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a human right based on nature or God

Articles of Confederation

a weak constitution that governed America during the Revolutionary War

Constitutional Convention

meeting in Philadelphia in 1787 that produced a new constitution

Shay's Rebellion

a 1787 rebellion in which ex-Revolutionary Wat soldiers attempted to prevent foreclosures of farms as a result of high interest rates and taxes

Virginia Plan

proposal to create a strong national government

New Jersey Plan

proposal to create a weak national government

Great Compromise

plane to have a popularly elected House based on state population and a state-selected Senate, with two members for each state


a government in which elected representatives make the decisions

judicial review

the power of the courts to declare laws unconstitutional


government authority shared by national and state government

checks and balances

authority shared by three branches of government

enumerated powers

powers given to the national government alone

reserved powers

powers given to the state government alone

concurrent powers

powers shared by the national and state governments

separation of powers

Constitutional authority is shared by three different branches of government


a group with a distinct political interest


those who favor a stronger national government


those who favor a weaker national government


an alliance of factions

habeas corpus

an order to produce an arrested person before a judge

bill of attainder

a law that declares a person, without a trial, to be guilty of a crime

ex post facto law

a law that makes an act criminal although the act was legal when it was committed

Bill of Rights

First ten amendments to the Constitution


a new provision in the Constitution that has been ratified by the states

line-item veto

an executive's ability to block a particular provision in a bill passed by the legislature


the effort to transfer responsibility for many public programs and services from the fedeal government to the states

block grants

money from the national government that states can spend within broad guidelines determined by Washington

"necessary and proper" clause

section of the Constitution allowing Congress to pass all laws "necessary and proper" to its duties, and which has permitted Congress to exercise powers not specifically given to it (enumerated) by the Constitution


the doctrine that a state can declare null and void a federal law that, in the state's opinion, violates the Constitution

dual federalism

doctrine holding that the national government is supreme in its sphere, the states are supreme in theirs, and the two spheres should be kept separate

police power

state power to enact laws promoting health, safety, and morals


process that permits voters to put legislative measures directly on the ballot


procedure enabling voters to reject a measure passed by the legislature


procedure whereby voters can remove an elected official from office


money given by the national government to the states

conditions of aids

terms set by the national government that states must meet if they are to recieve certain federal funds


terms set by the national government that states must meet whether or not they accept federal grants

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