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1st Semester. Government in America: People, Politics, and Policy Twelfth Edition AP Edition. Chapters 1-7


The institution and processes through which public policies are made for a society


The process by which we select our governmental leaders and what policies these leaders pursue.


A system of selecting policymakers and of organizing government so that policy represents and responds to the public's preferences.

Majority Rule

A fundamental principle of traditional democratic theory. In democracy, choosing among alternatives requires that the majority's desire be respected.

Minority Rights

A principle of traditional democratic theory that guarantees rights to those who do not belong to majorities.


A basic principle of traditional democratic theory that describes the relationship between the few leaders and the many followers.

Pluralist theory

A theory of American democracy emphasizing that the policy-making process is very open to the participation of all groups with shared interests, with no single group usually dominating. As a result, according to this theory, public interest generally prevails.

Elite and Class Theory

A theory of American democracy contending that an upper class elite holds the power and makes policy, regardless of the formal governmental organization.


A theory of American democracy contending that groups are so strong that government, which gives in to many different groups, is thereby weakened. Groups have too much control over government.

Political Culture

An overall set of values widely shared within a society. Runs our democracy. Americans all have a similar ideology about government. We require a responsive government.

Gross domestic product

The sum total of the value of all the goods and services produces in a year in a nation.


A nation's basic law. It creates political institutions, assigns or divides powers in government, and often provides certain guarantees to citizens. Constitutions can be either written or unwritten

Declaration of Independance

The document approves by representatives of the American colonies in 1776 that stated their grievances against the British monarch and declared their independence.

John Locke's Principles

Natural Rights, Purpose of the Government, Equality, Consent of the Governed, Limited Government, and The Right to Revolt.

Articles of Confederation

The first constitution of the United States, adopted by Congress in 1777 and enacted in 1781. They established a national legislature, the Continental Congress, but most authority rested with the state legislatures. Under this, Congress lacked the power to tax the people, require states to attend delegations, and regulate commerce.

Annapolis Meeting

A meeting called to resolve problems with Articles of Confederation. It lead to the Constitutional Convention, which in turn lead to the writing of the US Constitution.

Constitutional Convention

The meeting of state delegates in 1787 in Philadelphia called to revise the Articles of Confederation. It instead designed a new plan of government, the US Constitution.

Shay's Rebellion

A series of armed attacks on courthouses to prevent judges from foreclosing on farms.

US Constitution

The document written in 1787 and ratifies in 1788 that sets forth the institutional structure of U.S. government and the tasks these institutions perform. It replaces the Articles of Confederation.

New Jersey Plan

Called for each state to be equally represented in the new congress.

Virginia Plan

Calls for each state to get representation in Congress based on the state's share of the American population.

Connecticut Compromise

The solution the the representation problem, was put into the constitution. Is our current system of a bicameral legislature with a senate that is equally represented and a house that is represented based on population.

Three-Fifths Compromise

A compromise that states that representation and taxation were to be based on the number of free persons plus three fifths the number of all other persons (slaves, etc.)

Charles Beard

Man who argued that the framers of the Constitution tried to strengthen the economic powers of the national government to increase personal wealth.


A form of government in which the people select representatives to govern them and make laws.


Supporters of the U.S. Constitution at the time the states were contemplating its adoption.


Opponents of the American Constitution at the time when the states were contemplating its adoption.

Federalist Papers

A collection of 85 articles written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison under the name "Publius" to defend the Constitution in detail.

Writ of habeas corpus

A court order requiring jailers to explain to a judge why they are holding a prisoner in custody.

Bill of Attainder

Bills which punish people without a judicial trial.

Ex-postfacto laws

Punish people or increase the penalties for acts that were not illegal or not as punishable when the act was committed.

Madisonian Model

A plan devised by James Madison to have a strong government that checked itself so as to protect personal freedom. The Madisonian Model was created for the purpose of preventing the possibility of a tyranny of the majority. It proposed: Place as much of the government as possible beyond the direct control of the majority. Separate the powers of different institutions. Construct a system of checks and balances.

Separation of Powers

A feature of the Constitution that requires each of the three branches of government - executive, legislative, and judicial - to be relatively independent of the others so that one cannot control the others. Power is shared among these three institutions.

Bill of Rights

The first ten amendments to the Constitution, drafted in response to some of the Anti-Federalist concerns. These amendments define such basic liberties as freedom of religion, speech, and press and guarantee defendants' rights.

Constitutional Ratification Process

The convention delegates knew that the state legislatures would never ratify the new document because they would lose power under the new Constitution, so they said that it would be ratified by a state convention. Delaware ratified first and 6 months later New Hampshire made it the official Constitution with the 9th vote.

Formal amendments

Changes to the letter of the Constitution

Formals amendment process

Congress =>state legislatures
Congress =>state conventions
National convention =>state conventions
National convention =>state legislatures

Informal amendment

A change in the constitution that simple comes to be common practice. The change does not conflict with any part of the constitution and is not unconstitutional so over time it is adopted as norm.

Unwritten constitution

A constitution that is widely understood but is not in document form

Equal Rights Amendment

A recent amendment proposal that has not been ratified. It states "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

Judicial Review

Gives the Supreme Court the right to decide whether the legislative and executive branches of state and national governments are in accord with the constitution.

Marbury vs. Madison

The 1803 case in which Chief Justice John Marshall and his associates first asserted the right of the Supreme Court to deterring the meaning of the U.S. Constitution. The decision established the court's power of judicial review over acts of Congress, in this case the Judiciary Act of 1789.


A system of shared power where government has two or more levels of authority that control the people.

Unitary Governments

Governments where all of the power resides in central government.

Federal Power

The power to coin money, oversee foreign relations, regulate trade, and raise and army.

State Powers

The power to conduct elections, control commerce with other states, tax citizens, and borrow money.

Supremacy Clause

Article 6 of the Constitution, which makes the Constitution, national laws, and treaties superior to state laws.

Tenth Amendment

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states' responsibility.

Implied Powers

Powers of the federal government that go beyond people. These powers are up to interpretation

Enumerated Powers

Powers specifically addressed in the Constitution of the federal government.

McColloch vs. Maryland

Maryland and Congress disagreed on the issue of establishing a national bank. The argument used to support the establishment of a national bank is that the national government has certain implied powers that allowed it to set up a national bank.

Commerce Power

Congress (national government) has the power to regulate interstate and international commerce, so anything that falls under the umbrella of commerce can be controlled by the national government.

Gibbons vs. Ogden

A landmark case decided in 1824 in which the Supreme Court interpreted very broadly the clause in Article 1 Section * of the Constitution giving Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce, encompassing virtually every form of commercial activity.

U.S. vs. Lopez

Case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the national government was not within its powers in enacting the Gun Free School Zones Act because it exceeded Congress's authority to regulate commerce among the states.

Elastic Clause

The final paragraph of Article 1, Section 8, of the Constitution, which authorizes Congress to pass all laws "necessary and proper" to carry out the enumerated powers.

Full Faith and Credit

A clause in Article IV, Section 1, of the Constitution requiring each state to recognize the official documents and civil judgments rendered by the courts of other states.

Defense of Marriage Act

A act that allows states to disregard homosexual marriage, even if they are legal elsewhere in the United States.


A legal process whereby an alleged criminal offender is surrendered by the officials of one state to officials of the state in which the crime is alleged to have been committed.

Privileges and Immunities

A clause in Article IV, Section 2, of the Constitution according citizens of each state most of the privileges of citizens of other states.

Dual Federalism

A system of government in which bot the states and the national government remain supreme within their own spheres, each responsible for some policies.

Cooperative Federalism

A system of government in which powers and policy assignments are shared between states and the national government. They may also share costs, administration, and even blame for programs that work poorly.


The transfer of power from a central government to a local government.

Fiscal Federalism


Categorical Grants


Cross-Over Sactions


Cross-Cutting Requirements


Block Grants


Project Grants


Formula Grants




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