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Politics of the United States
Terms in this set (12)
The U.S. Constitution is a short, effective document of basic principles. Why did the framers decide against a more detailed Constitution?
Basic principles allows the Constitution to adapt to changes over time. Detailed provisions would have weighed it down. They wanted it to last.
The Six Basic Principles: Define and explain.
Popular Sovereignty - The People have the Power
Limited Government - The Government's power is limited by the people.
Separation of Powers - The three government powers (Legislative, Executive, and Judicial) are divided into three separate entities.
The Six Basic Principles: Continued
Checks and Balances - Each branch of government has "checks" on the power of the other branches. The goal is that they are equal.
Judicial Review - The Judicial Branch's main "check" on the power of the other branches. It allows them to declare actions of the Legislative and Executive unconstitutional.
Federalism - Dividing government power between a strong, national government (the U.S. government) and several local governments (the 50 States)
There are four possible methods that would result in a formal amendment to the Constitution. What is the most common one? How is it an example of federalism?
Amendment proposed by a 2⁄3 majority vote in both houses of Congress; ratified by 3⁄4 of all state legislatures.
This is federalism because both levels of government have to act in order to change the Constitution.
What is jurisdiction? Explain the four types of jurisdiction
Jurisdiction is the authority of a court to hear (try or decide) a case. Original jurisdiction - a court where a case can be heard first.
Appellate jurisdiction - a court where cases are heard on appeal from a lower court.
Exclusive jurisdiction - cases that can only be heard in federal courts.
Concurrent jurisdiction - cases that can be heard in both federal courts and State courts.
Describe the National Judiciary under the Articles of Confederation. Why was establishing a national court system necessary?
There were no national courts or judicial system under the Articles of Confederation.
Each state interpreted the laws as they saw fit, and sometimes didn't apply them at all.
Disputes between States or persons who lived in different States were decided by courts in one State, but sometimes not at all.
How are federal judges appointed? What are the qualifications necessary to be a federal judge? How long are their terms?
Appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate
No specific qualifications; usually chosen from leading attorneys, legal scholars, law school professors, lower court judges, etc...
They serve life terms.
What is judicial activism? What is judicial restraint?
Judicial restraint - judges decide cases on the basis of the original intent of those who wrote the Constitution and/or previously established precedent.
Judicial activism - judges that believe the law should be interpreted and applied in the light of ongoing changes in conditions and values - especially in cases involving civil rights and social welfare issues.
What is judicial review? What famous court case established the Supreme Court's power of judicial review?
Judicial review - the ability of the court to rule an act as unconstitutional; it makes the Supreme Court the final authority on the meaning and application of the Constitution.
Marbury v. Madison
What is a writ of certiorari? Who is able to petition for one?
Writ of certiorari - an order by the Court directing a lower court to send up the record in a given case for its review.
Either party (plaintiff or defendant) is able to petition for a writ of certiorari.
What type of court opinion can be used to set precedence for future cases?
The majority opinion, or the Opinion of the Court, can be used to set precedent. It sets out the reasoning on which the court's decision was based.
What role do oral arguments and briefs play in the Supreme Court's operating process?
Oral arguments - lawyers for each side are permitted to argue the case for a limited amount of time.
Briefs - briefs are filed before oral arguments begin. These are detailed statements supporting one side of a case. These may be 100s of pages long.
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