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Politics of the United States
Terms in this set (23)
A nation's basic law. It creates political institutions, assigns or divides powers in government, and often provides certain guarantees to citizens. Con- stitutions can be either written or unwritten.
Declaration of Independence
The document approved by repre- sentatives of the American colonies in 1776 that stated their grievances against the British monarch and declared their independence.
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 Founders.
consent of the governed
The idea that government derives its authority by sanction of the people.
The idea that certain restrictions should be placed on government to protect the natural rights of citizens.
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 legislatures.
A series of attacks on courthouses by a small band of farmers led by Revolutionary War Captain Daniel Shays to block foreclosure proceedings.
The document written in 1787 and ratified in 1788 that sets forth the institutional structure of U.S. govern- ment and the tasks these institutions perform. It replaced the Articles of Confederation.
Groups such as parties or interest groups, which according to James Madison arose from the unequal dis- tribution of property or wealth and had the potential to cause instability in government.
New Jersey Plan
The proposal at the Constitutional Convention that called for equal rep- resentation of each state in Congress regardless of the state's population.
The proposal at the Constitutional Convention that called for represen- tation of each state in Congress in proportion to that state's share of the U.S. population.
The compromise reached at the Constitutional Convention that estab- lished 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.
writ of habeas corpus
A court order requiring jailers to explain to a judge why they are hold- ing a prisoner in custody.
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.
checks and balances
Features of the Constitution that limit government's power by requiring each branch to obtain the consent of the others for its actions, limiting and bal- ancing power among the branches.
A form of government in which the people select representatives to govern them and make laws.
Supporters of the U.S. Constitution at the time the states were contemplat- ing its adoption.
Opponents of the U.S. Constitution at the time when the states were con- templating its adoption.
A collection of 85 articles written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison under the name "Publius" to defend the Constitution in detail.
Bill of Rights
The first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, drafted in response to some of the Anti-Federalist concerns. These amendments define such basic liberties as freedom of religion, speech, and press and guarantee defendants' rights.
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 sup- port from three-fourths of the state legislatures.
Marbury v. Madison
The 1803 case in which the Supreme Court asserted its right to determine the meaning of the U.S. Constitution. The decision established the Court's power of judicial review over acts of Congress.
The power of the courts to deter- mine whether acts of Congress and, by implication, the executive are in accord with the U.S. Constitution. Judicial review was established by Marbury v. Madison.
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