Glossary of American Govt. Flashcards

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1. John Locke
held the theory that people have inalienable rights (natural rights) – including those of life, liberty, and property – and can rebel against a ruler who tramples on these rights. Jefferson paraphrased Locke’s ideas in the key passages of the Declaration of Independence.
2. Montesquieu
French theorist who proposed the preservation of liberty was the “separation of powers” the division of powers of government among separate institutions or branches. Montesquieu had suggested to divide the government’s authority strictly along institutional lines granting all legislative power to the legislature, all judicial power to the courts, and all executive power to the presidency.
3. Check/balance
The elaborate system of divided spheres of authority provided by the U.S. Constitution as a means of controlling the power of government. The separation of powers among the branches of the national government, federalism, and the different methods of selecting national officers are all part of this system.
4. Separation of Power
The principle that, as a way to limit government, its powers should be divided among separate branches, each of which also shares in the power of the others as a means of checking and balancing them. The result is that no one branch can exercise power decisively without the support or acquiescence of the others.
5. Marbury v Madison
Became the foundation for judicial review by the federal courts. Or in other words – gave the Supreme Court the power to decide whether a governmental institution has acted within its constitutional powers and, if not, to declare its action null and void.
8. Electoral College
An unofficial term that refers to the electors who cast the state’s electoral votes using a method of voting to chose the U.S. President. Each state has the same number of electoral votes as it has members in Congress (House and Senate combined) By tradition, electoral voting is tied to a state’s popular voting. The candidate with the most votes in a state (or, in a few states, the most votes in a congressional district) receives its electoral votes.
9. Selection of U.S. Senators before 17th Amendment
Before the 17th Amendment Senators had been chosen by the state legislatures not by popular vote and were widely perceived as agents of big business (corporate bribes).
10. Article of Confederation
The Articles of the Confederation were in a sense the first government of the United States. They were adopted during the Revolutionary War. They created a very weak national government that was subordinate to the states.

Under the Articles of Confederation each state retained its sovereignty, freedom, and independence
Federalist Paper
James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay wrote a series of essays during the ratification (of the Constitution) debate in New York. They were trying to persuade people to ratify the Constitution. Madison and Hamilton argued that the government of the Constitution would correct the defects of the Articles and would have the power necessary to forge a secure and prosperous union while not endangering the states nor personal liberty.
Bill of Rights
The first ten amendments to the Constitution. They include rights such as freedom of speech.
Great Compromise
The agreement at the constitutional convention to create a two chamber Congress with the House appointed by population and the Senate to be apportioned equally by the state.
Who approves Pres. appointments/treaties
The president’s power to make treaties and appoint high-ranking officials is subject to senate approval.
Trustee, delegate
Trustees are elected reps. whose obligation is to act in accordance with their own consciences as to what policies are in the best interest of the public – promote the interest of those who elected them, but the nature of interest is for the representatives, not the voters, to decide. Delegates are elected representatives whose obligation is to act in accordance with the expressed wishes of the people they represent. (Progressives
Republic v. Pure Democracy
Republic was the form of government in which representative officials met to decide on policy issues. They were expected to serve the public interest but were not subject to the people’s immediate control.
Pure Democracy- A form of government in which the people rule.
A governmental system in which authority is divided between two sovereign levels of government: national and regional.

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