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POS 110 Exam


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Direct Democracy
A political system in which all or most citizens participate directly by either holding office or making policy. A town meeting where all citizens vote on major issues is an example of a direct democracy.
Representative Democracy
A political system in which leaders acquire power by means of a competitive struggle for the peoples vote. This is the form of government that most nations that are called democratic use.
A form of democracy in which power is vested in representatives selected by means of popular competitive elections.
Liberal Democracy
A democratic government that respects the essential freedoms of its people.
Those institutions that because they have a monopoly on the lawful use of power can make decisions binding on all members of society.
The RIGHT to give or withhold support for a course of action.
The ABILITY to give or withhold support for a course of action.
Parliamentary System
A system of government that vests power in an elected legislature that then selects a prime minister and cabinet.
Presidential System
A form of government that vests power in a separately elected president as well as an elected legislature.
Articles of Confederation
A constitution drafted by the newly independent states in 1777 and ratified in 1781. It created a weak national government that could not levy taxes or regulate commerce. In 1789 it was replaced by our current constitution in order to create a stronger national government.
Unicameral legislature
A lawmaking body with only one chamber, as in Nebraska
Shays Rebellion
A rebellion led by Daniel Shays and other Revolutionary War veterans in 1787 to prevent foreclosures on farms due to high interest rates and taxes. The revolt showed the weakness of our national government and bolstered support for a stronger national government.
The Framers
The group of men that wrote the new Constitution at the Philadelphia convention in 1787.
A Constitution
The fundamental law of a nation. It defines the powers of the government specifies the offices to be filled and the authority each is to exercise and sets limits to governmental authority. A constitution means nothing if a tyrant or dictator rules with unlimited power however.
Majority Rule
The doctrine of majority rule states that offices will be filled by those candidates who win the most votes and that laws will be made by whichever side in a legislature has the most votes.
Absolute Minority Rights
Certain things the majority can never do no matter how large they are. For example Congress cannot make a law that makes an individual guilty of a crime without trial.
Conditional Minority Rights
There are certain things the majority can do only if it is an extraordinary majority. For example Congress may propose an amendment to the Constitution only if two thirds of each house vote in favor of it.
House of Representatives
Composed of members apportioned roughly in accordance with the population of each state. Representatives to be elected every two years by citizens of each state.
Composed of 2 members from each state. Senators to be elected by state legislatures for staggered six-year terms.
Great Compromise
A compromise made at the 1787 Constitutional Convention that reconciled the differences in large and small states by created a House of Reps and a Senate. Each state receives two reps in the Senate. The House of Reps per state is determined by population.
To propose an amendment
1. Two thirds of both houses of Congress vote to propose an amendment


2. Two thirds of the state legislature ask Congress to call a national convention to propose amendments

To Ratify an Amendment
1. Three fourths of the state legislature approves it


2. Ratifying conventions in three fourths of the states approve it

Judicial Review
The power of the courts to declare acts of the legislature and of the executive branch to be unconstitutional and thus null and void.
Supporters of a stronger central government who advocated the ratification of the Constitution.
Anti Federalists
Opponents of a strong central government who campaigned against ratification of the Constitution in favor of a confederation of largely independent states.
Federalist Papers
A series of 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton James Madison and John Jay that were published in New York newspapers in 1787 to 1788 to convince New Yorkers to adopt the newly proposed Constitution.
Ex Post Facto Law
Any law that makes an act a crime that not a crime at the time it was committed or that increases penalties or renders conviction easier after the fact was outlawed by the Constitution.
Writ of Habeas Corpus
Intended as a check against arbitrary arrest or imprisonment. It is a legal order requiring that a person in custody be brought to court in order that just cause be shown for the persons detention. Habeas Corpus can only be suspended in emergency situations.
Bill of Attainder
Any act of a legislature that declares a person guilty and sets the punishment without benefit of a judicial trial was outlawed by the Constitution.
Civil Liberties
Rights to be free of government interference accorded to an individual by the Constitution like free speech free press etc.
Civil rights
The rights of citizens to vote to receive equal treatment under the law and to share equally with other citizens the benefits of public facilities such as schools.
Bill of Rights
The first 10 amendments to the Constitution
Due process clause
Protection against arbitrary deprivation of life liberty or property as guaranteed in the Fifth and Fourteenth amendments.
Equal Protection
The provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution guaranteeing that no state shall deny to any person the equal protection of the laws.
Gitlow vs. New York 1925
First amendment applies to states
Palko vs Connecicut 1937
States must observe all fundamental liberties
Schenck vs. The United States 1919
Speech may be punished if it creates a clear and present danger of violence
Chaplinsky vs. New Hampshire 1942
First amendment does not protect fighting words
New York Times vs Sullivan 1964
To libel a public official there must be actual malice
Miller vs California 1973
An obscene text appeals to the prurient interests of an average person and lacks literary artistic political or scientific value.
Collin vs Smith 1978
The Nazi Party may march through a largely Jewish neighborhood
Texas vs Johnson 1989
It is unconstitutional to ban flag burning
McConnell vs Federal Election Commission 2003
Campaign finance reform does not violate First Amendment
Injurious written statements about another person
Symbolic Speech
An act that conveys a political message, such as burning a draft card to protest the draft.
Free exercise clause
A clause in the First Amendment to the Constitution stating that Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion.
Establishment Clause
A clause in the First Amendment to the Constitution stating that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.
Wall of Separation
A supreme court interpretation of the Establishment clause in the First Amendment that prevents government involvement with religion, even on a non preferential basis.
Everson vs Board of Education 1947
Wall of Separation principle is announced
Zorauch vs Clauson 1952
Students may be released from public schools for religious instruction elsewhere.
Engel vs Vitale 1962
No praying is allowed in public schools
Lemon vs Kurtzman 1971
Three tests proposed for deciding whether government can support a religious activity.
Lee vs Wiseman 1992
Public Schools may not have prayers at graduation ceremonies.
Zelman vs Simmons Harris 2000
Voucher plan to pay school bills is upheld
Exclusionary Rule
A rule that holds that any evidence gathered in violation of the Constitution can not be used in court.
Mapp vs Ohio 1961
Evidence illegally gathered by police may not be used in a criminal trial
Gideon vs Wainwright 1964
Persons charged with a crime have a right to an attorney even if they cannot afford one
Miranda vs Arizona 1966
Prescribes warning police must give to arrested persons
United States vs Leon 1984
Illegally obtained evidence may be used in a criminal trial if it was gathered in good faith
Rasul vs Bush 2004
Terrorist detainees must have access to a neutral court to decide if they are legally held
Separate but equal doctrine
The doctrine was established in Plessy vs Ferguson 1986 when the Supreme Court ruled that a state could provide separate but equal facilities for blacks.
Plessy vs. Ferguson 1896
Upheld that separate but equal facilities for blacks were acceptable on railroad cars
Brown vs Board of Education 1952
Racially separate public schools are inherently unequal and thus unconstitutional.
Green vs New Kent County 1968
Banned a freedom of choice plan blacks and whites must actually attend the same schools
Swann vs Charlotte Mecklenburg 1971
Students may be bused to achieve racial balance in schools
Regents of the University of California vs Bakke 1978
A quota for admitting blacks was unconstitutional but race could be used as a plus factor
United Steel Workers vs Weber 1979
Race may be used in an employment agreement between a factory and its workers
Richmond vs Croson 1989
Affirmative action plans must be narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest
Grutter vs Bollinger and Grat vs Bollinger 2003
Numerical benefits cannot be used to admit blacks into state universities but race can be a plus factor
Reed vs Reed 1971
Gender discrimination violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution
Craig vs Boren 1976
Gender discrimination can only be justified if it is substantially related to important government objectives
Rostker vs Goldberg 1981
Congress may draft men without drafting women
United States vs Virginia 1996
A state may not finance an all male military school
Griswold vs Connecticut 1965
Finds a right to privacy in the Constitution that would ban state laws against sale of contraceptives.
Roe vs Wade 1973
State laws against abortion are unconstitutional
Webster vs Reproductive Health Services 1989
States may ban abortions in public hospitals
Planned Parenthood vs Casey 1992
Reaffirmed Roe vs Wade but upheld certain limits on its use
Boy Scouts of America vs Dale 2000
A private organization may ban gays from its membership
Lawrence vs Texas 2003
State law may not ban consensual relations between same sex partners
Transferring federal governmental functions like welfare back to state control
A political system in which ultimate authority is shared between a central government and state or regional governments
Necessary and Proper Clause
Clause that authorizes Congress to pass all laws that are necessary and proper to carry out the enumerated powers.
The right of states to nullify a federal law that in the states opinion violated the Constitution. After the Civil War it was established that the national government had the ultimate rule.
Dual Federalism
A constitutional theory that the national government and the state governments each have defined areas of authority especially over commerce.
Grants in aid
Federal funds provided to states and localities
Block Grants
Grants of money from the federal government to states for programs in certain general areas rather than for specific kinds of programs.
Categorial Grant
A federal grant for a specific purpose defined by federal law. Such grants usually require that the state match some part of the federal grant. The match money is usually a small amount.
Rules imposed by the federal government on the states as requirements that the states pay the costs of certain nationally defined programs.
Conditions of aid
Federal rules attached to grants that states receive. The state must follow these rules in order to receive the grant.

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