How can we help?

You can also find more resources in our Help Center.

396 terms

AP Government Exam

Vocab and other stuff for the AP
STUDY
PLAY
activation
One of three key consequences of electoral campaigns for voters, in which the voter is activated to contribute money or ring doorbells instead of just voting.
Adarand Constructors v. Peña
1995 SuCo decision: Federal programs that classify based on race should be assumed unconstitutional and put up to strict scrutiny. They're only okay if they are "narrowly tailored" for a "compelling governmental interest."
Affirmative Action
A policy designed to give special compensation to a previously disadvantaged group.
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
Requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for the disabled, and not to discriminate against them in hiring.
amicus curiae briefs
Briefs submitted to the court by outside parties to influence the decision.
Anti-Federalists
At the time of the Con, they argued that the Con was a class based document, would erode fundamental liberties and weaken the states.
antitrust policy
Policy that ensures competition and prevents monopoly.
appropriations bill
Act of Cong that funds programs within authorized limits. Usually these bills are annual.
Articles of Confederation
First Con, adopted in 1777, enacted in 1781. They established a national legislature (Continental Congress), but left most authority with the states.
authorization bill
Act of Cong (type of bill) that makes or continues a government or entitlement program, also defines budget limits for said program.
Barron v. Baltimore
1833 SuCo: The Bill of Rights only applies to the National Gvt.
bicameral legislature
A legislature divided into 2 houses, such as the US Congress and most state legislatures.
bill
A proposed law written in legal language. Only o member of Congress can submit one, although anyone can write one.
Bill of Rights
First 10 Amendments written to satiate Anti-Federalists. They define basic liberties and rights.
blanket primaries
Primaries in which voters can be from and vote for any party.
block grants
Federal grants automatically given to states to support broad programs. (Compared to categorical grants)
Brown v. Board of Education
1954 SuCo: School segregation is unconstitutional because it violates the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection. Overturned Plessy v. Ferguson.
budget
A policy document allocating taxes and expenditures,
budget resolution
The bottom line for all federal spending.
bureaucracy
A system of departments and agencies formed to carry out the work of government.
cabinet
A group of presidential advisers. Consists of 14 secretaries and the attorney general.
campaign strategy
Master game plan of a political campaign.
capitalism
An economic system in which individuals and corporations, not the government, own the principle means of production and seek profit.
casework
Pork barreling, basically. Activities of Congressmen that help individual constituents.
categorical grants
Federal grants that can be used only for specific purposes. These grants have strings attached. (Compare to block grants)
congressional caucus
A group of Congressmen sharing an interest or characteristic. (Not the party version)
state party caucus
A meeting of all state party leaders for selecting delegates to the national party convention. Usuall organized as a pyramid (Not the congressional version)
censorship
Government regulation of media content.
census
Demographics report required by the Constitution to be redone every 10 years.
checks and balances
An important part of the Madisonian model designed to limit government's power by requiring power to be balanced among different institutions that check each other's activities.
civic duty
The belief that it is a citizen's duty to vote in order to support democracy.
civil disobedience
A form of political participation where people consciously break a law and suffer the consequences to make a point.
civil law
Judicial law not involving criminal charges. Cases are between 2 parties and involve common law.
civil liberties
Legal constitutional protections against government. (compare to civil rights)
civil rights
Policies designed to protect people against arbitrary or discriminatory treatment by government.(Compare to civil liberties)
Civil Rights Act of 1964
Law that made racial discrimination in public places illegal and forbade many forms of job discrimination. It created the EEOC to monitor itself, provided for the withholding of federal grants to nonconformers, strengthened voting rights legislation, and authorized lawsuits that advanced desegregation.
civil rights movement
movement in the United States beginning in the 1960s and led primarily by Blacks in an effort to establish the civil rights of individual Black citizens
civil rights policies
Policies that extend government protection to particular disadvantaged groups.
class action suits
Lawsuits permitting a small number of people to sue on behalf of all others similarly situated.
Clean Air Act of 1970
Law that charged the Department of Transportation with the responsibility of reducing automobile emissions.
Clean Water Act of 1972
Law intended to clean up the nation's rivers and lakes.
closed primaries
Primaries in which only registered voters can participate.
collective bargaining
Bargaining between representatives of labor unions and management to determine acceptable working conditions.
committee chairs
The most important influencers of congressional agenda. They play dominant rules in scheduling hearings, hiring staff, appointing subcommittees and managing committee bills when they're in front of the full house.
congressional committees
Conference, joint, select and standing committees.
common law
The accumulation of past judicial decisions applied in civil law disputes.
comparable worth
The issue raised when women are paid less than men for working jobs that require comparable skill.
conference committees
Congressional committees directed to reconcile House and Senate versions of a bill.
Congressional Budget Office
The budget office that advises Congress on the consequences of budget decisions and forecasts revenues.
Connecticut Compromise
The compromise reached at the Constitutional Convention that reconciled the Virginia and New Jersey Plans, creating our bicameral legislature.
consent of the governed
the idea that government derives its authority by the sanction of the people
conservatives
Those who advocate conservatism.
constitution
A nation's basic law.
consumer price index
The key measure of inflation.
continuing resolutions
When Congress cannot agree on an appropriation bill, this resolution allows an agency to spend at the previous year's level.
conversion
When a voter's mind is changed in an electoral campaign.
Council of Economic Advisers
3 appointees who advise the President on the state of the economy and economic policy
courts of appeal
Apellate courts that can review all final decisions from district courts.
Craig v. Boren
1976 SuCo: Gender classifications are subject to medium scrutiny.
criminal law
The body of law used when one is charged with a criminal action that warrants punishment.
critical election
Election periods marked by national crisis where new issues emerge and the majority party is displaced by the minority.
cruel and unusual punishment
punishment prohibited by the 8th amendment to the U.S. constitution
Declaration of Independence
Document approved in 1776 that stated the grievances with Britain.
deficit
An excess of federal expenditures over federal revenues.
democracy
Government by the people.
demography
The science of population changes.
deregulation
the act of freeing from regulation (especially from governmental regulations)
direct democracy
Procedures by which voters have a direct impact on policymaking by means of a voting booth.
direct primaries
an election in which voters shoose candidates to represent each party in a general election
district courts
Lowest level of fed. courts, where fed. cases begin &trials are held (bank robbery, environmental violations, tax evasion)
dual federalism
A system of govt in which both the national and state governments are supreme in their own spheres.
due process clause
Part of the 14th amendment which guarantees that no state deny basic rights to its people without due process of law.
elastic clause
the part of the Constitution that permits Congress to make any laws "necessary and proper" to carrying out its powers
electoral college
the body of electors who formally elect the United States president and vice-president
electoral mandate
A concept based on the idea that "the people have spoken." It is a powerful symbol in American electoral politics, according legitimacy and credibility to a newly elected president's proposals.
elite
a group or class of persons enjoying superior intellectual or social or economic status
elite theory
A theory of government and politics contending that societies are divided along class lines and that an upper-class elite will rule, regardless of the formal niceties of governmental organization.
Engel v. Vitale
1962 SuCo: Prayer in school is a violation of the 1st Amendment.
entitlement programs
programs that provide benefits to eligible citizens. An uncontrollable expenditure.
enumerated powers
The powers explicitly given to Congress in the Constitution.
Environmental Protection Agency
An agency created in 1970 to administer all environmental legislation.
equal opportunity
the right to equivalent opportunities for employment regardless of race or color or sex or national origin
equal protection of the laws
a right guaranteed by the 14th amendment to the US constitution and by the due-process clause of the 5th amendment. It was a major part of Brown v. Board of Education.
equal results
An idea that government must go beyond equal opportunity.
Equal Rights Amendment
constitutional amendment passed by Congress but never ratified that would have banned discrimination on the basis of gender
establishment clause
the First Amendment guarantee that the government will not create and support an official state church
exclusionary rule
Evidence obtained unconstitutionally can not be used in court.
executive orders
regulations originating from the executive branch. They are one method presidents can use to control the bureaucracy.
exit poll
a poll of voters as they leave the voting place
expenditures
Federal spending of revenues, mostly spent on social services and military.
extradition
the surrender of an accused or convicted person by one state or country to another (usually under the provisions of a statute or treaty)
factions
Interest 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 these.
federal debt
all the money borrowed by the federal government over the years and still outstanding
Federal Election Campaign Act
law passed in 1974 for reforming campaign finances. The act created the Federal Election Commission (FEC), provided public financing for presidential primaries and general elections, limited presidential campaign spending, required disclosure, and attempted to limit contributions.
Federal Election Commission
A commission created by the 1974 amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act to administer election reform laws. Its duties include overseeing disclosure of campaign finance information and public funding of presidential elections, and enforcing contribution limits.
Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act
1946; intended to allow the government to monitor lobbying activities by requiring lobbyists to register with the government and publicly disclose their salaries, expenses, and nature of activities in DC
Federal Reserve System
The country's central banking system, which is responsible for the nation's monetary policy by regulating the supply of money and interest rates
Federal Trade Commission
(WW) 1914 , A government agency established in 1914 to prevent unfair business practices and help maintain a competitive economy, support antitrust suits
federalism
a form of government in which power is divided between the federal, or national, government and the states
Federalist Papers
a series of 85 essays written by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay (using the name "publius") published in NY newspapers and used to convice readers to adopt the new constitution
Federalist Paper 10
The Federalist Paper warning against faction such as interest groups and political parties
Federalist Paper 51
The Federalist Paper advocating three seperate, independant branches with the same amount of power. Government should control people, but also its self, and individual rights should be protected.
Federalists
Supporters of the Constitution that were led by Alexander Hamilton and John Adams. They firmly believed the national government should be strong. They didn't want the Bill of Rights because they felt citizens' rights were already well protected by the Constitution.
filibuster
a tactic used only in the Senate for delaying or obstructing legislation by making long speeches or talking a bill to death
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.
fiscal policy
a government policy for dealing with the budget (especially with taxation and borrowing) entirely determined by Congress and the Prez
Food and Drug Administration
Federal agency formed in 1913 that approves all foods and drugs for sale in the US.
foreign policy
a nation's overall plan for dealing with other nations
formula grants
Federal Categorical Grants distributed according to a formula specified in legislation or in administrative regulations
fragmentation
A situation in which responsibility for a policy area is dispersed, making it difficult to coordinate the policy.
free excercise clause
1st amendment guarantee that prohibits gov't from unduly interfering with the free excercise of religion
free-rider problem
the problem faced by interest groups when citizens can reap the benefits of interest group action without actually joining, participating in, or contributing money to such groups.
frontloading
the recent tendency of states to hold primaries early in the calendar in order to capitalize on media attention
full faith and credit clause
Clause in the Constitution (Article IV, Section 1) requiring each state to recognize the civil judgments rendered by the courts of the other states and to accept their public records and acts as valid
gender gap
A term that refers to the regular pattern by which women are more likely to support Democratic candidates. Women tend to be significantly less conservative than men and are more likely to support spending on social services and to oppose higher levels of military spending.
Gibbons v. Ogden
1824 SuCo: Gave Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce
Gideon v. Wainwright
1963 SuCo: Anyone accused of a felony where jail time is possible has a right to a lawyer.
Gitlow v. New York
1925 SuCo: Freedoms of press and speech are "fundamental personal rights and liberties protected by the due process clause of the 14th amendment from impairment"
government
the system or form by which a community or other political unit is governed
government corporation
A government agency that operates like a business corporation, created to secure greater freedom of action and flexibility for a particular program.
governor
the head of a state government
Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act
Also known as Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Act, this act mandates maximum allowable deficits until 1991 when the budget should balance. It was abandoned in 1991.
grandfather clause
clause included in the state constitutions of several southern states after the Civil War placing high literacy and property requirements for voters whose ancestors did not vote before 1867. These clauses were designed to interfere with African-American citizens' right to vote. In 1915, the Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional.
Gregg v. Georgia
1976 SuCo: The death penalty is not cruel and unusual punishment.
GDP
total dollar value of all final goods and services produced in a country during a single year
Hatch Act
A federal law prohibiting government employees from active participation in partisan politics.
House Rules Committee
An institution unique to the House of Representatives that reviews all bills (except revenue, budget, and appropriations bills) coming from a House committee before they go to the full House.
House Ways and Means Committee
The House of Representatives committee that, along with the Senate Finance Committee, writes the tax codes, subject to the approval of Congress as a whole.
hyperpluralism
Theory that groups are so strong that they weaken the government. Exaggerated version of pluralism.
impeachment
The political equivalent of an indictment in criminal law, prescribed by the Constitution.
implementation
The process of putting a law into practice through bureaucratic rules or spending.
implied powers
Powers of government that go beyond their enumerated powers. Generally supported by the elastic clause.
income
The amount of funds collected.
income tax
Direct tax on the earnings of individuals and corporations
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 fourteenth amendment
incrementalism
The belief that the best predictor of this year's budget is last year's budget, plus a little bit more (an increment).
incumbents
Those already holding office.
independent executive agency
The government not accounted for by cabinet departments, independent regulatory agencies, and government corporations. Its administrators are typically appointed by the president and serve at the president's pleasure. NASA is an example.
independent regulatory agency
a government agency responsible for some sector of the economy, making and enforcing rules to protect the public interest. It also judges disputes over these rules.
inflation
increased prices for goods and services combined with the reduced value of money
initiative
Voters may put a proposed change to the state constitution to a vote if sufficient petitions have called for the referendum.
interest group
an organization of people sharing a common interest or goal that seeks to influence the making of public policy
iron triangles
Entities composed of a bureaucratic agency, an interest group, and a congressional committee. They dominate certain areas of policymaking.
joint committees
Congressional committees on a few subject-matter areas with membership drawn from both houses.
judicial activism
A judicial philosophy in which judges make bold policy decisions, even charting new constitutional ground. Advocates of this approach emphasize that the courts can correct pressing needs, especially those unmet by the majoritarian political process.
judicial implementation
how and whether court decisions are translated into actual policy, thereby affecting the behavior of others; the courts rely on other units of government to enforce their decisions
judicial restraint
A judicial philosophy in which judges play minimal policymaking roles, leaving that duty strictly to the legislatures
judicial review
The power of a court to determine the constitutionality of a governmental action
justiciable disputes
a constraint on the courts requiring case be capable of being settled by legal methods
Keynesian economic theory
The theory emphasizing that government spending and deficits can help the economy weather its normal ups and downs. Proponents of this theory advocate using the power of government to stimulate the economy when it is lagging.
Korematsu v. United States
1944 SuCo: Japanese internment camps were constitutional.
labor union
an organization of employees formed to bargain with the employer
laissez faire
idea that government should play as small a role as possible in economic affairs
legislative courts
Courts established by Congress for specialized purposes where the judges have fixed terms.
legislative oversight
Congress's monitoring of the bureaucracy performed mainly through hearings.
legislative proposal
A method of s, the most common means of amending a state constitution wherin the state legislature propses a revision usually by a two-thirds majority
legislative turnover
The rate of incumbent state legislators leaving office
legislative veto
The ability of Congress to override a presidential veto, provided by the War Powers Resolution. It is criticized for defeating the system of checks and balances.
legislators
Elected representatives who make public policy.
Lemon v. Kurtzman
1971 SuCo: Federal funding to religious schools must (1) have a secular legislative purpose (2) primarily not effect religion and (3) not get the government involved with religion
libel
The publication of false or malicious statements that damage someone's reputation.
liberalism
A political ideology whose advocates prefer a government active in dealing with human needs, support individual rights and liberties, and give higher priority to social needs than military needs.
limited government
The idea that certain things are untouchable by government because of the natural rights of its citizens. (related to John Locke)
line-item veto
A power of state governors to veto only certain parts of a bill and let the rest pass.
linkage institutions
The channels through which people's concerns become political issues on the government's policy agenda. In the United States, they include elections, political parties, interest groups, and the media.
litigants
The plaintiff and defendant in a case.
lobbying
direct contact made by an interest group representative in order to persuade government officials to support the policies their interest group favors
majority leader
The principal partisan ally of the Speaker of the House or the party's manager in the Senate. The majority leader is responsible for scheduling bills, influencing committee assignments, and rounding up votes in behalf of the party's legislative positions.
majority rule
A fundamental principle of traditional democratic theory where the majority's desires must be respected.
mandate theory of elections
The idea that the winning candidate has a mandate from the people to carry out his or her platforms and politics. Politicians like the theory better than political scientists do.
Mapp v. Ohio
1961 SuCo: Incorporated the 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure, as well as the exclusionary rule.
Marbury v. Madison
1803 SuCo: Established judicial review.
mass media
Tv, radio, newspapers, magazines and all other forms of popular broadcasting.
McCleskey v. Kemp
1987 SuCo: Upheld the death penalty, and said that the death penalty is not racist.
McCulloch v. Maryland
1819 SuCo: Congress has certain implied powers as well as their enumerated powers, and the national government is supreme.
McGovern-Fraser Commission
required the delegates of the democratic party to represent more minorities
means-tested programs
Government programs available only to individuals below the poverty line.
Medicaid
A public assistance program designed to provide healthcare to poor Americans. (Compare to Medicare)
Medicare
A program that provides health benefits to senior citizens. (Compare to Medicaid)
melting pot
The mixing of cultures, ideas and peoples that has changed America.
Miller v. California
1973 SuCo: Community standards define obscenity; the Supreme Court refused to define obscenity.
minimum wage
The legal minimum hourly wage for large employers.
minority leader
The principal leader of a minority party in either house of Congress.
minority majority
When the combined minorities outnumber the majority.
Miranda v. Arizona
1966 SuCo: Set guidelines to protect the accused from self-incrimination.
mixed economy
an economy in which private enterprise exists in combination with a considerable amount of government regulation and promotion
monetarism
An economic theory holding that the supply of money is the key to a nation's economic health.
monetary policy
Based on monetarism, it is the government manipulation of the supply of money.
Motor Voter Act
Law that requires people to register to vote when they apply for a driver's license.
municipalities
Another word for cities or municipal corporations.
narrowcasting
Opposite of "broadcasting", targeting a specific group.
national committee
Delegates who run party affairs between national conventions.
national convention
the meeting of party delegates every four years to choose a presidential ticket and write the party's platform.
Wagner Act
Another name for the National Labor Relations Act. 1935; established National Labor Relations Board; protected the rights of most workers in the private sector to organize labor unions, to engage in collective bargaining, and to take part in strikes and other forms of concerted activity in support of their demands.
national party convention
A national meeting of delegates elected in primaries, caucuses, or state conventions who assemble once every four years to nominate candidates for president and vice president, ratify the party platform, elect officers, and adopt rules.
national primary
A proposal by critics of the caucuses and presidential primaries, which would replace these electoral methods with a nationwide primary held early in the election year.
National Security Council
a committee in the executive branch of government that advises the president on foreign and military and national security. Includes president, vice president, and the secretaries of state and defense.
natural rights
Rights inherent to human beings.
Near v. Minnesota
1931 SuCo: The 1st Amendment protects newspapers from prior restraint.
necessary and proper clause
Another name for the elastic clause.
New Deal Coalition
coalition forged by the Democrats who dominated American politics from the 1930's to the 1960's. its basic elements were the urban working class, ethnic groups, Catholics and Jews, the poor, Southerners, African Americans, and intellectuals.
New Jersey Plan
Opposite of the Virginia Plan, it proposed a single-chamber congress in which each state had one vote. This created a conflict with representation between bigger states, who wanted control befitting their population, and smaller states, who didn't want to be bullied by larger states.
New York Times v. Sullivan
1964 SuCo: Individuals must prove that statements were "actual malice" and reckless disregard for the truth to win a libel suit.
nomination
the official endorsement of a candidate for office by a political party. Generally, success in the nomination game requires momentum, money, and media attention.
Office of Management and Budget
An office that grew out of the Bureau of the Budget, created in 1921, consisting of a handful of political appointees and hundreds of skilled professionals. It performs both managerial and budgetary functions.
open primaries
elections to select party nominees in which voters can decide on Election Day whether they want to participate in the Democratic or Republican contests.
opinion
the legal document stating the reasons for a judicial decision
original intent
A view that the Constitution should be interpreted according to the original intent of the framers. Many conservatives support this view.
original jurisdiction
The jurisdiction of courts that hear a case first, usually in a trial. These are the courts that determine the facts about a case.
party competition
the battle of the parties for control of public offices. Ups and downs of the two major parties are one of the most important elements in American politics.
party dealignment
the gradual disengagement of people and politicians from the parties, as seen in part by shrinking party identification.
party identification
An informal and subjective affiliation with a political party.
party image
The voter's perception of what the Republicans or Democrats stand for, such as conservatism or liberalism
party machine
The party organization that exists on the local level and uses patronage as the means to keep the party members in line. Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall are examples.
party platform
A political party's statement of its goals and policies for the next four years. It is drafted prior to the party convention by a committee whose members are chosen in rough proportion to each candidate's strength. It is the best formal statement of a party's beliefs.
party realignment
The displacement of the majority party by the minority party, usually during a critical election period.
patronage
(politics) granting favors or giving contracts or making appointments to office in return for political support
per curiam decision
A court decision without explanation.
Planned Parenthood v. Casey
1992 SuCo: Standard for evaluating abortion restrictions was loosened.
plea bargaining
a negotiation in which the defendant agrees to enter a plea of guilty to a lesser charge and the prosecutor agrees to drop a more serious charge
Plessy v. Ferguson
1896 SuCo: Established "separate but equal."
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.
pocket veto
indirect veto of legislation by refusing to sign it
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 differences
The perception of clear differences between parties.
policy gridlock
A condition when no coalition is strong enough to form a majority and establish policy. The result is that nothing may get done
policy impacts
The EFFECTS that a policy has on people and on society's problems
policymaking institutions
The branches of government charged with taking action on political issues. The U.S. Constitution established three policymaking institutions-the congress, the presidency, and the courts. Today, the power of the bureaucracy is so great that most political scientist consider it a fourth policy making institution
policymaking systems
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, generating more interests, problems, and concerns.
PACs
funding vehicles created by a corporation, union, or some other interest group, registered with the FEC
political efficacy
The belief that one's political participation really matters - that one's vote can actually make a difference
political ideology
the coherent set of values and beliefs about the purpose and scope of government held by groups and individuals
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 selection of political leaders or the policies they pursue. The most common, but not the only, means of it in a democracy is voting.
political party
a group of individuals with broad common interests who organize to nominate candidates for office, win elections, conduct government, and determine public policy
political socialization
the process by which people gain their political attitudes and opinions
politics
The process by which we select our governmental leaders and what policies these leaders pursue. It produces authoritative decisions about public issues.
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. They were declared void by the Twenty-fourth Amendment in 1964.
pork barrel
The mighty list of federal projects, grants, and contracts available to cities, businesses, colleges, and institutions available in a congressional district.
poverty line
A method used to count the number of poor people, it considers what a family must spend for an "austere" standard of living.
precedent
How similar cases have been decided in the past.
presidential approval
Refers to the degree to which the American public as a whole approves the way the President is performing his responsibilities as the nations leader.
presidential coattails
When voters vote for members of the President's party because they like the President
presidential primaries
Elections in which voters in a State vote for a candidate.
press secretary
The person on the White House staff who most often deals directly with the press, serving as a conduit of information.
prior restraint
A government's prevention of material from being published.
privileges and immunities clause
a state cannot discriminate against someone from another state or give its own residents privileges
probable cause
reasonable cause for issuing a search warrant or making an arrest; more than mere suspicion
progressive tax
A tax in which the average tax rate rises with income.
project grants
Federal categorical grants given for specific purposes and awarded on the basis of the merits of applications
proportional tax
A tax in which the average tax rate is the same at all income levels.
protectionism
Economic policy of shielding an economy from imports.
protest
a form of political participation designed to achieve policy change through dramatic and unconventional tactics.
public goods
Goods, such as clean air and clean water, that everyone must share.
public interest
Common interests are more important than group interests.
public opinion
the distribution of the population's beliefs about politics and policy issues
public policy
A choice that government makes in response to a political issue. It is a course of action taken with regard to some problem
random digit dialing
a technique used by pollsters to place telephone calls randomly to both listed and unlisted numbers when conducting a survey.
random sampling
The Key technique employed by sophisticated survey researchers, which operates on the principle that everyone should have an equal probability of being selected for the sample.
rational-choice theory
A theory that states that individuals act in their own best interest.
reapportionment
the process of reallocating seats in the House of Representatives every 10 years on the basis of the results of the census.
reconciliation
A congressional process through which program authorizations are revised to achieve required savings.
Reed v. Reed
1971 SuCo: First upheld gender discrimination claim.
referendum
Procedure for submitting to popular vote measures passed by the legislature or proposed amendments to a state constitution
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke
1978 SuCo: Less qualified individuals can't be accepted for programs based only on their race. However, affirmative action is not unconstitutional.
regional primaries
A proposal by critics of the caucuses and presidential primaries to replace these electoral methods with a series of primaries held in each geographic region.
regressive tax
A tax whereby people with lower incomes pay a higher fraction of their income than people with higher incomes.
reinforcement
The campaign consequence in which voters' candidate preference is reinforced.
representation
A basic principle of traditional democratic theory that describes the relationship between the few leaders and the many followers.
republic
a political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them
responsible party model
A model stating that parties should give clear choices to the voters, and once in office, should make good on their campaign promises.
retrospective voting
A theory of voting in which voters essentially ask this simple question: "What have you done for me lately?"
revenues
The financial resources of the federal government. The individual income tax and Social Security tax are two major sources of it.
right to privacy
The right to a private personal life free of government intrusion.
right-to-work law
A state law forbidding requirements that workers must join a union to hold their jobs. They were permitted by the Taft-Hartley Act.
Roe v. Wade
1973 SuCo: State bans on all abortions are unconstitutional. Set up the trimester system.
Roth v. United States
1957 SuCo: Obscenity is not within the area o' constitutionally protected speech or press.
sample
A relatively small proportion of people in a survey who are chosen to represent the whole
sampling error
the level of confidence in the findings of a public opinion poll. The more people interviewed, the more confident one can be of the results.
Schenck v. United States
1919 SuCo: Government can limit speech if it evokes a "clear and present danger."
School District of Abington Township, Pennsylvania v. Schempp
1963 SuCo: Requiring Bible readings in schools violates the establishment clause.
Scott v. Sandford
1857 SuCo: An escaped slave has no rights, and Congress can't ban slaves in the territories.
search warrant
A writ issued by a magistrate that authorizes the police to search a particular place or person, specifying the place to be searched and the objects to be seized.
secretary of defense
Head of the Department of Defense, and the president's key military adviser.
secretary of state
Head of the Department of State and key foreign policy adviser to the president.
select committees
Congressional committees appointed for a specific purpose, such as the Watergate investigation.
selective perception
the phenomenon that people often pay the most attention to things they already agree with and interpret them according to their own predispositions
self-incrimination
the situation occurring when an individual accused of a crime is compelled to be a witness against himself or herself in court. The Fifth Amendment forbids it.
Senate Finance Committee
The Senate committee that, along with the House Ways and Means committee, writes the tax codes, subject to the approval of Congress as a whole.
senatorial courtesy
An unwritten traditions whereby nominations for state-level federal judicial posts are not confirmed if they are opposed by a senator from the state in which the nominee will serve. The tradition also applies to courts of appeal when there is opposition from the nominee's state senator.
seniority system
A simple rule for picking committee chairs, in effect until the '70s. The member who had served on the committee the longest and whose party controlled Congress became chair.
separation of powers
An important part of the Madisonian model where the three branches are fairly independent so they can't control eachother.
Shay's Rebellion
a rebellion by debtor farmers in western Massachusetts, led by Revolutionary War Captain Daniel Shays, against Boston creditors. it began in 1786 and lasted half a year, threatening the economic interests of the business elite and contributing to the demise of the Articles of Confederation.
single-issue groups
Groups that have narrow interest, tend to dislike compromise, and often draw membership from people new to politics
Social Security Act
1935: An act that provided minimal sustenance to the elderly to save them from poverty.
social welfare policies
policies that provide benefits to individuals, particularly those in need
soft money
Money raised in unlimited amounts by political parties for party-building purposes. Now largely illegal except for limited contributions to state or local parties for voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts.
Speaker of the House
An office mandated by the Constitution. The Speaker is chosen in practice by the majority party, has both formal and informal powers, and is second in line to succeed to the presidency should that office become vacant.
standing committees
Separate subject-matter committees in each house of Congress that handle bills in different policy areas.
standing to sue
the requirement that plaintiffs have a serious interest in a case, which depends on whether they have sustained or are likely to sustain a direct and substantial injury from a party or an action of government
stare decisis
"Let the decision stand." Applied in most appellate court decisions.
suffrage
The legal right to vote.
superdelegates
National party leaders who automatically get delegate slots at the national party convention.
supply-side economics
An economic theory, advocated by President Reagan, holding that too much income goes to taxes and too little money is available for purchasing. The solution is to cut taxes and return purchasing power to consumers.
supremacy clause
National legislation is supreme over State laws when constitutional.
Supreme Court
The pinnacle of the American judicial system. The court ensures uniformity in interpreting national laws, resolves conflicts among states, and maintains national supremacy in law. It has both original jurisdiction and appellate jurisdiction, but unlike other federal courts, it controls its own agenda.
symbolic speech
nonverbal communication, such as burning a flag or wearing an armband. The Supreme Court has accorded some of it protection under the first amendment.
Taft-Hartley Act
a 1947 law giving the president power to halt major strikes by seeking a court injunction and permitting states to forbid requirements in labor contracts that force workers to join a union.
tariff
a tax on imported goods
tax expenditures
Revenue losses that result from special exemptions, exclusions, or deductions on federal tax law.
Texas v. Johnson
1989 SuCo: Flag burning is symbolic speech, protected by the 1st Amendment.
ticket splitting
Voting for different parties in different elections.
traditional democratic theory
These principles include equality in voting, effective participation, enlightened understanding, citizen control of agenda, & inclusion.
trial courts
Courts that hear civil and criminal cases and consider the facts only.
uncontrollable expenditures
Expenditures that are determined not by a fixed amount of money appropriated by Congress but by how many eligible beneficiaries there are for a program or by previous obligations of the government.
unemployment rate
the percentage of the work force that is unemployed at any given date
unfunded mandates
actions imposed by the federal or state government on lower levels of government which are not accompanied by the money needed to fund the action required.
unitary government
system of government in which all authority is placed in a central government.
United States v. Nixon
1974 SuCo: Executive privilege does not give one the authority to hide documents.
unreasonable searches and seizures
obtaining evidence in a haphazard or random manner, a practice prohibited by the fourth amendment. Probable cause and/or a search warrant are required for a legal and proper search for a legal and proper search for and seizure of incriminating evidence.
veto
the power or right to prohibit or reject a proposed or intended act (especially the power of a chief executive to reject a bill passed by the legislature)
Virginia Plan
Virginia delegate James Madison's plan of government, in which states got a number of representatives in Congress based on their population
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.
War Powers Resolution
Resolution that requires presidents to consult with Congress prior to using military force, and withdraw forces after 60 days if Congress does not move to keep them stationed.
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 them unconstitutional in 1944.
winner take all system
an election system in which the candidate with the most votes wins
writ of certiorari
A formal writ used to bring a case before the Supreme Court.
writ of habeas corpus
a court order requiring jailers to explain to a judge why they are holding a prisoner in custody
writ of mandamus
Court order directing an official to perform an official duty
Article 1
Article of the Constitution that defines the Legislative Branch, it's powers, members, and workings.
Article 2
Article of the Constitution that defines the Executive Branch, it's powers, duties, and means of removal.
Article 3
Article of the Constitution that sets up the Judicial Branch and defines treason.
Article 4
Article of the Constitution that regulates the states' powers, and their interaction with the National government.
Article 5
Article of the Constitution that sets up the amendment process.
Article 6
Article of the Constitution that sets the status of the Constitution as the supreme law of the land, to which leaders must be loyal.
1st Amendment
Amendment that dealt with freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. It contains the establishment clause.
2nd Amendment
Amendment that deals with the right to bear arms.
3rd Amendment
Amendment that prohibits the required quartering of troops.
4th Amendment
Amendment that protects against unreasonable search and seizure.
5th Amendment
Amendment that sets up due process of law and protects the accused.
6th Amendment
Amendment that guarantees a speedy and public trial and the right to counsel.
7th Amendment
Amendment that creates qualifications on the use of a jury.
8th Amendment
Amendment that prohibits excessive bail amounts and cruel and unusual punishment.
9th Amendment
Amendment that protects rights not listed in the Bill of Rights.
10th Amendment
Amendment that gives the rights not delegated to National government or denied to the States to the States.
11th Amendment
Amendment that sets up rules for suing a state.
13th Amendment
Amendment that abolished slavery.
14th Amendment
Amendment that deals with citizenship, state limits, due process and equal protection. Includes the incorporation doctrine.
15th Amendment
Amendment that extended suffrage to all races.
16th Amendment
Amendment that set up the income tax.
19th Amendment
Amendment that extended suffrage to women.
22nd Amendment
Amendment that created a 2 term limit on presidents.
24th Amendment
Amendment that outlawed poll taxes.
25th Amendment
Amendment that creates a chain of succession for filling in the presidential seat in case of death/incapacitation.
26th Amendment
Amendment that extended suffrage to those aged 18-21.
27th Amendment
Amendment that made Congressional pay raises ineffective until the next term.
527 group
A tax-exempt organization that can engage in election activities based on behalf of causes or interests.
advice and consent
The power of Congress to confirm or deny executive appointments and treaties.
clear and present danger test
Interpretation of the First Amendment that holds that the government cannot interfere with speech unless the speech presents a clear and present danger that it will lead to evil or illegal acts.
closed rule
A procedural rule in the House of Representatives that prohibits any amendments to bills or provides that only members of the committee reporting the bill may offer amendments.
cloture
a procedure for terminating debate, especially filibusters, in the Senate
divided government
Governance divided between the parties, as when one holds the presidency and the other controls one or both houses of Congress.
eminent domain
Allows the govt to take property for public use but also requires the govt to provide just compensation for that property
ex post facto
retroactive criminal laws that make an act a crime after it was committed or that increase the sentence of a crime after it was committed
straight-ticket voting
The ability of voters to choose all of the members of the same party with only one vote.
rider
The name of an amendment, usually not of national import, attached to a larger and more important bill to allow the amendment to pass more easily.
Hunt v. Cromartie
2001 SuCo: Gerrymandering on the basis of race is unconstitutional.
Boy Scouts of America v. Dale
2000 SuCo: Freedom of association is more important than anti-discrimination statutes.
Robinson v. California
1962 SuCo: Incorporated the cruel and unusual punishment clause.
Bethel School District v. Frazier
1986 SuCo: Schools are a limited forum, free speech is limited on school grounds.
Clinton v. The City of New York
1998 SuCo: The line-item veto is unconstitutional.
Engel v. Vitale
1962 SuCo: School prayer is unconstitutional.
Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier
1988 SuCo: Censorship of school newspapers is constitutional.
Lemon v. Kurtzman
1971 SuCo: Established the Lemon test.
Miller v. Johnson
1995 SuCo: Racial gerrymandering violates the equal protection clause.
Korematsu v. United States
1944 SuCo: Japanese internment camps were constitutional.
Swann v. Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education
1971 SuCo: Busing could be used to correct racial imbalances.
Tinker v. Des Moines School District
1969 SuCo: Armbands are a form of symbolic speech protected under the Constitution.
Wallace v. Jaffree
1985 SuCo: Schools cannot hold moments of silence with religious intentions.
double jeopardy
the prosecution of a defendant for a criminal offense for which he has already been tried
House Appropriations Committee
Committee in charge of setting the specific expenditures of money by the government of the United States.
House Budget Committee
Standing committee in charge of egislative oversight of the federal budget process, reviewing all bills and resolutions on the budget, and monitoring agencies and programs funded outside of the budgetary process.
House Rules Committee
Determines the rules for debate of each bill, including whether the bill may be amended. This is the most powerful committee in the House.
House Ways and Means Committee
The House of Representatives committee that, along with the Senate Finance Committee, writes the tax codes, subject to the approval of Congress as a whole.
Senate Appropriations Committee
Standing committee that is in charge of all discretionary spending legislation.
Senate Budget Committee
Senate committee that considers all legislation that deals with the federal budget and must approve a budget resolution that gives Congress direction regarding the amount of money that will be spent by the federal government
Senate Finance Committee
The Senate committee that, along with the House Ways and Means committee, writes the tax codes, subject to the approval of Congress as a whole.
Joint Economic Committee
Joint committee that reports the current economic condition of the United States and makes suggestions for improvement to the economy.
the amendment process
An amendment to the Constitution may be proposed if 2/3 of the members of Congress or 2/3 of state legislatures vote for it. The amendment may then be added to the Constitution by a 3/4 vote of state legislatures, or special state conventions elected for that purpose.
checks on the judicial branch
pres. nominates judges, rewrite legislation, senate confirms, congress can impeach judges
checks on the executive branch
Supreme Court can declare presidential acts unconstitutional, congress can override veto, congress can impeach, and congress must approve treaties
checks on the legislative branch
president can veto bills, Supreme court can declare legislation unconstitutional
Congressional Budget Impoundment and Control Act of 1974
Act that reformed the congressional budgetary process, making it more independent of the president's budget.
Endangered Species Act of 1973
Act that required government to protect endangered species thoroughly.
Admissions Clause
Clause stating that Congress admits new states, unless a part of an existing state is involved.
Commerce Clause
Clause stating that Congress can regulate interstate and international commerce.