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institutions and processes which public policies are made for a society

Public Good

Goods, such as clean air and clean water, that everyone must share


Processes by which we select our governmental leaders and what policies these leaders pursue

Political Participation

Activities used by citizens to influence the selection of political leaders or the policies they purse. Voting is the most common but not the only means of political participation in a democracy.

Single-Issue Groups

Groups that have a narrow interest, tend to slide to dislike compromise, and often draw membership from people new to politics.

Policymaking Systems

Process by which policy comes into being and evolves over time. People's interest, problems and concerns create political issues for government policymakers. Issues shape policy which impacts people generating more interest, problems, and concerns

Linkage Institutions

Political channels through which people's concerns become political issues on the policy agenda. In US linkage institutes include media, political parties, interest groups and elections.

Political Issues

Issue that arises when people disagree about a problem and how to fix it

Policymaking Institutions

Branches of government charged with taking action on political issues. U.S Constitution established 3 policymaking institutions Congress, presidency, courts, and what people consider the 4th one the bureaucracy

Public Policy

Choice that government makes in response to a political issue.

Policy Impacts

Effects a policy has on people and problems.


System of selecting policymakers and of organizing government so policy represents and responds to public's preference.

Majority Rule

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

Minority Rule

Principle of traditional democratic theory; guarantee's rights to those who don't belong to majorities and allows that they might join majorities through persuasion and reasoned argument.


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

Pluralist Theory

Theory of government and politics emphasizing that politics is mainly a competition among groups, each one pressing for it's own preferred policies.

Elite and Class Theory

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.


Theory of government and politics contending that groups are so strong the government is weakened.

Policy Gridlock

Condition that occurs when no coalition is strong enough to form a majority and establish policy. Result ----> nothing

Political Culture

Overvall set of values widely shared within a society

Gross Domestic Product

Sum total of the value of all the goods and service in a nation.

Policy Agenda

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


Nation's basic law

Declaration of Independence

Document approved by representatives of the American colonies in 1776 that stated their grievances against the British against the British Monarch and declared their independence

Natural Rights

Rights inherent in human beings, not depended on government, which include life, liberty, and property.

Consent of the Governed

Idea that government derives its authority by sanction of the people

Limited Government

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

Articles of Confederation

First constitution of the United States , adopted by Congress in 1777 and enacted in 1781. Established a nation legislature, the Continental Congress, but most authority rest in states.

Shay's Rebellion

Series of attacks on courthouses by a small band a farmers led by Revolutionary War captain Daniel Shays to block foreclosure proccedings

U.S Constitution

Document written in 1787 and ratified in 1788 that sets foruth the institutional structure of the U.S. government and tasks these institutions perform. Replaced Articles of Confederation


Interest groups arising form the unequal distribution of proptery or wealth that James Madison attacked in Federalist Paper No. 10

New Jersey Plan

Proposal at the Constitutional Convention that called for representation of each state regardless of state's population

Virginia Plan

Proposal at the Constitutional Convention that called for representation of each state in proportion to that state's share of U.S population

Connecticut Compromise

Comprise reached at the Constitutional Convention that established two houses of Congress: House of Reps. which representation is based on state's share of population and Senate which each states had two reps.

Writ of Habeas Corpus

Court order requiring jailers to explain to a judge why they are holding a prisoner in custody

Separation of Powers

Feature of the Constitution that requires each of the three branches of government- executive, legislative and judical-to be relatively independent of the others so one can't control the others

Checks and Balances

Features of the Constitution that limit government's power by requiring that power be balanced among the different institutions.


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 adopting it


opponents of the american constitution at the time when the states were adopting it

Federalist Papers

collection of 85 articles written by Alexander Hamliton, James Madison, and John Jay under name of Publius to defend constitution

Bill of Rights

first 10 amendments to U.S Constitution

Equal Rights Amendment

constitutional amendment passed by congress in 1972 stating equality rights under law shall not be denied because of sex

Marbury v. Madison

1803 case Chief Justices first asserted the right of the Supreme Court to determine meaning of Constitution. Establish judical review

Judical Review

power of the courts to determine whether acts of congress and, by implication, are in executive accord of the U.S Constitution


a way of organizing a nation so that two or more levels of government have formal authority over the same land and people

Unitary Government

a way of organizing a nation so that all power resides in the central government

Intergovernmental Relations

the workings of the federal system; the entire set of interactions among national, state, and local government

Supremacy Clause

Article 6 of the constitution which make the constitution, national laws, and treaties supreme over state laws when the national government is acting within its constitutional limits

Tenth Amendment

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

McCulloch v. Maryland

1819 supreme court decision that established the supremacy of the national government over the state governments

Enumerated Powers

powers of the federal government that are specifically addressed in the Constitution

Implied Powers

powers of the federal government the go beyond those enumerated in the Constitution

Elastic Clause

Authorizes Congress to pass all laws "necessary and proper" to carry out enumerated powers

Gibbons v. Ogden

landmark case decided in 1824 which the Supreme Court interpreted very broadly the commerce clause

Full Faith and Credit

a clause in Article 4, section 1, of the Constitution requiring each state to recognize the official documents and civil judgement rendered by the courts of other states


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

Privileges and Immunities

clause in Article 4, section 2, of the Constitution according citizens of each state most of the privileges of citizens of other states

Dual Federalism

a system of government which both the state and the national government remain supreme within their own spheres each responsible for some policies; layer cake

Cooperative Federalism

a system of government which powers and policy assignments are shared between states and the national government; marble cake


transferring responsibility for policies from the federal government to state and local government

Fiscal Federalism

pattern of spending, taxing, and providing grants in the federal system

Categorical Grants

(project grants and formula grants) can be used for specific purposes, "or categories" of state and local spending, and have strings attached.

Project Grant

Categorical Grants given for specific purposes and awarded on basis of the merits and applications

Formula Grants

Categorical Grants distributed according to a formula specified in legislation or in administrative regulations

Block Grants

Support programs in community development and social services.

Civil Liberties

legal constitution protections against government

Bill of Rights

first 10 amendments to the US Constitution ; define such basic liberties as freedom of religion, speech, and press and guarantee defendants' rights

First Amendment

constitutional amendment that establishes the four liberties: freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly

Barron v. Baltimore

1833 Supreme Court decision holding that the Bill of Rights restrict only the national government.

Gitlow v. New York

1925 Supreme Court decision holding that freedom of speech, and press are fundamental personal rights and liberties protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from impairment by the states

Fourteenth Amendment

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.

Due Process Clause

Part of Fourteenth Amendment guaranteeing that persons can't be deprived of life, liberty, or property by US or state government without due process of law

Incorporation doctrine

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

Establishment Clause

No laws shall be made respecting the establishment of religion.

Free Exercise Clause

First Amendment provision that prohibits government for interfering with the practice of religion

Prior restraint

A government preventing material from being published.


the publication of statements known to be false that tend to damage a person's reputation

New York Times v. Sullivan

Decided in 1964 this case established the guidelines fro determining whether public officials and public figures could win damage suits for libel; individuals must prove that the defamatory statements were made with "actual malice" and reckless disregard for the truth

Texas v. Johnson

1989 case which Supreme Court struck down a law banning the burning of the American flag on the grounds that such grounds that such action was symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment

Symbolic Speech

Nonverbal communication, such as burning a flag or wearing an armband.

Commercial Speech

Communication in the form of advertising

Probable Cause

a situation occurring when the police have reason to believe that a person should be arrested

Unreasonable searches and seizures

Evidence is obtained in a haphazard or random manner, prohibited by 4th Amendment.

Search Warrant

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

Exclusionary rule

Evidence obtained unconstitutionally can not be introduced into a trial.

Fifth Amendment

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


When an individual accused of a crime is compelled to be a witness against himself or herself in court.

Miranda v. Arizona

ruled that set guidelines for police questioning of accused persons must be used to protect them against self-incrimination and to protect their right to counsel.

Sixth Amendment

constitutional amendment designed to protect the right to counsel, the right to confront witnesses, and the right to a speedy and public trial.

Plea bargaining

A bargain between the prosecution and defense for a defendant to plead guilty to a lesser crime; 90 percent of cases end here and do not go to trial

Eighth Amendment

Eighth Amendment forbids cruel and unusual punishment, but it does not define the phrase

cruel and unusual punishment

Court sentences prohibited by the Eighth Amendment

Right to Privacy

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

Civil Rights

Policies protect people against discrimination

Fourteenth Amendment

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.

equal protection of the laws

emphasizes that the law most provide equivalent "protection" to all people

Dred Scott v. Sandford

ruled that slaves had no rights

Thirteenth Amendment

abolished slavery

Plessy v. Ferguson

1896 Supreme Court decision ruled separate but equal facilities were constitutional

Brown v. Board of Education

The 1954 Supreme Court decision holding that school segregation was inherently unconstitutional because it violated the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection. This case marked the end of legal segregation in the United States.

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


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.

Fifteenth Amendment

extended suffrage to African Americans.

Poll Tax

A small tax levied on the right to vote.

White Primary

Only whites were allowed to vote in the party primaries.

24th Amendment

eliminated poll taxes for 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

Hernandez v. Texas

extended protection against discrimination to Hispanics.

Korematsu v. U.S

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

Nineteenth Amendment

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

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

Reed v. Reed

the landmark case in 1971 in which the supreme court for the first time upheld a claim of gender discrimination.

Craig v. Boren

In this 1976 ruling, the Supreme Court established the "medium scrutiny" standard for determining gender discrimination.

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.

Affirmative Action

Policy designed to give special attention to or compensatory treatment for members of some previously disadvantaged group.

Regents of the University of California v. Bakke

A 1978 Supreme Court decision holding that a state university could not admit less qualified individuals solely because of their race.

Adarand Constructors v. Pena

A 1995 Supreme Court 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.

Comparable Worth

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

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