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American Government and Citizenship
Terms in this set (65)
Rule of law
Means that regardless of what the majority, rulers, the wealthy, or the mob wants, the law (& Constitution) will be followed above all. The law is top dog, not the people or rulers.
Democratic type of government that has powers that are limited by a constitution & the rule of law. This is done to prevent majoritarianism and protect political minorities. Most modern nations (like the U.S.) are Constitutional Republics.
Article I & Legislative Function
Part of Constitution that establishes the responsibilities & powers of the legislative branch (Congress). Their main function is to make laws & appropriate funds.
Article I, Section 8
Establishes the Enumerated powers.
Article II & Executive Function
Lists the powers of the President and Bureaucracy (Executive Branch). The main function of the executive branch is to oversee foreign policy, military & Implement & Enforce laws passed by Congress.
Take Care Clause
Article II stipulates that the President is tasked to "take care that laws be faithfully executed." This generally implies that the executive branch is responsible for the implementation & enforcement of Congressionally made laws.
Article III and Judicial Function
Establishes the powers of the Judicial Branch which are limited to interpreting laws passed by Congress and determining whether or not they are consistent with the Constitution (Called Judicial Review).
Reviewing of laws or Government actions by an appellate court to see if they are consistent with the Constitution. If found to be inconsistent, the law or action is nullified.
Constitutional Ammendment Process
2/3 vote of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate followed by ratification votes in 3/4 of the state legislatures.
A system of government where authority is split between the national & state governments.
The powers granted specifically to the state governments. They are also called the Police Powers and they implied through the 10th Amendment.
The powers granted specifically to the national government & Congress. They are listed in Article I, Section 8.
Powers shared between the national and state government.
McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
case with the bank in Maryland. Maryland taxed the federal government 100%. Supremacy clause was established
Constitutional stipulation that prohibits states from nullifying or ignoring federal laws. The precedent for the Supremacy Clause was established in McCulloch v. Maryland (1819).
Necessary and Proper Clause
Allows Congress some flexibility to conduct actions beyond what's specifically stipulated in Article I, Sec. 8.
14th Amendment requirement that all levels of government (national, state & local) honor & follow the principles in Constitution & Bill of Rights.
Privileges and Immunities Clause
Prohibits states from treating people from other states differently than they treat their own citizens (like charging higher taxes or punishing them more harshly for crimes). It's found in Article IV.
Interstate Commerce Clause
Permits Congress to regulate commercial & business activity that crosses from one state to another. In the modern context, it permits the government to regulate almost all commercial activity regardless of whether or not it actually crosses state lines.
Heart of Atlanta Motel v. U.S.
By 1964, the Supreme Court ruled in this case that Congress could negate state laws that mandated racial segregation in places of public accommodation (Hotels, Restaurants, Gas Stations, etc.). The reasoning of the court was that while these privately owned businesses did not technically cross state lines and they had been traditionally only been subject to state regulation, they were sufficiently involved in the flow of commerce as people traveled from state to state to qualify as interstate commerce.
Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)
Supreme Court struck down a Connecticut state law that banned the use of birth control by citing a newly created "Right to Privacy", even though the word "privacy" is absent from the Constitution. The ruling in this case informed the court's opinion in Roe v. Wade (1972) which nullified the anti-abortion laws of 46 states.
Roe v. Wade (1972)
"Right to Privacy" nullified the anti-abortion laws of 46 states.
Texas v. Johnson (1989)
Johnson was a member of a militant Communist group. While protesting in Dallas, he burned an American flag, which was against Texas State law at the time. Case was eventually brought to the supreme court. In a 5-4 decision, it was determined that texas' flag burning law was unconstitutional because it hindered freedom of speech.
Non-Verbal expression that is protected by the 1st Amendment. An example of this would be Texas v. Johnson (1989) where the court ruled that the burning of an American Flag was speech that was protected as Symbolic Speech.
Schenck v. U.S. (1918)
Like Johnson, Schenck was a Communist revolutionary who was protesting and passing out literature during World War I. The gist of his grievance was that he felt that the American government should stop interfering in the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, accept communism, and men should resist the military draft. The Federal Espionage Act of 1917 provided for the criminal prosecution of anyone who obstructed or sought to hinder the war effort during a Congressionally declared war. Schenck was arrested and convicted of breaking the statute and he appealed through federal courts all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Writing for the unanimous court, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes provided a framework for limiting one's right to free speech. Reasoning that the right to free speech must have some limitations, he sided with the government and upheld Shenck's conviction. His opinion stated that since Schenk's speech could constitute a Clear & Present Danger to the nation if he had been successful in persuading others to resist the draft or embark in a Communist Revolution, his conviction was appropriate.
Clear and Present Danger
: A threshold for applying common sense to civil liberties. Generally, if a civil liberty can be deemed to cause direct harm to others (like yelling "BOMB" on an airliner if there isn't one), it can be banned. This test was first articulated in the case of Schenck v. United States (1918) , which was where the court permitted the government to ban communists from persuading people to resist the draft during World War I.
Defamation (Slander & Libel)
Unsubstantiated speech that harms someone's reputation or economic livelihood. If the defamation is spoken it's called Slander and if it is written or publically printed it is called Libel.
Doctrine that states that speech cannot be banned because it might result in a violent response by others. An example of this would be the case of National Socialists of America v. Skokie (1977) where the court ruled that a group of Nazi's could not be banned from marching in a Jewish neighborhood.
National Socialists vs. Skokie
(1977) where the court ruled that a group of Nazi's could not be banned from marching in a Jewish neighborhood via Heckler's Veto.
Free Exercise Clause
1st Amendment concept that stipulates that people are free to worship however they please without government interference.
1st Amendment concept that states that government cannot establish a national religion or endorse one faith as more valid than another.
McDonald vs City of Chicago
Chicago banned handguns and rifles. The ban was overturned by the Supreme Court. Their reasoning was that it denied the citizens their 2nd amendment right to bear arms.
Government seeking to limit something before it occurs (like stopping a newspaper story before publication). This was ruled to be unconstitutional in the Supreme Court case of New York Times v. United States (1971)
New York Times v. United States (1971)
This is where the government sought to ban the publication of embarrassing government documents related to the Vietnam War. This was known as Prior Restraint and was deemed unconstitutional.
If evidence is collected in a fashion that is inconsistent with the Constitution (like w/o a search warrant), a defendant can request that the evidence be excluded from the trial.
tangible evidence of illegal activity outside the home that warrants a legal search
Outside the home, the police may search a person's vehicle or effects if they observe tangible evidence within plain view (This is called Reasonable Suspicion ).
The legal requirement that government must provide the same level of protections and sequence to everyone if it wishes to deprive someone of their freedom (detainment) or property (seizure). Found in the 5th Amendment.
A semi-permanent citizen jury that determines whether or not the accused should have to stand for trial. If the Grand Jury decides that reasonable suspicion exists, they will pass an Indictment, which is a legal document that authorizes the prosecution of an accused defendant.
Government may seize private property if; (1) the government provides just compensation, and (2) the seizure is for a public purpose.
One cannot be tried more than once for a crime if they have already been duly acquitted or convicted of that act.
Gideon vs. Wainwright (1964)
Gideon v. Wainwright (1963): Supreme Court ruled that the 6th Amendment's Right to Counsel.
Right to Counsel
Those accused of felonies have to be provided an attorney by the state if they could not afford to hire.
Latin term meaning "Produce the body." It essentially means that those accused of crimes must be made aware of the charges against them & they have the right to question the validity of their detainment. Found in the 6th Amendment.
Hearing where the indictment is read to the defendant, the defendant enters their plea and a trial date is set.
A legal maneuver where a defendant can admit guilt in exchange for leniency. The state has an interest in plea bargains because it lightens the case load and a defendant may seek one in order to get a lighter sentence.
Part of the criminal procedure process where both the prosecution and the defense have to reveal all of the evidence that they intend to use in a criminal trial.
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
The high standard required for a jury to find a defendant guilty in a criminal trial. It basically means that a unanimous jury must be at least 85% sure that the defendant is guilty, otherwise the jury must vote for acquittal. If the jury decision is not unanimous for guilty, it results in a mistrial called a Hung Jury and the defendant can be re-tried (Double Jeopardy does not apply if there is a Hung Jury).
if all the jurors do not agree, it results in a mistrial
Miranda vs. Arizona
Supreme Court ruled that before the accused can be questioned during detainment, they must first be made aware of their protection from self-incrimination and their right to an attorney. Also, police must cease questioning once the accused requests access to legal counsel or invokes their right to remain silent.
The requirement by an Appellate Court that there must be an error in due process or the law that a defendant was convicted of breaking was unconstitutional. In the absence of these criteria, an appeals court is unlikely to overturn a jury's conviction.
Civil Law courts that deal with the distribution of wills & estates (property) after someone dies but before it passes to heirs.
Preponderance of Evidence
Standard required to find Culpability (Blameworthiness) in a Civil Lawsuit (Legal Dispute between private citizens). Basically, it entails at least ¾ of the jury being at least more sure than not (51%) that the defendant is Culpable.
Blameworthiness in a civil lawsuit
Civil Law vs Criminal Law
Criminal Law is where the state seeks to prosecute someone for violating a prohibited act, whereas Civil Law deals with the government settling disputes between private individuals.
Tort Lawsuit and Negligence
A civil lawsuit that deals with an act of Negligence (unintentional act that harms another) or an intentional act that harms another.
Compensation for lost wages, medical costs, etc.
Compensation for pain & suffering
Compensation to punish negligent party
Government mandated racial segregation of government services & buildings as well as private businesses. Was prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 & affirmed by the rulings in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) which prohibited government segregation, & Heart of Atlanta Motel v. U.S. (1964) which prohibited racial discrimination by private business).
Dred Scott vs. Sandford
Supreme Court ruled that slaves were not people, but property, and therefore had no standing to sue for freedom. Also ruled that the patchwork arrangement of free & slave state was unconstitutional. Major contributing factor to starting the Civil War.
Plessey vs. Ferguson
Following the civil war, states passed laws requiring segregated facilities for almost all aspects of life. Supreme court upheld the segregation by issuing the doctrine of "Separate but Equal."
Initiative by an organization to give preference to underrepresented minorities (race, ethnicity, sex). According to the Supreme Court in the case of Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978) government entities may give preference to racial & ethnic minorities as long as they don't use rigid quotas.
Brown vs. Board of Education
The ruling in Brown v. Board of Education not only desegregated public schools, but it also invalidated segregation at all levels of government.
Regents University of California vs. Bakke
According to the Supreme Court in the case of Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978) government entities may give preference to racial & ethnic minorities as long as they don't use rigid quotas.
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