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Accelerated Placement Vocabulary for Government clas


a government ruled by a ruling class


favoring, denoting, or relating to government by a small elite with wide powers

Capitalism/Free Market Economy

means of production and distribution are privately owned and development is proportionate to the profits gained.


a government deriving its power/authority from the states


government by the people or their elected officials


A form of government in which the ruler is an absolute dictator (not restricted by a constitution or laws or opposition etc.)

Direct Democracy

people decide on all issues instead of having representatives

Elite Class Theory

theory that our society is divided by class lines and upper classes have special privileges


form of government with unified states that have central authority, but can make some individual decisions


(government) the system or form by which a community or other political unit is governed

Gridlock (policy)

lack of movement or progress resulting in stagnation

Gross Domestic Product

total value of everything made in a certain Country


groups become so strong the government losses power; gov. cant make policies


people can get ahead on their own

Linkage Institutions

transmit America's preferences to policy makers in the government

Majority Rule

the will of the majority of the people should be used

Minority Rights

rights that the majority can't infringe on


an absolute ruler


a small group of people have rule over a society

Parliamentary Democracy

Form of government in which people vote for the legislative body, which in turn selects the prime minister.

Party Platform

list of actions that a political party plans to acomplish


theory of government and politics emphasizing that politics is mainly a completion among groups, each one going for their own goals

Policy Agenda

issue attracting serious attention of public officials and other policy makers

Policy making Institution

branches of governments taking action on political issues

Policy making System

Processes that policies come into being and evolve over time. People's interests, and worries create political issues

Political Culture

overall set of values widely shared within a society

Political Issue

issue that comes about when people disagree on a problem and how to fix it

Political Participation

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


Process by which we select our governmental leaders and what policies they pursue

Presidential Democracy

A form of government in which the executive branch is elected separately from the legislative branch, and both branches are separate, independent, and co-equal.

Public Goods

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

Public Policy

choice governments make in response to issues


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

Representative democracy

democracy founded on the principle of elected officials representing a group of people

Single-Issue Groups

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


state governed by single unit; central government is supreme and any sub-units derive power from central government

Advice and Consent

it occurs when the legislative branch approves something and then it is enacted by the executive branch


opponents of the American constitution at a time when the states were contemplating its adoption

Articles of Confederation

1st constition of the US; adopted by congress in 1777 and enacted in 1781; established a national legislature, the continental congress, but most authority rested in state legislatures

Bicameral Legislature

use of both the Virginia and New Jersey Plan (Conn. compromise) in which we have representation from a senate (2 reps. per state) and House(reps. based on pop)

Bills of Attainder

Act of Legistature saying a person or group of people are (is) guilty of crime(s) and punishing them without trial

Bill of Rights

1st ten amendments in the US Constitution; drafted in response to some Anti-Federalists concerns; they define basic liberties

Checks and Balances

Features of the Constitution that limit governments power by requiring that power be balanced among different governmental institutions, these institutions continually constrain each others activities

Connecticut Compromise

compromise reached at the Constitutional Convention that established 2 houses in Congress: House of Representatives and the Senate

Consent of the Governed

idea that government derives its authority by sanction of the people


Nation's Basic laws; it creates political institutions, assigns or devides power in gov., and often provides certain guarantees to citizens; can be written or unwritten

Declaration of Independence

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

Elastic Clause

Congress shall have power to make all laws which shall be necessary and popper for caring into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this constitution...

Electoral College

A unique American institution created by the constitution that provides for the selection of the president by electors chosen by the state parties; votes usually represent a popular majority, the winner take all rule usually used in big states

Enumerated Powers

Powers of the federal gov. that are specifically addressed in the constitution; for congress these powers are in article 1 section 8

Ex-Post Facto Laws

a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences (or status)of actions that were committed or relationships that existed before the enactment of a law


Intrest groups arising from the unequqal


Supporters of the US Constitution at the time the states were contemplating its adoption

Federalist Papers

Newspapers filled with letters and Articles praising or condemning the constitution. Three men prising it were Alexander Hamilton, James Madison & John Hay. It is one of the few ways we see the thought going into the constitution

Implied Power

Powers of the federal gov. that go beyond those enumerations in the Constitution. The Constitution states that Congress has the power to "make all laws necessary and proper for caring into execution"

Interstate Commerce

enumerated power listed in the US Constitution (1:8:3) .The clause states that the US Congress shall have power to "regulate commerce with foreign Nations, & among several states, & with the Indian Tribes

Judicial Review

power of the courts to determine weather acts of congress, & by implications the executive, are in accord with the US Constitution

Limited Government

Idea that certain things are out of bounds for gov. because of natural rights of citizens

Madisonian Model

fundamenal philosophy of Presidential conduct that adheres primarily to the denoted powers of the executive branch in the US Constitution

Natural Rights

Rights inherent in human beings, not dependent on gov. (life, liberty, & property), Concept was central to John Locke

Necessary and Proper Clause

Congress shall have power - to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the forgoing powers, and all other power voted by this Constitution.

New Jersey Plan

proposal at Constitutional Convention that called for equal representation of each state in Congress

Popular Sovereignty

principle that the authority of the government is created and sustained by the consent of its people (rule by the people) who are the source of all political power


a principle's approval of an act of its agent where the agent lacked authority to legally bind the principle


form of government in which the people select reps. to govern the people and make laws

Separation of powers

feature of the Constitution that requires each of the threee branches of gov. to be relatively independent of the others so that on cannot control the others, Power shared equally

Shay's Rebellion

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

Social Contract Theory

theory that addresses the questions of the origins of society and the legitimacy of the authority of the state over the individual

Supremacy clause

establishes the US Constitution, federal statuses, and US treaties as the supreme law of the land

3/5ths compromise

compromise between sothern and northern states reached during the Philadelphia Convention of 1787 in which 3/5 of enumerated pop. of slaves would be counted for rep. purposes regarding both distribution of taxes and a proportionate rep of the house

Unicameral Legislature

practice of having one legislative or parliamentary chamber

US Constitution

document written in 1787 and Ratified in 1788 that sets fourth the institutional structure of the US gov. and tasks these institutions; replaces the Articles of confederation

Virginia Plan

Proposal at the constitutional convention that called for representation of the each state in congress in proportion to the population

Writ of Habeas Corpus

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 states or communities to support broad programs in areas such as community development

Categorical grants

Federal Grants that can be used only for specific purposes of state and local spending; strings are attached

Commerce Clause

Clause from Constitution giving congress power to regulate interstate and intrastate commerce

Concurrent Powers

Powers in federal system of gov. shared by state and federal gov.

Cooperative federalism

Powers and Policies assignment are shared between state and national government

Devolution/ New Federalism

transferring responsibility for policy from the federal gov. to state and local gov.

Dual Federalism

Both the States and National gov. remain supreme within in their own policy spheres, each responsible for some policies

Expressed or Enumerated or Delegated Powers

Powers explicitly given to Congress through the Constitution


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


way of organizing a nation so that state levels of gov. have formal authority over the same land and people; it is a system of shared power between units of government

Fiscal Federalism

pattern of spending, taxing, and providing grants in the Federal system; cornerstone of the national gov.'s relations with state and local gov.

Fiscal Policy

Describes the impact of the federal budget - taxes, spending, and borrowing, on the economy; almost always determined by Congress and the President

Formula Grants

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

Full Faith and Credit Clause

(4:1) requires each state to recognize the official documents and civil judgement rendered by the courts of another state

Funded Mandates

A higher level of Government tells a lower branch to make a law and it is paid for by the higher level

Horizontal Federalism


Implied Powers

Powers given to congress not explicitly stated in the constitution

Intergovernmental Relations

workings of the Federal system - the entire set of interactions among national, state and local government

Intrastate Commerce

Commerce conducted within a state


a law


person who advocates Political independence

Necessary and Proper Clause/Elastic Clause

(1:8) authorizes Congress to pass all laws "necessary and proper" to carry our enumerated powers

privileges and immunities

(4:2)Accords citizens of each state most of the privileges of other states

Project Grants

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

Reserved Powers

powers given to states in dual federalism

States rightists

people who support more power to the states

10th Amendment

"powers not delegated to the US by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states are reserved to the states respectfully or to the people"

Unfunded Mandate

A higher level of Government tells a lower branch to make a law and it is NOT paid for by the higher level

Vertical Federalism

Relationship in Federal Gov. where central gov. is at the top, then state, and local

Civil Liberties

legal constitutional protections against gov.; our civil liberties are set down in the bill of rights, the courts, poliece, and legislature defining their meanings

14th Amendment

Constitutional Amendment adopted after or civil war that states "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or communities of citizens of the US; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without the due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws"

Incorporation Doctrine

legal concept under which the Supreme Court has nationalized the Bill of Rights by making most of its provisions applicable to the stats through the 14th Amendment

Establishment Clause

part of the 1st Amendment stating that "Congress shall make no law respection an establishment of Religion."

Free exercise clause

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

Prior Restraint

preventing material from being published; common method of limiting the press in some nations, usually unconstitutional in the US; acording to the 1st Amendment as confirmed in the SCOTUS case Near v. Minnesota


Publication of false malicious statements that dammage somebody's reputation


to make false and or damaging statement

Symbolic Speach

Non-Verbal communication such as burning a flag or wearing an armband; SCOTUS has accorded some symbolic speach protection under the 1st Amendment

Commercial Speach

Communication in the form of advertising; can be restricted more than many other types of speech, but has been recieving increased protection from SCOTUS

Due Process

part of the 14th Amendment guaranteeing that persons cannot be deprived of life, liberty, or property by the US or state gov. without the due process of law

Probable Cause

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

Reasonable suspision

legal standard of proof in US law that is less than probable cause; the legal stand for arrests and warrants, it is mostly based on "specific and articulatable facts"

Unreasonable Search and Seizure

Obtaining evidence in a haphazard or random manner, a practice prohibited by the 4th Amendment

Search Warrent

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

Good Faith Exception

providing an exemption to the exclusionary rule

Exclusionary Rule

rule that evidence, no matter how incriminating, cannot be introduced into trail if it was not constitutionally obtained; prohibits use of evidence obtained through Unreasonable search and seizure

Plain View Rule

rule that a laws enforcement officer may take a search and seizure without a search warrant if evidence of criminal activity or the product of a crime can be seen without entry or a search

5th Amendment

Constitutional amendment designed to protect the rights of persons accused of crimes, including protection, double jeopardy, self incrimination, & punishment without due process of law

Self Incrimination

when an individual accused of a crime is compelled to be a whitness against themselves in Court. 5th Amendment forbids this

6th Amendment

Constitutional Amendment designed to protect individuals accused of crimes. It includes the right to council, the right to confront a witness, and the right to a speedy and public trial

Plea Bargaining

Bargain struck between the defendant's lawyer and the prosecutor to the effect that the defendant will plead guilty to a lesser crime in exchange for the states promise not to prosecute the defendant for a more serious crime, or additional, crime

8th Amendment

Constitutional Amendment that forbids cruel and unusual punishment although it does not define this phrase; the 14th amendment applies this to the states

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Court sentences prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. Although the Supreme Court has ruled that mandatory death sentences for certain offenses are unconstitutional, it has not held that the death penalty itself constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

Right to Privacy

Right to a private personal life free from the intrusion of gov.

Affirmative Action

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

American Association of Retired People (AARP)

United States based non-gov. organization and interest group for people age 50 and over

Americans with Disabilities Act (1990)

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

Civil Rights

Policies designed to protect people against arbitrary or discriminative treatment by gov. officials or individuals

Civil Rights Act (1964)

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

Comparable Worth

issue raised when women are paid less than men for working at jobs requiring comparable skill

De Facto Segregation

segregation that happens in fact although not required by law

De Jure Segregation

segregation that is imposed by law

Equal Pay Act (1963)

US federal law amending the Fair Labor Standards Act, aimed at abolishing wage disparity based on sex

Equal Protection of the Laws

Part of the 14th Amendment emphasizing that laws must provide equivalent "protection" to all people; it should provide "equal protection of Life, Liberty, & Property" to all states citizens

Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)

constitutional amendment originally introduced in 1923, passed in 1972; "equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the US or any other state on account of sex"; failed to acquire necessary support from 3/4 state legislatures

15th Amendment

Constitutional Amendment adopted in 1870 to extend suffrage to Blacks

Gender Gap

temp that refers to the regular pattern by which women are more likely to support Democratic candidates (support spending on social services and oppose more military spending)

Glass Ceiling

term used to describe "the unseen, yet unbroken/unbreakable barrier that keeps minorities and women from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements."

Grandfather Clause

one method used by Southern States to deny Blacks from voting; it exempted whites from taking tests if there grandfathers could vote

Jim Crow Laws

State and Local laws in the US that mandated de jure segrigation in all Southern States Public facilities

Literacy Tests

gov. practice of testing the literacy of voters and discriminate against Blacks

National Association for the advancement of Colored People (NAACP

Organization with the mission to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination

19th Amendment

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 the year when poor black sharecroppers had the least cash on hand; used in most Southern States

Reverse Discrimination

discrimination against members of a dominant or majority group or in favor of members of a minority or historically disadvantaged group

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