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157 Cards in this Set

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affirmative action
Government-mandated programs that seek to create special employment opportunities for blacks, women, and other victims of past discrimination.
amendment
Addition to the Constitution. Amendments require approval by two-thirds of both houses of Congress and three-quarters of the states.
American Party/Know-Nothings
Political party of the 1850s. The Know-Nothings (so named becaus of their secretiveness) pursued nativist goals, including severe limitations on immigration.
Susan B. Anthony
Political activist who spent her life campaigning for women's right to vote.
appellate court
Court in which appeals of lower court decisions are heard.
aristocracy
Form of government in which power in concentrated in the hands of the upper social class.
Articles of Confederation
The United States' first constitution. The government formed by the Aritcles of Confederation lasted from 1781 (the year before the end of the Revolutionary War) to 1789. The government under the Articles proved inadequate, because it did not have the power to collect taxes from the states, nor could it regulate foreign trade in order to generate revenue from import and export tariffs.
autocracy
Form of government in which power is concentrated in the hands of a single individual.
bicameral
Consisting of two legislative houses. The US has a bicameral legilature; its two houes are the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Bill of Rights
First ten amendments to the US Constitution. The Bill of Rights guarantee personal liberties and limit the powers of the government.
black codes
A series of laws passed in the post-Civil War South to limit the rights of freed blacks. The black codes included restrictions on assembly, travel, and access to plublic institutions; curfew laws; and laws requiring blacks to carry special passes.

(Jim Crow Laws)
blanket primary
Primary election in which voters may select a candidate from any party for each office. Blanket primaries use the same procedure as general elections.
bread-and-butter issues
Those political issues specifically directed at the daily concerns of most working-class Americans, such as job security, tax rates, wages, and employee benefits.
broad constructionism
Belief that the Constitution should be interpreted loosely concerning the restrictions it places on federal power. Loose constructionists emphasize the importance of the elastic clause.
Brown versus Board of Education
The 1954 case in which the Supreme Court overturned the "separate but equal" standard as it applied to education; "separate but euqal" had been the law of the land since the Court had approved it in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896. In a 9 to 0 decision, the court ruled that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."
budget resolution
Set of budget guidelines that must pass both houses of Congress in identical form by April 15. The budget resolution guides government spending for the following fiscal year.
caucus
Meeting of local party members for the purpose of choosing delegates to a national party convention. The term also refers to a meeting of the Democractic memebers of the House of Representatives.
Central Intelligence Agency
U.S. espionage and information-gathering agency. The CIA operates overseas, monitoring the activities of U.S. enemies and potential enemies.
checks and balances
The system that prevents any branch of government from becoming too powerful by requiring the approval of more than one branch for all important acts.
civil court
Court in which lawsuits are heard.
civil disobedience
Nonviolent civil disobedience 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. The notion was popularized by 19th century American writer Henry David Thoreau and was practiced by Martin Luther King, Jr.
civil liberties
Those protections against government power embodied in the Bill of Rights and similar legislation. Civil liberties include the right to free speech, the free exercise of religion, and the right to a fair trial.
civil rights
Those protections against government power by the government and individuals. Civil rights are intended to prevent discrimination based on race, religion, gender, ethnicity, physical handicap, or sexual orientation.
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.
closed primary
Primary election in which voting is restricted to registered members of a political party.
cloture
A motion in the Senate to end debate. A cloture vote requires a three-fifths majority of the Senate.
Coercive Acts
Closed Boston Harbor to all but essential trade (food and firewood) and declared it would remain closed until the damages incurred during the Boston Tea Party were paid for. Several measures tightened English control over the Massachusetts government and its courts, and another required civilians to house British soldiers.
concurrent powers
Constitutional powers shared by the federal and state governments.
conference committee
Congressional committee which includes representatives of both houses of Congress. Their purpose is to settle differences between the ouse 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' version of the federal budget.
Constitutional amendments
Additions and changes to the original Constitution. The first ten amendments make up the Bill of Rights; there are currently twenty-seven amendments.
constitutional convention
As yet untried methody by which the Constitution may be amended. To call a constitutional convention, two-thirds of all state legislatures must petition the federal government.
constitutional government
Form of government in which government power is vested in the people and is defined and limited by law.
cooperative federalism
Form of U.S. federalism since the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Fourteenth Amendment initiated the long demise of dual federalism by providing the national government the means to enforce the rights of citizens against state infringment. The Progressive Era, the New Deal, and the Great Society all increased federal involvement in state government. The result is a system called cooperative federalism in which the national and state governments share many powers.
criminal court
Court in which criminal trials are heard.
Currency Act of 1764
Forbade the colonies to issue paper money. The colonists saw the British government increasing its control over the colonies against the colonists' will.
delegated powers
Constitutional powers granted solely to the federal government.
direct democracy
Form of government in which all enfranchised citizens vote on all matters of government.
double jeopardy
The act of trying an individual a second time after he has been acquitted on the same charges. Double Jeopardy is prohibited by the Constitution.
dual federalism
Form of U.S. federalism during the nation's early history. During this period, the federal and state governments remained separate and independent. What little contact most Americans had with government occurred on the state level, as the national government concerned itself primarily with international trade, construction of roads, harbors, and railways, and the distribution of public land in the west.
due process
Established legal procedures for the arrest and trial of an accused criminal.
elastic clause
The section of the Constitution that allows Congress to pass laws "necessary and proper" to the performance of its duties. It is so-called because it allows Congress to stretch powers beyond those that are specifically granted to it by the Constitution.
Electoral College
Constitutionally established body created for the sole purpose of choosing the president and vice-president. During general elections, voters choose a presidential ticket. The winner in each state usually receives all of these _____ votes. A majority of ____ cotes is required to win; if such a majority cannot be reached, the election result is determined by the House of Representatives.
English Bill of Rights
1689 document guaranteeing certain basic rights to English subjects. Those rights include the right to a speedy trial; protection against excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishment; and the right to petition the government. This document also prevented the king from interfering with elections or from imposing taxes without consent of the Parliament.
Englightenment Era
Period stretching from the late 17th century through the end of the 18th century. Sometimes called the Age of Reason. Science flourished during the this. As it did, many philosophers placed great faith in the powers of reason and human capability. With this increased faith came the belief that individuals were entitled to greater control over their own governments. Associated with writers Locke, Rousseau, and Montesquieu.
Equal Rights Amendment
Failed Constitutional amendment that would have guaranteed equal protection under the law for women.
establishment clause
Section of the Constitution that prohibits the government from designating one faith as the official religion of the US.
exclusionary rule
Rule that prohibits the use of illegally obtained evidence at trial. The Supreme Court has created several exceptions to the exclusionary rule, notably the objective of good faith rule and the inevitable discovery rule.
extradition
Process by which governments return fugitives to the jurisdiction from which they have fled.
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal executive agency charged with enforcing most federal laws. Under J. Edgar Hoover's leadership, it grew to become a powerful government agency.
federal government
A government in which the national government and the local governments share certain power. The US is this.
federalism
Term describing a system of government under which the national government and local governments (state governments, in the case of the US) share powers. Other nations with this government include Canada, Switzerland, and Australia.
Fifteenth Amendment (1870)
Prohibited states from denying votings rights to African Americans. Southern states circumvented the Fifteenth Amendment through literacy tests and poll taxes.
filibuster
A lengthy speech that halts all legislative action in the Senate. These are not possible in the House of Representatives because strict time limits govern all debates there.
fiscal year
Twelve month period starting on October 1. Government budgets go into effect at the beginning of the fiscal year. Congress and the president agree on a budget resolution in April to guide government spending for the coming fiscal year.
Fourteenth Amendment (1868)
Prevented the states from denying "due process of law" and "equal protection under the law" to citizens. The amendment was aimed specifically at protecting the rights of newly freed slaves. In the 20th century, the Supreme Court used teh amendment to strike down state laws that violate the bill of rights.
front-loading
Because early primaries have grown increasingly important in recent years, many states have pushed forward the date of their primary elections. Political analysts use this term.
full faith and credit clause
Section of the Constitution that requires states to honor each others' licenses, marriages, and other acts of state courts.
general election
Election held on the first Tuesday of November, during which voters elect officials.
Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)
Supreme Court case in which Court ruled that a defendant in a felony trial must be provided a lawyer for free if she cannot afford one.
great compromise
Settlement reached at the Constitutional convention between large states and small states. This called for two legislative houses: One in which states were represented by their populations (favoring the large states) and one in which states received equal representation (favoring the small states).
Great Society
President Lyndon B. Johnson's social/economic program, aimed at raising the standard of living for America's poorest residents. Among its programs are Medicare, Medicaid, Project Head Start, Job Corps, and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA).
Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)
Supreme Court decision in which the Court ruled that the Constitution implicitly guarantees citizens' right to privacy.
Gulf War
1991 war between United Nations forces (led by the US) and Iraq. The war was instigated by Iraq's invasion of neighboring Kuwait.
House of Burgesses
First legislature in the colonies. Formed in Virginia in 1916.
House of Representatives
Lower house of US Congress, in which representation is allocated to states in proportion to their population. The House of Representatives has sole power to initiate appropriations legislation.
impeachment
Process by which a president, judge, or other government official can be tried for high crimes and misdemeanors. Andrew Johnson was impeached but was found not guilty and was not removed from office.
indictment
A written statement of criminal charges brought against a defendant. Indictments guarantee that defendants know the charges against them so they can plan a defense.
inevitable discovery
Execption 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.
initiative
Process through which voters may propose new lawas. One of several Progressive Era reforms that increased voters' power over government.
interest group
Political group organized around a particular political goal or philosophy. Interest groups attempt to influence public policy through political action and donations to sympathetic candidates.
iron triangle
Also called subgovernment. These are formed by the close working relationship among various interest groups, congressional committees, and executive agencies that enfore federal regulations. Working together, these groups can collectively exert a powerly influence over legislation and law enforcement.
Jim Crowe laws
State and local laws passed in the post-Reconstruction Era South to enforce racial segregation and otherwise restrict the rights of African Americans.
joint committee
Congressional committee compsed of members of both houses of Congress, usually to investigate and research specific subjects
judicial activism
Term referring to the actions of a court that frequently strikes down or alters the acts of the executive and/or legistlative branches.
judicial restraint
Term referring to the actiosn of a court that demonstrates an unwillingness to break with precedent or to overturn legislative and executive acts.
judicial review
The power of the Supreme Court to declare lawas and executive actions unconstitutional.
killer amendment
Amendment to a bill proposed by opponents for the specific purpose of decreasing the bill's chance of passage.
Ku Klux Klan
Nativist hate group founded during the Reconstruction Era. The Klan terrorized African Americans throughout the South, especially those who attempted to assert their civil rights. The preaches hatred of Catholics and Jews.
Land Ordinance of 1785
A major achievement of the government under the Articles of Confederation. It created an orderly procedure for the settlement of the Ohio Valley.
limited government
Principle of government that states the government powers must be confined to those allowed it by the nation's Constitution.
line-item veto
Power held by some chief executives (e.g. governors, the president) to excise some portions of a spending bill without rejecting the entire bill. The purpose of this power is to allow executives to eliminate frivolous appropriations. The president's line-item veto will soon be challenged before the Surpreme Court, where it's fate will be uncertain.
John Locke
an important philosopher of the English Enlightenment. He believed that the rights to life, liberty, and ownership of property were given by God and could not be taken away by governments. His philosophy influenced the framers of the Constitution.
Magna Carta
1215 document that guaranteed British freemen the right to trial by jury and the right of the Great Council (which represented English nobility) to approve taxes proposed by the monarchy.
Marbury v. Madison (1803)
Supreme Court decision that established the principle of judicial review.
John Marshall
Third Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (he served 1800-1835). A federalist who worked to increase the powers of the federal government over the states. He established the pricipal of judicial review.
Mayflower Compact
In 1620, the travellers aboard teh Mayflower signed an agreement establishing a body politic and a basic legal system for the colony. This agreement created a legal authority and a legislative assembly. It also asserted that the government's pwer derives from the consent of the governed, a concept central to limited government.
Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
Supreme Court case in which teh Court ruled that, upon arrest, a suspect must be advised of her right to remain silent and her right to consult with a lawyer.
National Organization of Women (NOW)
Feminist political group formed in 1967 to promote legislative change. It lobbied for the failed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.
National Security Council
Presidential Advisory board established in 1947. The NSA consults with the president on matters of defense and foreign policy.
Nineteenth Amendment (1920)
Granted voting rights to women.
nomination
Endorsement to run for office by a political party.
Northwest Ordinance of 1787
A major achievement of the government under the AOC. It set specific regulations concerning the conditions under which a territory could apply for statehood. It also contained a bill of rights guaranteeing trial by jury, freedom of religion, and freedom from excessive punishment. It abolished slavlery in the Northwest territories (northwest of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River, up to the Canadian border).
objective good faith
Exception to the exclusionary rule that allows the use of illegaly obtained evidence at trial, if the court determines that police believed they were acting within the limits of their search warrant when they seiezed the evidence.
Office of Budget and Management
Executive branch of office responsible for drawing up the president's proposals of the federal budget.
oligarchy
Form of government in which power is concentrated in the hands of a small group of individuals.
open primary
Primary election in which voters may vote in whichever primary party they choose, but must select that party before entering the voting booth.
original jurisdiction
Term used to describe a court's power to initially try a case. Courts in which cases are first heard are those with original jurisdiction in the case.
pardon
Cancellation of criminal punishment. Presidents and governors have the power to grant pardons to those awaiting trial and to those convicted of crimes.
Parliament
Legislative body of Great Britain. It is divided into 2 houses, although one house, the House of Lords, has little power. The other house is the democratically-elected House of Commons.
Pendleton Act (1883)
Federal law establishing the Civil Service Commission. Passed in response to growing public outcry over corruption in government, this created competitive tests for civil service job applicant and mandated that jobs be awarded on the basis of merit, not as favors to political supporters.
platform
Statement of purpose and policy objectives drafted and approved by political parties at their national conventions. Party platforms rarely exert much influence on day-to-day politics.
Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896)
Supreme Court ruling that "separate but equal" facilities for the different races were not unconstitutional. This ruling opened the door to 75 years of state-sanctioned segregation in the South.
pocket veto
If the president fails to approve a bill passed during the last 10 days of a Congressional session, the bill does not become a law.
Political Action Committee (PAC)
The fundraising apparatus of interest groups. Donations to and contributions from these are regulated by federal law. These contribute heavily to the reelection campaigns of representatives and senators sympathetic to their political agenda.
Populists
Political party of the late 1800s. This party represented farmers and working-class Americans. They sought inflationary economic policies to increase farm income. THey also lobbied for a number of democratic reforms that would later be adopted by the Progressives, such as direct election of senators.
pork
Budget items proposed by legislators to benefit constituents in their home state or district. Such expenditures are sometimes unnecessary but are passed anyway because they are politically beneficial.
president pro tempore
Individual chosen to preside over the Senate whenever the vice-president is unavailable to do so. This person is chosen by the Senate from among its members.
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Form of election held by the majority of states, during which voters select the nominees for political parties. Winners of this appear on the ballot during the general election.
prior restraint
Censorship of news material before it is made public.
privileges and immunities clause
Section of the Constitution stating that a state may not refuse police protection or access to its courts to a US citizen because he lives in a different state.
Proclamation of 1763
Prohibited colonists from settling west of the rivers running through the Appalachians. It was issued in response to numerous Native American attacks on the settlers. This angered colonial settlers, who regarded it as unwarranted British interference in colonial affairs. The ban was repealed in 1766.
progressive income tax
This increases the tax rates for people with higher incomes. Those citizens at poverty level, for example, might pay few or no taxes. Middle-class citizens might be taxed at a 15% rate, while the wealthy are taxed at two or three times that rate. The goal of this is to allow those with greater need to keep more or what they earn while taking from those who need it least.
quorum
The minimum number of people required for the legislature to act.
recall election
Process through which voters can shorten and office holder's term. One of several Progressive Era reforms that increased the voters' power over the government.
referendum
Process through which voters may vote on new laws. One of several Progressive Era reforms that increased the voters' power over the government.
representative democracy
Form of government under which citizens vote for delegates who in turn represent citizens' interest within the government. The US is this.
reserved powers
Constitutional powers that belong solely to the states. According to the Tenth Amendment, these include any that the Constitution does not either specifically grant national government nor deny the state governments.
Roe v. Wade (1973)
Supreme Court case that decriminalized abortion.
runoff primary
Election held between two top vote-getters in a primary election when neither received a legally required minimum percentage of the vote. Many states require this when no candidate receives at least 40% of the primary vote for his/her party.
sampling error
Margin of error in public opinion poll. Most polls are accurate within a margin of +/-4%.
saving amendment
Amendment to a bill proposed in hopes of softening opposition by weaking objectionabel elements of the bill.
soft money
Political donations made to parties for the purpose of general party maintenance and support. This type of contribution is not limited by federal law. It can be used for get-out-the-vote campaigns, issue advocacy, and advertisements that promote the party (but not individual candidates).
sweetener amendment
Amendment to a bill proposed in hopes of attracting the support of the bill's opponents. This includes appropriations earmarked for the district of a bill's opponent, for example.
Schenck v. United Sates
Supreme Court case involving limits on free speech rights. The Schenck case established the "clear and present danger" principle in determining what type of speech could be restricted.
search warrant
Document issued by the courts to allow the police to search private property. TO obatain this, the police must go before a judge and explain (1) where the want to search, and (2) what they are looking for. This also limits where the police may search and what they may take as evidence (Fourth Amendment).
select committee
Temporary committee of Congress, usually created to investigate a specific issue.
selective incorporation
Process by which the Supreme Court has selectively applied the Fourteenth Amendment to state law.
Senate
Upper house of Congress, in which each state has two representatives. This has the sole power to approve cabinet, ambassadorial, and federal judicial appointments. International treaties must receive 2/3 approval from the Senate.
separation of powers
The system that prevents any branch of government from becoming to powerful by dividing important tasks among the 3 branches. Also called the system of checks and balances.
shield law
Law guaranteeing news reporters the right to protect the anonymity of their sources. Many states have passed shield laws, but there is no federal shield law.
Sixteenth Amendment (1913)
Authorized Congress to impose and collect federal income taxes.
Speaker of the House
Individual chosen by members of the House of Representatives to preside over its sessions.
spoils system
The political practice of trading government jobs and preferences for political and financial support. President Andrew Jackson was the first to be widely accused of using this system to reward political friends and supporters.
standing committee
A permanent Congressional committee.
strict constructionism
Belief that the Constitution should be read in such a way as to limit as much as possible the powers of the federal government. Strict constructionists emphasize the importance of the Tenth Amendment, which reserves to all states and powers not explicitly granted the federal government.
supremacy clause
Section of the Constitution that requires conflicts between federal law and state law to be resolved in favor of federal law. State constitutions and laws that violate the US Constitution, federal laws, or international treaties can be invalidated through this.
Supreme Court
Highest court in the US. The only federal court specifically mentioned in the Constitution.
Thirteenth Amendment
Abolished slavery.
three-fifths compromise
Agreement reached at the Constitutional Convention between southern and northern states. The south wanted slaves counted among the population for voting purposes but not for tax purposes; the North wanted the exact opposite. Both sides agreed that 3/5ths of a state's slave population would be counted toward both Congressional apportionment and taxation.
totalitarianism
Form of government in which government's powers are unlimited.
Townshend Acts of 1767
Taxed goods imported directly from Britain. These also set soem of the tax collected aside for the payment of tax collectors, meaning that colonial assemblies coudl not withhold government officials' wages in order to get their way. Also, they suspended the NY legislature because it had refused to comply with a law requiring the colonist to supply British troops. THe colonists ultimately pressured the British into repealing these by organizing a successful boycott of British goods.
Twenty-fourth Amendment (1964)
Outlawed poll taxes, which had been used to prevent the poor from voting.
Twent-second Amendment (1951)
Limited the number of years an individual may serve as president. According to this, a president may be elected no more than twice.
Twenty-sixth Amendment (1971)
Lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.
United Nations
International organization established following WWII. It aims to preserve international peace and foster international cooperation.
unanimous consent decree
Agreement passed by the Senate that establishes the rules under which a bill will be debated, amended, and voted upon.
unwritten Constitution
Certain deeply ingrained aspects of our government which are not mentioned in the Constitution, such as political parties; political conventions; and cabinet meetings.
veto
The power held by chief of executives (e.g. the president, governors) to reject acts of the legislature. A presidential version of this can be overridden by a 2/3s majority vote of both houses of Congress.
vice-admiralty courts
Military courts, in which defendants are not entitled to a trial by jury of peers. These were established in the colonies to try colonial smugglers because colonial juries often sympathized with smugglers and would not convict them.
Voting Rights Act of 1965
Federal law that increased government supervision of local election practices, suspended the use of literacy tests to prevent people (usually African Americans) from voting, and expanded the government efforts to register voters. The version of this in 1970 permanently banned literacy tests.
War on Poverty
Those programs of President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society that were specifically aimed at assisting the poor were known collectively as this. Among these programs was Volunteers in Serivce to America (VISTA), Medidcaid, and the creation of the Office of Economic Opportunity.
War Powers Act
Law requiring the president to seek periodic approval from Congress for any substantial troop commitment. Passed in 1973 in response to national dissatisfacation over the Vietnam War.
Warren Court (1953-1969)
The Supreme Court durding the era in which Earl Warren served as the Chief Justice. It is best remembered for expanding the rights of minorities and the rights of the accused.
Watergate
The name of the hotel in which spies working for President Richard Nixon's 1972 reelection campaign were caught breaking into Democratic National Headquarters. This name soon became synonymous with a number of illegal activities undertaken by the Nixon Whitehouse. The resulting scandal forced Nixon to resign the presidency in 1974.
Whig Party
Political party from the 1830s to the 1850s. Loosely affiliated group of progressives and religious Americans whose common bond was their opposition to the Democratic Party. This disintegrated because of internal disputes concerning slavery.
writ of certiorari
A legal document issued by the Supreme Court to request the court transcripts of a case. A writ of certiorari indicates that the Court will review a lower court's decision.