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American Government - Policy and politics Ch. 2


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Conference Committee
A special, joint congressional committee created to nagotiate differences on similar pieces of legislation passed by the House and Senate.
A fundamental law by which a state or nation is organized and governed, and to which ordinary legislation must conform.
Power of the Purse
The control of the finances of government.
A one-house legislature.
A two-house legislature.
Doctrine of Natural Rights
The belief that individual rights transcend the power of government.
Bill of Rights(H)
A constitutional document guaranteeing individual rights and liberties. (H)
A system of government in which ultimate political authority is vested in the people.
Direct Democracy
A political system in which the citizens vote directly on matters of public concern.
Tyranny of the Majority
The abuse of the minority by the majority.
Representative Democracy OR Republic
A political system in which citizens elect representatives to make policy decisions on their behalf.
A voting margin that is greater than a simple majority.
Rule of Law
The constitutional principle that holds that the discretion of public officials in dealing with individuals is limited by the law.
Writ of Habeas Corpus
A court order requiring that government authorities either release a person held in custody or demonstrate that the person is detained in accordance with the law.
Bill of Attainder
A law declaring a person or a group of persons guilty of a crime and providing for punishment without benefit of a judicial proceeding.
Ex Post Facto Law
A retroactive criminal statute that operates to the disadvantage of accused persons.
Due Process of Law
The constutional principle holding that government must follow fair and regular procedures in actions that could lead to an individual's suffering loss of life, liberty, or property.
Limited Government
The constitutional principle that government does not have unrestricted authority over individuals.
Americans opposed to the ratification of the new Constitution because they thought it gave too much power to the national goverment.
Americans who supported the ratification of the Constitution.
Selective Incorporation of the Bill of Rights Against the States
The process through which the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, of the U.S. Constitution, to apply most of the provisions of the national Bill of Rights to the states.
Legislative Power
The power to make laws.
Executive Power
The power to enforce laws.
Judicial Power
The power to interpret laws.
Separation of Powers
The division of political power among executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government.
Checks and Balances
The overlapping of the powers of the branches of government, designed to ensure that public officials limit the authority of one another.
Federalist Papers
A series of essays written to advocate the ratification of the Constitution. Writen by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay.
Special interests who seek their own good at the expense of the common good.
Unitary Government
A governmental system in which political authority is concentrated in a single national government.
A league of nealry independent states.
Federation OR Federal System
A political system that divides power between a central government, with authority over the whole nation, and a series of state governments.
The authority of the stateto exercise it's legitamate powers withn its boundaries, free form external interference.
Constitutional Amendment
A formal, written change or addition to the nation's governing document.
Equal Right's Amendment(ERA)
A proposed amendment gauranteeing equality before the law, regardless of sex.
Judicial Review
The power of the courts to declare unconstitutional the actions of the other branches and units of government.
Writ of Mandamus
A court order directing a public official to perform a specific act or duty.
The authority of a court to hear and decide a case.
Equal Protection Clause
The provision found in the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that declares "No State shall...deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
Parliamentary System
A system of government in which political power is concentrated in a legislative body and a cabinet headed by a Prime Minister.
The legislature in a parliamentary system.
Forma Pauperis
-Latin for 'in the form of a pauper.'
-Someone who is without the funds to pursue the normal costs of a lawsuit or criminal defense. Upon the court's granting of this status the person is entitled to waiver of normal costs and/or appointment of counsel (but seldom in other than a criminal case).
-Latin word meaning 'To be informed of.'
-Refers to the order a court issues so that it can review the decision and proceedings in a lower court and determine whether there were any irregularities.

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