A.P. United States Government and Politics Vocabulary

Right to use power
Bureaucratic View
View that government is dominated by appointed officials
Rule by many
Direct (participatory) democracy
Government in which all or most citizens participate directly
Person who possess a disproportionate share of some valued resource
Political authority conferred by law or by a state/national constitution
Class view
View that government is dominated by capitalists
Pluralist view
Competition among all affected interests shapes public policy
Ability of a person to get another to act in accordance with the first person's intentions
Power Elite View
Government is dominated by few top leaders, most are outside government
Representative Democracy
Government in which leaders make decisions by winning a competitive struggle for popular vote
New provision in the Constitution that has been ratified by the states
Those who favored a weaker national government
Articles of Confederation
Weak constitution that governed American during and after the Revolutionary War
Bill of attainder
Law that declares a person, without a trial, to be guilty of a crime
Bill of Rights
First 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution
Checks and Balances
Power of the legislative, executive, and judicial branch of government to block some acts by the other two branches
Alliance of factions
Concurrent powers
Powers shared by the national and state governments
Constitutional Convention
Meeting in Philadelphia in 1787 that produces a new constitution
Enumerated Powers
Powers given to national government alone
Ex post facto law
Law that makes an act criminal although the act was legal when it was committed
Group with distinct political interest
Government authority shared by national and state governments
Those who favored a stronger national government
Great (Connecticut) Compromise
Plan to have popularly elected House based on state population and a state-selected Senate with 2 members for each state
Habeas Corpus
Order to produce an arrested person before a judge
Judicial review
Power of courts to declare laws unconstitutional
Human right derived from nature/God
Line-item veto
Executive's ability to block a particular provision in a bill passed by legislature
New Jersey Plan
Proposal to create a weak national government
Government in which elected representatives make the decisions
Reserved Powers
Powers given to the state governments alone
Separation of powers
Sharing of constitutional authority among the 3 branches of government
Shay's Rebellion
A 1787 rebellion in which ex-Revolutionary War soldiers attempted to prevent foreclosures of farms as a result of high interest rates and taxes
Virgina Plan
Proposal to create a strong national government
Block Grants
Money from national government that states can spend within broad guidelines determined by Washington
Categorical Grants
Federal grant for a specific purpose
Conditions of aid
Terms set by national government that states must meet if they are to receive certain federal funds
Dual federalism
Doctrine holding that the national government and state government are supreme in their individual spheres and that these spheres should be kept separate
Express preemption
Federal law or regulation contained language explicitly displacing/superseding any contrary state/local law
Money given by national government to the states
Process that permits voters to put legislative measures directly on ballot
Terms set by national government that states must meet whether or not they're receiving federal grants
"Necessary and proper" clause
Section of the Constitution allowing Congress to pass all laws "necessary and proper" to its duties and that has permitted Congress to exercise powers not specifically given to it
Doctrine that a state can declare null and void a federal law that, in state's opinion, violates Constitution
Police Power
State power to enact laws promoting health, safety, morals
Procedure where voters can remove an elected official from office
Procedure where voters can reject a measure passed by the legislature
Decision by administrative agency granting some other part permission to violate a law that would otherwise apply to it
Civil Competence
Belief that one can affect government policies
Civic Duty
Belief that one has an obligation to participate in civic and political affairs
Civil Society
Voluntary action that makes cooperation easier
Class Consciousness
Belief that one is a member of an economic group whose interests are opposed to those of people in other such groups
Political terms: someone who believes that morality & religion ought to be of decisive importance
Political culture
Patterned and sustained way of thinking about how politics & government should be carried out
Belief that personal freedom & solving social problems are more important than religion
Exit Poll
Poll based on interviews conducted on Election Day with randomly selected voters
Gender gap
Difference in political views between men and women
Standard of right or proper conduct
Political ideology
More or less consistent set of beliefs about what policies government ought to pursue
Political socialization
Process by which background taints influence one's political views
Survey of public opinion
Public opinion
How people think or feel about particular things
Random sample
Method of selecting from a population in which each person has an equal chance of being selected
Sampling error
Difference between the results of random samples taken at the same time
Person who tends to participate in all forms of politics
Australian ballot
Government-printed ballot of uniform dimensions to be cast in secret that many states adopted around 1890 to reduce voting fraud associated with party-printed ballots cast in public
Grandfather clause
Clause in registration laws allowing a person who doesn't meet registration requirements to voter if he or his ancestor voted before 1867
Literacy test
Requirement that citizens prove they can read before registering to vote
Poll tax
Requirement that citizens pay a tax in order to register to vote
Registered voters
People who are registered to vote
Voting-age population
Citizens who are eligible to vote after reaching the minimum age requirement
White primary
Practice of keeping blacks from voting in southern states' primaries through arbitrary use of registration requirements and intimidation
Adversarial Press
Tendency of national media to be suspicious of officials & eager to reveal unflattering stories about them
Public official's statement to a reporter that's given on condition that the official not be named
Series, or log, of discussion items on a page of the World Wide Web
Equal Time rule
FCC rule that, if a broadcaster sells time to 1 candidate, it must sell equal time to another
Feature Story
Media story about event that, though public, aren't regularly covered by reporters
Horse Race Journalism
News coverage that emphasizes who's ahead vs. the issues
Insider Story
Media story about events not usually made p public
Loaded language
Words that imply a value judgment; used to persuade a view without making a serious argument
Routine story
Media story about events that are regularly covered by reporters
Selective attention
Paying attention only to those news stories with which one already agrees
Sound bite
Radio or video clip, usually brief, of someone speaking
Trial balloon
Information leaked to the media to test public reaction to a possible policy
Meeting of party members to select delegates backing 1 or another primary candidate
Congressional campaign committee
Party committee in Congress that provides funds to members & would-be members
Critical / Realignment Period
Period when a major, lasting shift occurs in popular coalitions supporting 1 or both parties
Ideological party
Party that values principled stands on issues above all else
Republican party faction of 1890s to 1910s, composed of reformers who opposed patronage;
Also known as Progressives
National Chairman
Day-to-Day party manager; elected by national committee
National Committee
Delegates who run party affairs between national conventions
National Convention
Meeting of party delegates held every four years
Office-Bloc Ballot
Ballot listing all candidates of given office under the name of that office
Also called "Massachusetts" ballot
Party-Column Ballot
Ballot listing all candidates of a given party together under the name of that party;
Also called "Indiana" ballot
Personal Following
Political support provided to candidate on basis of personal popularity and networks
Plurality System
Electoral system in which the winner is a person who gets the most votes, even if he doesn't receive a majority
Used in almost all US elections
Political Machines
Party Organization that recruits members by dispensing patronage
Political Party
Group that seeks to elect candidates to public office
Solidary Incentive
Social rewards (sense of pleasure, status, companionship) that lead people to join political organizations
Split Ticket
Voting for candidates of different parties for various offices in the same election
Sponsored Party
Local/state political party that's largely supported by another organization in the community
Straight Ticket
Voting for candidates who are all of the same party
Party leader/elected official who becomes a delegate to the national convention without having to run in primaries or causes
Two-party System
Electoral system with two dominant parties that compete in national elections
527 Organization
Organization under Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code that raises and spends money to advance political causes
Blanket Primary
Primary election in which each voter may vote for candidates from both parties
Closed Primary
Primary election in which voting is limited to registered party members
Tendency of candidates to win more votes in an election because of the presence at the top of the ticket of a better-known candidate, such as the president
General Election
Election held to choose candidates to hold office
Drawing the boundaries of legislative districts in bizarre/unusual shapes to favor 1 party
Person currently holding an elective office
Independent Expenditure
Spending by PACs, corporations, or labor unions that is done to help a party/candidate but is done independently of them
Drawing boundaries of legislative districts so that they are unequal in population
Open Primary
Primary election in which voters may choose for which party to vote as they enter the polling place
Political Action Committee
Committee set up by a corporation, labor union, interest group that raises and spends campaign money from voluntary donations
Position Issue
Issue in which public is divided and on which rival candidates/political parties adopt different policy positions
Primary Election
Election held to choose candidates for oddice
Prospective voting
Voting for candidate because the voter favors his ideas for handling issues
Retrospective voting
Voting for candidate because the voter favors his past actions in office
Runoff Primary
2nd primary election held when no candidate win a majority of votes in the first primary
Soft Money
Funds obtained by political parties that are spent on party activities, such as get-out-the-vote drives, but not on behalf of specific candidates
Sophomore Surge
Increase in the votes congressional candidates usually enjoy when they 1st run for reelection
Valence issue
Issue about which the public is united and on which rival candidates/parties adopt a similar position in hope that each will be thought to best represent those widely shared beliefs
501(c)(3) Organization
Nonprofit group that may legally address political matters but can't lobby/campaign;
Donations to it are tax-deductible
501(c)(4) Organization
Nonprofit group that is permitted to lobby and campaign;
Donations to it are not tax deductible
Ideological Interest Group
Political organization that attracts members by appealing to their political convictions/principles
Some of value one cannot get without joining an organization
Interest Group
Organization of people sharing a common interest or goal that seeks to influence the making of public policy
Material Incentive
Money or a thing valued in monetary terms
Political cue
Signal telling legislator what values are at stake in a vote, and how that issues fits with his political views/party agenda
Public-Interest Lobby
Interest group whose efforts significantly benefit nonmembers
Purposive Incentive
Benefit that comes from serving a cause/principle
Assessment of a representative's voting records on issues important to an interest group
Social Movement
Widely shared demand for change in some aspect of the social/political order
Bicameral Legislature
Lawmaking body made up of 2 chambers or parts
Association of Congress members created to advance a political ideology or regional, ethnic, economic interest
Closed rule
Order from the House Rules Committee that sets a time limit on debate; forbids amending bill on floor
Cloture rule
Rule used by Senate to end or limit debate
Concurrent Resolution
Expression of opinion without the force of law that requires the approval of both the House and the Senate, but not the president
Conference Committee
Join committee appointed to resolve differences in the Senate and House version of the same bill
Conservative Coalition
Alliance between Republicans and Conservative Democrats
Discharge Petition
Device by which any member of the House, after a committee has had the bill for 30 days, may petition to have it brought to the floor
Division Vote
Congressional voting procedure in which members stand and are counted
Divided Government
Government in which 1 party controls the White House and another controls 1 or both houses of Congress
Double Tracking
Procedure to keep Senate going during a filibuster in which the disputed bill is shelved temporarily so that the Senate can get on with other business
"Hidden" congressional provision that directs federal government to fund a specific project or that exempts specific persons/groups from paying specific federal taxes/fees
Attempt to defeat a bill in Senate by talking indefinitely, thus preventing the Senate from talking action on the bill
Franking privilege
Ability of Congress members to mail letters to their constituents free of charge by substituting their facsimile signature for postage
Joint committee
Committee on which both senators and representatives serve
Majority leader
Legislative leader elected by party members holding a majority of seats in House/Senate
Marginal Districts
Political districts in which candidates elected to House win in close elections, usually by less that 55% of votes
Minority Leader
Legislative leader elected by party members holding a minority of seats in the House/Senate
Multiple Referral
Congressional process whereby a bill may be referred to several committees
Open Rule
Order from the House Rules Committee that permits a bill to be amended on the floor
Party Polarization
Vote in which a majority of Democratic legislators oppose a majority of Republican legislators
Pork-Barrel Legislation
Legislation that gives tangible benefits to constituents in several; districts/states in hopes of winning their votes in return
Private Bill
Legislative bill that deals with a specific, private, personal, local matter
Public Bill
Legislative bill that deals with matter of general concern
Minimum number of members required to be in attendance for Congress to conduct official business
Quorum Call
Roll call in Congress to see whether the minimum number of representatives requires to conduct business is present
Restrictive Rule
Order from the House Rules Committee that permits certain kinds of amendments but not others to be made to a bill on the floor
Roll-call vote
Congressional procedure that consists of members answering "yea" or "nay" to their names
Safe District
District in which incumbents win by margins of 55% or more
Select Committee
Congressional committee appointed for limited time/purpose
Sequential Referral
Congressional process by which a Speaker may send a bill to a second committee after the first is finished acting
Simple Resolution
Expression of opinion in Congress to settle procedural matters in either body
Standing Committee
Permanently established legislative committee that considers and is responsible for legislation within a certain subject area
Teller Vote
Congressional voting procedure in which members pass between 2 tellers, the "yeas" first and the "nays" second
Unified Government
Government in which the same party controls the White House and Congress
Voice Vote
Congressional voting procedure in which members shout "yea" in approval or "nay" in disapproval, permitting members to vote quickly/anonymously on bill
Congressman who helps party leader stat informed about what party members are thinking
Ad hoc structure
Several subordinates, cabinet officers, committees report directly to president on different matters
Bully pulpit
President's use of his prestige and visibility to guide/enthuse the public
Heads of the 15 executive branch departments of the federal government
Circular structure
Structure in which several of the president's assistants reports directly to him
Electoral College
People chosen to cast each state's vote in a presidential election;
Each states casts 1 electoral vote for each senator and representative it has;
District of Columbia has 3 votes
Inability of the government to act because rival parties control different parts of the government
Charges against a president, approved by a majority of the House of Representatives
Lam duck
Person still in office after they have lost a bid for reelection
Legislative veto
Authority of Congress to block presidential action after it has taken place; the Supreme Court ruled Congress doesn't have this power
Line-item veto
Executive's ability to block a certain provision in a bill passed by legislature
Pocket veto
Results when bill fails to become law because the president didn't sign it within 10 days before Congress adjourned
Pyramidal Structure
Structure in which the president's subordinates reports to him through a clear chain of command headed by chief of staff
Signing Statement
Presidential document that reveals what he thinks of a new law and how it ought to be enforced
Veto message
Message from president to Congress stating that he'll not sign a bill it has passed;
Must be produced within 10 days of the bill's passage
Legislative grant of money to finance government program/agency
Authorization Legislation
Legislative permission to begin/continue a government program/agency
Large, complex organized composed of elected officials
Committee Clearance
Ability of a congressional committee to review & approve certain agency decisions in advance, without passing a law
Competitive service
Government offices to which people are appointed on the basis of merit as shown by a written exam or by meeting certain selection criteria
Discretionary Authority
Extent to which appointed bureaucrats can choose courses of action and make policies that aren't spelled out in advance by laws
Government by proxy
Situation in which the federal government pays state/local governments & private groups to staff/administer federal programs
Iron Triangle
Close relationship among an agency, congressional committee & interest group
Issue Network
Network of people in Washington-based interest groups, on congressional staff, in universities/think tanks, and in the mass media who regularly discuss & advocate public policies
Economic theory that government shouldn't regulate/interfere with commerce
Name-request job
Job that's filled by a person whom an agency has already identified
Red tape
Complex bureaucratic rules/procedures that must be followed to get something done
Trust fund
Fund for government programs that's collected & spent outside regular government budget
Clear and Present Danger Test
Law shouldn't punish speech unless there's a clear and present danger of producing harmful action
Due Process of Law
Denies the government the right, without due process, to deprive people of life, liberty, property
Equal Protection of the Law
Standard of equal treatment that must be observed by the government
Establishment Clause
1st Amendment ban on laws "respecting an establishment of religion"
Exclusionary Rule
Improperly gathered evidence mayn't be introduced in a criminal trial
Freedom of Expression
Right of people to speak, publish, assemble
Freedom of Religion
People shall be free to exercise their religion; government mayn't establish a religion
Free-exercise Clause
1st Amendment requirement that law cannot prevent free exercise of religion
Good-faith Exception
An error in gather evidence, with the error sufficiently minor that the evidence can be used in trials
Writing that falsely injures another person
Prior Restraint
Censorship of a publication
Probable cause
Reasonable cause for issuing a search warrant/making an arrest; more than mere suspicion
Search Warrant
Judge's order authorizing a search
Selective Incorporation
Court cases that apply Bill of Rights to states
Symbolic speech
Act that conveys a political message
Wall of Separation
Court ruling that government can't be involved with religion
Affirmative Action
Programs designed to increase minority participation in some institutions by taking positive steps to being more minority group members on board
Civil Disobedience
Opposing a law one considers unjust by peacefully disobeying it and accepting the resultant punishment
Civil Rights
Rights of people to be treated without unreasonable or unconstitutional differences
De facto Segregation
Racial segregation that occurs in schools as a result of residential settlement patterns
De jure Segregation
Racial segregation that's established and required by law
Equality of Opportunity
Giving people an equal chance to succeed
Equality of Results
Making certain people achieve the same result
Intermediate Scrutiny
Supreme Court test to see if a policy "serves an important government interest" and is substantially related "to serving that interest"
Rational Basis
Supreme Court test to see if a policy uses reasonable means to achieve a legitimate government goal
Reverse Discrimination
Using race/sex to give preferential treatment to some people
Separate but Equal
Doctrine established in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) that African Americans could constitutionally be kept in separate by equal facilities
Strict Scrutiny
Supreme Court test to see if a law denies equal protection because it doesn't serve a compelling state interest and is not narrowly tailored to achieve that goal
Activist Approach
View that judges should discern the general principles underlying laws/Constitution and apply them to modern circumstances
Amincus Curiae
Brief submitted by a "friend of the court"
Written statement by an attorney that summarizes a case and the laws/ruling that support it
Class-action Suit
Case brought by someone to help him/her and all others who are similarly situated
Concurring opinion
Signed opinion in which 1+ justices agree with the majority rule but for different reasons
Courts of appeals
Federal courts that hear appeals from district courts; no trials
Dissenting opinion
Signed opinion in which 1+ justices disagree with the majority view
District Courts
Lowest federal courts; federal trials can be held only here
Diversity cases
Cases involving citizens of different states who can bring suit in federal courts
Dual Sovereignty
Doctrine holding that state and federal authorities can prosecute that same person for the same conduct, each authority prosecuting under its own law
Federal Question Cases
Cases concerning the Constitution, federal laws, treaties
Fee Shifting
Rule that allows a plaintiff to recover costs from defendant if plaintiff wins
In Forma Pauperis
Method whereby a poor person can have his/her case heard in federal court without charge
Judicial restraint approach
View that judges should decide cases strictly on the basis of the language of the laws/Constitution
Legislative Courts
Courts created by Congress for specialized purposes whose judges don't enjoy protections of Article II of the Constitution
Litmus test
Examination of political ideology of nominated judge
Opinion of the Court
Signed opinion of a majority of the Supreme Court
Per Curiam Opinion
Brief and unsigned court opinion
Party that initiates a lawsuit
Political question
Issue that the Supreme Court will allow the executive and legislative branches to decide
Judicial order enforcing a right/redressing a wrong
Sovereign immunity
Rule that a citizen cannot sue that government with the government's consent
Legal rule stating who's authorized to start a lawsuit
Stare Decisis
"Let the decision stand;"
Allowing prior rulings to control current case
Writ of Certiorari
Order by higher court directing lower court to send up a case for review
Satisfaction that people believe they'll enjoy if a policy is adopted
Client politics
Policy whereby one small group benefits and almost everybody pays
Burden that people believe they must bear if a policy is enacted
Entrepreneurial Politics
Policy whereby almost everyone benefits and a small group pays
Interest Group Politics
Policy in which one small group benefits and another small group pays
Occurs when one legislator supports a proposal favored by another in return for support of his favored proposal
Majoritarian politics
Policy whereby almost everyone benefits and almost everyone pays
Policy Entrepreneur
Activist in/out of government who puts together a political majority on behalf of unorganized interests
Political agenda
Set of issues that people believe require governmental action
Pork-barrel legislation
Legislation that gives tangible benefits to constituents in several districts/states in hopes of winning their votes in return
Process Regulation
Rules governing commercial activities designed to improve consumer, worker, environment conditions;
Also called social regulation
Document that states tax collections, spending levels, and allocation of spending among purposes
Budget Resolution
Congressional decision that states the max amount of money the government should spend
Occurs when the government, in one year, spends more money than it takes in from taxes
Discretionary Spending
Spending that's not required to pay for contracts, interest on national debt, or entitlement programs such as Social Security
Economic Planning
Belief that government plans, such as wage and price controls or direction of investment, can improve the economy
Claim for government funds that can't be changed without violated the rights of the claimant
Fiscal Policy
Managing the economy by the use of tax and spending laws
Fiscal Year
For the federal government, October 1 to September 30
Growing integration of the economies and societies of the world
Gross domestic product
Total of all goods and services produced in the economy during a given year
Belief that government must manage economy by spending more in a recession and cutting spending when there's inflation
Belief that inflation occurs when too much money is chasing too few goods
Monetary Policy
Managing the economy by altering the supply of money and interest rates
National Debt
Total deficit from the 1st presidency down to the present
Belief that a combination of monetarism, lower federal spending, and supply-side economics will stimulate the economy
Automatic spending cuts
Supply-side Theory
Belief that lower taxes and fewer regulations will stimulate economy