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Vocab through the whole year


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

elite and class theory

A theory of government and politics contending that societies are divided along class lines and that an upperclass elite will rule, regardless of the formal niceties of governmental organization.


the institutions and processes through which public policies are made for a society.

gross domestic product

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


A theroy of govrment and politics contending that groups are so strong that governent is weakened. Hyperlism is an extreme, exaggerated, or perverted form of pluralism


the belief that individual should be left on their own by the government. One of the primary reasons for the comparatively small scope of American government is the prominence of this belief In American political thought and practice.

linkage institutions

The political channels through which people's concerns become political issues on the policy agenda. In the United States, linkage institutions include elections, political parties, interest groups, and the media.

majority rule

A fundamental principle of traditional democratic theory. In a 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 and allows that they might join majorities through persuasion and reasoned argument.

pluralist theory

A theory of government and politics emphasizing that politics is mainly a competition among groups, each one pressing for its own preferred policies.

policy agenda

The issues that attract the serious attention of public officials and other people actually involved in politics at any given point in time.

policy gridlock

A condition that occurs when no coalition is strong enough to form a majority and establish a policy. The result is thst nothing may get done

policy making institutions

the branches of government charged with taking action on political issues. The U.S. constitution is established congress, presidency and the courts as policy making institutions. bureaucracy is so great that political scientist consider it a fourth policy making institution.

policy making system

The process by which policy comes into being and evolves over time. People's interests, problems,and concerns create political issues for government policymakers.These issues shape policy, which in turn impacts people, generation more interest,problems, and concerns.

political issue

an issue that arises when people disagree about a problem and how to fix it.

political participation

All the activities used by citizens to influence the selections of political leaders or the policies they pursue.


The process by which we select our gov. leaders and what policies these leaders pursue . Politics produces authoritative decisions about public issues. Ex. voting, protest, civil disobedience.

public goods

Goods such as highways and public parks that everyone must share.

public policy

a choice that government makes in response to a political issue. A policy is a course of action taken with regard to some problem.


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

single-issue groups

groups that have narrow interest tend to dislike compromise, and often draw membership from people new politics. These features distinguish them from traditional interest groups.


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

Articles of Confederation

The first constitution of the United States, adopted by Congress in 1777 and enacted in 1781. The Articles established a national legislature, the Continental Congress, but most authority rested with the state legislatres.

Bill of Rights

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

checks and balances

Features of the Constitution that limit government's power by requiring that power be balanced among the different governmental institutions. These institutions continually constrain one another's activities.

Connecticut Compromise

The compromise reached at the Constitutional Convention that established two houses of Congress the House of Representatives, in which representation is based on a state's share of the U.S. population, and the Senate, in which each state has two representatives.

consent of the governed

The idea that government derives its authority by sanction of the people.


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

Declaration of Independence

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

Equal Rights Amendment

A constitutional amendment passed by Congress in 1972 stating that "equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex". The amendment failed to acquire the necessary support from three-forths or the state legislatures.


Intrest groups arising from the unequal distribution of property or wealth that James Madison attacked in Federalist Paper No. 10. Today's parties or interest groups are what Madison had in mind when he warned of the instability in government caused by factions.

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.


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

judicial review

The power of the courts to determine whether acts of Congress, and by implication the executive, are in accord with the U.S. Constitution. Judicial review was established by John Marshall and his asociates in Marbury v. Madison.

limited government

The idea that certain restrictions should be placed on government to protect the natural rights of citizens.

Marbury v. Madison

The 1803 case in which Chief Justice John Marshall and and his associates first asserted the right of the Supreme Court to determine 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.

natural rights

Rights inherent in human beings, not dependent on governments, which include life, liberty, and property. The concept of natural rights was central to English philosopher John Locke's theories about government, and was widely accepted among America's Founding Fathers.

New Jersey Plan

The proposal at the Constitutional Convention that called for equal represntation of each state in Congress regardless of the state's population.


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

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.

Shays' Rebellion

A series of attacks on courthouses by a small band of farmers led by Revolutionary War Captain Daniel Shays to block foreclosure proceedings.

U.S. Constitution

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

Virginia Plan

The proposal at the Constitutional Conventino that called for representation of each state in Congress in proportion to that state's share of the U.S. population.

writ of habeas corpus

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

block grants

Federal grants given more or less automatically to state or communities to support broad programs in a areas such as community development and social services.

categorical grants

Federal grants that can be used only for specific purposes or "categories," of state and local spending. They come with strings attached, such as nondiscrimination provisions. Compare to block grants.

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.

dual federalism

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

elastic clause

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

enumerated powers

Powers of the federal government that are specifically addressed in the Constitution; for Congress, these powers are listed in Article I, Section 8, and include the power to coin money, regulate its value, and impose taxes.


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.


A way of organizing a nation so that two or more levels of government have formal authority over the same land and people. It is a system of shared power between units of government.

fiscal federalism

The pattern of spending, taxing, and providing grants in the federal system; it is the cornerstone of the national government's relations with state and local governments.

formula grants

Federal categorical grants distributed according to a formula specified in legislation or in administrative regulations.

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.

Gibbons v. Ogden

A landmark case decided in 1824 in which the Supreme Court interpreted very broadly the clause in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution giving Congress the power to regular interstate commerce, encompassing virtually every from of commercial activity.

implied powers

Powers of the federal government that go beyond those enumerated in the Constitution. The Constitution states that Congress has the power to "make all laws neccessary and proper for carrying into execution" the powers enumerated in Article I.

intergovernmental relations

The workings of the federal system- the entire set of interactions among national, state, and local governments.

McCulloch v. Maryland

An 1819 Supreme Court decision that established ther supremacy of the national government over state governments. In deciding this case, Chief Justice John Marshall and his colleagues held that Congress had certain implied powers in addition to the enumerated powers found in the Constitution.

privileges and immunities

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

project grants

Federal categorical grants given for specific purposes and awarded on the basis of the merits of applications.

supremacy clause

Article VI of the Constitution, which makes the Constitution, national laws, and treaties supreme over state laws when the national government is acting within its constitutional limits.

Tenth Amendment

The constitutional amendment stating that "The powers not delegated to the United State by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

unitary governments

A way of organizing a nation so that all power resides in the central government. Most national government today are these.

Bill of Rights

The first 10 amendments to the U.S. constitution, which define such basic liberties as freedom of religion, speech, and press, of speech, and press and guarantee defendents' rights.

civil liberties

the legal constitutional protections against government. Although they are formally set down in the Bill of Rights, the courts, police and legislatures define their meaning

commercial speech

communication in the form of advertising. It can be restricted more than many other types of speech but has been receiving increased protection from the supreme court.

cruel and unusual punishment

court sentences prohibited by the 8th amendment. Although the supreme court has ruled that mandatory death sentences for certain offenses are unconstitutional, it has held that the death penalty itself constitutes cruel unusual punishment.

due process clause

part of the 14th amendment guaranteeing that persons cannot be deprived of life, liberty, or property by the U.S. or state governments without due process of law.

Eighth amendment

forbids cruel and unusual punishment although it doesn't define this phrase.

establishment clause

part of the 1st amendment stating that "congress shall make no law repsecting an establishment of religion."

exclusionary rule

rule that evidence cannot be introduced into a trial if it was not constitutionally obtained. Prohibits the use of evidence obtained through unreasonable search and seizure.

Fifth amendment

designed to protect the rights of persons accused of crimes, including protection against double-jeopardy, self-incrimination, and punishment without due process of law.

First Amendment

establishes the first 4 great liberties: freedom of the press, of speech, of religion, and of assembly.

Fourteenth Amendment

adopted after the civil war that declares "No State Shall make or enhance any lae which abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the U.S.; 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 or the laws"

free exercise clause

A 1st amendment provision that prohibits government from interfering with the practice of religion.

incorporation doctrine

the legal concept under which the supreme court has nationalized the Bill of Rights by making most of its provisions applicable to the states through the 14th amendment.


The publication of false or malicious statements that damage someone's reputation

plea bargaining

a bargain struck between the defendant's lawyer and the prosecutor to the effect that the defendant will plead guilty to a lesser crime(or fewer crimes) in exchange for the state's promise not to prosecute the defendant for a more serious(or additional) crime.

prior restraint

A government preventing material from being published. This is a common method of limiting the press in some nations, but it is usually unconstitutional in the U.S., according to the 1st amendment and as confirmed in the 1931 Supreme court case of Near vs. Minnesota.

probable cause

the situation occurring when the police have reason to believe that a person should be arrested. In making the arrest, police are allowed legally to search for and seize incriminating evidence.

right to privacy

the right to a private personal life free from the intrusion of government

search warrant

a written authorization from a court specifying the area to be searched and what the police are searching for.


the situation occurring when an individual accused of a crime is comprelled to be a witness against himself or herself in court. 5th amendment forbids involuntary act of this.

sixth amendment

designed to protect individual accused of crimes. It includes the right to counsel, the right to confront witnesses, and the right to a speedy and public trial.

symbolic speech

nonverbal communication, such as burning a flag or wearing an armband. The supreme court has accorded some symbolic speech protection under the 1st amendment.

unreasonable searches and seizures

obtaining evidence in a haphazard or random manner, a practice prohibited by the 4th amendment. Probable cause and/or a search warrant are required for a legal and proper search for and seizure of incriminating evidence.

Barron vs. Baltimore (1833)

Supreme Court decision holding that the Bill of Rights restrained only the national government, not the states and cities

Engel vs. Vitale (1962)

state officials violated the First Amendment when they wrote a prayer to be recited by New York's schoolchildren

Gideon vs. Wainright (1963)

anyone accused of a felony where imprisonment may be imposed has a right to a lawyer

Gitlow vs. New York (1925)

freedoms of press and speech are "fundamental personal rights and liberties protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from impairment by the states" as well as the national government

Gregg vs. Georgia (1976)

upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty; "it is an extreme situation, suitable for the most extreme crimes"

Lemon vs. Kurtzman (1971)

Supreme Court decision that upheld aid to church related schools must 1) have a secular legislative purpose; 2) have a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion; 3) not foster excessive government entanglement with religion

Mapp vs. Ohio (1961)

Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures must be extended to state and federal governments

McClesky vs. Kemp (1987)

upheld constitutionality of death penalty against charges that it violated the Fourteenth Amendment because minority defendents were more likely to receive the death penalty than white defendents

Miami Herald Publishing COmpany v. Tornillo (1974)

held that a state could not force a newspaper to print replies from candidates it had criticized

Miller vs. California (1973)

Supreme Court decision that avoided defining obscenity by holding that community standards be used to determine whether material is obscene: 1) work appealed to "a prurient interest in sex"; 2) work showed "patently offensive" sexual conduct specifically defined by an obscenity law; 3) the work lacked "serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value"

Miranda vs. Arizona (1966)

set guidelines for police questioning of accused persons to protect themselves against self-incrimination

NAACP vs. Alabama (1958)

Supreme Court decided that the NAACP didn't have to reveal its membership list and thus subject its members to harrassment

Near vs. Minnesota (1931)

Supreme Court decision holding that the First Amendment protects newspapers from prior restraint

New York Times vs. Sullivan (1964)

established guidelines for determining whether public officials and public figures could win damage suits for libel (to do so, individuals must prove that the defamatory statements were made with "actual malice" and reckless disregard for the truth

Planned Parenthood vs. Casey (1992)

Supreme Court loosened its standard for evaluating restrictions on abortion from one of "strict scrutiny" of any restraints on a "fundamental right" to one of "undue burden" that permits considerably more regulation

Red Lion Broadcasting Company v. Federal Communications Commission (1969)

upheld restrictions on radio and television broadcasting

Roe vs. Wade (1973)

a state ban on all abortions was declared unconstitutional (forbade state control over abortions during first trimester; permitted states to limit abortions to protect mother's health during second trimester; permitted states to protect fetus during third trimester)

Roth vs. United States (1957)

said that obscenity "is not within the area of constitutionality protected speech or press"

Schenck vs. United States (1919)

decision upholding the conviction of a socialist who had urged young men to resist the draft during WWI; the national government can limit free speech if the speech provokes a "clear and present danger" of substantive evils

School District of Abington Township, Pennsylvania vs. Schempp (1963)

a Pennsylvania law requiring Bible reading in schools violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment

Texas vs. Johnson (1989)

Supreme Court struck down a law banning the burning of the American flag on the grounds that such action was symbolic speech

Zelman vs. Simmons-Harris (2002)

Supreme Court decision that upheld a state providing families with vouchers that could be used to pay for tuition at religious schools

Zurcher vs. Standford Daily (1978)

a proper search warrant could be applied to a newspaper as well as to anyone else without violating the First Amendment rights to freedom of the press

Adarand Constructors v. Pena

the 1995 decision holding that federal programs that classify people by race, even for an ostensibly benign purpose such as expanding opportunities for minorities, should be presumed to be unconstitutional

Brown v. Board of Education

the 1954 decision holding that school segregation was inherently unconstitutional because it violated the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection. Marked the end of legal segregation in the United States

Craig v. Boren

the 1976 decision in which the Supreme Court established the "medium scrutiny" standard for determining gender discrimination

Dred Scott v. Sandford

the 1857 decision ruling that a slave who had escaped to a free state enjoyed no rights as a citizen and that Congress had no authority to ban slavery in the territories

Hernandez v. Texas

a 1954 Supreme Court decision that extrended protection against discrimination to Hispancis

Korematsu v. United States

the 1944 decision that upheld as constitutional the internment of more than 100,000 Americans of Japanese descent in encampments during World War II

Plessy v. Ferguson

the 1896 decision that provided a constitutional justification for segregation by ruling that a Louisiana law requiring "equal but separate accommodations for the White and colored races" was constitutional

Reed v. Reed

the landmark 1971 decision in which the Supreme Court for the first time upheld a claim of gender discrimination

Regents of the University of California v. Bakke

the 1978 decision holding that a state university could not admit less qualified individuals solely because of their race

affirmative action

A policy designed to give special attention to or compensatory treatment for members of some previously disadvantaged group

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

A law passed in 1990 that requires employers and public facilities to make "reasonable accommodations" for people with disabilities and prohibits discrimination against these individuals in employment.

civil rights

Policies designed to protect people against arbitrary or discriminatory treatment by government officials or individuals

Civil Rights Act of 1964

The law that made racial discrimination against any group in hotels, motels, and restaurants illegal and forbade many forms of job discrimination

comparable worth

The issue raised when women who hold traditionally female jobs are paid less than men for working at jobs requiring comparable skill

equal protection of the laws

Part of the Fourteenth Amendment emphasizing that the laws must provide equivalent "protection" to all people.

Equal Rights Amendment

A constitutional amendment originally introduced in Congress in 1923 and passed by Congress in 1972, stating that "equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." Despite public support, the amendment failed to acquire the necessary support from three-fourths of the state legislatures.

Fifteenth Amendment

The constitutional amendment adopted in 1870 to extend suffrage to African Americans.

Fourteenth Amendment

The constitutional amendment adopted after the Civil War that states, "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; 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 laws."

Nineteenth Amendment

The constitutional amendment adopted in 1920 that guarantees women the right to vote.

poll taxes

Small taxes levied on the right to vote that often fell due at a time of year when poor African-American sharecroppers had the least cash on hand. This method was used by most Southern states to exclude African Americans from voting. Poll taxes were declared void by the Twenty-fourth Amendment in 1964.


The legal right to vote, extended to African Americans by the Fifteenth Amendment, to women by the Nineteenth Amendment, and to people over the age of 18 by the Twenty-sixth Amendment.

Thirteenth Amendment

The constitutional amendment ratified after the Civil War that forbade slavery and involuntary servitude.

Twenty-fourth Amendment

The constitutional amendment passed in 1964 that declared poll taxes void in federal elections.

Voting Rights Act of 1965

A law designed to help end formal and informal barriers to African American suffrage. Under the law, hundreds of thousands of African Americans were registered and the number of African American elected officials increased dramatically.

White primary

One of the means used to discourage African-American voting that permitted political parties in the heavily Democratic South to exclude African Americans from primary elections, thus depriving them of a voice in the real contests. The Supreme Court declared White primaries unconstitutional in 1944.


a valuable tool for understanding demographic changes

civil disobediance

a form of political participation that reflects a conscious decision to break a law believed to be immoral and to suffer the consequences


the science of human population changes

exit polls

public opinion surveys used by major media pollsters to predict electoral winners with speed and precision

gender gap

a term that refers to the regular pattern by which women are more likely to support democratic canidates

melting pot

the mixing of cultures, ideas, and peoples that has changed the american nation.

minority majority

the emergence of a non-caucasian majority, as compared with a white, generally Anglo saxon majority.

political culture

an overall set of values widely shared within a society

political ideology

a coherent set of beliefs about politics, publis policy, and publis purpose

political participation

all the activities used by citizens to influence the selection of political leaders or the policies they pursue

political socialization

the process by which an indivdual recieves their knowledge, feelings, and evaluations regarding their political world


a form of political participation deisigned to achieve policy change through dramatic and unconventional tactics

public opinion

the distribution of the popuation's beliefs about politics and policy issues.

random digit dialing

a technique used by pollsters to place telephone calls randomly to both listed and unlisted numbers when conducting a survey

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