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Foundational Documents & Concepts Review
Terms in this set (34)
An idea developed by John Locke that all humans are born with equal rights, which include the right to life, liberty, and property.
Declaration of Independence
Based on social contract theory, outlines key democratic ideals including popular sovereignty and natural rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Lists the colonies grievances and announces the U.S. is an independent nation.
The idea that power and authority of the government comes from the consent of the people. Found in the Declaration of Independence "consent of the governed," and the Constitution "We the people . . . " etc.
A principle of constitutional government; the theory that the power of the government and political leaders would be restricted in order to protect natural rights.
Locke and Rousseau's idea that governments exist because people voluntarily give up some power in exchange for security and the protection of natural rights. This idea is the foundation of the argument in the Declaration of Independence.
A system of government in which citizens vote for individuals to represent their interest and make decisions about policy. Synonymous with representative or indirect democracy.
Separation of powers
Division of authority among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, with the legislative branch making law, the executive applying and enforcing the law, and the judiciary interpreting the law.
Checks and balances
A system that allows each branch of government to limit the powers or block the actions of the other branches in order to prevent abuse of power.
A form of government in which power is divided between the federal, or national, government and the states
Majority rule and minority rights
The democratic principle that a government follows the preferences of the majority of voters but at the same time protects the natural rights of the minority.
A theory of democracy based in popular sovereignty that holds that citizens should actively participate as individuals, for example, through voting or contacting public officials.
The idea that democracy should incorporate the influence of various groups with shared beliefs and/or shared interests. Various groups compete, but no one group is supposed to establish long term control.
A political system in which the privileged classes acquire the power to decide and have substantial freedom between elections to rule as they see fit.
Articles of Confederation
First Constitution of the U.S. with only a unicameral national legislature and various weaknesses-no executive, no ability to raise an army, no courts to settle issues between states, no power to tax, no power to regulate trade.
Brutus No. 1
Power should remain with the states: small republics are best. Claims the necessary and proper clause will give the federal government unlimited power and the supremacy clause will cancel out state governments. Says the large size and diverse population of the new nation will make it impossible for the federal government to accurately represent the will of the people.
A republican form of government, whereby the people do NOT vote directly, but are represented by fellow citizens, can exist in either a large or small country; but is BEST in a large country, because the existence of many factions in a large country, prevents any one group from gaining power. A republican government, therefore, is a protection against the concentration of power.
Written by Madison: Claims checks and balances will ensure ambition will counteract ambition among the branches and that this will prevent the abuse of power by any one branch of government. Admits the legislature is the most powerful, but because it is bicameral will have an inter-branch check.
Hamilton's argument for a single, powerful executive/ president instead of a committee. Claims a single executive will be more efficient and accountable.
Hamilton's argument for a strong federal judiciary with judicial review and life terms for justices. Claims the judicial branch is the least dangerous because it can't enforce its decisions and has neither the power of the purse or power of the sword.
Necessary and proper clause, Article I
Creates the the implied powers of Congress. Also called the "elastic clause." States that Congress, in addition to its enumerated powers, has the right to make all laws necessary and proper to carrying out its stated duties.
Article III of the Constitution
Creates the Supreme Court (does not say how many justices it must have); grants life terms to federal judges who can only be removed by impeachment. Gives Congress the power to create and structure additional federal courts.
Article IV of the Constitution
Governs relations among the states, sets up the process to admit new states.
Full Faith and Credit Clause, Article IV
Part of Article IV: States must respect the official actions and records of other states, for example, recognize each other's marriages and divorces.
Privileges and Immunities Clause, Article IV
States cannot discriminate against the citizens of other states.
Article V: Amendment Procedure
Proposing an amendment requires two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress or a two-thirds vote in a national convention called by the states. Ratification requires the approval of three-fourths of the state legislatures or three-fourths of state ratifying conventions. Reflects federalism because both the national government and the states are needed to change the Constitution.
Letter from a Birmingham Jail
Written by Martin Luther King Jr. Makes a case for non-violent protest against segregation as a moral imperative, distinguishes between our duties as citizens to just laws versus unjust laws.
Bill of Rights
The first 10 amendments, major source of civil liberties, originally only limited the actions of the federal govt but most amendments have been selectively incorporated by the SC to limit the actions of state govts as well.
The legal principle in the 5th and 14th amendments that requires the government to follow standardized rules and procedures and respect the rights of all persons.
The name for the legal doctrine by which the Supreme Court has interpreted most individual liberties stated in the Bill of Rights to protect citizens against state actions using the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.
Ex Post Facto Clause, Article I
Bans Congress from making conduct criminal
it has already taken place. Individual cannot be charged with crimes that did not exist in law at the time the actions were committed.
Bills of Attainder Clause, Article I
Laws passed to declare a person or group guilty of a crime and impose punishment without a trial. People may not be declared guilty of crimes by legislative acts.
Habeas Corpus Clause, Article I
This clause protects the right of a detained person to come before a judge in their own defense, and to find out what the charges are against them.
The fact that some rights are listed in the Constitution doesn't mean that those are our only rights. The people may have other rights not listed.
Amendment stating that any power not given to the federal government is reserved to the states or to the people. People who argue for states rights often try to use this amendment in their arguments.
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