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AP U.S. Government Midterm
Basics of Politics, the Constitution, and Federalism
Terms in this set (94)
A permanent structure or institution that a society uses to make and enforce public policies.
A long-standing structure or association that performs certain functions for society
The struggle or process that decides which members of society receive certain benefits and which members are excluded from those benefits/privileges.
Power to make laws and frame policies.
Power to enforce and administer laws.
Power to interpret laws and determine their meaning; mediate conflicts within society.
4 Qualifications of a Country
Population, territory, government, and sovereignty.
Government functions by consent of the people; people directly voice their opinions, vote on every law, and participate actively in government.
Government functions by consent of the people; people vote for a small group of people to express their needs/opinions.
A small group of people with absolute power controls the government.
A single leader with absolute power controls the government.
One central government that holds the power creates smaller local units to provide functions for society.
An alliance of independent states join and create a government that handles certain issues that pertain to all of the states.
A constitution is law of the land. Powers are divided between a central and local government.
Voters elect the legislative and executive branches independently.
Voters elect the legislative branch, the legislative branch chooses a chief executive.
-The government protects individuals by taking away certain rights to protect the diversity of interests among individuals.
-"social contract theory"
-All citizens are born with equal standing before the government. This leads to....
*popular sovereignty (rule by the people)
*democracy (authority of the people)
-American democracy protects citizens' right to own property and ensures that they do not give up money without consent.
-Economic equality is not guaranteed, but all citizens have the right to try to accumulate wealth.
-Majorities must make decisions that protect the minorities.
-Harming minorities hurts everyone.
-Policies are determined based on the fact that each person is equal; therefore the choice of the majority should be accepted. (If the minority's choice won, this would suggest that those citizens had greater importance/value.)
-Majorities expected to show minorities respect.
Citizens are committed to participating actively in government and are well educated on politics.
All people belong to interest groups whose leaders carry ideas to decision makers. Groups compete, but are all in relative balance, so no groups dominate government.
A small group of wealthy, affluent individuals collect all power and make decisions without considering the entirety of society.
Many competing "elite" interest groups have "veto power" and override many suggestions from other groups. (Nothing accomplished.) "GRIDLOCK."
-separation of powers
-checks and balances
Federalist Papers #10
A national republic...
-factions are unlikely to spread
-representative democracy balances competing demands from the public
Federalist Papers #47
The system of checks and balances provides for three branches with overlapping powers.
Federalist Papers #50
The government is self-enforcing.
-checks and balances allow branches to limit one another's powers.
The legislative branch.
The executive branch.
The judicial Branch.
Relations among states.
Ratification of the Constitution
Public Debts, Supremacy of Natural Law, Oaths
Provisions for Amendments
Daniel Shays and a band of men attack courthouses in Massachusetts
-shows that the central government is not strong enough to protect its people.
-meeting held shortly after to remedy the Articles.
-Representation is based on population and wealth.
-States elect the House, which elects the Senate.
-Council of Revision (National Executive and National Judiciary)---> both can veto one another.
New Jersey Plan
-States are equally represented.
-Weaker national government (preferred by smaller states)
-Multiple executives; chosen by Congress.
-Judicial branch comprised of one supreme court, which the executive branch chooses.
Great Compromise (Connecticut Compromise)
-Senate: states represented equally
-House: states represented by population size
-Smaller states are able to support a strong central government without feeling threatened.
Rule of Law
People and the government follow the same set of laws. There are punishments for overstepping power.
The government's power is limited.
A division/balance of power between the state and national governments.
The judicial branch can not be interfered with or pressured by the other two branches.
People have power and give some of it to the government to provide certain functions.
Checks and Balances/Separation of Powers
Three equal branches split power equally. Some of their duties/powers overlap. Branches may check, or veto one another to keep a balance of power.
-support the Constitution
-wealthy, well-educated men
-believe that a large republic would lead to an adequate division of power and limitation on the power of factions
-did not support the Constitution
-primarily farmers, debtors, lower-class men
-supported strong state governments
-wanted a Bill of Rights to stop the central government from infringing on individual liberties.
PROBLEM: Are slaves counted in population?
SOLUTION: Slaves and non-free people are counted as 3/5 of a person in...
-determining population and representation in Congress
-calculating state taxes
PROBLEM: Southerners fear Northerners would ruin commercial interests by...
-interfering with the slave trade
-Congress can't tax goods exported by states
-no slave trade interference for 20 years
-2/3 of Congress OR state legislatures propose an amendment (Congress primarily in control).
-3/4 of states must ratify the amendment (states primarily in control).
Judicial Interpretation (Amendments)
The Supreme Court re-interprets the Constitution, bringing about the same results as a new amendment
Political Practice (Amendments)
Parts of the government are added or changed to ameliorate efficiency/function.
Formation of Jamestown (Timeline Events)
Colonists form a representative assembly.
Mayflower Compact (Timeline Events)
Depended on the consent of the general public; a prototype for other political statements created in the U.S.
The colonists are able to exercise a fair amount of self-government and gain political experience.
First successful boycott lead by unified colonists.
1st Continental Congress
Colonists petition the king to express their grievances regarding taxes.
2nd Continental Congress
Army established; headed by George Washington.
Articles of Confederation: Strengths
-Each state has an ambassador to Congress
-Dictates peaceful inter-state exchange
-Settled claims for western lands
-Passed the Northwest Ordinance
-Congress: regulates foreign affairs, coinage, and the system of weights and measures
Articles of Confederation: Weaknesses
-Each state has one vote only
-Congress can't tax, regulate trade, raise a militia
-No federal court system
-Changing the articles requires all 13 votes
-Weak central government
-Economic depression ensues
-No power to enforce legislation
Ratification Process: the Constitution
1. The Federalists agree to add a Bill of Rights as soon as the Constitution is ratified.
2. 9 states ratify; this is enough, by NY and VA's votes are still undetermined and highly desirable
3. VA ratifies
4. Federalist Papers published; wild success in NY
5. NY ratifies
6. Ratification complete!
Powers granted specifically to the federal government. Some are concurrent; some are exclusive.
1. Regulating foreign commerce
2. Coining money
Powers given to ONLY the federal government.
1. Declare war
2. Establish post offices
Powers assumed necessary for the government to carry out its required duties.
1. Banning the shipping of certain materials
2. Military draft
Powers necessary to ensure protection and sovereignty of a nation.
1. Acquiring territory
2. Regulating the nation's borders
Powers reserved for the state governments.
1. Establishing and maintaining schools
2. Conducting elections
Powers shared by the federal and local governments.
1. Borrowing money
2. Creating lower courts
Powers that are not delegated to the federal or local governments; helps to preserve limited government.
2. Granting titles of nobility
The national government has supreme sovereignty.
*GOAL: preservation of the Union.
The state governments have supreme sovereignty
*GOAL: preservation of the states.
Dual Federalism (Layer Cake Federalism)
State and national governments have separate, but balanced duties and powers. They operate under two different spheres.
Cooperative Federalism (Marble Cake Federalism)
State and national governments share certain functions/duties. They work together to address certain issues. ALSO CALLED: "New Federalism"
Determines that the Constitution is absolute law. Since the national government is obliged to follow the Constitution, it too is absolute. The state governments must often yield to national legislation for this reason; they to not have absolute power.
Elastic Clause (Necessary and Proper Clause)
Congress has the ability to create virtually any law that is necessary for proper function/carrying out required duties. This clause expands the power of the legislative branch.
Reserves powers not granted specifically to the national government for the states and for the people.
Mc Cullough vs. Maryland
Maryland taxes operations in a branch of the Second Bank in Baltimore; McCullough, a cashier, issues notes without paying the tax.
1. Does the Constitution have the power to charter a bank?
-YES. (necessary and proper clause)
2. Does a state have the power to tax a corporation chartered by the national government?
-NO. (supremacy clause)
Gibbons vs. Ogden
Gibbons receives state license for a monopoly on Hudson River navigation. Ogden starts his own ferrying business after receiving national approval.
1. Is navigation a part of commerce?
Yes. (Commerce is a system of business between foreign bodies that requires organization, which is provided by navigation.)
2. To what extent can Congress regulate navigation?
Since the commerce crossed state lines, Congress had the ability to make any regulations appropriate for proper function. (elastic clause)
3. Could Congress exclusively regulate commerce?
A national license for navigation would override a state license for navigation. (supremacy clause).
Advantages of Federalism
-state governments focus on local needs
-easier to participate in local government
-laws can be tested in smaller states before being implemented nationally
Disadvantages of Federalism
-argument over who holds the power
-less unity between governments
-unequal wealth among states
-local interests sway national legislation
State and national governments are financially separate. However, the national government often intervenes with grants-in-aid to assist the state governments monetarily.
A regulation or law imposed on the states by the national government without distribution of proper funding.
Made for broad purposes such as "Healthcare," or "Education." Less specific requirements attached.
Money is given to the states, but with very specific purpose/requirements.
States, localities, and private institutions apply for grants to conduct research or fund large projects.
Fugitives must be returned to their state of origin by the state which they have fled to.
States may enter formal agreements with other states or foreign bodies with permission from Congress.
Full Faith and Credit Clause
Legal documents and court decisions are expected to be valid among states. Divorce cases are sometimes exceptions to this rule.
Privileges and Immunities
Residents of one state will not be unreasonably discriminated against in a different state.
Nation's Obligation to the States
-grant every state a republican (representative) form of government
-protect the public from invasion/attack
-respect state territory
People have other natural rights that are not listed in the Constitution/Bill of Rights.
-right to privacy
The National Government can't...
-create new states within the borders of existing ones
-combine states without consent
-alter existing state boundaries without consent
-states cannot perform exclusive powers
-states cannot infringe upon individual rights of citizens
PART 1: Privileges and Immunities Clause
-states can't deny protection or rights to any citizen
PART 2: Citizenship Clause
-states can't decide who a citizen is (a citizen is born in the U.S. or naturalized by the government)
PART 3: Applies the Bill of Rights to state governments
Recommended textbook explanations
Magruder's American Government
United States Government: Principles in Practice (Florida)
Luis Ricardo Fraga
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