Terms in this set (37)
This principle of government states that political power rests with the people. This power may be expressed through voting and participation in government.
A basic principle of American government which states that government is restricted in what it may do, and each individual has rights (natural rights) that government cannot take away
Opponents of the American Constitution at the time when the states were contemplating its adoption. Their arguments included: it was a class-based document, it would erode fundamental liberties; and it would erode the power of the states.
Supporters of the Constitution at the time the states were contemplating its adoption. Led by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, they firmly believed the national government should be strong.
Articles of Confederation
Adopted in 1777 during the Revolutionary War, this "bond of friendship" established the United States of America and granted limited powers to the central government, reserving most powers for the states. The result was a poorly defined national state that couldn not govern the country's finances or maintain stability. The Constitution replaced the document in 1789.
Also identified as the "Great...", this agreement by states at the Constitutional Convention established a bicameral legislature with a lower house in which representation would be based on population and an upper house in which each state would have two senators.
Declaration of Independence
The document of the Second Continental Congress (4 July 1776) stating the grievances of the American colonies against the British monarch and proclaming the independence of the colonies from Great Britain. The primary author was Thomas Jefferson.
New Jersey Plan
The proposal at the Constitutional Convention (introduced by William Paterson) that called for equal representation of each state in Congress regardless of the state's population. Sometimes referred to as the "small state" plan.
James Madison introduced this plan which called for a national government that had unrestricted rights of legislation and taxation, the right to veto any state law, and use military force against the states. It also specified a bicameral legislature and representation of each state in Congress in proportion to that state's share of the U.S. population. This is often referred to as the "large state" plan.
An uprising by debtor farmers in western Massachusetts during the winter of 1786-1787, led by a Revolutionary War captain against Boston creditors. The attacks were on courthouses to block foreclosures. It began in 1786 and lasted half a year, threatening the economic interests of the business elite and contributing to the demise of the Articles of Confederation.
Conflicts on slavery emerged during the Philadelphia convention. Southern states argued for counting slaves in determining their representation in the House of Representatives, though they resisted counting them for apportionment of taxation. Only Massachusetts had outlawed slavery at this time, but many northern states argued against counting slaves for representation. The agreement resulted in representation and taxation to be based on the "number of free persons" plus a percentage of "all other persons."
A law making body made of two houses. Example: the U.S. Congress.
Checks and Balances
Features of the Constitution that limit the national government's power by requiring the branches to obtain the consent of another for its actions. Through such constraints, the Constitution intended to prevent abuse of power.
Power shared by the state and federal government, such as the power to tax.
In Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution Congress is given the right to make all laws "necessary and proper" to carry out the powers expressed in the other clauses of Article I
The Constitutional declaration (Article VI) that the Constitution and laws made under its provisions are the greatest law of the land
Term sometimes used to refer to the informal changes made to the Constitution because of changes in society, impact of technologies, interpretations of the document, as well as practices that have emerged. These changes add to the Constitution's elasticity and its viability. Political parties and national party conventions are examples.
Powers of the federal government that are specifically addressed in the Constitution. Article I, Section 8, for instance, cites the powers of Congress to coin money, regulate its value and impose taxes.
A group selected by the states to elect the president and the vice-president, in which each state's number of votes is equal to the number of its senators and representatives in Congress
Ex post facto laws
A law which punishes people for a crime that was not a crime when it was committed. Congress cannot pass these laws nor can states.
A form of government in which power is divided/shared between the federal, or national, government and the states
Full Faith and Credit
The first words of Article IV, Section 1 of the Constitution, which requires states to respect the "public acts, records, and judicial proceedings" of all the other states.
These are national government powers that go beyond those enumerated in the Constitution. The Constitution states that Congress has the power: "to make all laws necessary and proper" for carrying out the powers enumerated in Article I.
The powers of the national government in foreign affairs that the Supreme Court has declared do not depend on constitutional grants but rather grow out of the very existence of the national government.
Separation of Powers
The structure of the government provided for in the Constitution where authority is divided among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches; idea comes from Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws.
Writ of habeas corpus
A court order requiring jailers to explain to a judge why they are holding a prisoner in custody.
Bills of Attainder
Forbidden by the Constitution, these are special acts of a legislature which inflict capital punishments upon persons supposed to be guilty of high offences, such as treason and felony, without any due process of judicial proceedings.
A nation's basic law. It creates political institutions, assigns or divides powers in government, and often provides certain guarantees to citizens.
consent of the governed
The idea that government derives its authority by sanction of the people.
A collection of 85 articles written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison between 1787 and 1788 under the name "Publius" to urge ratification of the document. These publications explained and defended the Constitution.
Groups such as political parties or interest groups, which according to James Madison arose from the unequal distribution of property or wealth and had the potential to cause instability in government.
Equal Rights Amendment
A proposed constitutional amendment passed by Congress in 1972 stating that "equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the U.S. or by any state on account of sex." The amendment failed to acquire the necessary support from three-fourths of the state legislatures.
Rights inherent in human beings, not dependent on governments, which include, life, liberty, and property. The concept of natural rights was central to English philosopher John Locke's theories about government and was widely accepted among America's Founders.
Bill of Rights
The first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The first Congress proposes twelve amendments to the Constitution on September 25, 1789 in response to concerns voiced by some of the Anti-Federalist. These amendments define such basic liberties a freedom of religion, speech, and press and guarantee defendants' rights. Ten of the twelve proposed amendments were ratified on December 15, 1791, thus becoming a part of the Constitution.
The basic law written in 1787 and ratified in 1788, and then implemented in March 1789. The document sets forth the institutional structure of U.S. government and the tasks these institutions perform. It replaced the Articles of Confederation.
Marbury v Madison, 1803
The power of the courts to determine whether acts of Congress and, by implication, the executive are in accord with the U. S. Constitution. Judicial review was established by this case.
A form of government in which the people select representatives to govern them and make laws. (representative democracy)
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