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AP Gov Semester Vocab


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Amicus Curiae Brief
Friend of the court; interested groups may be invited to file legal briefs supporting or rejecting arguments of the case
a general pardon offered to a group of individuals for an offense against the government such as a draft evasion during the Vietnam War
those persons who opposed the adoption of the federal Constitution in 1787-1788
Articles of Confederation
document by which the first U.S. government was established after the American Revolution; it delegated few important powers to the central government
the election of an officeholder by the voters of an entire government unit, such as a state or county, rather than by the voters of a subdivision, such as a district, of that unit
two-house legislative body
Bill of attainder
a law that established guilt and punished people without a trial
Bill of Rights
the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution
Blanket primary
nomination elections in which candidates for the same office are grouped without regard to party affiliation
Block grant
a larg grant of federal funds to a state or local government to be used for a particular area of public policy, such as education
Categorical-formula grant
the means by which federal funds are distributed to states on the basis of a state's wealth
a meeting of party leaders or like-minded individuals to select the candidates they will support in an election
checks and balances
the system of overlapping the powers of the three branches of government - executive, legislative, judicial - thereby permitting each branch to check the actions of the others
civil law
that body of law relating to disputes between two or more individuals or between individuals and government that is not covered by criminal law
civil service system
the principle and practice of government employment on the basis of open, competitive examinations and merit
closed primary
a form of the direct primary in which only declared party members of a political party may vote
coattail effect
the effect that a popular candidate for a top office can hove on the voters' support for other candidates in his or her party on the same ballot
concurrent powers
the powers held by both federal and state governments
connecticut compromise
the agreement made during the Constitutional Convention that Congress should be composed of a Senate, in which the states would be represented equally, and a House, in which representation would be based upon a state's population
a person who believes that the role of government in society should be very limited and that individuals should be responsible for their own well being
cooperative federalism
cooperation among federal, state, and local governments; "marble cake" federalism
when a significant number of voters choose to no longer support a particular political party
Declaration of Independence
drafted in 1776 by Thomas Jefferson declaring America's separation from Great Britain
De facto segregation
segregation that exists "in fact" not as a result of law or government actions
government spending exceeds revenue
de jure segregation
segregation that exists as a result of law or governmental action
delegated powers
the powers granted the national government by the Constitution
an effort to shift responsibility of domestic programs (welfare, health care, and job training) to the states in order to decrease the size and activities of the federal government; some states have attempted to shift responsibilities further to local governments
direct primary
an election in which party members select their party's candidate to run in the general election
discharge petition
a petition to put a bill back into consideration after it has been tabled by a legislative body
divided government
one party controls the executive, and the other party controls one or both houses of Congress
division of powers
the basic principle of federalism; the constitutional provisions by which governmental powers are distributed geographically (in the United States, between the federal and state governments)
dual federalism
federal and state governments each have defined responsibilites within their own sphere of influence; "layer cake" federalism
elastic clause
article 1, section 8 of the constitution, which gives congress the right to make all laws deemed "necessary and proper" to carry out the powers granted to the federal government
electoral college
the group of persons chosen in every state and the District of Columbia every four years who make a formal selection of the president and vice president
elitist theory
a small group of people identified by wealth or political power, who rule in their self-interest
enabling act
the first step toward admission as a state into the Union, the congressional act that allows a U.S. territory to prepare a constitution
a required government expenditure, such as Social Security payments, that must be made to those who meet the eligibility requirements set for those payments
enumerated powers
those government powers listed in the Constitution; also called expressed powers; most relate to Article 1, section 8
ex post facto law
a criminal law applied retroactively to the disadvantage of the accused; prohibited by the Constitution
expressed powers
those powers that are directly stated in the Constitution; also called enumerated powers
the legal process by which a fugitive from justice in one state is returned (extradited) to the state in which the crime was committed
a system under which power is divided between a national government and state government
those persons who supported the adoption of the federal constitution in 1787-1788
formal amendment
a modification of the Constitution by one of the four methods set forth in the constitution

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