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AP Government Vocabulary


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Rules committee
Determines the rules of debate for bills in the House of Representatives-also known as the calender committee
Direct primary
Election within the party to choose their favorite candidate for a particular office
Locally held meeting in a state to select delegates who, in turn, will nominate candidates to political offices
Coattail effect
Weaker/lesser-known candidates from (bottom of the ticket) the president's party profit from the president's popularity-people vote straight ticket because they like the top of the ticket.
An effort to shirft responsibility of domestic programs to the states in order to decrease the size &activites of the fed. govt; some states have attempted to shift responsibilities further to local govts
EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)
INDEPENDENT agency created in 1964-works to eliminate employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, disability, age or other criteria unrelated to job performance.
Political action committee
Extention of an interest group that contributes money to political campaigns-financial arm of the interest group
Limited govt
Basic prinicple of U.S. govt that each person has rights that govt cannot take away
Motor voter law
register to vote when you update your license (1993)
Divided govt
One party controls the executive, &the other party controls on /both houses of Congress
Blanket primary
Registered voters may vote for candidates from either party on the same primary ballot
Policy evalution
Determines if a policy is achieving its goals
Uses pol. persuasion to influence legislation &benefit his/her org.
Cooperative federalism
Cooperation among federal, state, &local govts; "marble cake" federalism
Procedure whereby the state submits legislation to its voters for approval, allowing citizens to vote directly on issues
majority/minority districts
those with a majority of residents who are part of an ethnic minority
Distribution of representatives among the states based on the population of each state
Senatorial courtesy
The practice of allowing senators form teh president's party who represent the state where a judicial district is located, to apporve or diapprove potential nominees for the lower federal courts ONLY
Powers that are shared and divided among federal and sub-divisional government (state/local)
Joint committee
Committee made up of members of both house of Congress-housekeeping issues decided
Establishment Clause
Prohibits the establishment of a national religion-1st amendment
Public policy
The exercise of government power in doing those htings necessary to maintain legitmate authority and ocntrol over society
OMB (Office of Management and Budget)
1921) to prepare estimates of how much will be spent by federal agencies, to negotiate and to make that legislative proposals of these other departments jive with the president's program.
Iron triangle
Alliance- agencies, interest groups, &congressional committees/subcommittees (also known as sub-governments)
States may return fugitives to a state from which they fled to avoid criminal prosecution at the request of the state's gov
The formal &informal institutions, people, &processes used to create &conduct pulbic policy
Loose constructionist
broad interpretation of the Constitution
Presidential preference primaries
Voters select delegates to the presidential nominating convention
Virginia Plan
Madison's plan for a bicameral legislature, whith the executive and judiciary chosen by the legislature
Person whose views are between conservative and liberal and may include some of both ideologies
Judicial review
Authority given the courts to review constitutionality of acts by the executive/state/legislature; est. in Marbury v. Madison
Freedom of expression
Freedom of speech/right to petition the govt for redress as 1st amendment right
Monetary policy
controlling the money supply-Federal Reserve (independent agency)
Constitutional courts
Federal courts created by Congress under Article III of the Constitution, including the district courts, courts of appeals, &specialized courts such as the U.S. Court of International Trade
Avg voter at the local level
Legal document submitted to the court setting forth the facts of a case and supporting a particular position
Checks and balances
Each branch of govt is subject to restraints by the other two branches
unfair proportional distribution of representatives to a legislative body
Speech plus
Verbal and symbolic speech used together
Representative democracy
Citizens choose officals (representatives) who make decisions about public policy
Federal system
Power is divided between the states &the fed. govt
Council of Economic Advisors
established by Employment Act of 1946- advise the President on economic policy- 3 members, appointed by President and approved by Senate,
Method of enacting a constitution or amendment into law
Federal budget
Amount of money the federal govt expects to receive &authorizes govt to spend for a fiscal (12 mo.) year
Declaration of Independence
Drafted in 1776 by T. Jefferson declaring America's separation from Great Britain (3 parts-New theory of government, reasons for separation, formal declaration of war and independence)
When a significant # of voters choose to no longer support a particular pol. party
Majority-minority districts
Drawing district boundaries to give a minority group a majority
Political socialization
Complex process by which people get their sense of political identity, beliefs, and values (family, school, media, religion, national events-all help to socialize)
Delegated powers
Powers specifically granted to the national govt by the Constitution
Opposed the adoption of the U.S. Constitution b/c it gave too much power to the national govt at the expense of the state govts and it lacked a bill of rights
red tape
complex rules and procedures that must be followed to get something done (agencies-bureaucracy)
Unfair treatment of a person based on race/group membership
Maintaining elections
Traditional majorty power maintains power based on voters' party loyalty
Miranda v. Arizona
Right to be told what you are being held for.
Eminent domain
Allows the govt to take property for public use but also requires the govt to provide just compensation for that property
Sound bite
A brief statement on TV or radio
Brown v. BOE of Topeka, KA
Overturned Plessy v. Ferguson: ended legal segregation, said school regulation is unconstitutional
Requirements imposed by the national govt on state &local govts to comply w/ fed. rules ®ulation
Soft money
Money distributed form a national political party organization that wasn ot regulated by law; restricted by the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002
Small changes in policy over long periods of time; usually in reference to budget-making--that th ebest indicator of this year's budget is last year's budget plus a small increase
Split-ticket voting
Voting for candidates form more than one party in the same election
Ideological view that favors a return to a previous state of affairs
Separation of powers
Practice by which power is separated among three branches of government; each branch has its own powers and duties and is independent of and equal to the other branches
Agenda setting
The process of forming the list of matters that policymakers intend to address
Strict constuctionist
Narrow interpretation of the Constitution
Procedual due process
Method of government action, or how th elaw is carried out according to the established rules and procedures
Supremacy CLause
Ntional law supersedes all other laws passed by states (Art VI)
A shift of voting patterns to form new coaltions of party support
Bill of Rights
The first 10 amendments to the Constitution-guarantees liberties to the people-written in 1789-ratified in 1791
Prior restraint
Censorship of information before it is published or broadcast (unconstitutional in most cases)
Party officials in the Democratic Party who attend the national convention without having to run in primaries or caucuses
Majority leader
The elected leader of the party with the most seat in the House of Representatives/Senate
Political efficacy
Belief that a person can influence politics and public policymaking-vote makes a difference
Writ of certiorari
Order by the Supreme Court directing a lower court to send up the records of a case for review
A revision/change to a bill, law, or constitution
Line item veto
The president can reject a par tof a bill while approving the rest; declared unconstitutional
Select committee
Committee selected for a specific purpose-investigation-hearing
Direct democracy
Citizens meet and make decisions abt public policy issues
Elastic clause
The necessary &proper clause/Art. I, Sec. 8, Clause 18/imlied powers clause- that allows Congress to pass laws to carry out its powers
Pork barrel legislation
Legislation giving benefits to constituents through sometimes unnecessary of unwise projects within a state or district, to enhance a memeber's chance of reelection
Social insurance programs
Programs to help the elderly, ill, and unemployed if the claimant has paid into them
Speaker of the House
Leading officer in the House of Representatives, chosen by the majority party
Environmental impact statement
Required studies &reports of likely environmental impacts, filed w. the Environmental Protection Agency prior to the beginning of a project
A system whereby the people rule either directly/by elected representation
Primary election
Nominating election held to choose party candidates who will run in the general election
Plessy v. Ferguson
The Supreme Court case that upheld separate-but-equal segregation in 1896
Assistance given to constituents by congressional members, answering questions/doing favors
Choosing an early date to hold the primary election
Programs, money, &resources provided by the fed. govt to state &local govts to be used for specific projects &programs
The person currently holding office
Policy implementation
Carrying out a policy through government agencies and courts
Special election initiated by petition to allow citizens to remove an official from office before his or her term expires
Stare decisis
Let the decision stand; decisions are based on precedents from previous cases
Entitlement program
Madatory payments made by the federal government to people meeting eligibility requirements, such as Social Security, vets, welfare, medicare
Using a represenative cross-seciton of the general population chosen at random in the polling process
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
Created to allow the free movement of goods between Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. by lessening and eliminating tariffs
Fiscal year
A 12-month pd, October through Septmeber, for planning the federal budget
A convicted person is exempt form the penalities of a crime
The document setting forth the laws &principles of the govt; a plan of govt
Rule of four
Requirement that a case can only be heard by the Supreme Court if four justices vote to hear the case
People qualified to vote
Dissenting opinion
Justice/justices who disagree with the majority opinion
Trustee/Delegate-roles Congressman play
trustee--do what is best regardless of voter opinion; delegate--do what the voters want
Legislative courts
Courts created by Congress for a specialized purpose w/ a narrow range of authority
Hatch Act
Prohibits govt employees from engaging in pol. activities whle on duty/running for office/seeking poli. funding while off duty; if in sensitive positions, may not be involved w/ pol. activities on/off duty
Substantive due process
the law itself is fair or unfair-not the procedures-but the law
Circuit Courts
Part of federal court system-13 federal circuit courts: one for the D.C. and 12 for the rest of the country. Also called "courts of appeal"
Single-member districts
Only one representative is chosen from each district
A compaign near the end of an election to get voters out to the polls
A person whose views favor more govt involvemnt in business, social welfare, minority rights, &increased govt spending
pocket veto
DIES-sits on desk-10 days go past-Congress adjourns within the 10 days.
Straw poll
Early form of polling that asks the same question of a large number of people
Inherent powers
Powers that exist for the national govt b/c the govt is sovereign
Comparable worth
Women should be paid salaries equal to men for equivalent job responsibilities &skills
a proposal for a law
A systematic way of organizing a complex &large adminstrative structure w/ responsibility for carrying out day-to-day tasks of the organization, departments, &agencies of the govt
Lemon test
Lemon v. Kurtzman to measure the constituionality of state laws in regard to establishment clause (3 pronged test)
President pro tempore
Serves as president of the Senate in the absence of the VP; chosen by the majority party
The exchange of pol. favors for support of a bill
Grand Jury (5th amendment)
ranges in size from 6 to 23, depending on the state, and functions to determine whether there is enough evidence available against a person accused of a crime to justify a trial.
Media executives, news editors, &prominent reporters who decide what news to present &how it will be presented
McCulloch v. Maryland
Supreme Court decision upholding the supremacy of the national government over the states/implied powers clause also strenthened-national bank established because this supported power to tax
Redistribution of the congressional seats among the states after the census determines changes in population distribution
A person whose pol. views favor more local, limited govt, less govt regulations, conformity to social norms &values; rough on criminals
Public opinion
A colleciton of shared attitudes of citizens about government, politics, and the making of public policy
Marbury v. Madison
Judicial review!
A lengthy speech designed to delay or kill the vote on a bill; used only in the Senate
Franking privilege
Privilege that allows member sof Congress to mail letters &other materials to constituents postage-free
Political culture
A set of basic values and beliefs about one's country or government that is shared by most citizens and that influences political opinions and behaviors
Standing committee
Permanent committees in the House/Senate-every represetative and every senator is appointed to 2 or 3.
Constituency service
Casework, assistance to constituents by congressional members
Floor leaders
Direct party strategy &decisions in the House of Representatives &Senate
Civil Service
hiring government employees on the basis of merit. Also refers to government employees outside the military.
Connecticut Compromise
Legislative branch-2 houses-one based on population, one based on equal representation
Standards or guides based on prior decisions that serve as a rule for settling similar disputes
Three-Fifths Compromise
Agreement that each slave counted as three-fifths of a person in determining representation in the House for representation and taxation purposes (negated by the 13th amendment)
Constitutional law
Laws relating to the interpretation of the Constitution
Method of maintaining, managing, and gaining control of government (who gets what, when, and how)
Social welfare policy
Government program to enhance quality of life
Rewrite of a bill after hearings have been held on it (happens in sub-committee)
Symbolic speech
Using actions and symbols rather than words to convey an idea
Popular sovereignty
people are the source of all govermental power
2 chambers; Congress has the Senate and the House of Representatives
Legislative veto
To reject the actions of the president/executive agency by a vote of one/both house of Congress w/o the consent of th epresident; ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Immigration &Naturalization Service v. Chadha
Dealigning election
Party loyality becomes less important to voters, &they vote for the other party candidate/independent
Refusal of the president to spend money Congress has appropriated
Majority opinion
The majority of justices agree on the decision &the reasons for th edecision
assistant to the floor leaders, keeps a head count of votes, rounds up members for important votes
Democracy seen as a system of many groups pulling govt in many directinos at the same time, causing gridlock ineffectiveness
Affirmative action
LBJ's executive order-designed to correct the effects of past discrimination; requirement by law that positive steps be taken to increase the number of minorities in business, schools, colleges, and labor
Orignial jurisdiction
Court hears and decides a case for the first time
Civil rights
Positive acts of govt designed to prevent discrimination &provide equality before the law
Politcal ideology
A consistent set of beliefs about politics and public policy taht sets the framework for evaluation government and public policy
Necessary and Proper Clause
Gives Congress the powers to pass all laws necessary to carry out their constitutional duties; "elastic" clause (Art. I, Sec 8, clause 18)
Concurring opinion
Justice/justices who agree w/ the majority's opinion but not with the reason behind the decision
Application of portions of the Bill of Rights to the states under Amend. XIV
Seniortiy system
System in which the chairmanship of a committee is given tot eh member with the longest continuous service
National debt
Amount of money owed by the government
Implied powers
Not expressed, but may be considerered through the use of the Necessary and Proper (elastic) Clause
Shield law
Law guaranteeing news reporters the right to protect the annonymity of their sources. States have passed this--not the federal government.
Elite theory
A small group of people identified by wealth/ pol. power, who rule in their self-interest
Mass media
All forms of communication that reach a large portion of the public
Appellate jurisdiction
On appeal from lower courts-Supreme Court is mostly an appellate court
Interest group
A group of private citizens whose goal is to influence &shape public policy
Exclusionary rule
Rule that evidence acquired as a result of an illegal act by police cannot be used agains the person form whom it was seized
Incumbency effect
Tendency of those alrady holding office to win reelection due to advgs b/c they already hold the office
Allows voters to petition to propose legislation &then submit it for a vote by qualified voters
EOP (Executive office of the President)
name for the group of agencies, councils, and staff members which advise the president and help run the federal bureaucracy-was established by an executive order from FDR
Bills of attainder
Prohibits a person being found guilty of a crime w/o a trial
Off-year election
An election taking place in a year when no presidential elections are occurring; midterm election-common for sitting president's party to lose seats in Congress
Incorporation doctrine
The Supreme Court ruling that most guarantees in teh Bill of Rights are applicatable to the states through Amend. XIV
Attempting to influence policymakers though a variety of methods
Super Tuesday
Day when several states hold their presidential primaries (usually the second Tuesday in March)
New Deal coalition
Alliance of southern conservatives, religious, and ethnic minorities who supported the Democratic Party for 40 years
Brief orders
The returning of a case to a lower court b/c a smiliar case was recently decided
Free Exercise Clause
Congress may not make laws restricting/ prohibiting a person's relgious practices-1st amendment
Unfunded mandates
Federal government requires the states to enforce legislation without the funding necessary
Two-party system
Several political parties exist, but only two major political parties compete for power and dominate elections
Bringing charges of wrongdoing against a govt official by the House of Representatives
Interstate compacts
Agreements btwn states to work together on common issues
Money granted by Congress or to a state legislature for a specific purpose
Writ of habeas corpus
right to be told what you are being held for and shown evidence against you-used in death penalty case appeals.
PAC (Political Action Committee)
an independent organization established by interest groups, political candidates, and people who hold office. PACs serve to raise and contribute money to the political campaigns of individuals whose platforms agree with the aims of the PAC.
When opposing parites &interests often block each other's proposals, creating a pol. stalemate/inaction btwn the esecutive &legislative branches of govt
Ideological view that favors rapid funamental change in teh existing social, economic, or political order
Dual federalism
Fed. &state govts each ahve defined responsibilities w/n their own sphere of influence; "layer cake" federalism
Block grant
Money given to states for general programs within a broad category
Double jeopardy
Being tried twice for the same offense (if you appealing, it is not double jeopardy because you are asking to be retried)
Judicial activism
The Court should play an active role in determining national policies
Congressional districting
State legislatures draw congressional districts for Congressional elections
Speaker of the House
decides who willbe recognized to speak- rules whether motions are relevant to the business at hand; decides which bills where the bills will go (committees)-influencial as to what bills are brought up for a vote-appoints members to special and select committees
soft money
political parties solicit unlimited funds from individuals, corporations, spend on voter registration campaigns and get-out the-vote drives and "not on behalf of specific candidates"
Break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate building in 1972 that resulted in a cover-up and the subsequent resignation of Nixon
Revenue sharing
Giving money back to the state and local government with no strings attached
Political agenda
Issues that merit action, as determined by the public or those in power
Drawing of congressional districts to favor one pol. party/group over another
Closed primary
Only registered party members may vote in the primary (independents, greens, etc...not allowed)
Discretionary spending
Spending set by the govt through appropriations bills, including operation expenses &salaries of govt employees (defense, environment, education, space exploration)
After listening to constiutents, elected representatives vote based on their own opinions
Written statement of criminal charges brought against a defendant
General Accounting Office (GAO)
performs routine financial audits of money spent by the executive departments and investigates agencies
Runoff primary
When no candidate receives a majority of votes, an election held betweent eh two candidates who received the most votes in the primary
Ex post facto law
Laws applied to acts committed before passage of the laws are unconstitutional
Social contract theory
A voluntary agreement between the government and the governed
Reserved powers
Powers belonging specifically to the states and the people because they were not delegated to teh national government nor denied to the states
Trial balloon
Tests the public reaction to policy or appointments by releasing information to the media and gaugin public reaction
Open primary
registered voters can vote in either primary-do not have to register with any party.
Straight-ticket voting
Voting for candidates all of the same party on the same ballot-creates the coattail effect
Fiscal federalism
National govt's use of fiscal policy to influence states through the granting/withholding of appropriations
Deviating election
Minority party is able to win the support of majority party members, independents, &new voters
Civil liberties
Constitutional freedoms guaranteed to all citizens
War Powers Act
Limits the ability of the president to commit troops to combat-48 hours to tell Congress when and why the troops were sent, they have 60-90 to bring them home if they disagree
Accusing oneself or giving evidence that may prove oneself guilty
An addition of amendment added to a bill that often has no realtion to the bill but that may not pass onits own merits (senate only)
Political party
Voluntary association of people who seek to control the government through common principles, based on peaceful and legal actions such as the winning of elections
Media event
A speech or photo opporutnity staged to give a politician's view on an issue
Electoral college
Number each state gets is based on the number of representatives and the number of senators that state has. Need 270 to win election
Govt spending exceeds revenue
Govt depts headed by presidential appointees to help establish public policy &operate a specific policy are of govt activity
Conference committee
A temporary committee to work out a compromise version of a bill that has passed the House of Representaives &Senate in diff. forms
Amicus curiae brief
Friend of the court; interest groups may be invited to file legal briefs supporting/rejection arguments of the case
General election
Voters choose officeholder form among all the candidates nominated by pol. parties/running as independents
people within a district or state-government official represents them.
Caucus (congressional)
An association of congressional members who advocate a political ideology/regional/ethnic/economic interest
A consistent set of beliefs by groups/individuals
Lame Duck
person holding office after his or her replacement has been elected to the office, but before the current term has ended.
District courts
Lowest level of fed. courts, where fed. cases begin &trials are held (bank robbery, environmental violations, tax evasion)
Equal Protection Clause
Constitutional guarantee that everyone be treated equally-14th amendment
Mandatory spending
Required govt spending by permanent laws
Fiscal policy
The policies of taxation &spending that comprise the nation's economic policy
Pluralist theory
interest groups compete in the political arena with each promoting its own policy preferences through organized efforts-everyone gets a piece of the pie-a marketplace of ideas, compromise happens-positive view
Congress monitors policies of the executive branch (money, hearings, investigations)-checks and balances
All the voters of a state/country elect their representative (senate elections are at large on the federal level)
Cloture rule
Prevents filibustering (16 signatures) and ends debate in the Senate, by a 3/5s vote of the Senate
Judicial restraint
Holds that the Court should avoid taking the initiative on social &pol. questions, operation strictly w/n the limits of the Constitution
pertaining to a governor
Executive agreement
Agreement w/ another head of state not requiring approval form teh Senate
Full Faith &Credit Clause
States are required to recognize the laws &legal documents of other states-Article 4 for Federalism!
Sampling errors
Percentage of possible erros in teh polling process
Bureaucratic theory
The hierarchical structure and standarized procedures of govt allow bureaucrats to hold the real power over public policy; proposed by Max Weber
Categorical grant
Federal grants for specific purposes define by law
Policy formulation
The crafting of a policy to resolve public problems
Critical election
Sharp changes in the existing patterns of party loyalty due to changing social and economic conditions
Courts of appeals
Federal courts that review decisions of federal district courts, regulatory commissions, &other fed. courts
Concurrent jurisdiction
The authority to hear cases is shared by federal &state courts
Supported a strong central govt &expanded legislative powers
Opinion leaders
Those individuals held in great respect becasue of their position, expertise, or peronsality, who may informally and unintentionally influence others
Executive privilege
The right of the president to withhold info from Congress/ refuse to testify; limited by U.S. v. Nixon
Executive order
The president directs an agency to carry out policies/existing laws (informal power)
The authority of the courts to hear &decide issues in certain cases
A lower court asks the Supreme Court abt a rule of law/procedure
Congressional caucuses
association of members created to support a political ideology or regional economic interest (black caucus, women's caucus...)
Federalist Papers
Written by Hamilton, Jay, & Madison to support ratification of the U.S. Constituiton
Natural rights
Basic rights that are guaranteed to all persons; basic rights that a government cannot deny-Locke-life, liberty, property
The right to vote
Concurrent powers
Powers shared by the federal and state govts (tax, to define crimes and punishments)
Articles of Confederation
1st Constitution of the U.S. 1781-1788 (weaknesses-no executive, no judicial, no power to tax, no power to regulate trade)
Policy adoption
The approval of a policy by legislation
National chairman
Appointed by the DNC or the RNC as head of the party
Pure speech
Verbal communication of ideas and opinions
Privileges and immunities
States are prohibited from unreasonably discriminating against residents of other states (article 4)
Joint Chiefs of Staff
high-ranking military officers who represent the Navy, Army, Air Force and Marines. They assist the civilian leaders of the Department of Defense-advise the president on security matters.
Issue network
Individuals in WA--located w/n interest groups, congressional staff, think tanks, universities, &the media--who regulary discuss &advocate public policies
Commerce and Slave Trade Compromise
Resolved differences btwn northern and southern states; Congress could not tax exports nor ban the slave trade for 20 yrs.
Traditional democratic theory
Government depends upon the consent of the governed

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