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Politics of the United States
American gov final
Terms in this set (79)
What is an incumbent?
Current office holder
What are some of the advantages to being an incumbent in Congress?
The service strategy: taking care of constituents
Campaign fundraising: Raking in the money
Redistricting: Favorable boundaries for house incumbents
What are some of the pitfalls of incumbency?
-Personal misconduct - fall prey to scandal
-Turnout variation: the midterm election problem
-Primary election challengers
-General election challengers: a problem for senators
Which group raises and spends more money on average, incumbents or challengers?
the reallocation of house seats after each census as a result of population changes
the process of altering election districts in order to make them as nearly equal in population as possible.
the process by which the party in power draws election district boundaries in a way that advantages its candidates
When should turnout be higher, in a midterm or presidential election year?
Presidential election year
According to the book, has party unity in Congress gone up or down since 1970?
What are the different leadership positions in Congress (for example: House Majority Leader)?
Speaker of the house, House majority leader (party's floor leader), House minority leader
What are the roles played by party leaders?
Next to the president, the speaker is the most powerful federal official. Develops party's positions on issues and in persuading party members in the house to support them.
Majority leader acts as the party's floor leader, organizing the debate on bills and lining up legislative support.
Minority leader heads the party's caucus and its policy committee and plays the leading role in developing the party's legislative positions
What is the role of standing committees?
Handle foreign policy issues
Deal with the agriculture, the interior, defense, government spending, labor, the judiciary and taxation
Do draft and rewrite proposed legislation
Recommend to the full chamber the passage or defeat of the bills it handles
What is the difference between a standing committee, a joint committee, a select committee, and a conference committee? Be sure to know at least one example of each.
permanent congressional committees with responsibility for a particular area of public policy (An example: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee)
composed of members of both houses, which perform advisory functions (An example; the joint committee on the library)
created for a specific time period and purpose (An example: senate select committee on intelligence such as the CIA)
Temporary committees that are formed to bargain over the differences in the House and Senate versions of a bill (An example: the Recovery and Reinvestment Act [stimulus bill] was different between the House and Senate. So each selected members to form a joint committee that would restructure the bill, both the House and Senate would approve)
Which party has more seats on a committee, the majority or minority?
What is the difference between a bill and a law?
Bill is a proposed law within Congress or another legislature, and If the president signs the bill, it becomes a law.
Be sure to know the steps before a bill can become a law.
1. Bill is introduced in the house or senate, where it is sent to the relevant committees
2. Committee action - bill goes to committees and subcommittees. Hearings are held so the bill can be revised and a recommendation to pass or table the bill is made
3. Floor action - before the debate takes place in the house, the house rules committee defines the rules for debate (in the senate, the leadership proposes). The legislation is debated on the floor, amendments are proposed and bill is voted on by the full membership of the house or senate
4. Conference committee - if the bill passes and no similar bill has been passed by the other chamber. It is sent to the chamber for consideration
5. President - if the president signs the bill, it becomes law.
What happens if the president vetoes legislation?
The bill is sent back to Congress with the president's reasons for not signing it
What is a filibuster?
A procedural tactic in the U.S. Senate whereby a minority of senators prevents a bill from coming to a vote by holding the floor and talking until the majority gives in and the bill is withdrawn from consideration
Which chamber allows for a filibuster of legislation?
How many votes are needed to end a filibuster?
/60 votes (three fifths majority vote)
What are the three major functions of Congress discussed in the textbook? Be sure to be able to describe each of them.
Lawmaking- Authority to make laws, power to tax, spend, regulate, and declare war
Representation- Represent various interests within American society, giving them a voice in national legislation
Oversight Function- To see that the executive branch carries out the laws.
What is logrolling?
The trading of votes between legislators so that each gets what he or she most wants
What are the differences (discussed in the textbook) between Congress and other legislatures around the world?
The U.S. House and Senate are separate and coequal chambers, each with its own leadership and rules. This type of legislative structure is not found in most democracies.
Legislative structures around the world vary widely. Many democracies, for example, have a single legislative chamber, which is apportioned by population.
European legislatures have a centralized power structure. Top leaders here substantial authority, the committees are weak, and the parties are unified. European legislators are expected to support their party unless granted permission to vote otherwise on a particular bill.
Head of state
represents the country symbolically at home and abroad.
running the massive federal bureaucracy, this means putting together a team of people who keep top positions in the executive departments and agencies. Also putting together white house staff to help manage the government.
be able to act quickly and effectively when events around the world dictate an american response.
Commander in chief
the president has the power to initiate war and to direct its progress. The president has the primary responsibility for setting the military policies and governing its military establishment.
Chief diplomat and chief foreign policy maker
he to represent the usa on the world stage and responsible for making and implementing thashe country's foreign policy.
sets legislative agenda and initiate major policies.
the president needs to limit his partisan activities, the president is the symbolic leader of his party.
Which part of the Constitution establishes the two-term limit for presidents?
Who is the only president who served for more than two terms?
Franklin D Roosevelt
What is the process to remove a president from office?
Which presidents have been successfully impeached?
Andrew Johnson & Bill Clinton
Were those presidents removed from office?
Where in the Constitution are the powers of the president located?
What are the powers of the president?
-Sign or veto legislation
-command the armed forces
-ask for the written opinion of his or her Cabinet
-convene or adjourn Congress
-grant reprieves and pardons
What are the different options for a president when legislation is sitting at his or her desk?
Sign into laws
Pass by default
What is a veto override?
The process by which each chamber of congress votes on a bill vetoed by the president.
What is a line item veto?
Is it still used commonly today?
A veto that only rejects part of a proposed bill; No
What is a pocket veto?
A quasi-veto that results when the president does not sign a bill and then congress adjourns fewer than ten days after the bill was presented to him or her
What is executive privilege?
Is executive privilege limitless?
Right to withhold information from congress and the courts
It's not limitless
What is the difference between a treaty and an executive agreement?
A treaty: an agreement between two or more nations, subject to the consent of the senate
executive agreement: negotiated solely between heads of state acting independently of their legislative bodies
Which is harder to put into effect for a president?
Which branch of the government has the power to declare war?
Congress (the Senate and the House of Representatives)
What are the three main sources of staff assistance to the president?
The white house staff, the executive office of the president, the cabinet
Who is generally considered the president's closest advisor?
The white house staff
What are the different functions of the president's cabinet?
Chosen for public relations
Retain access to large volumes of information, expertise, experience, and policy ideas
What is the "honeymoon period" for presidents?
For the first hundred day, the public, the media, and members of Congress tend to give the president the benefit of the doubt and treat him well.
[During the early days of the term, the president still enjoys the benefits of the electoral victory. The press treats a new president with a bit more deference, the members of Congress are still somewhat taken by the new person in the White House, and the general mood is one of high expectations of the new administration]
Who controls the "sword" and the "purse"?
Sword: Executive branch
Be sure to explain the facts behind Murbury v. Madison and why it is important to judicial review.
The Marbury v. Madison decision was decided on February 24, 1803, ignited by William Marbury's petition to the Supreme Court for his earned appointment. This decision served as one of the many landmark cases in the United States and most importantly, Marbury v. Madison was the first instance where the Supreme Court ruled that a federal law was unconstitutional. In other words, this was the first time that the Supreme Court exercised the practice of "judicial review".
What is judicial review?
Authority of courts to decide whether an act of government is constitutional or unconstitutional
Who is the plaintiff in a case?
A party who files a complaint alleging wrongdoing on the part of the defendant
Who is the defendant?
A party to a case who is to be either sued or accused in court
What are the different types of cases?
A civil case - when a plaintiff brings a lawsuit, usually seeking monetary damages for an injury that occurred as a result of the defendant's actions
A criminal case - when the govt. prosecutes someone for allegedly committing a crime
What is jurisdiction?
The authority of a court to hear and decide on a case
What is standing?
a requirement for a court to hear a case in which a party must have suffered, or will soon suffer, an injury
Be sure to understand the "case or controversy principle"
One may not invoke the jurisdiction of a federal court without standing.
What is a political question?
Cases may be dismissed if the issues they present are regarded as extremely "political" in nature. [ anyone have a better answer for this?]
Why doesn't the judiciary answer political questions?
They don't answer them because issues that are likely to draw the courts into a political battle with the executive or legislative branch or are simply more amenable to executive or legislative decision making.
What is stare decisis?
Literal interpretation means "stand by decided matters" which states that under similar facts, court should follow the precedent established by other (and higher) courts.
What role does it play? (stare decisis)
Devotion to precedent (stare decisis) is considered a hallmark of American law. Obviously, following precedent limits a judge's ability to determine the outcome of a case in the way that she might choose if it were a matter of first impression (a case in which an issue arises for the first time; thus, there is no precedent to follow)
Which article of the Constitution establishes the constitutional basics of the federal judiciary?
What does that article (III) say about the Supreme Court?
The act provided for a Court composed of a chief justice and five associate justices. The Supreme Court was given the authority to hear certain appeals brought from the lower federal courts and the state courts. The Court was also given the power to issue various kinds of orders, or writs,to enforce its decisions. But the Court's powers remained somewhat vague, and its role in the governmental system was unclear.
What does that article (III) say about Lower Courts?
Their principal task is to conduct trials and hearings in civil and criminal cases arising under federal law.
What protections are given to federal judges?
The grant of life tenure was intended to make the federal courts independent of partisan forces and public passions so that they could dispense justice impartially according to the law
What is the basic hierarchy of the federal judiciary?
At the top is the Supreme Court, then U.S. Circuit Court and finally District Courts.
What is the process for nominating and confirming a federal judge?
All federal judges, including Supreme Court justices, are appointed by the president, with the consent of the Senate, to life terms. They must be confirmed through the Senate.
What role does the Senate play?\
Under the Constitution, the Senate must give its "advice and consent" to presidential nominations to the federal courts. The confirmation process begins in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which conducts a background investigation and then holds a public hearing on the nomination. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Judiciary Committee votes on a recommendation to the full Senate. The Senate almost always follows the committee's recommendation.
What is senatorial courtesy?
An informal process in the appointment process of a federal judge where the senators from the president's party seeks to exert significant influence on the selection of a judicial candidate in their state
How can a federal judge be removed?
The only means of removing a federal judge or Supreme Court justice is through the impeachment process provided in the Constitution. First, the House of Representatives must approve one or more articles of impeachment by at least a majority vote. Then, a trial is held in the Senate. To be removed from office, a judge must be convicted by a vote of at least two-thirds of the Senate.
What are the steps of a case before the Supreme Court (starting with a writ of certiorari ending with opinions)?
1.The supreme court grants certiorari, which calls up the record from the lower court for review
2. lawyers for both sides submit "briefs" as do "friends of the court."
3. the court holds oral argument, in which lawyers for both sides appear before the court to make statements and answer questions from the bench
4. the justices meet in private conference where they vote on how the case should be decided and determine who will write the opinion of the court.
What are the differences between judicial activism and judicial restraint?
Judicial activism: A way in which to view the philosophy of a justice in which activists are seen to be more likely to support the expansion of the supreme court's jurisdiction and powers as well as to embrace innovative constitutional doctrines
judicial restraint: A way in which to view the philosophy of a justice in which they prefer a showing of restraint by the Supreme Court in letting the political branches to decide most questions and to follow precedent more strictly
What are the different constraints on the judiciary?
Accordingly, the federal judiciary is subject to checks and balances imposed by Congress and the president. In a constitutional system that seeks to prevent any agency of government from exercising unchecked power, even the Supreme Court is subject to external limitations.
How do the courts enforce their decisions?
Courts generally have adequate means of enforcing their decisions on the parties directly involved in litigation. Any party who fails to comply with a court order, such as a subpoena or an injunction, may be held in contempt of court. Courts have greater difficulty enlisting the compliance of the general public, especially when they render unpopular decisions. Despite the Supreme Court's repeated rulings against officially sponsored prayer in the public schools, these activities now continue in some parts of the country.
How many seats are in congress?
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