AP US Government and Politics Terms
Terms in this set (169)
a system of law where the court is seen as a neutral area where disputants can argue the merits of their cases.
government-mandated programs that seek to create special employment opportunities for african americans, women, and other victims of past discrimination.
addition to the constitution. require approval by two-thirds of both houses of congress and three-quarters of the states. the first 10 make up the bill of rights.
amicus curiae briefs
"friend of the court" briefs that qualified individuals or organizations file in lawsuits to which they are not a party, so the judge may consider their advice in respect to matters of law that directly affect the cases in question.
term used to describe courts whose role is to hear appeals from lower courts.
articles of confederation
the united states' first constitution. the government formed lasted from 1781 to 1789. proved inadequate because it did not have the power to collect taxes from the states or regulate foreign trade.
consisting of two legislative houses. (house of representatives and senate)
bill of rights
first 10 amendments to the US constitution. guarantees personal liberties and limits the powers of the government.
primary election in which voters may select a candidate from any party for each office. use the same procedure as general elections.
federal money given to states with only general guidelines for its use. the states have the authority to decide how the money will be spent.
bread and butter issues
those political issues are specifically directed at the daily concerns of most working-class americans, such as job security, tax rates, wages, and employee benefits.
belief that the constitution should be interpreted loosely when concerning the restrictions it places on federal power. emphasize the elastic clause/"necessary and proper"
brown v. board of education
1954 case in which supreme court ruled to overturn the "seperate but equal" standard as it applied to education.
condition that arises when federal expenditures exceed revenues.
set of budget guidelines that must pass both houses of congress in identical form by april 15. guides govt spending for the following fiscal year.
federal aid give to states with strings attached. states must adhere to federally mandated guidelines for spending it.
meeting of local party members for the purpose of choosing delegates to a national party convention. also refers to a meeting of the democratic members of the house of representatives.
a process mandated by the constitution by which the population of the US is officially counted every 10 years. data is used to help distribute federal money and to reapportion congressional districts.
checks and balances
the system that prevents any branch of govt from becoming too powerful by requiring the approval of more than one branch for all important acts.
court in which lawsuits are heard.
requires activists to protest peacefully against laws they believe unjust and to be willing to accept arrest as a means of demonstrating the justice of their cause.
protections against government power embodied in the bill of rights and similar legislation. include the right to free speech, exercise of religion, and right to fair trial.
civil rights act of 1964
federal law that made segregation illegal in most public places, increased penalties and sentences for those convicted of discrimination in employment, and withheld federal aid from schools that discriminated on the basis of race or gender.
those protections against discrimination by the govt and individuals. intended to prevent discrimination based on race, religion, gender, ethnicity, physical handicap, or sexual orientation.
civil service system
method of hiring federal employees based on merit rather than on political beliefs or allegiances. replaced the spoils system in the US.
class action suit
a lawsuit filed on behalf of a group of people and whose result affects that group of people as a whole.
clear and present danger test
interpretation by justice Oliver Wendell Holmes regarding limits on free speech if it presents clear and present danger to the public or leads to illegal actions; for example, one cannot shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater.
Primary election in which voting is restricted to registered members of a political party.
A motion in the Senate to end debate, often used in the event of a filibuster. Requires a three-fifths majority of Senate
A combination of groups of people who work together to achieve a political goal.
commander in chief
The president's role as leader of all United States military forces. The is one of the executive powers authorized in the Constitution.
Constitutional powers shared by the federal and state governments.
Congressional committee that includes representatives of both houses of Congress. Their purpose is to settle differences between the Houes and Senate versions of bills that have been passed by their respective legislatures.
congressional budget office
Congressional agency of budget experts who assess the feasibility of the president's plan and who help create Congress's version of the federal budget.
The geographically defined group of people on whose behalf a representative acts in the House of Representatives. Reapportioned every 10 years according to new census data. All of equal size.
A political ideology that tends to favor defense spending and school prayer and to disapporve of social programs, abortion, affirmative action, and a large, active govt. Generally affiliated with the Republican party.
An as-of-yet untried method by which the Constitution may be amended. Two-thirds of all state legislatures must petition the federal govt to call into effect.
Preeminent form of US federalism. (Marble cake analogy) National and state governments share many powers.
Court in which criminal trials are heard
Voters act increasingly independent of a party affiliation. Split-ticket voting may be a consequence.
Constitutional powers granted solely to the federal government.
All enfranchised citizens vote on all matters of government.
When the presidency is controlled by one party and Congress by another.
The act of trying an individual a second time after he has been acquitted on the same charges. Prohibited by the Constitution.
Form of US federalism during nation's early history. Federal and state governments remain separate and independent (layer cake analogy)
Established legal procedures for the arrest and trial of an accused criminal
The section of the Constitution that allows Congress to pass laws "necessary and proper" to the performance of its duties. Allows Congress to stretch its pwers beyond those that are specifically granted to it.
Constitutionally established body created for the sole purpose of choosing the president and v.p.
The power of the government to take away property for public use as long as there is just compensation for property taken.
Social insurance programs that allocate federal funds to all people who meet the conditions of the program. Social Security is an example of the largest and most expensive program.
equal rights amendment
Failed Constitutional amendment that would have guaranteed equal protection under the law for women.
Section of the constitution that prohibits the government from designating one faith as the official religion of the US.
Rule that prohibits the use of illigally obtained evidence at trial. The Supreme Court has created several exceptions to the rule.
Presidential agreements made with foreign nations. Have the same legal force as treaties but do not require the approval of the Senate.
The right of the prsident to withhold information when doing so would compromise national security. (not specifically mentioned in Constitution)
ex post facto laws
If allowed, these laws would punish people for actions that occurred before such actions were made criminal.
Process by which governments return fugitives to the jurisdiction from which they have fled.
federal reserve board
Executive agency that is largely responsible for the formulation and implementation of monetary policy.
Term describing a system under which the national government and local governments (state) share powers.
A series of essays written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay to defend the constitution and persuade Americans that it should be ratified.
Prohibited states from denying voting rights to African Americans.
A lengthy speech that halts all legislative action in the Senate.
Protects the rights of individuals against the government by guaranteeing the freedom of speech, the press, religion, and assembly.
Twelve-month period starting on Oct. 1 when government budgets go into effect.
freedom of information act
Act which declassified government documents for public use.
Prevented the states from denying "due process of law" and "equal protection under the law" to citizens. Specifically aimed at protecting the rights of newly freed slaves.
Because early primaries have grown increasingly important in recent years, many states have pushed forward the date of their primary elections.
full faith and credit clause
Section of the Constitution that requires states to honor one another's licenses, marriages, and other acts of state courts.
Election held on the first Tuesday of November, during which voters elect officials.
The practice of drawing congressional district lines to benefit one party over the other.
gideon v. wainwright
Supreme Court case in which the Court ruled that a defendant in a felony trial must be provided a lawyer free of charge if the defendant cannot afford one.
Set budget reduction targets to balance budget but failed to eliminate loopholes.
Settlement reached at the Constitutional convention between large states and small states. Called for two legislative houses.
President Lyndon B Johnson's social/economic program aimed at raising the standard of living for America's poorest residents.
griswold v. connecticut
Supreme Court decision in which the Court ruled that the Constitution implicitly guarantees citizens' rights to privacy.
A congressional law that forbade government officials from participating in partisan politics and protected government employees from being fired on partisan grounds; revised to be less restrictive in 1993.
house of representatives
Lower house of US Congress, in which representation is allocated to states in direct proportion to their population. Has sole power to initiate appropriations legislation.
house rules committee
Determines the rules for debate of each bill, including whether the bill may be amended. This is the most powerful committee in the House.
Process by which a president, judge, or other govt official can be tried for high crimes and misdemeanors.
A written statement of criminal charges brought against a defendant. Guarantee that defendants know the charges against them so they can plan a defense.
Exception to the exclusionary rule that allows the use of illegally obtained evidence at trial if the court determines that the evidence would eventually have been found by legal means
Process through which voters may propose new laws.
Political group organized around a particular political goal or philosophy. Attempt to influence public poicy through political action and donations to sympathetic candidates.
Also called subgovernment. Formed by the close working relationship among various interest groups, congressional committees, and executive agencies that enforce federal regulations.
Jim Crow laws
State and local laws passed in the post-Reconstruction Era South to enforce racial segregation and otherwise restrict the rights of African Americans.
Congressional committee composed of members of both houses of Congress, usually to investigate and research specific subjects.
Refers to the actions of a court that frequently strikes down or alters the acts of the executive and/or legislative branches.
Refers to the actions of a court that demonstrates an unwillingness to break with precedent or to overturn legislative and executive acts.
The power of the Supreme Court to declare laws and executive actions unconstitutional.
Amendment to a bill proposed by its opponents for the specific purpose of decreasing the bill's chance of passing.
ku klux klan
nativist hate group that preaches hatred of African Americans, Catholics, and Jews.
One of Congress's most important tasks... In order to check the power of the executive branch, congressional committees investigate and evaluate the performance of corresponding executive agencies and departments.
Ideaology that tends to favor govt spending on social programs, affirmative action, rights to abortions, and an active Govt. Usually affiliated with Democratic Party.
principle of govt that states that govt powers must be confined to those allowed it by the nations Constitution.
line item veto
Power held by some chief executive to excise some portions of a spending bill without rejecting the entire bill. (Esp. Governors)
Level of support for an elected official as perceived through election results.
marbury v. madison
Supreme Court decision that established the principle of judicial review.
Third Chief Justice (early 1800s). Federalist who worked to increase the powers of the federal govt over the states. Established the principle of judicial review.
miranda v. arizona
Supreme Court case in which the court ruled that, upon arrest, a suspect must be advised of the right to remain silent and consult with a lawyer.
Occasion at which a political party officially announces its presidential nominee and reveals its party platform for the next four years.
national organization of women
Feminist political group formed in 1967 to promote legislative change. Lobbied fro the Equal Right Amendment (and failed).
national security council
Presidential advisory board established in 1947 to consult with the president on matters of defense and foreign policy.
Voting rights to women
Endorsement to run for office by a political party.
objective good faith
Exception to the exclusionary rule that allows the use of illegally obtained evidence at trial if the court determines that police believed they were acting within the limits of their search warrant.
office of budget and management
Executive branch office responsible for drawing up the president's proposals for the federal budget.
Primary election in which voters may vote in whichever party primary they choose, though they must select that party before entering the voting booth.
Used to describe a court's power to initially try a case.
The constitutional power of congress to supersede a president's veto by a two-thirds majority in both houses.
Cancellation of criminal punishment, granted by presidents and governors.
Statement of purpose and policy objectives drafted and approved by political parties at their national conventions.
plessy v. ferguson
Supreme Court ruling that "seperate but equal" facilities for different races are not unconstitutional.
if the president fails to approve a bill passed during the last ten days of a congressional session, the bill does not become law.
political action committee
(PAC) Fundraising apparatus of interest groups; donations are regulated by federal law; contribute heavily to the reelection campaigns of representatives and senators sympathetic to the PAC's political agenda.
Group of people with common political goals which hopes to influence policy through the election process.
The process by which executive departments and agencies put legislations into practice.
Political party of the late 1800s. Represented farmers and working-class Americans, sought inflationary economic policies to increase farm income.
Budget items proposed by legislators to benefit constituents in their home state or district. Sometimes unnecessary but are passed because they are politically beneficial.
president pro tempore
Individual chosen to preside over the Senate whenever the vice president is unavailable to do so. Chosen by the senate from among its members.
Form of election held by the majority of states, during which voters select the nominees for political parties.
Censorship of news material before it is made public
priviledges and immunities clause
Section of the Constitution stating that a state may not refuse police protection or access to its courts to US citizens because they live in a different state.
progressive income tax
Increases tax rates for people with higher incomes
The minimum number of people required for the legislature to act
Occurs when a party undergoes a major shift in its electoral base and political agenda.
The process by which congressional districts are redrawn and seats are redistributed among staes in the House.
Process through which voters can shorten an office holder's term.
process through which voters may vote on new laws.
Executive agency responsible for enforcing laws pertaining to a certain industry.
Form of govt under which citizens vote for delegates who in turn represent citizens' interests within the govt.
Constitutional powers that belong solely to the states.
roe v. wade
supreme court case that decriminalized abortion.
Election held between top two vote-getters in a primary election, which neither recieved a legally required minimum percentage of the vote.
Margin of error in public opinion poll.
Amendment to a bill proposed in hopes of softening opposition by weakening objectionable elements of the bill.
schenck v. United states
Supreme Court case involving limits of free speech. Established "clear and present danger" principle.
document issued by the courts to allow the police to search private property.
Temporary committee of Congress, usually created to investigate specific issues.
Process by which the Supreme Court has selectively applied the 14th amendment to state law.`
Upper house of Congress, in which each state has two representatives. Has power to approve cabinet, ambassadors, and judges, and treaties.
A check placed on the president by which candidates for the federal bureaucracy must first be approved by a vote within the Senate.
separation of powers
The system that prevents any branch of govt from becoming too powerful by dividing important tasks among the 3 branches.
law guaranteeing news reporters the right to protect the anonymity of their sources.
Authorized congress to impose and collect federal income taxes.
Political donations made to parties for the purpose of general party maintenance and support. Banned in 2002.
Speaker of the House
Individual chosen by members of the House of Representatives to preside over its sessions.
split ticket voting
Choosing candidates from different parties for offices listed on the same ballot.
Political practice of trading govt jobs and preferences for political and financial support.
a permanent congressional committee
Belief that Constitution should be read in a way that limits powers of the federal govt as much as possible.
section of the Constitution that requires conflicts between federal and state law to be resolved in favor of federal law.
highest court in the US.
the Patriot act
Act passed in response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01 granting braod police authority to the govtto convict suspected terrorists.
Counted slaves as three-fifths of a person in apportionment and taxation.
outlawed poll taxes
Limited the number of years an individual may serve as president
Lowered voting age from 21 to 18.
International organization established following WW2, aiming to preserve international peace and cooperation.
unanimous consent decree
Agreement passed by the Senate that establishes the rules under which a bill will be debated, amended, and voted upon.
Certain deeply ingrained aspects of our govt that are not mentioned in the Constitution, such as parties, conventions, and cabinet meetings.
Power held by chief executives to reject acts of the legislature.
voting rights act of 1965
Federal law that increased govt supervision of local election practices, suspended literacy tests, and expanded govt efforts to register voters.
war on poverty
President Johnson's programs aimed at assisting the poor.
war powers act
Law requiring the president to seek periodic approval from Congress for any substantial troop commitment.
Supreme court best remembered for expanding rights of minorities and the accused.
Name of the hotel in which spies working for Pres. Nixon campaign were caught breaking into Democratic Nat'l Headquarters. The scandal forced Nixon to reisgn.
writ of habeas corpus
A court order requiring an explanation as to why a prisoner is being held in custody.
writ of certiorari
a legal document issued by the supreme court to request the court transcripts of a case.