Study your flashcards anywhere!

Download the official Cram app for free >

  • Shuffle
    Toggle On
    Toggle Off
  • Alphabetize
    Toggle On
    Toggle Off
  • Front First
    Toggle On
    Toggle Off
  • Both Sides
    Toggle On
    Toggle Off
  • Read
    Toggle On
    Toggle Off

How to study your flashcards.

Right/Left arrow keys: Navigate between flashcards.right arrow keyleft arrow key

Up/Down arrow keys: Flip the card between the front and back.down keyup key

H key: Show hint (3rd side).h key

A key: Read text to speech.a key


Play button


Play button




Click to flip

69 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
Thomas Hobbes-
Believed that man was naturally evil and that government was needed to prevent chaos and disorder. Believed in an absolute monarchy and that liberty was only a thing of necessity. Influenced the fore fathers in his belief that a strong central government was necessary.
Federalist 51
essay by James Madison that explains checks and balances. This essay played a huge role in the ratification of the Constitution because it put to rest many fears about the possibility of a branch of government from gaining to much power. Madison explained how each branch was responsible for monitoring the actions of the other two branches and the steps to be taken to prevent usurping of power.
Federalist 10-
Essay by James Madison that discusses how to prevent factions from forming within government. Madison argued that government must be weary of those who seek interests contrary to the rights of others or the interests of the whole country. This essay is often considered the most famous of the Federalist papers.
Federalists Papers-
A series of articles written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay that explained and promoted the Constitution to the nation. The papers had a huge influence in swaying the public to ratify the Constitution. The papers today help those in or studying government to understand what the Constitution meant to the framers and how they intended it to be used in government.
Electoral College-
Group of electors who formally elect the President and the Vice President. Significance, one more system in which a President can be elected without the popular vote on his side. Members are supposed to vote in favor of their constituents but can go against them when voting.
Seventeenth Amendment-
Eliminated the election of Senators by state legislatures and gave the voting power to the people. Expanded the rights of the people to have more say in who represents them in government.
Opposed strong national government and supported states and individual rights. The Anti-Federalists played a key role in the Constitutional Convention by pushing through the Bill of Rights and other clauses that protected the interests of the people.
Supported a strong national government and the proposed Constitution. With prominent figures such a Hamilton, Jay, and Madison, the Federalist played a key role in ratifying the Constitution and establishing the government system that has existed since then.
Articles of Confederation-
The first attempt to set up a national system of government. The Articles had a weak central government that could not raise money and could not support an Army. The power resided with the states and was the cause for much trouble and unrest until 1789 when the Constitution was ratified. Showed how more state power was not as effective without a strong central government.
John Locke-
Opposite of Hobbes, thought man was naturally good and that government was needed but a democracy would work because man could think for himself. Influenced the founders of the United States because of is beliefs in Life, Liberty, and property.
Federalist 78-
essay by Alexander Hamilton that supported the need for have the judiciary system as addressed by the Constitution. Rebukes the Anti-federalist fears over the power of the Judiciary. Helped to define the legal system in our country as we know it today.
Bicameral Legislature-
A legislature with two houses, in the United States the House and the Senate. This system allows from more debate and more even representation between the small states and the large states.
Supremacy Clause-
The laws passed by Congress are the supreme laws of the land, no other laws can be passed that overrule a Federal. Laws can be more strict, however the laws of Congress trump other laws. This clause prevents individual states from maintaining laws that are different from the rest of the country or that are unjust.
Full Faith and Credit Clause-
States that all states must give credit to public acts and judiciary decisions made in other states. This is significant because it gave the people the right to move freely across the country without needing to worry about various laws that may change.
Separation of Powers-
Divides the government into the three branches, each branch has its own responsibilities and powers. This prevents each branch from exercising ultimate power. Separation of powers is necessary to checks and balances and to maintaining a just government system.
Tenth Amendment-
Says that all powers not stated in the Constitution are given to the states and the people. The significance of this amendment often arises when it is felt that Congress is using powers it does not have. The tenth amendment has enhanced the power of the people.
Necessary and Proper Clause-
also known as the elastic clause, this addresses the implied powers of Congress as far as allowing Congress to pass all laws necessary and proper to carrying out the power expressed in the Constitution. This clause is often cited to give Congress power and is significant because it adds further dimension to the Constitution.
the system of government is which the power to govern to shared between the national and state governments. The system prevents a single figure from gaining to much power and ensures that liberties and rights are preserved on multiple levels.
Commerce Clause-
“To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.” This clause is one of the biggest clauses that Congress uses to regulate powers that are not in expressed in the Constitution. The clause is used to expand federal power and to pass laws that effect the country as a whole.
McCullough v. Maryland-
The state of Maryland attempted to tax a United States Bank. The case was ruled against Maryland because the Necessary and Proper clause allowed the government to charter banks and maintain them in any states they needed. Expanded the powers of Congress and the ability to charter national banks.
United States v. Lopez-
In this case, Congress attempted to control gun laws by passing the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990. Alfonso Lopez was found to violate this act and appealed saying it was unconstitutional. The court ruled that Congress could not use the commerce clause in this case and overturned the law. First case since the Great Depression that limited the Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause.
“Power of the Purse-”
The Congress has the power to appropriate money, therefore they have the power to deny money from agencies and programs they do not support. This power gives the Congress another means of checks and balances which can be used to prevent unwanted spending and unnecessary debt.
Cloture Vote-
A majority of 60 or more Senators that is needed to end a filibuster. The significance of this is that it often require members from different parties to join together in order to pass legislature that may be benefit the country.
Advice and Consent-
A power of the Senate to review treaties and appointments made by the President. This is a significant component of checks and balances for it allows the Senate to limit the executive branch when it deems necessary.
Power of Impeachment-
The power of impeachment resides with the House of Representatives. The House votes to decide if the President or other high-ranking official has enough evidence against him to justify the impeachment. The House passes the articles of impeachment which is then sent to the Senate to serve as the court to try the President on the articles from the House. This power is a significant component of checks and balances because it prevents the President from being able to do whatever he wants. Provides a means to protect from a President that has gained too much power.
Congressional Oversight-
Done formally and informally. Formal means of oversight are holding hearings and investigations. Hearing gain understanding where investigation look at legal issues. Formally the Senate has Advice and Consent as well. Informally Congress can cut funding from different agencies to limit power. This is a key part of the checks and balances system.
Article I of the Constitution-
Describes the powers of the legislative branch. Establishes elections and qualifications of members of each house. It outlines procedures and powers as well. Used to shape and define Congress.
Article II of the Constitution-
Similar to Article I, this article explains and defines the roles and powers of the Executive branch.
Article III of the Constitution-
establishes the Judicial and explains its roles and powers.
Commander in Chief -
the President has power over the actions of the United States Armed Forces. This power does not give him power to wage war but has the power to lead war. Significance, gives the President the power to use the military at his whim, grants President a power that could corrupt.
Presidential Pardon-
the President has the right to grant a pardon spelled out in the Expressed powers. He can grant a pardon for any offense at anytime in the legal process. Significance, another power of the power that cannot be denied and can be used for political and personal reasons.
Federal Court System-
The federal court system is divided into 11 district courts, 11 appellate courts, and the United States Supreme Court. The system allows for cases to be heard multiple times so as to ensure that the rights of those involved in cases are not infringed.
previous court rulings that are brought into play in court cases as a guideline by which the court should rule. Rarely ruled against, it provides assurance that cases are decided in the same manner and that rulings are similar and fair. Overturned when previous precedent is found to be wrong or in some error or even unconstitutional.
Stare decisis-
“Let the decision stand.” Request for the court to review previous court cases similar to the one in front of them and to rule in the same manner as before. Let the decisions previously ruled be used in the new case. A means to ensure that courts are ruling similarly and not flip-flopping across the country.
Case and Controversy-
This concept is one that impacts the ability of the court to rule on a case. No case can be ruled on in which there is no case or controversy between the two parties. In Muskrat v. United States, the defendant and the plaintiff were in debate over who should pay legal fees. The treasury department had paid both fees therefore there was no controversy. This concept the court from taking advisory roles and merely advising for future cases rather then ruling on the case at hand. Prevents cases from reaching court that cannot be accurately ruled on.
Marbury v. Madison-
established the Supreme Court’s power to rule on the constitutionality of federal and state laws. Significance, this power makes the Court a lawmaking body.
Legislative History-
Various materials generated in the course of creating legislation, such as committee reports, analysis by legislative counsel, committee hearing, floor debates, and histories of actions taken. The history is significant because it can often be used to explore legislative intent, that is how legislature should be interpreted by the system.
Writ of Certiorari-
manner of which a case can be brought before the Supreme Court. Four of nine justices must agree to review the case. Further defined in the type of case and its relevance to key issues. Is a means of screening cases and truly establishing if a case needs to be argued in the Supreme Court. Most common way of being heard in the Supreme Court
Writ of habeas corpus-
fundamental safeguard of individual rights. Applied when prisoners in a state system feel they have been unfairly prosecuted and have been denied certain rights. Significance, ensures due process at the state level and is a means of strengthening Federal power and protecting individual rights.
Eminent Domain-
Taking private property for public use. Essential to sovereignty. 5th amendment ensure done so for public use and fairly compensated. Needed to ensure public has means to safety and can use land for better things.
Establishment Clause-
a wall of separation exists between the church and the state. Prevents the government from ruling against any establishment of religion and cannot force people to comply with specific religious beliefs. Significance, preserves one of the basic rights those who founded the colonies sought, the right to religious beliefs with persecution.
Free Exercise Clause-
protects the right to believe and practice whatever religion one chooses. Significance, again preserves the essential individual rights of choice and happiness.
Political Speech-
speech that is absolutely protected by the first amendment. Speech that is essential to everyday life and is indeed true. If it is true speech it cannot be prevented. Clarified first amendment
Branzberg v. Hayes-
Invalidated the use of the first amendment as a defense for reporters summoned to testify before a grand jury. The decision was a 5-4 decision and is still in controversy today. This case recently came to light as the Plame affair unfolded in which reporters refused to reveal sources and were subsequently jailed.
“Pentagon Papers” case-
papers that discussed how Presidents had been deceiving the public in regards to involvement in Vietnam were discovered and began an investigation into the legality of withholding such information. Significance, brought about a look at the protection of the first amendment and if the president and government has the right to leave the nation uninformed.
“Clear and Present Danger”-
If political speech presents a real danger to public safety and national security it can be prevent. If it will cause violence and uprising it is no longer protected. Significance limits free speech because it infringes on the rights of safety and protection from danger.
Johnson v. United States-
Johnson was defined as a career offender and was sentenced to 188 month is jail. He appealed saying he had not been given his right to validly waive the right to counsel in all previous cases. His previous cases where vacated and he appealed on the federal level claiming he was no longer a career offender. This cases examines the fundamental right of habeas corpus and depending on the ruling could redefined that writ and how those in legal system can use it.
Tinker v. Des Moines-
Some students decided to protest the Vietnam war by wearing black arm bands to school. When learning of plans, school district decided to ban all armbands on penalty of suspension. Students wore armbands to school and were subsequently suspended. Significance, the Supreme Court ruled that political speech is highly protected by the first amendment and that no one has the right to squelch such political speech.
Second Amendment-
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bears Arms, shall not be infringed.” This amendment has been the center of heated debate over the issue is it a fundamental right to keep and bear Arms? While only one Supreme Case has been argued over this, the amendment as caused clear sides on the issues of gun control and the rights of the people.
Exclusionary rule-
prevents evidence gathered illegally from being used in a criminal case. Ensure that the right against illegal search and seizure is upheld even for prisoners. Has had cases thrown out because no evidence could be presented legally.
Civil War amendments- 13
13- outlaws slavery.
Civil War amendments- 14
14- prevents states from no allowing all people from enjoying the fundamental rights. Lays out other concepts of holding office and apportion of Congress.
Civil War amendments- 15
15- allows everyone to vote no matter race, religion, or upbringing (not women).
Fourteenth Amendment-
Includes Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, and provides a broad definition of national citizenship, overturning Dred Scott. The amendment was initially intended to secure rights of former slaves but has become one of the corner stones for modern Constitutional interpretation and “selective incorporation.”
Equal Protection Clause-
each citizen has equal protection of the laws. Launched a century of political movements and legal efforts to press racial equality.
Gideon v. Wainwright-
Case in which Clarence Earl Gideon was denied counsel in court for his case was a minor one. Appealed to the Supreme Court and won. Significance, clarified due process and 6th amendment, also began a pattern of court cases that revolutionized the legal system and the rights of those who are charged with crimes and placed in court.
Miranda v. Arizona-
Case in which Miranda claimed that he was not aware of his rights during his arrest therefore he had not had a fair trial as set forth by the Due Process clause. Significance, set forth the Miranda rule: arrested people have the right to remain silent, to know that anything they say can be held against them in a court of law, and the right to counsel before and during police interrogation.
Due Process Clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments-
Due process insists that government must respect the peoples’ legal rights. The fifth amendment states that no person shall be denied the rights of life, liberty, or property where the fourteenth amendment expands this power and prevents individual states from denying the rights. This clause is one of the foundation of our legal system and the protection of our rights as citizens and people.
Plessy v. Ferguson-
Upheld legal segregation and created the “separate but equal” rule. Significance, fostered national segregation that would cause racial tensions and political unrest for years to come.
Brown v. Board of Education-
The United States Supreme rule that legal segregation of schools was unconstitutional. Reversed previous decision in Plessy v. Ferguson. Significance, radically changed the culture and society of the US, set precedent in ruling in favor of civil rights cases.
Strict Scrutiny Test-
A law or policy must pass three steps, compelling government interest, must be narrowly tailored, and must be the least restrictive means for achieving interest. The test prevents fundamental Constitutional rights from being infringed or to prevent discrimination by the government on all levels.
Civil Rights Act of 1964-
made desegregation a legal requirement. Significance, revolutionized civil
rights but also brought about violence and new laws and sanctions to enforce desegregation.
Korematsu v. United States-
Ruled that Japanese internment camps were constitutional because it was during a time of war and was a means to defend national security. One of the darkest cases in Supreme Court history, has brought about much protest and has set precedent for cases being argued today.
Iran-Contra Scandal-
A scandal in which the Reagan administration allegedly traded weapons in exchange for hostages in Iran. Excess money from these trades where then diverted to the support Contra rebels in Nicaragua. The scandal could have damaged President Reagan’s career, however it revealed the various levels of people who are willing to talk a fall to protect the President. Also significant because if it had not occurred we probably would not have to be taking this final.
Just War Theory-
A means to rationalize war. This theory examines the intentions for going war and the course of conduct within a war and determines if the are just and can be reasoned to others. This theory is often pointed to when attempting to support or undermine a war that is being fought. Currently is being used to examine the war in Iraq and whether or not we should pull out because of the unjust war that is being fought.
Jus ad bellum-
Component of Just War Theory that examines if the initiation of war and killing was done for the right reasons. While not a law this is significant because it can be used against those who kill and wage war unnecessarily.
Jus in bello-
Following jus ad bellum this concept examines whether or not that which took place within the war was done justly and with the right intent. Examines right intentions, proportionality, and discrimination. Can be used to rationalize the ended of a war or intervening on behalf of those oppressed.
Preemptive War-
A war in which one country strikes first due to previous harm, such as threaten actions or verbal threats. The United States has never started a Preemptive War and that is significant as of know because it shows that on the whole the United States attempts to employ Just War Theory wherever possible.
Preventive War-
An attack that responds to a distant danger, a matter of foresight and free choice. A war fought to maintain the balance, to stop what is thought to be an even distribution of power from shifting into a relation of dominance and inferiority. Significance is that it a means to help those without power and prevents cruel and unjust events from occurring.