An independent organization set up to influence the outcome of an election; can receive unlimited "soft money" donations but cannot directly advocate for a particular candidate or have any connection to a candidate. Rendered obsolete by Citizens United.
Government or business policies favoring a historically disadvantaged minority group (university admissions, hiring decisions); raises 14th Amendment equal protection problems (reverse discrimination); limited by Bakke v. University of California (race can be "plus factor" in admissions but no racial quota system)
Agents of Socialization
Family (most important); TV/media (growing in importance); friends/peers; school (formal socialization). How we develop (absorb) opinions & beliefs.
American Party System
2 main parties (because of electoral rules) with other smaller and less powerful third parties (spoiler, splinter, extremist)
American Political Culture
A set of basic, foundational values and beliefs about government that is shared by most citizens. Key elements: democracy, equality before the law, limited government, capitalism & private property
Americans With Disabilities Act (1990)
Major anti-discrimination law for disabled; requires access (ramps, braille, etc.); unfunded mandate
Amicus Curiae Brief
Literally, a "friend of the court" brief, filed by an individual or interest group to present arguments / points of view in addition to those presented by the immediate parties to a case (lobbying). Solicitor General files Amicus Briefs for U.S. government.
Belief in the abolition of all government (maybe through violent means)
A group who opposed the ratification of the Constitution in 1787. They opposed a strong central government (tyranny) and supported states' rights. "I smell a rat!"
The losing party in a court case who appeals the case to an appellate court.
The jurisdiction of courts to hear appeals from lower trial or appellate courts. Appellate courts determine whether cases were decided correctly by the court below. Circuit courts have mandatory AJ (they have to hear appeals from District Courts). Supreme Court has discretionary AK (they can choose to hear appeals from Circuit Courts and State Supreme Courts).
The party opposing an appeal from a lower court to an appellate court.
Decide how to spend money allocated to each spending category by Budget Resolution; 12 subcommittees for major areas of budget (ex. defense, energy, agriculture); major source of earmarking
Articles of Confederation
Set up the 1st independent American government (1783-88). Nonbinding "league of friendship" among sovereign states with weak central government to help with common defense & cooperation (like the European Union). Replaced by our current constitution in 1788.
Head of the Justice Department and the chief law enforcement officer of the United States
"Copy-cat" behavior. People often do things just because other people do them. In primary elections, it is when people support the candidate everyone else seems to be supporting (poll leaders). Leads to Primary Frontloading (states want to have the most impact in the primary process)
Bill of Attainder
Laws that punish individuals or groups without a trial. These laws are always unconstitutional.
Bill of Rights
First ten amendments to the Constitution; major source of civil liberties; applies to states via selective incorporation doctrine; promised to Anti-Federalists to secure ratification of Constitution
Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act
Banned soft money donations to political parties (loophole from FECA); also imposed restrictions on 527 independent expenditures (issue ads only, not direct advocacy for a candidate). Declared unconstitutional by Citizens United case. Also known as McCain-Feingold Act.
Anyone can vote in any party primaries (like open primary) but voters not limited to one party (can vote for example in Democratic presidential primary and Republican senate primary). Least amount of party control over process.Declared unconstitutional (violates party's freedom to associate)
Grants ($) given to the states by the federal government for a general purpose (like education or road-building). Unlike categorical grants, states have discretion to decide how to spend the money. Example = Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) (States develop and implement welfare programs using federal money).
House & Senate standing committees that begins budget process in Congress by setting overall budget size and amounts that will be spent on different topics (ex. defense, education)
The Presidency is one- a good position from which to inspire Congress & the nation, with the help of the media, to follow his political agenda. Example = FDR's fireside chats, Obama's televised State of the Union Address...
The fifteen largest and most influential agencies of the federal bureaucracy (e.g., Department of State, Treasury, Justice...) Headed by Secretary or Attorney General (Department of Justice)
Assistance given to individual constituents by congressional members, like helping an elderly person figure out how to get Medicare benefits. Major incumbency advantage.
A grant ($) given to the states by the federal government for a specific purpose or program. The federal government tells the states exactly how to spend the money (no state discretion unlike block grants). Example = Medicaid. Most common type of federal grant because it gives Congress the most control over the states.
Chaplinsky v U.S.
1942 case establishing "fighting words" category of unprotected speech.
Checks and Balances
A major principle of the American system of government. Helps maintain separation of powers so that no one branch gets too powerful. Explained in Federalist 51. Examples: President vetos laws; Senate confirms appointments & treaties; Congress impeaches president & judges...
Chief Justice Earl Warren
Chief Justice from 1953-1969; led activist liberal court; known for cases expanding rights of criminal defendants (Mapp v Ohio, Gideon v Wainwright, Miranda v Arizona)
Chief Justice John Marshall
In office from 1801-1835 (longest serving CJ). Supported increased power of federal government. Decided McCulloch v. Maryland, Gibbons v. Ogden, and Marbury v. Madison.
Chief Justice John Robers
Current Chief Justice (appointed by Bush in 2005); moved court in conservative direction; known for pro-corporation cases (Citizens United)
Circuit Courts (Courts of Appeal)
Intermediate federal appellate courts. Cover 13 "circuits" across America. Hear appeals from District Courts in their jurisdiction.
Intentional breaking of a law to protest against the law. Thoreau vs. Mexican-American War, Rosa Parks & MLK vs. Jim Crow segregation.
Laws dealing with private rights of individuals (defamation, breach of contract, negligence). Violation results in damages or injunction.
Civil Rights Act of 1964
Prohibits discrimination based on race or gender in employment or public accommodations (restaurants, hotels). Created EEOC to enforce. Based on Congress's interstate commerce clause power (discrimination impacts interstate commerce). The most important federal civil rights law.
Government bureaucracy; non-elected agents ("worker bees") that work for executive agencies to execute the law; hierarchical organization, job specialization, detailed rules & procedures, administrative discretion. Massive growth since New Deal & WWII (2.5m people = nation's largest employer)
Class Action Lawsuit
Allows an entire class of people who have been hurt in a similar manner by the same person or corporation to join together in one legal suit. (Example: AT&T overcharging 10 million customers 1 cent a month for a year).
Clear & Present Danger Test
Used in Schenck v. US (1919) to determine whether speech is unprotected "incitement" to illegal activity. Replaced by stricter "imminent lawless action" test in Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969)
Only registered party members can vote in the party primaries. Maximum party control over process, used in most state primaries.
Rule in the House of Representatives that prohibits any amendments to bills or says that only members of the committee reporting the bill may offer amendments
A procedure used in the senate to limit debate on a bill (end a filibuster); requires 60 votes.
Constitutional power of the president - "supreme commander" of the nation's armed forces. Important to keep military under civilian control, leads to conflict with Congress over war power (War Powers Act)
Art. 1, Sec. 8 of the Constitution (enumerated power). Congress has the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, among the several states ["Interstate Commerce Clause"], and with the Indians. Interpreted by the Supreme Court very broadly (Gibbons v. Ogden) until Lopez & Morrison.
Leader of a congressional committee. Usually the longest serving member of the majority party on that committee (seniority rule). A very powerful position - Controls the committee calendar, agenda, and hearings. Can pigeonhole (table) a bill by refusing to schedule debate on it.
Powers that are given to both federal and state governments. Ex., the power to tax and create courts. Exclusive powers are given only to one level of government (ex., the power to declare war)
Nonbinding union of sovereign states (example = European Union, America under Articles of Confederation).
A joint committee appointed to resolve differences in the senate and house versions of the same bill
Congress' Enumerated Powers
Power to tax, borrow & coin money, regulate foreign & interstate commerce, establish army, declare war, make all laws necessary & proper for carrying out the enumerated powers (elastic clause)
Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
Non-partisan legislative support agency (economists) to analyze President's Budget Proposal & how much programs and budget items will cost. Goal is to aid the Congressional budget process.
Association of members created to support a political ideology or regional economic interest (black caucus, women's caucus, blue dog democrats...)
Congressional Committee System
Evolved as a way for Congress to handle large and complex work-load; divides up law-making into major subject areas; major responsibility for debating & marking up bills + oversight of execution of laws (the bureaucracy)
Rich highly educated white male protestant lawyers & businessmen! Women VERY underrepresented! (<17%)
Congressional District System (Electoral College)
Minority state system for allocating electoral college votes (used in ME & NE). The winner of each congressional district is awarded that district's electoral vote, and the winner of the state-wide vote is awarded the state's remaining two electoral votes. More accurately reflects voter will, but reduces states' influence in electoral process.
The power of Congress to oversee how laws are carried out ("watchdog function" to prevent fraud & waste). Carried out through committee hearings & investigations, approprations process (how much are we spending on that program again?), GAO..
Solves big state-little state debate over representation in federal legislature at Philly Convention. Created bicameral legislature with equal representation for states in Senate and proportional representation in House (seats based on population).
Services a congressperson provides for his/her constituents (ex., helping with government claims like social security & veterans benefits)
A nation's basic law, creates political institutions, assigns or divides power in government and often provides certain guarantees to citizens. Can be written or unwritten.
System of federalism where federal & state governments help each other perform governmental duties. Also known as marble-cake federalism. E.g., After hurricanes federal and state agencies work together to provide relief. Can cause confusion and/or conflict among among different levels of government. Best explanation of how federalism works today (instead of dual federalism)
Council of Economic Advisors
Three economic experts to help president understand and develop economic policy; must be confirmed by senate
Laws dealing with offenses against society (murder, rape, arson). Prosecuted by the government, violation results in fines or prison sentences
Election in which existing patterns of party loyalty shift. Ex. Northern Democrats switch parties in 1860 to vote for Republican Party (Lincoln).
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