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

60 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
Free Exercise Clause
The provision of the First Amendment guranteeing the free exercise of religion.
Speaker of the House
The presiding officer in the House of Representatives. The speaker is always a member of the majority party and is the most powerful and influential member of the House.
Supremacy Doctrine
A doctrine that asserts the superiority of national law over state or regional laws. This principle is rooted in Article VI of the Constitution, which provides that the Constitution, the laws passed by the national government under its constitutional powers, and all treaties constitute the supreme law of the land.
Formal approval.
Universal Suffrage
The right of all adults to vote for their representatives.
The act of nullifying, or rendering void. Prior to the Civil War, southern supporters of states' rights claimed that a state had the right to declare a national law to be null and void and therefore not binding on its citizens, on the assumption that ultimate sovereign authority rested with the several states.
Standing Committee
A permanent committee within the House or Senate that considers bills within a certain subject area.
Popular Sovereignty
The concept that ultimate political authority rests with the people.
Writ of Habeas Corpus
Habeas corpus means, literally, "you have the body." A writ of habeas corpus is an order that requires jailers to bring a person before a court or judge and explain shy the person is being held in prison.
Horizontal Federalism
Activities, problems, and policies that require state governments to interact with one another.
Conservative and Liberal
Two relatively moderate ideological positions. Conservatives believe that the national government in helping individuals, support for traditional values and lifestyles, and a cautious response to change where a liberal advocates positiive government action to improve the welfare of individuals, support for civil rights, and tolerance for political an social change.
Electoral College
A group of persons called electors selected by the voters in each state and Washington, D.C.; this group officially elects the president and vice president of the United States. The number of electors in each state is equal to the number of each state's representatives in both chambers of Congress. The Twenty-third Amendment to the Constitution permits Washington, D.C., to have as many electors as a state of comparable population.
Block Grants
Federal programs that provide funds to state and local governments for general functional areas, such as criminal justice or mental-health programs.
The drawing of legislative district boundary lines for the purpose of obtaining partisan or factional advantage. A district is said to be gerrymandered when its shape is manipulated by the dominant party in the state legislature to maximize electoral strength at the expense of the minority party.
The condition of having no government and no laws.
Social Contract
A voluntary agreement among individuals to secure their rights and welfare by creating agovernment and abiding by its rules.
Authority or Legitimacy
The features of a Leader or an Institution that compel obedience usually because of ascribed legitimacy. For most societies, Government is the ultimate authority.
Safe Seat
A district that returns the legislator with 55 percent of the vote or more.
Concurrent Powers
Powers held jointly by the national and state government
Elite Theory
A perspective holding that society is ruled by a small number of people who exercise power in their self-interest.
Rule by the best suited, through virtue, talent, or education; in later usage, rule by the upper class.
Great Compromise
The compromise between the New Jersey and the Virginia plans that created on chamber of the Congress based on population and one chamber that represented each state equally; also called the Connecticut Compromise.
A political system in which states or regional governments retain ultimate authority except for those powers they expressly delegate to a central government. A voluntary association of independent states agree to limited restraints on their freedom.
Judicial Review
The power of the Supreme Court or any court to declare unconstitutional federal or state laws and other acts of government.
Agenda Setting
Determining which public policy questions will be debated or considered by Congress.
The responsibility Congress has for following up on laws it has enacted to ensure that they are being enforced and administered in the way in which they were intended.
Civil Liberties
Those personal freedoms that are protected for all individuals and that generally deal with individual freedom. Civil liberties typically involve restraining the government's actions against individuals.
Discharge Petition
A procedure by which a bill in the House of Representatives may be forced out of a committee (discharged) that has refused to report it for consideratin by the House. The discharge petition must be signed by an absolute majority (218) of representatives and is used only on rare occasions.
Checks & Balances
A major principle of the American governmental system whereby each branch of the government exercises a Check on the actions of the others.
A theory that views politics as a conflict among interest groups. Political decision making is characterized by bargaining and compromise.
Clear & Present Danger Test
The test proposed by justice Holmes for determining when government may restrict free speech. Restrictions are permissable, he argued, only when speech presents a "clear and present danger" in the public order.
Prior Restraint
Restraining an action before the activity has actually occurred. It involves censorship, as opposed to subsequent punishment.
The division of a legislature into two separate assemblies.
Representative Democracy
A form of government in which respresentatives elected by the people make and enforce laws and policies.
Commerce Clause
The section of the Constitution in which Congress is given the power to regulate trade among the states and with foreign countries.
Incorporation Theory
The view that most of theprotections of the Bill of Rights are applied against state governments through the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause.
An individual who opposed the ratification of the new Constitution in 1787. They were opposed to a strong Central government.
Limited Government
A form of government based on the principle that the powers of government should be clearly limited either through a written document or through wide public understanding; characterized by institutional checks to ensure that government serves the public rather than private interests.
Categorical Grants
Federal grants-in-aid to states or local governments that are for very specific programs or projects.
Sexual Harrassment
Unwanted physical or verbal conduct or abuse of a sexual nature that interferes with a recipent's job performance, creates a hostile environment, or carries with it an implicit or explicit threat of adverse employment consequences.
Civil Rights
Generally, all rights rooted in the Fourteenth Amendement's guarantee of equal protection under the law.
Seniority System
A custom followed in both chambers of Congress specifying that members with longer terms of continuous service will be given preference when committee chairpersons and holders of other significant posts are selected.
Continuing Resolution
A temporary law that Congress passes when an appropriations bill has not been decided by the beginning of the new fiscal year on October 1.
Separation of Powers
The principle of dividing governmental powers among the executive, the legislative, and the judicial branches of government.
Affirmative Action
A policy in job hiring that gives special consideration or compensatory tretment to traditionally disadvantaged groups in an effort to overcome present effects of past discrimination.
Second Continental Congress
The 1775 Congress of the colonies that established an army.
Natural Rights
Rights held ot be inherent in natural law, not dependent on governments. John Locke stated that natural law, being superior to human law, specifies certain "life, liberty, and property." These rights, altered to become "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," are asserted in the Declaration of Independence.
Literacy Test
A test administered as a precondition for voting, often used to prevent African Americans from exercising their right to vote.
Divided Government
A situation in which one major political party controls the presidency and the other controls the chambers of Congress, or in which one party controls a state governorship and the other controls the state legislature.
President Pro Tempore
The temporary presiding officer of the Senate in the absence of the vice president.
Enumerated Powers
Powers specifically granted to the national government by the Constitution. The first seventeen clauses of Article I, Section 8, specify most of the enumerated powers of Congress.
Federal Mandate
A requirement in federal legislation that forces states and municipalities to comply with certain rules.
The allocation of seats in the House of Representatives to each state after each census.
Interstate Compact
An agreement between two or more states, Agreements in minor matters are made without congressional consent, but any compact that tends to increase the power of the contracting states releative to other states or relative to the national government generally requires the consent of Congress. Such compacts serve as a means by which states can solve regional problems.
The act of formally withdrawing from membership in an alliance; the withdrawal of a state from the federal union.
Dual Federalism
A system of government in which the states and the national government each remain supreme within their own spheres. The doctrine looks on nation and state as coequal sovereign powers. It holds that acts of states within their reserved powers are legitimate limitations on the powers of the national government.
Necessary and Proper Clause (Elastic Clause)
The clause in Article I, Section 8, that grants Congress the power to do whatever is necessary to execute its specifically delegated powers. It is sometimes called the elastic clause because it provides flexibility to our constitutional system.
Direct Democracy
A system of government in which political decisions are made by the people directly, rather than by their elected representatives; probably possible only in small political communities.
defacto/dejure Segregation
Racial segregation that occurs because of past social and economic conditions and residential patterns.
The movement that supports political, economic, and social equality for women.