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268 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
Government
The institutions and processes through which policies are made for a society.
Politics
The process by which we select our governmental leaders and what policies these leaders pursue.
Policy Agenda
The issues that attract the serious attention of public officials and other people actually involved in politics at any given time.
Political Participation
All the activities used by citizens to influence the selection of political leaders or the policies they pursue.
Policymaking Institutions
Branches of government charged with taking action on political issues.
Single-Issue Group
Groups that have a narrow interest tend to dislike compromise, and often draw membership from people new to politics.
Democracy
A system of selection policymakers and of organizing government so that policy represents and responds to the publics preferences.
Policymaking System
The process by which policy comes into being and evolves over time. People’s interest concerns and concerns create political issues for government policymakers. These issues shape policy, which in turn impacts people, generating more interests, problems and concerns.
Majority Rule
A fundamental principal of traditional democratic theory. In a democracy, choosing among alternatives require that the majority’s desire be respected.
Linkage Institutions
The political channels through which people’s concerns become political issues on the policy agenda.
Minority Rights
A principal of traditional democratic theory that guarantees rights to those who do not belong to majorities but allows for their participation.
Pluralist Theory
A theory of government and politics emphasizing that politics is mainly a competition among groups, each one pressing for its own preferred policies.
Declaration of Independence
The document approved by representatives of the American colonies in 1776 that stated their grievances against the British monarch and declared their independence.
Elite and Class Theory
A theory of government and politics contending that societies are divided along class lines and that the upper-class elite will rule; or perhaps should rule.
U.S. Constitution
The document written in 1787 and ratified in 1789 that sets forth the institutional structure of the U.S. government and the tasks these institutions perform.
Hyperpluralism
A cynical theory of government and politics contending that groups are so strong that government is weakened; pluralism gone bad.
Natural Rights
Rights inherent in human beings, not dependent on governments, which include life, liberty, and property. The concept was central to John Locke’s theories about government, and was widely accepted among America’s Founding Fathers.
Policy Gridlock
A condition that occurs when no coalition is strong enough to form a majority and establish policy. The result is that nothing may get done.
Consent of the Governed
The idea that government derives its authority by sanction of the people. (Locke)
Individualism
The belief that individuals should be left on their own by the government; a prominent belief in American political thought.
Limited Government
The idea that certain restrictions should be placed on government to protect the natural rights of citizens.
Articles of Confederation
The first constitution of the United States, adopted by Congress in 1777 and enacted in 1781. The articles established a national legislature, the Continental Congress, but most authority rested with the state legislature.
Separation of Powers
A feature of the Constitution that requires each of the three branches of government-executive, legislative, and judicial-to be relatively independent of the others so that one cannot control the others. (Montesquieu)
Shays’ Rebellion
A series of attacks on courthouses by a small band of farmers led by Revolutionary War Captain Daniel Shays to block foreclosure proceedings.
Checks and Balances
Features of the Constitution that limit government’s power by requiring that power be balanced among the different governmental institutions. These institutions continually check one another’s activities.
Factions
Interest groups arising from the unequal distribution of property or wealth that James Madison attacked in Federalist Paper #10.
Republic
A form of government in which the people select representatives to govern them and make laws.
Connecticut Compromise
The compromise reached at the Constitution Convention that established two houses of Congress: the House of Representatives, in which representatives is based on a state’s share of the U.S. population, and the Senate, in which each state has two representatives. (bicameral legislature)
Federalists
Supporters of the U.S. Constitution at the time the states were contemplating its adoption.
Writ of Habeas Corpus
A court order requiring jailers to explain to a judge why they are holding a prisoner in custody.
Anti-federalists
Opponents of the American Constitution at the time when the states were contemplating its adoption
Federalist Papers
A collection of 85 articles written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison under the name “Publius” to defend the Constitution in detail
Federalism
A way of organizing a nation so that two or more levels of government have formal authority over the same land and people. It is a system of shared power between units of government
Bill of Rights
The first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, drafted in response to some of the Anti-Federalist concerns. These amendments define such basic liberties as freedom of religion, speech, and press and guarantee defendants’ rights.
Supremacy clause
Article VI of the Constitution, which makes the Constitution, national laws, and treaties supreme over state laws when the national government is acting within its constitutional limits
Equal Rights Amendment
A constitutional amendment passed by Congress in 1972 stating that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” The amendment failed to acquire the necessary support from three-fourths of the state legislatures
Tenth Amendment
The Constitutional amendment stating that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” Link to: reserved powers; elastic clause; loose vs. strict construction
Marbury v. Madison, 1803
The 1803 case in which Chief Justice John Marshall and his associates first asserted the right of the Supreme Court to determine the meaning of the U.S. Constitution. The decision established the Court’s power of judicial review over acts of Congress, in this case the Judiciary Act of 1789
McCulloch v. Maryland, 1819
A Supreme Court decision that established the supremacy of the national government over state governments. In deciding this case, Chief Justice John Marshall and is colleagues held that Congress had certain implied powers in addition to the enumerated powers found in the Constitution
Judicial review
The power of the courts to determine whether acts of Congress, and by implication the executive, are constitutional
Enumerated powers
Powers of the federal government that are specifically addressed in the Constitution; for Congress, these powers are listed in Article I, Section 8. Also called “expressed,” or “delegated.”
Implied powers
Powers of the federal government 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 into execution” the powers enumerated in Article I. Link to: elastic clause; Amendment 10; loose vs. strict construction.
Privileges and immunities (clause)
A clause of Article IV, Section 2, of the Constitution according citizens of each state most of the privileges of citizens of other states
Elastic clause
The final paragraph of Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution, which authorizes Congress to pass all laws “necessary and proper” to carry out the enumerated powers
Dual federalism
A system of government in which both the states and the national government remain supreme within their own spheres, each responsible for some policies. Also called “layer cake federalism.”
Gibbons v. Ogden, 1824
A landmark case in which the Supreme Court interpreted very broadly the clause in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution giving Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce, encompassing virtually every form of commercial activity
Cooperative federalism
System of government in which powers and policy assignments are shared between states and the national government. They may also share costs, administration, and even blame for programs that work poorly. Also called “marble cake federalism.”
Full faith and credit (clause)
A clause in Article IV, Section 1, of the Constitution requiring each state to recognize the official documents and civil judgments rendered by the courts of other states
Fiscal federalism
The pattern of spending, taxing, and providing grants in the federal system; it is the cornerstone of the national government’s relations with state and local governments
Extradition (clause)
A legal process whereby an alleged criminal offender is surrendered by the officials of one state to officials of one state to officials of the state in which the crime is alleged to have been committed
Categorical grants
Federal grants that can be used only for specific purposes, or “categories,” of state and local spending . They come with strings attached, such as nondiscrimination provisions.
Project grants
Federal categorical grants given for specific purposes and awarded on the basis of the merits of application
Cross-cutting requirements
When a condition on one federal grant is extended to all activities supported by federal funds, regardless of their source (example: discrimination).
Formula grants
Federal categorical grants distributed according to a formula specified in legislation or in a administrative regulations
Public opinion
The distribution of the population’s beliefs about politics and policy issues.
Block grants
Federal grants given more or less automatically to states or communities to support broad programs in areas such as community development and social services
Demography
The science of human population changes.
Mandate
Requirements (sometimes unfunded) that direct states or local governments to comply with federal rules under threat of penalties or as a condition of receipt of federal grant funds. DO NOT confuse with mandate theory of elections
Census
A valuable tool for understanding demographic changes. The constitution requires that the government conduct an “actual enumeration” of the population every 10 years.
Cross-over sanctions
When the federal government uses federal grant dollars in one program to influence state and local policy in another (example: highway funds and drinking age).
Melting Pot
The mixing of cultures, ideas, and peoples that has changed the American nation. The United States, with its history of immigration, has often been called a melting pot.
Minority majority
The emergence of a non-Caucasian majority, as compared with a white, generally Anglo-Saxon majority. It is predicted that by about 2060, Hispanic Americans, African Americans, and Asian Americans together will outnumber white Americans.
Random digit dialing
A technique used by pollsters to place telephone calls randomly to both listed and unlisted numbers when conducting a survey.
Political culture
An overall set of values widely shared within a society.
Exit polls
Public opinion surveys used by major media pollsters to predict electoral winners with speed and precision.
Reapportionment
The process of reallocating seats in the House of Representatives every 10 years on the basis of the results of the census.
Political ideology
A coherent set of beliefs about politics, public policy, and public purpose. It helps give meaning to political events, personalities, and policies.
Sample
A relatively small proportion of people who are chosen in a survey so as to be representative of the whole.
Gender gap
A term that refers to the regular pattern by which women are more likely to support Democratic candidates, Women tend to be significantly less conservative than men and are more likely to support spending on social services and to oppose higher levels of military spending.
Random Sampling
The key techniques employed by sophisticated survey researchers, which operates on the principle that everyone should have an equal probability of being selected for the sample.
Civil disobedience
A form of political participation that reflects a conscious decision to break a law believed to be immoral and to suffer the consequences.
Salad Bowl
A new term to describe, and celebrate the diversity of the United States without the controversial notion of assimilation found in the term melting pot.
Caucus
Meeting of all state party leaders for selecting delegates to the national party convention.
Bandwagon Effect
An effect caused by exit poll projections in which undecided voters turnout to support the candidate who is leading in the polls.
Presidential primaries
Elections in which votes in a state vote for a candidate (or delegates pledged to him or her). Most delegates to the national party conventions are chosen this way.
Cross-pressure
A term used to describe being caught between two or more conflicting demographic patterns; for example: Dr. Condoleeza Rice, National Security Advisor.
McGovern-Fraser Commission
A commission formed in 1968 Democratic convention in response to demands for reform by minority groups and others who sought better representations.
Nomination
The official endorsement of a candidate for office by a political party. Generally, success in the nomination game requires momentum, money, and media attention.
Superdelegates
National party leaders who automatically get a delegate slot at the Democratic national party convention.
National party convention
The supreme power within each of the parties. The convention meets every four years to nominate the party’s presidential and vice-presidential candidates and to write the party’s platform.
Frontloading
The recent tendency of states to hold primaries early in the calendar in order to capitalize on media attention.
National Primary
A proposal by critics of the caucuses and presidential primaries, who would replace these electoral methods with a nationwide primary held early in the election year.
Federal Elections Commission
A six member bipartisan agency that administers campaign finance laws and enforces compliance with their requirements.
Regional primaries
A proposal by critics of the caucuses and presidential primaries to replace these electoral methods with a series of primaries held in each geographic region.
Soft Money
Political contributions earmarked for party-building expenses at the grassroots level or for generic party advertising. These contributions are not subject to limits.
Party platform
A political party’s statement of its goals and policies for the next four years. The platform is drafted prior to he party convention by a committee whose members are chosen in rough proportion to each candidate’s strength.
Political Action Committee
Fundraising vehicles created by FECA 1974. A corporation, union, or some other interest group can create a PAC and register it with the FEC which will meticulously monitor their expenditures.
Direct mail
A high tech method of raising money for a candidate or cause. It involves sending information and requests for money to people whose names appear on lists of those who have supported similar candidates in the past.
Selective perception
The phenomenon that people often pay the most attention to things they already agree with and interpret them according to their own predispositions.
Federal Election Campaign Act of 1974
A law passed for reforming campaign finance that created the Federal Elections Commission, provided public financing for primaries and general elections, limited presidential campaign spending, required disclosure, and attempted to limit contributions.
Bipartisan Campaign
Reform Act of 2002
(BiCRA or McCain-Feingold)
Campaign finance regulations that double the amounts specified by FECA while trying to eliminate soft money contributions. It inadvertently created another loophole for Section 527 contributions.
“527”
Named for the section of the IRS Tax Code, a 527 is an advocacy group trying to influence elections through voter mobilization and the spending of unlimited dollars in “independent expenditures.” The most famous of these in the 2004 election cycle was the “Swiftboat Veterans for Truth.”
Political efficacy
The belief that one’s political participation really matters-that one’s vote can actually make a difference.
Legitimacy
A characterization of elections by political scientists meaning that they are almost universally accepted as a fair and free method of selecting political leaders. When legitimacy is high, as in the United States, even the losers accept the results peacefully.
Civic duty
The belief that in order to support democratic government, a citizen should always vote.
Referendum
A state-level method of direct legislation that gives voters a chance to approve or disapprove proposed legislation or a proposed constitutional amendment.
Voter registration
A system adopted by the states that requires voters to register well in advance of Election Day.
Initiative petition
A process permitted in some states whereby voters may put proposed changes in the state constitution to a vote if sufficient signatures are obtained on petitions calling for such a referendum.
Motor Voter Act
Passed in 1993, this Act went into effect for the 1996 election. It requires states to permit people to register to vote at the same time they apply for their driver’s license.
Suffrage
The legal right to vote, extended to African Americans by the Fifteenth Amendment, to women by the Nineteenth Amendment, and to people over the age of 18 by the Twenty-sixth Amendment.
Mandate theory of elections
The idea that the winning candidate has a mandate from the people to carry out his or her platforms and politics. Politicians like the theory better than political scientists do.
Policy voting
Electoral choices that are made on the basis of the voter’s policy preferences and on the basis of where the candidates stand on policy issues.
High-tech politics
A nickname for a type of politics in which the behavior of citizens and policymakers and the political agenda itself are increasingly shaped by technology.
Electoral College
A unique American institution, created by the Constitution, providing for the selection of the president by electors chosen by the state parties. Although the electoral college vote usually reflects a popular majority, the winner-take-all rule gives clout to big states.
Mass media
Television, radio, newspapers, magazines, the Internet, and other means of popular communication.
Retrospective voting
A theory of voting in which voters essentially ask this simple question: “What have you done for me lately?” Conrad Burns R.-Montana…going “Washington DC” on his constituents
Media events
Events purposely staged for the media that nonetheless look spontaneous (a “photo op”). In keeping with politics as theater, media events can be staged by individuals, groups, and government officials, especially presidents.
Bush v. Gore, 2000
An extremely controversial U.S. Supreme Court ruling that stopped a manual recount of ballots in Florida, thereby awarding Florida’s electoral votes to George W. Bush and declaring him the winner of the 2000 election. Critics use this election as one more example of the need to revamp the Electoral College system.
Press conference
Meetings of public officials with reporters. Since the Watergate/Vietnam era, the media has become more aggressive in its scrutiny of the Whitehouse (watchdog); therefore, recent Presidents have preferred the electronic throne over the press conference.
Recall election
The power of the people at the state level to “recall” an elected official, or remove them from office and force a follow up election. The idea is as old as the Constitution itself, but the power of recall only started showing up in the states at the beginning of the twentieth century as part of the Progressive effort to “take back the country.”
Investigative journalism
The use of detective-like reporting to unearth scandals, scams, and schemes, putting reporters in adversarial relationships with political leaders.
Print media
Newspapers and magazines, as compared with broadcast media. Broadcast media: Television and radio, as compared with print media.
Policy agenda
The issues that attract the serious attention of public officials and other people actively involved in politics at the time.
Chains
By 1994, more than 80 percent of America’s daily papers were controlled by national and regional chains.
Electronic Throne
The presidential skill of using the television as a platform for public persuasion; developed as an alternative to press conferences. Link to: media event; gatekeeper role of the media.
Narrowcasting
Media programming on cable TV or the Internet that is focused on one topic and aimed at a particular audience. Examples include MTV, ESPN, and C-SPAN. :
Infotainment
A term used to characterize the recent trend in network television news production that blends analysis with entertainment. Many experts believe this trend can be linked to many other trends in politics and voter behavior.
Sound bites
Short video clips of approximately 15 seconds, typically all that is shown from a politician’s speech or activities on the nightly television news.
Trial balloons
An intentional news leak for the purpose of assessing the political reaction.
Talking head
A shot of a person’s face talking directly to the camera. Because this is visually unappealing, the major commercial networks rarely show a politician talking one-on-one for very long.
Party Competition
The battle of the parties for control of public offices. Ups and downs of the two major parties are one of the most important elements in American politics.
Political party
According to Anthony Downs, a “team of men [and women] seeking to control the governing apparatus by gaining office in a duly constituted election.”
Patronage
One of the key inducements used by party machines. A patronage job, promotion, or contract is one that is given for political reasons rather than for merit or competence alone.
Rational-choice theory
A popular theory in political science to explain the actions of voters as well as politicians. It assumes that individuals act in their own best interest, carefully weighing the costs and benefits of possible alternatives.
Closed primaries
Elections to select party nominees in which only people who have registered in advance with the party can vote for that party’s candidates, thus encouraging greater party loyalty.
Party Identification
Citizen’s self-proclaimed preference for one party or the other.
Open primaries
Elections to select party nominees in which voters can decide on election day whether they want to participate in the Democratic or Republican contests.
Ticket-splitting
Voting with one party for one office and with another party for other offices. It has become the norm in American voting behavior.
Blanket primaries
Elections to select party nominees in which voters are presented with a list of candidates form all the parties. Voters can then select some Democrats and some Republicans if they like.
Party machines
A type of political party organization that relies heavily on material inducements, such as patronage, to win votes and to govern.
National convention
The meeting pf party delegates every four years to choose a presidential ticket and write the party’s platform.
National committee
One of the institutions that keeps the party operating between conventions. The national committee is composed of representatives from the states and territories.
Party realignment
The displacement of the majority party by the minority party, usually during a critical election period.
National chairperson
The national chairperson is responsible for the day-to-day activities of the party and is usually nominated by the presidential nominee.
New Deal Coalition
A coalition forged by the Democrats, who dominated American politics from the 1930’s to the 1960’s. Its basic elements were the urban working class, ethnic groups, Catholics and Jews, the poor, Southerners, African Americans, and intellectuals.
Coalition
A group of individuals with a common interest upon which every political party depends.
Party dealignment
The gradual disengagement of people and politicians from the parties, as seen in part by shrinking party identification. Link to: ticket-splitting.
Party eras
Historical periods in which a majority of voters cling to the party in power, which tends to win a majority of the elections.
Party neutrality
A term used to describe the fact that many Americans are indifferent toward to two major political parties.
Critical election
An electoral “earthquake” where new issues emerge, new coalitions replace old ones, and the majority party is often displaced by the minority party. Critical election periods are sometimes marked by a national crisis and may require more than one election to bring about a new party era.
Third parties
Electoral contenders other than the two major parties. American third parties are not unusual, but they rarely win elections
Winner-take-all system
An electoral system in which legislative seats are awarded only to the candidates who come in first in their constituencies. In American presidential elections, the system in which the winner of the popular vote in a state receives all the electoral votes of that state.
Elite theory
Theory of government and politics contending that societies are divided along class lines and than an upper-class elite will rule, regardless of the formal niceties of governmental organization.
Proportional representation
An electoral system used throughout most of Europe that awards legislative seats to political parties in proportion to the number of votes won in an election.
Hyperpluralist theory
Theory of government and politics contending that groups are so strong that government is weakened. Hyperpluralist is an extreme, exaggerated, or perverted form of pluralism.
Responsible party model
A view favored by some political scientists about how parties should work. According to the model, parties should offer clear choices to the voters, who can then use those choices as cues to their own preferences of candidates. Once in office, parties would carry out their campaign promises.
Subgovernments: (Iron Triangles)
A term used to describe the relationship between interest group leaders interested in a particular policy, the government agency in charge of administrating that policy, and the members of congressional committees and subcommittees handling that policy.
Interest group
An organization of people with shared policy goals entering the policy process at several points to try to achieve those goals. Interest groups pursue their goals in many arenas.
Free-rider problem
The problem faced by unions and other groups when people do not join because they can benefit from the group’s activities without officially joining.
Pluralist theory
A theory of government and politics emphasizing that politics is mainly a competition among groups, each one pressing for its own preferred policies.
Olson’s law of large groups
Advanced by Mancur Olson, a principle stating that “the larger the group, the further it will fall short of providing an optimal amount of a collective good.”
Selective benefits
Goods (such as information publications, travel discounts, and group insurance rates) that a group can restrict to those who pay their annual dues.
Amicus curiae briefs
Legal briefs submitted by a “friend of the court” for the purpose of raising additional points of view and presenting information not contained in the briefs of the formal parties. These briefs attempt to influence a court’s decision.
Single-issue groups
Groups that have a narrow interest, tend to dislike compromise, and often draw membership from people new to politics. These features distinguish them from traditional interest groups.
Class action suits
Lawsuits permitting a small number of people to sue on behalf of all other people similarly situated.
Lobbying
According to Lester Milbrath, a “communication, by someone other than a citizen acting on his own behalf, directed to a governmental decisionmaker with the hope of influencing his decision.”
Cohesiveness
A unified sense of purpose among all of the members; the single most important goal for any interest group.
Electioneering
Direct group involvement in the electoral process. Groups can help fund campaigns, provide testimony, and get members to work for candidates, and some form political action committees (PACs).
Incumbents
Members of Congress who already hold office.
Political action committees (PACs)
Political funding vehicles created by 1974 campaign finance reforms. A corporation, union, or some other interest group can create a PAC and register it with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which will meticulously monitor the PAC’s expenditures.
Casework
Activities of members of Congress that help constituents as individuals cut through bureaucratic regulations (red tape) to get things they want.
Pork barrel
The list of federal projects, grants, and contracts that incumbents secure for their constituents.
Majority leader
Responsible for scheduling bills, influencing committee assignments, and rounding up votes.
Bicameral Legislature
A legislature divided into two houses; like the US Congress and Nebraska’s State Legislature.
Whips
Leaders who track vote totals and lean on anyone who may be influenced before the vote occurs; target undecided members.
House Rules Committee
Committee that reviews all bills (except revenue, budget, and appropriations) that come out of committee before they enter the full House for debate; they attach “rules” to bills.
Minority leader
The principal leader of the minority party in the Senate.
Filibuster
Stalling technique unique to the Senate used to “talk a bill to death
Standing committees
Separate subject-matter committees in each house that handle bills in different policy areas.
Speaker of the House
Constitutionally mandated position chosen by the majority party in the House; first in command in the Senate; second in the line of Presidential succession.
Joint committees
Committees on a few subject-matter areas with membership drawn from both houses.
Conference committee
Committees formed from each house to reconcile the language of a bill as it emerges from the House and the Senate; “iron out” language differences.
Bill
A proposed law that must be formally introduced by a member of the House or Senate.
Select committee
Committees appointed for a single purpose, such as an investigation.
Cloture
The vote (requiring 60 members present) to end a filibuster
Legislative oversight
Congressional monitoring of the bureaucracy and its administration of policy; performed mainly through hearings.
Omnibus legislation
Nickname given to miscellaneous, all-inclusive spending bills.
Committee chairs
The most important influence on the congressional agenda; scheduling hearings, hiring staff, appointing subcommittees, and managing bills. They were once chosen strictly based on the seniority system, now they are mostly determined by the party in power.
Reciprocity
The tradition in Congress of trading votes; also called “logrolling.”
Seniority system
A rule for choosing committee chairs that has slowly been replaced since the 1970s.
Junket
Nickname critics give to congressional trips (for business or not) at taxpayers’ expense.
Gerrymandering
Strategic redistricting performed by the majority party of the state legislature after the census. Gerrymandering seeks to gain a geographic advantage for one party.
Congressional Budget Office
Congressional agency responsible for analyzing the president’s proposed budget
Miller v. Johnson, 1995
U.S. Supreme Court case that banned racial gerrymandering.
General Accounting Office
Non-partisan congressional agency that performs audits of the executive branch thereby helping with legislative oversight.
US Term Limits, Inc. vs
Thornton, 1995
U.S. Supreme Court case striking down term limits for incumbents.
Congressional Research Service
Non-partisan congressional agency that provides research for members and staff of Congress.
Safe seat
Nickname for a seat of Congress that is well protected by incumbency
Power of the purse
Phrase describing Congress’ budget appropriations power, one of the most powerful methods of legislative oversight.
Twenty-second Amendment
Passed in 1951, the amendment that limits presidents to two terms of office.
Impeachment
The political equivalent of an indictment in criminal law, prescribed by the Constitution. Impeachable offenses include “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
Watergate
The events and scandal surrounding a break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in 1972 and the subsequent cover-up of White House involvement, leading to the eventual resignation of President under the threat of impeachment.
Twenty-fifth Amendment
Passed in 1951, this amendment permits the vice president to become acting president if both the vice president and the president’s cabinet determine that the president is disabled. The amendment also outlines how a recuperated president can reclaim the job.
Cabinet
A group of presidential advisors not mentioned in the Constitution, although every president has had one. Today the cabinet is composed of 13 secretaries and the attorney general.
Office of Management
and Budget (OMB)
An office that grew out of the Bureau of the Budge, created in 1921, consisting of a handful of political appointee and hundreds of skilled professionals. The OMB performs both managerial and budgetary functions.
Veto
The constitutional power of the president to send a bill back to Congress with reasons for rejecting it. A two-thirds vote in each house can override a veto.
Pocket Veto
A veto taking place when congress adjourns within 10 days of submitting a bill to the president, who simply lets it die by neither signing nor vetoing it.
War Powers Resolution
A law passed in 1973 in reactions to American fighting in Vietnam and Cambodia, requiring president’s to consult with Congress whenever possible prior to using military force and to withdraw forces after 60 days unless Congress declares war or grants an extension. Presidents view the resolution as unconstitutional.
Legislation Veto
The ability of Congress to override a presidential decision. Although the War Powers Resolution asserts this authority, there is reason to believe that, if challenged the Supreme Court would find this legislative veto in violation of the doctrine of separation of powers.
INS v. Chadha, 1983
U.S. Supreme Court case striking down the legislative veto on account of its violation of the separation of powers.
U.S. v. Nixon, 1974
U.S. Supreme Court case defining executive privilege and limiting the president’s use of it in cases of national security.
Impoundment
The practice of temporarily or permanently stopping the flow of funds that Congress has already approved.
Budget and Impoundment
Control Act, 1974
Legislation creating the Congressional Budget Office and requiring congressional approval for the president’s use of impoundment.
Korematsu v. U.S., 1944
U.S. Supreme Court case upholding the constitutionality of internment camps for Japanese Americans.
Clinton v. N.Y.C., 1998
U.S. Supreme Court case that strikes down the line-item veto, passed by Congress only two years earlier.
Standing
The requirement that plaintiffs have a serious interest in a case; depending on whether they have sustained a direct injury.
Original jurisdiction
The jurisdiction of the courts that hear a case first, usually in a trial. These are the courts that determine the facts about a case.
Appellate jurisdiction
The jurisdiction of courts that hear cases brought to them on appeal from lower courts. These courts do not review the factual record, only the legal issues involved.
District courts
The 91 federal courts of original jurisdiction. They are the only federal courts in which trials are held and in which juries may be impaneled.
Courts of Appeal
Appellate courts empowered to review all final decisions of district courts, except in rare cases. In addition, they also hear appeals to orders of many federal regulatory agencies.
Supreme Court
The “highest court in the land,” ensuring uniformity in interpreting national laws, resolving conflicts among states, and maintaining national supremacy in law. It has both original jurisdiction and appellate jurisdiction.
Senatorial courtesy
An unwritten tradition whereby nominations for state-level federal judicial posts are not confirmed if they are opposed by a senator from the state in which the nominee will serve.
Solicitor General
A presidential appointee in the Department of Justice responsible or choosing and arguing cases before the Supreme Court on behalf of the U.S. government.
Opinion
A statement of legal reasoning behind a judicial decision; the content of which may be as important as the decision itself (majority, concurring, dissenting).
Precedent
How similar cases have been decided in the past.
Original intent
A view that the Constitution should be interpreted according to the original intent of the Framers. This intent is mainly expressed in the convention debate notes as well as the Federalist Papers.
Judicial implementation
The process of remanding decisions to the lower courts to be enforced, and thereby converted into actual policy.
Judicial restraint
A judicial philosophy in which judges play minimal policymaking roles.
Judicial activism
A judicial philosophy that advocates bold policy decisions to correct social and political problems.
Writ of certiorari
A formal document from the U.S. Supreme Court that calls up a case from the lower courts.
Rule of Four
Minimum number of justices that must be in agreement to grant the writ of certiorari.
Vetting
A term describing the senatorial screening process for all presidential appointees.
"Paper trail"
A nickname given to a federal judge’s record of judicial rulings. This becomes relevant during the vetting process in the Senate.
“Doctrine of stare decisis:”
From the latin for “let the decision stand” this doctrine holds that judicial precedent has the force of law. Strict supporters of this doctrine don’t like to see judges “legislate from the bench” and steer away from established precedent. Today, Supreme Court nominees are often asked about their stance regarding this doctrine.
Brief
A document prepared by counsel as the basis for arguing a case, consisting of legal and factual arguments and the authorities in support of them.
Incumbent
Members of Congress who already hold office.
Pendleton Civil Service Act
Passed in 1883, an Act that created a federal civil service so that hiring and promotion would be based on merit rather than on patronage.
Merit principle
The idea that hiring should be based on entrance exams and promotion ratings to produce administration by people with talent and skill.
Hatch Act
A federal law prohibiting government employees from active participation in partisan politics.
Bureaucracy
A hierarchical authority structure that implements policy using task specialization.
Independent Regulatory Agency
A government agency responsible for some sector of the economy, making and enforcing rules to protect the public interest. It also judges disputes over these rules. Examples include the SEC, FCC, FTC, FEC.
Policy Implementation
The stage of policymaking between the establishment of a policy and the consequences of the policy for the people whom it affects. Implementation involves translating the goals and objectives of a policy into an operating, ongoing program.
Regulation
The use of governmental authority to control or change some practice in the private sector. Regulations pervade the daily lives of people and institutions.
Deregulation
The lifting of restrictions on business, industry, and professional activities for which government rules had been established and that bureaucracies had been created to administer.
(Administrative) discretion
The authority of bureaucratic administrators (“street-level bureaucrats”) to choose from various responses to a given problem; to be flexible. This power is what often leads to poor implementation and legislative oversight.
Red tape
Derogatory nickname for regulations imposed by the bureaucracy.
Voting Rights Act 1965
Major civil rights legislation that banned discrimination in voting.
Title IX of the Education Act of 1972
Major civil rights legislation that banned discrimination in education.
Civil liberties
Personal freedoms, e.g., speech, assembly, religion.
Clear and present
danger doctrine
Judicial interpretation of Amendment 1 that government may not ban speech unless such speech poses an imminent threat to society.
De facto segregation
Segregation “by fact,” i.e., segregation that results from such factors as housing patterns rather than law.
De jure segregation
Segregation by law, i.e., segregation that is required by government.
Double jeopardy
Being prosecuted twice for the same offense. Banned by Amendment 5.
Due process clause
Prohibits national government (5th Amendment) and states (14th Amendment) from denying life, liberty, or property without due process of law.
Equal protection
clause
14th Amendment clause that prohibits states from denying equal protection under the law, and has been used to combat distinction.
Eminent domain
The right of government to take private property for the public good. Fair compensation must be paid to the owner of such property.
Establishment clause
Provision of Amendment 11 that prohibits Congress from establishing an official state religion. This is the basis for separation of church and state.
Exclusionary Rule
Supreme Court guideline that excludes the use of illegally obtained evidence in a criminal trial.
Free exercise clause
Provision of Amendment 1 stating that Congress may not prohibit the free exercise of religion.
Grandfather clause
Southern laws that excluded blacks from exercising suffrage by restricting the right to vote to only those whose grandfathers had voted before 1865.
Grand jury
Determines whether or not to bring criminal charges against a suspect.
Incorporation
Applying the Bill of Rights to the states. A “total incorporation” view is that the states must obey all provisions of the Bill of Rights because of the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. A “selective incorporation” view is that states must obey only some of the provisions of the Bill of Rights.
Indictment
Grand jury order that a suspect must stand trial for a criminal offense.
Jim Crow laws
Southern laws that required racial segregation in places of public accommodation.
Libel
Written untruths that damage a reputation.
Literacy Test
Southern method of excluding blacks from exercising suffrage by requiring that voters prove their ability to read and write.
Miranda warnings
Warnings that must be read to suspects prior to questioning. Suspects must be advised that they have the rights of silence and counsel.
Plea Bargain
Arrangement in which a suspect pleads guilty to a lesser offense in order to avoid a trial. The manner in which most cases are disposed of.
Police powers
Powers that allow states to pass laws protecting the health, welfare, safety, and morals of their residents.
Poll Tax
Southern method of excluding blacks from exercising suffrage by requiring payment of a tax prior to voting.
Prior Restraint
When a court stops expression before it is made, e.g., prohibiting a demonstration by a radical group because the assembly is likely to become violent. Presumed to be unconstitutional.
Racial
Gerrymandering
Drawing of legislative boundaries to give electoral advantages to a particular racial group. “Majority-minority” districts include large numbers of racial minorities in order to ensure minority representation in legislatures.
Sedition
Advocacy of the overthrow of the government.
Separate but equal
Supreme Court doctrine established in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson. Allowed state-required racial segregation in places of public accommodation as long as the facilities were equal.
Shield law
State laws that protect journalists from having to reveal their sources.
Slander
Spoken untruths that damage reputation.
Strict scrutiny
Supreme Court guideline for determining if government can make racial distinctions. According to this guideline, such distinctions are highly suspect and are allowed only if they are narrowly tailored to serve compelling government interest.
White primary
Primary election in which Southern states allowed only whites to vote.