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review of Federalism, Constitution, Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances, Theories of Democracy, and Considerations that influenced the forming of the Constitution


A system in which the power to govern is shared between national and state governments

Dual / Layer Cake Federalism

A system in which national and state governments are competitors with distinct powers. This system was prominent in the US from the during the 19th century until 1937.

Cooperative / Marble Cake Federalism

A system in which national and state government have shared or overlapping powers. FDR's New Deal legislation established this system in the US.

Regulatory Federalism

A system in which the national government sets requirements that are then implemented by state and local governments.

Fiscal Federalism

A system in which the national government provides grants-in-aid to states using conditions to elicit control.

New Federalism

Devolutionary system in which the national government returns tax dollars to the state and local governments primarily in the form of block grants.


The negative aspects of this system include: conflicts between state and national government, economic and racial discrimination, uneven enforcement of law, and dominance of local governments by special interest groups


The positive aspects of this system include: diversity/diffusion of power, more access points for political participation, fostering of experimentation and innovation, and allowing local governments to manage local problems effectively


This type of government suits a large country with a diverse population

Enumerated Powers

Powers specifically outlined in the Constitution as assigned to one branch of government.

Article II

This article of the Constitution establishes the Executive Branch.

Categorical Grant

Federal grants in which the recipient has little discretion over how the money is spent. The national government sets narrowly defined rules for use of funds and often requires the states or local governments to provide matching funds. These grants account for 90% of federal aid dollars. Examples include Head Start, Food Stamps, Medicaid, and the Interstate Highway System

Block Grant

Federal grants in which the recipient has a lot of discretion over how the money is spent. These grants are issued in support of general government functions such as education and law enforcement.

Project Grant

Federal categorical grants in which the granting agency has much discretion over how the recipient spends the money.

Formula Grant

Federal categorical grants in which the granting agency has less discretion over how the recipient spends the money.

Commander in Chief

The President's role in the armed forces which during the 20th century has allowed Presidents to circumvent Congress' refusal to declare war.

State of the Union

Constitutionally required address by the President typically given in a joint session of Congress.


Constitutionally empowered to appoint judges, ambassadors, and other high officials


Constitutionally empowered to make treaties with foreign countries.


President requires their approval to appoint judges, ambassadors and other high officials.

Grant Clemency

This customary power allows the President to grant reprieves and pardons for federal offenses.


Age requirement for President


Number of years a President must reside in the US prior to taking office

Pyramid Model

Presidential management model in which the Chief of Staff plays a prominent role as the head of a military style chain of command. Used successfully by Reagan and Eisenhower.

Hub and Spoke Model

Presidential management model requiring the President to have strong leadership skills and a keen eye for detail. FDR and JFK were well known for this style of leadership.

Ad Hoc Structure

Presidential management model in which corporate CEO tactics are used employing committees, task forces, and special advisors. Successfully utilized by Clinton and G W Bush.

Max Weber

German sociologist theorized that the engine of government needs bureaucracies to provide expertise in a way that short-term elected or appointed official cannot.


The structure and set of regulations in place to control activity, usually in large organizations and government. it is represented by standardized procedure (rule-following) that dictates the execution of most or all processes within the body, formal division of powers, hierarchy, and relationships.

National Security Council

The executive office established in response to intelligence lapses during WWI. Oversees American foreign policy and includes the President, Vice President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense and is lead by the National Security Advisor.

Council of Economic Advisors

3 person executive panel responsible for helping the President develop an economic plan for the nation.

Office of Management and Budget

Executive office responsible for helping the President write the federal budget and monitoring federal spending.

US Trade Representatives

Executive office responsible for negotiating trade with foreign powers.


Number of current cabinet positions under GW Bush.


Number of original cabinet positions under George Washington.


Cabinet department responsible for collective bargaining and union activity. Established in 1913

Housing and Urban Development

Cabinet department responsible for insuring mortgages and providing housing subsidies. Established in 1965


Cabinet department responsible for managing school lunch programs and food safety. Established in 1862.


Cabinet department responsible for regulating and promoting trade and maintaining the census Established in 1913..


Cabinet department oversees nuclear reactors.Established in 1973 in response to the Energy Crisis.

Homeland Security

Cabinet department that includes the Coast Guard, Border Patrol, FEMA, Transportation Security Administration, INS and the Secret Service. Established in 2001 in response to 9/11.


Cabinet department responsible for the management of public lands, wildlife, natural resources, and Native American affairs. Established in 1849


Cabinet department that includes the FAA and the National Hwy Traffic Safety Administration. Established in 1966.

Governmental Corporations

Corporations formed by the government to act as a business to produce a product or service. Often monopolies with varying degrees of independence.

Regulatory Agencies

Independent agencies governed by an appointed and confirmed commission. Examples include the Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.


Government branch established in Article I of the Constitution.


Legislative branch incorporating two houses.


Legislative house responsible for impeachment trials.


Number of Senators elected at large per state,


Amendment that delegated the election of Senators to popular vote.


Legislative house whose membership was intended to represent the state.


Form of obstruction in the Senate where an attempt is made to infinitely extend debate upon a proposal in order to delay the progress or completely prevent a vote on the proposal taking place.

Vice President

Presides over the Senate without voting privileges except in the case of a tie.

President Pro Tempore

Presides over the Senate in the absence of the Vice President. Position awarded to the longest serving Senator from the majority party. 3rd in line of succession for the Presidency.

Conference Committee

A joint committee of Congress established to help negotiate discrepancies and gain consensus between legislation passed in each house before sending the bill to the President.

House of Representatives

Legislative house whose members were intended to represent the people.


Total number of Representatives apportioned to the states based on population and reapportioned with the census every 10 years

Speaker of the House

Leader of the House of Representatives, elected by the majority party. 2nd in line of succession for the Presidency.

Select Committee

Committees appointed for investigative or crisis situations.

Joint Committee

Committees that pull members from both the house and the senate who meet to discuss major policy issues such as economy and taxation.

Standing Committees

The most important committees, always assembled and delegated with the responsibility of handling all bills under their concern. Includes the Ways and Means, Appropriations, Budget, Rules and Agriculture Committees.

Rules Committee

This powerful House committee is in charge of determining under what rule other bills will come to the floor.

Ways and Mean Committee

This House committee is responsible for all taxes, tariffs, and other revenue raising measures in addition to social security, child support, Medicare, foster care, and unemployment.


Assistants to the Majority and Minority Leaders of both the House and Senate.

Article III

Constitutional Article that establishes the Judicial Branch.


Number of justices of the Supreme Court.

Chief Justice

Head of the Supreme Court.


Method by which federal court judges may lose their position.

Presidential Veto

Executive Check on the Legislative Branch.

Judicial Review

Judicial Check on Legislative Branch. Not specifically outlined in the Constitution, but established in the case of Marbury v. Madison through the application of the Supremacy Clause in Article VI.

Freedom of Information Act

1966 Act allowing citizens to inspect all government records with the exception of classified military or intelligence documents, trade secrets or private personnel files.

Administrative Procedure Act

1946 Act requiring bureaucratic agencies to appeal to the affected parties before adopting new policies. Legislative check on Bureaucracy.

Privacy Act

1974 Act mandating that all government files about private citizens be kept confidential.

Open Meeting Law

1976 Law requiring all governmental agency meetings to be open to the public unless classified information will be discussed.


This branch of government checks Bureaucracy through its control over the creation and elimination of agencies as well as its control over budget appropriations.

House of Representatives

Tax legislation must originate in this house.


Legislative opinions on a matter that do not require Presidential signature.


This branch of government checks Bureaucracy through its control over budget and appointments of leadership.


This branch of government checks Bureaucracy through its control over lawsuits filed against the agency.


the fundamental flaw in plural theory contends that pluralism weakens the backbone of democracy with too many common interest groups attempt to wield power, often leading to standstill because of unwillingness to compromise.

Elite and Class Theory

A pluralist theory by C. Wright Mills where a small number of wealthy elite wield most of the power. Fundamental to all governments around the world, the elite rule while they make the lower classes feel like they are involved in democracy. The elite work to "dumb" down the population in order to stay in control. They also use aversion to divert the attention of the masses from the real problems.

Pluralist Theory

Theory of democracy in which competition among common interest groups promote ideas to influence politics

Articles of Confederation

Under this governing document, national government lacked authority to set up tariffs, regulate commerce, levy taxes, control international relations, establish common currency

Magna Carta

This influential English document signed by King John in 1215 limited the absolute power of the monarchy, established due process, and limited arbitrary seizure of property.

Petition of Right

This influential English document refuted divine right of monarchy and made monarchs subject to laws and responsible for crimes

Common Law

Unwritten law based on custom and tradition.

English Bill of Rights

This 1689 English Document made the monarch

Thomas Hobbes

This author of Leviathon posited that government is necessary because people are generally in a state of conflict.

John Locke

This author was highly influential on Thomas Jefferson, rejecting divine right, proposing that government is a social contract requiring the consent of the govern and establishing the concept of self-evident rights of life, liberty, and property.

Social Contract

Theory that a government requires the consent of the governed.


Political theorist proposed the separation of church and state.

Common Sense

The 1776 pamphlet by Thomas Paine that prompted King George III's Prohibitory Act and the sending of mercenaries to the colonies.

Federalist Papers

a series of 85 articles written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison under the pseudonym Publius advocating the ratification of the United States Constitution.

Baron de Montesquieu

Author of The Spirit of the Laws advocating balance of power in politics with liberty is dependant upon a separation of the judicial, legislative, and executive branches of government.

Shay's Rebellion

The uprising of farmers angered by crushing debt and taxes that revealed the failure of the Articles of Confederation.

Mayflower Compact

First governing document of the Plymouth Colony establishing freedom of religion.

Habeas Corpus

Grants that an accused may not be held in custody without charge, literally "You shall have the body".


Year of the 2nd Continental Congress.

Rhode Island

The absent colony at the 2nd Continental Congress.

Virginia Plan

Plan that proposed bicameral legislature where states were to have representation based on size in both houses.

New Jersey Plan

Plan that proposed unicameral legislature with each state having one vote.

Great or Connecticut Compromise

Compromise between the large states and small states that established the bicameral Legislature consisting of a Senate and House of Representatives. Also included 3/5 compromise on the status of slaves in representation.

Albany Plan

Proposed by Benjamin Franklin in 1754 as an attempt to form a union of the colonies. Later used to help form the Articles of Confederation.

Committees of Correspondence

Important during the Revolution, these bodies organized by the local governments of the Thirteen Colonies during the American Revolution for the purposes of coordinating written communication outside of the colony.

Ex Post Facto

Prohibits conviction of a crime that occurred before the act became illegal

Bill of Attainder

An act of legislature declaring a person or group of persons guilty of some crime and punishing them without benefit of a trial. Constitutionally prohibited.

Privileges and Immunities Clause

States that states may draw reasonable distinctions between the rights of residents and non-residents (ex. In state and out of state tuition)

Establishment Clause

This clause of the 1st amendment establishes a "wall of separation" between church and state.

Free Exercise Clause

This 1st amendment clause prohibits the government from making any law prohibiting the exercise of any religion

Establishment Clause

The Supreme Court's broad interpretation of this clause has denied direct aid from the government for religious groups, but does allow religious groups to make use of government services such as police and fire.


The Supreme Court has sometimes used a narrow interpretation of the Establishment Clause allowing the government to provide aid to religious groups as long as it remains ______________ and does not promote one religion at the expense of another. This practice has been criticized by civil liberties groups

Civil Liberties

Freedoms that protect the individual from the government.


This amendment applied the Bill of Rights to states.

Violation of Law

The only instance in which the government can prohibit religious activities

Baron v. Baltimore

19th century case establishing that the Bill of Rights applied only to the federal government, upheld until the 20th century. Ruling allowed stated to engage in activities such as establishing state churches and denying public office to people of certain religions.

Gitlow v. New York

1925 Supreme Court case overturned Baron v. Baltimore and applied the Bill of Rights to states.

Lemon Test

Test whereby the Supreme Court established criteria by which state may provide aid to religious groups.

Murray v. Curlett

1963 ruling prohibiting prayer in public schools.

US v. Ballard

1944 case established that as as long as a person accepted their beliefs in good faith that it is not the government's authority to determine whether those beliefs are valid.

Free Exercise Clause

In the 1990 case OR State Employment Division v. Smith 1990, the Supreme court allowed the state to fire employees who use peyote during native American religious ceremonies because it is in violation of drug laws. In this case, which clause of the 1st amendment was deemed less important than the violation of another law?

Free Exercise of Religion

In WV State BOE v Barnette (1943), the Supreme Court ruled that compelling citizens to salute the flag violates the principles of a free society, upholding which 1st Amendment rights?


The 5th amendment protect against _____________.

Miranda Rights

States that arrestees must be informed of their right to remain silent, that anything they say can be held against them in a court, that they have a right to an attorney and that an attorney will be appointed to them if they cannot afford one.

6th Amendment

Guarantees the right to a speedy and public trial.

Jury of Peers

The vagueness of this phrase has allowed juries to exclude specific genders or races in order to affect the outcome of the verdict.

Right to Counsel

In addition to a quick and speedy trial, the 6th Amendment also guarantees ________________.

Change of Venue

In some cases where blicity too much publicity surrounds a trial, courts have granted _______________ to help ensure a fair trial. One example is the trial of Timothy McVeigh for the Oklahoma City Bombing.

8th Amendment

Prohibits the use of cruel or unusual punishment.

Death penalty

Capital punishment is also known as the _________________.

Two Trial

The case of Gregg v. Georgia set the precedent for a ________________ system in which guilt and sentencing and tried separately.

Scottsboro Boys Case

This 1932 case established that a case can be too speedy and under-counseled, providing defendants in a capital case the right to a reasonable amount of time to establish a defense.

Gideon v. Wainwright

This 1963 case extended the right to counsel to all felony cases.

Cruel and Unusual

In the 1962 case of Robinson v. California, the Supreme Court ruled that incarcerating a drug addict is ______________________ because drug addiction is an illness.

Free Exercise

In Reynolds v. US (1879), the Supreme Court denied this right to Reynolds because his religion's practice of polygamy violated federal law.

Free Exercise of Religion

In 1943, The Supreme Court upheld the Jehovah's Witnesses right to refrain from saluting the American flag based on their right to _____________.

Baker v. Wingo

In this 1972 case, the Supreme Court established four guidelines for determining if a trial was appropriately speedy and fair: cause of delay, length of delay, affect on the outcome, and the defendant's claim to a speedy trial.

Furman v. Georgia

This 1972 Supreme Court case struck down all state laws allowing the death penalty stating that they allowed for too much discretion on the part of the judge and jury resulting in lack of consistent administration of the penalty.


According to the Speedy Trial Act of 1974, federal trials must commence within _______ days of arrest with the exception of delay for mental health testing of the defendant and illness of the defendant or key witness.

Cruel and Unusual

in Woodson v. North Carolina, the Supreme Court struck down mandatory sentencing of capital punishment as ______________________ because it does not allow for any discretion.


In Argersinger v. Hamlin (1972), the Supreme Court extended the right to counsel to those accused of misdemeanors if the defendant is _____________.

4th Amendment

Protects against unreasonable search and seizure.

Writ of Assistance

Broadly worded warrants used by British soldiers during colonial America to search for contraband and prevent smuggling.


The issuance of this document by a judge requires probably cause and must be worded so as to allow for the search and seizure of specific evidence.

Probable Cause

While the verbiage of the 4th Amendment is vague as to what constitutes "reasonable". Police departments must rely on _____________; they cannot act on unfounded suspicion.

Exclusionary Rule

This contraversial legal technicality intended to protect civil liberties has allowed criminals to remain free when the courts refuse to admit evidence that may have been obtained illegally.

Plain View

Washington v. Chrisman (1982) established the _________________, allowing police officers to seize evidence without a warrant if the evidence is in obvious sight.

Good Faith Exception

This rule established by US v. Leon (1984) angered civil liberties groups by allowing exception to the Exclusionary Rule in instances where probably cause may not fully exist.

Katz. v US

This 1967 Supreme Court case prohibited illegal eavesdropping and extending the zone of privacy to include the home, office, person, and immediate public arena.

Patriot Act

This contraversial 2001 law allows anti-terrorism authorities to monitor e-mail and Internet traffic in order to prevent terrorist attacks. The government argues that cyberspace is public domain and that no warrants should be needed to access information.


In California v. Avecedo (1991), The Supreme Court established that authorities may search ____________________ without a warrant providing reasonable suspicion.

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