made up mostly of the following main groups: Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans, and Central and South Americans. Some of the Hispanic Americans who came from Central and South America were refugees. A refugee is a person who wants protection from dangers such as war or persecution. Over the last 30 years, refugees have come to the United States from Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, and Chile. Many immigrants have also come from the Dominican Republic, which is an island country in the Caribbean.
Asian Americans
Many Asian Americans first came to this country in the 19th century as laborers. The first Asian Americans were Chinese workers who came to work on railroads and in mines. White laborers did not like this competition. In response, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882. This law banned Chinese immigration.

For the next 80 years, only a small number of Asians were permitted into the country. This number included the Japanese and people from other countries. During WWII, the United States government arrested people of Japanese descent and moved them to camps. Many of these were native-born American citizens. In time, the United States expressed its regret that this had happened. In 1965, Congress changed immigration laws. Many more Asians were permitted to enter the country. They include a diverse population from the Philippines, China, Korea, Vietnam, and India.
Assimilation
For any immigrant group, assimilation into American culture can be difficult. Assimilation is the process by which people of one culture become part of another culture.
Cesar Chavez
Cesar Chavez was born in 1927 in Arizona. His parents were born in Mexico and had come to the United States. When Cesar was a boy, he and his family became migrant farm workers in California. Migrant farm workers pick crops and move from place to place as crops need picking.

Chavez later dedicated his life to helping underpaid farm workers. Using peaceful means, he helped them get better pay and better working conditions. Chavez led the United Farm Workers. Under Chavez's leadership, grape pickers refused to work for almost five years. Finally the farm owners agreed to give the workers higher pay. After Chavez died in 1993, President Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994. His family and others carry on the work he did for migrant farm workers.
Colin Powell
Colin Powell was born in 1937 in the Harlem area of New York City. His parents were immigrants from Jamaica and had little education. Powell attended the City College of New York. He enrolled in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). When he graduated, he was the top student in his ROTC class. After many years in the army, Powell became a four-star general. He worked hard to settle problems in peaceful ways. Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during Operation Desert Storm in 1992. During this time, the American people came to know and admire Powell. In 1996, many people encouraged Powell to run for President. Colin Powell served as Secretary of State beginning in 2001.
How are Women Discriminated Against?
Women represent 51 percent of the United States population. Even though they are a majority, women have not had equal rights in education and the workplace. In the past, women could not vote and had limited rights to own property. Although much has changed, women are still paid less, on average, than men in similar jobs. Men hold more high-paying jobs and government positions. Many low-paying service jobs are held mostly by women.

It is illegal to pay women less than men for the same work. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 requires employers to pay men and women the same wages for the same job in the same place and working conditions.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibits job discrimination based on gender. Yet, more than 45 years after Congress passed those laws, working women earn about 80 cents for every dollar men earn.

Since women in the past did not have the same opportunities as men to become highly educated, it has taken a long time for women to "catch up" in the ranks of senior management and in certain professions. Also, many people feel that a form of workplace discrimination known as the "glass ceiling" is still a major factor. This means that women are blocked, or prevented, from getting the highest positions in the corporate world.

It is true that until recently, women were limited to a narrow range of jobs. In many cases, women were encouraged not to work outside the home once they were married. Even now, many jobs held by women are in low-paying clerical and service jobs.

Efforts on behalf of equal rights for women have gained ground. But, that ground has not included an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.
Equal Protection Clause
The Declaration of Independence was the first document of the United States government to declare that all persons were equal. The Constitution does not proclaim the equality of all persons in so many words. But the 14th Amendment prohibits any state from denying citizenship or equal protection to any person. The amendment was passed after the slaves were freed and states refused to give African Americans equal rights.

The Equal Protection Clause is part of the 14th Amendment. It says, in part, ". . . 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 law."

Over time, the 14th Amendment has come to mean that states cannot discriminate unfairly. The 5th Amendment has also been found to put the same restriction on the federal government. However, government has the power to classify, or group, people in a reasonable way. Otherwise, the government could not regulate human behavior. For example, convicted criminals are treated differently than ordinary citizens. This type of discrimination is allowed because it is reasonable.

The Supreme Court has decided many cases that challenged discrimination. The decisions have often been made using a standard known as the rational basis test. The test asks this question: Does the government's discrimination achieve a fair purpose? For example, states discriminate by age when they do not allow children to vote. These laws are thought to be rational because children are not mature enough to vote. But it is not rational to deny a group of adult people the right to vote simply because of race or ethnic background.

In some equal protection cases the government uses a higher test: the strict scrutiny test. It applies to laws that touch on the basic rights of a "suspect class." A suspect class is a group defined by race or national origin. These laws must show that the government has a "compelling government interest" for treating these people differently. This means that the government must prove it has a very strong reason for the law.
Segregation by Race
Segregation means the separation of one group of people from another. Racial segregation laws were passed in this country in the late 1800s. They were known as Jim Crow laws. These laws separated African Americans from white people in many public and private places. Schools, parks, hotels, restaurants, buses, and even drinking fountains were segregated.

In Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court upheld a Louisiana law requiring segregation in rail coaches. Using a "separate but equal" doctrine, the Court declared this law constitutional. The Court said that African Americans could be forced to use separate rail coaches if all rail coaches were equal. The court found the law did not go against the Equal Protection Clause. However, the schools and services set aside for African Americans were usually much worse than those used by white people.

It was not until the 1930s that the government began looking closely at the separate places provided for African Americans. In 1938, an African American student named Lloyd Gaines was denied admission to University of Missouri law school. He was qualified, but the school would not accept African Americans. The Supreme Court decided that Gaines must be admitted to the law school because the state of Missouri did not have a separate law school for Gaines to attend.

In 1954, in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the Court overturned laws requiring separate public schools for white students and African American students. The Court said that separate schools could never be equal. This important decision affected schools in several states.

In 1955, the Supreme Court told the states to end segregation as quickly as possible. Many states in the South resisted. Some passed more laws to block integration. Integration is the process of bringing a group of people into the mainstream of society. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 denied federal money to states that continued to practice segregation. It allowed the federal government to sue to integrate schools and other places. States began to integrate their schools more quickly. By 1969, the Supreme Court declared, "Continued operation of segregated schools . . . is no longer constitutionally permissible."
What are de jure and de facto segregation?
De jure segregation is segregation by law. By 1970, school systems that were segregated by law were all integrated. However, some schools remained segregated because parents and groups created new private schools. De facto segregation is segregation that exists even though it is not required by law. It may happen in a city when people of the same races live in certain areas. In order to desegregate these areas, communities have sometimes changed school district boundaries.

Busing is another method of desegregating. In this method, students are brought out of racially segregated areas to attend integrated schools elsewhere. The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of busing. The first case about this strategy was heard in 1971 in North Carolina.

In 1896, the Plessy decision made "separate but equal" facilities constitutional. Jim Crow laws limited voting rights and required separate facilities for African Americans. Similar laws legalized Mexican American segregation in parts of the Southwest.
Classification by Gender
Classification by gender means giving separate treatment to men and women. Classification by gender is not in the Constitution where it explains civil rights. Guarantees of civil rights are given to citizens, not just to men or to women. The only reference to gender in the Constitution is in the 19th Amendment. It forbids the denial of the right to vote "on account of sex" (gender). Before this amendment, only men were allowed to vote. In the past, laws were passed to protect women because they were considered weaker than men. The Supreme Court used to uphold many such laws that limited the rights of women in government and business. The Supreme Court did not declare any gender-based classification to be unconstitutional until 1971.

Recently, the Supreme Court has struck down many laws that discriminate against women. For example, the Court said the practice of barring women from state-run military schools was unconstitutional. In California, a law was struck down that prevented women from joining community service clubs. Sometimes, however, the Court agreed with a law that discriminated against women. For example, the Court upheld the military draft, which requires men but not women to serve in the military.
History of Civil Rights
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was one of the most important civil rights laws passed by Congress. The law banned discrimination by race in government and business. It included provisions for voting. It outlawed discrimination in many areas, such as hotels, motels, theaters, restaurants, parks, playgrounds, sports arenas, and swimming pools. The law was later amended and more provisions were added.

Today, the 1964 law prohibits discrimination in public places, or any places that provide services. In the workplace, employers and labor unions may not discriminate because of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, physical disability, or age. The 1964 law also prohibits discrimination in programs that receive federal money.

Another big victory of the civil rights movement was the Civil Rights Act of 1968. This act is sometimes called the Open Housing Act. The act forbids anyone to refuse to sell or rent houses on the basis of race, religion, national origin, gender, or disability. Homeowners cannot refuse to sell or rent their houses to families just because they have children. Today, the law has been strengthened. The Justice Department may now bring criminal charges against those who violate this act.

Title IX, a part of the Education Amendments of 1972, forbids discrimination on the basis of gender. Title IX affects any educational program receiving federal money. School athletic programs, especially at the college level, were most affected by Title IX. Women's athletic programs in public schools now receive the same amount of money as men's programs.

Title IX, a part of the Education Amendments of 1972, forbids discrimination on the basis of gender. Title IX affects any educational program receiving federal money. School athletic programs, especially at the college level, were most affected by Title IX. Women's athletic programs in public schools now receive the same amount of money as men's programs.
Affirmative Action
Affirmative action is a policy begun by the federal government. The program was developed in 1965. It is an attempt to make up for past discrimination policies. Affirmative action requires companies and employers with few women and minority workers to try to hire more. This affirmative action policy applies to all federal agencies and state governments. It also applies to companies who sell to the federal government. Rules for hiring a set number of people from a minority group are called quotas.

Some people feel affirmative action is reverse discrimination (discrimination against the majority). These critics also believe affirmative action goes against the Constitution.

Affirmative action has been challenged many times over the years. In a famous case, Allan Bakke, a white male, sued the University of California because he was denied admission to its medical school. There were 100 openings at the school, and 16 had been reserved for nonwhite students. Bakke claimed reverse discrimination and a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. The Supreme Court said Bakke must be admitted to the school. However, the Court also said that the school had the right to consider race as a factor when admitting students although it may not be the only factor.
What other affirmative action cases went to the Supreme Court?
The Supreme Court heard in favor of affirmative action in some cases involving industries, especially construction. These industries had a history of discrimination in hiring, and few are owned by minorities. In 1987, the Court upheld the promotion of a woman over a man who had scored higher on an interview. The Court upheld the company's affirmative action policy to hire and promote more women and minorities.

Later, in Adarand Constructors v. Pena, 1995, the Court set limits on such affirmative action cases. Adarand Constructors challenged an affirmative action policy of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Under that policy, FHWA gave bonuses to contractors who hired companies owned by racial minorities and other "disadvantaged" businesses to do ten percent or more of the work.

Until Adarand, the Court usually upheld affirmative action programs. This time, the Court held that all affirmative action cases will be reviewed under strict scrutiny and must show that the programs serve some "compelling governmental interest."

In 1997, two students were denied admission to the University of Michigan. Jennifer Gratz was trying to enter as a freshman, and Barbara Grutter wanted to enter the law school. Both were white women who were denied admission. Gratz and Grutter both had higher test scores than minority students who were admitted. Both women sued the chief admissions officer because he had used race to make his admission decisions.

The Supreme Court held in favor of Jennifer Gratz. The Court said the quota policy used by the school went against the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. In the case of Grutter, the rejection of her admission to law school was upheld. The Court decided the states have a right to use race as one factor to diversify their schools. The law school at the University of Michigan had a low number of minority students, and the state government had a compelling interest in creating a diverse class of students.

In 2007, the Supreme Court heard its most recent affirmative action cases. Two school districts, one in Seattle and the other in Louisville, were assigning students to public schools based on race. The districts were trying to balance their schools' population racially even though the schools' neighborhoods were largely either white or minority. The Supreme Court decided in both cases that the school districts were relying too much on race in their plans. The Court said this policy went against the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.
Citizenship by Birth
Two basic rules determine citizenship at birth. The first rule is jus soli—the law of the soil. A person who is born in the United States or in one of its territories becomes a citizen when he or she is born. The second rule is jus sanguinis—the law of the blood. A person born to American parents is also a citizen at birth.
Citizenship by Naturalization
Many people hope to become citizens of the United States. They can do this by a process called naturalization. Naturalization is the legal process by which a person can become a citizen of another country. Most often, naturalization is an individual process. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security looks at each application for citizenship. The department reports its findings to a court. If the judge is satisfied with the findings, the alien is made a citizen.

There is also collective naturalization. Collective naturalization is when an entire group of people become citizens of the United States. This has happened most often when the United States acquired a new territory.
How is Citizenship Lost
It is possible for naturalized citizens to lose their citizenship. This may happen only because the person lied when he or she applied for citizenship. Citizenship is then taken away by court order. This process is called denaturalization. Citizens can also give up their citizenship if they choose. Expatriation is the legal process of giving up citizenship. The Supreme Court does not allow Congress to take away citizenship automatically.
In what ways is the United States a nation of immigrants?
Since 1820, more than 70 million people have immigrated to America. Congress did not put any rules on immigration for a long time. Most early immigrants came from northern and western Europe. The first major restriction was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. By 1920, more than 30 groups of people were refused entry to the United States.

Congress tried to cut immigration. It passed the Immigration Acts of 1921 and 1924, along with the National Origins Act of 1929. Each country was given a quota. The largest quotas were given to countries in northern Europe. The quota system did not apply in the Western Hemisphere. The Immigration Act of 1965 finally eliminated the country-based quota system. Immigrants were allowed to enter without regard to race, nationality, or country of origin. Special preference was given to relatives of citizens and legal aliens.
Immigration Policies Today
Today, the Immigration Act of 1990 determines who may enter the United States. This law increased the number of aliens who may enter the United States each year to about 675,000. Families and highly skilled workers are given preference. Criminals, suspected terrorists, and people with contagious diseases, among others, are banned from the United States. Sometimes aliens are ordered out of the country. Deportation is a legal process by which aliens are removed from the country.

The Immigration Act of 1990 allows 675,000 immigrants to enter the United States each year. The percentage of foreign-born people living in each state in 2007 ranged from less than 2 percent to more than 25 percent.
Undocumented Aliens
Undocumented aliens are people who are living in the United States illegally. Most enter by crossing the Mexican or Canadian borders. Others are aliens who entered legally but have stayed past the time allowed for their visits. Undocumented aliens are most common in California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida. Many people in the United States feel the government should work harder to reduce illegal immigration. Other people want to make it easier for the undocumented aliens already in the country to apply for citizenship.
Political Asylum
The United States may offer political asylum to aliens. The word asylum refers to "a place of safety." Political asylum means a place where a person is safe from dangerous actions. This danger may come from the person's own government or country.

Political asylum may be given to visitors, athletes, artists, or sailors from another country, or workers from another government. It is given to people who believe they are being mistreated in their own countries. The United States offers this protection until it is clear why they want to leave their native land. If the reason is strong enough, the aliens are allowed to stay.