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Flashcards in US Government Deck (140):

Hobbes writing

Leviathan - social contract theory. Argues for rule by absolute sovereign. Strong central gov.


Voltair (main ideas)

Man is good and reasonable.
Masses and majority rule are dangerous.
Government is a necessary evil.
Strong enlightened monarch with limited powers. Believes in religious freedom and freedom of thought.


Rousseau writing

Discourse on inequality
The Social Contract - inspired reforms in Europe and France. Monarchs suck. Only people can rule.


Rousseau (main ideas)

Human nature is basically good.
Society corrupts people.
Social contract = agreement to go with majority rule + give up some freedoms in exchange for order.
Ruler carries out the will of the people.


Locke writing

Two Treaties of Government - natural rights


Lock (main ideas)

Man is reasonable and cooperative.
People try to protect their rights - leads to disorder.
Ruler is chosen by people to protect their natural rights: life, liberty, property.
Limited government is best. Rebellion is okay if leader is a tyrant.


Montesquieu writing

Spirit of the Laws


Montesquieu (main ideas)

All people are greedy for power.
People will abuse power...majorities are dangerous.
Separation of powers and checks and balances to prevent abuse of power.



a political theory favoring unlimited authority by a single individual



a political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them



a political system governed by the wealthy people


Federal Government

a form of government in which powers are divided between a central government and several local governments


Specified (AKA Expressed of Enumerated) Powers

powers that Congress has that are specifically listed in the Constitution


Separation of Powers

Constitutional division of powers among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, with the legislative branch making law, the executive applying and enforcing the law, and the judiciary interpreting the law



a system in which power is divided between the national and state governments


Checks and Balances

A system that allows each branch of government to limit the powers of the other branches in order to prevent abuse of power


Supremacy Clause

constitutional declaration (Article VI) that the Constitution and laws made under its provisions are the greatest law of the land


Reserved Powers

Powers not specifically granted to the federal government or denied to the states belong to the states and the people (powers that belong to the states)


Exclusive Powers

powers that can be exercised by the National Government alone


Concurrent Powers

Powers that the Constitution gives to both the national and state governments, such as the power to levy taxes.



Introduction to the Constitution


Limited Government

basic principle of American government which states that government is restricted in what it may do, and each individual has rights that government cannot take away


Popular Sovereignty

The concept that political power rests with the people who can create, alter, and abolish government. People express themselves through voting and free participation in government



supporters of the stronger central govt. who advocated the ratification of the new constitution. Madison, Hamilton, jay.



opponents of a strong central government who campaigned against the ratification of the Constitution in favor of a confederation of independant states. Patrick Henry. Cato and Brutus. Clinton Yates Bryan. They were concerned that the constitution didn't Mention rights, which was remedied with the Bill of Rights



the institution through which a society makes and enforces its public policies


Legislative Power

the power to make a law and to frame public policies


Executive Power

the power to execute, enforce, and administer law


Judicial Power

the power to interpret laws, to determine their meaning, and to settle disputes that arise within the society



The body of fundamental laws setting out the principles, structures, and processes of a government



an adjustment of opposing principles or systems by modifying some aspect of each


Declaration of Independence

the document approved by representatives of the American colonies in 1776 that stated their grievances against the British monarch and declared their independence.



A political ideology that seeks to re-make government into something new



A political ideology that seeks to reform government to create fairness



Person whose views are between conservative and liberal and may include some of both ideologies



A political ideology that seeks to maintain the current system



A political ideology that wants to change government by going back to the old way


Mass Media

Any communication that reaches a wide (large) audience


Opinion Leaders

Those individuals held in great respect becasue of their position, expertise, or peronsality, who may informally and unintentionally influence others


Peer groups

people with whom one regularly associates, including friends, classmates, neighbors, and co-workers


Major party

A popular party that gets a lot of votes (democrat and republican)


Minor party

one of the political parties not widely supported


Party in power

the party that controls the executive branch of government



government action based on firm allegiance to a political party



A policy that emphasizes a united front and cooperation between the major political parties


single-member district

electoral district from which one person is chosen by the voters for each elected office


party identification

a sense of affiliation that a person has with a particular political party


straight-ticket voting

the practice of voting for candidates of only one party in an election


split-ticket voting

voting for candidates of different parties for different offices at the same election



The official endorsement of a candidate for office by a political party



a group of like minded people who meet to select candidates they will support



delegates representing part members vote for a candidate to nominate


Direct primary

A primary where voters directly select the candidates who will run for office


Electoral College

the body of electors who formally elect the United States president and vice-president


Political ideology bell curve

the curve is in the middle where the most people and most moderate opinions are


agents of political socialization

individuals, organizations, and institutions that influence political attitudes


Functions of political parties

bring people together to achieve control of the government, develop policies favorable to their interests or the groups that support them, and organize and persuade voters to elect their candidates to office


Reasons for two party system

-tradition: the American party system began as a two-party system (the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists)
-the electoral system: the basic shape, and many of the details, of the election process work in the direction of a two-party system
-America's Ideological Consensus: there is a broad consensus between many Americans; the nation has not been regularly plagued by sharp and unbridgeable political divisions.


History of two party system

the framers of the constitution opposed a two party system, but unintentionally created one by siding with the Federalists (for ratification of the constitution) or Anti-Federalists (against ratification of the constitution)


Sociological factors that affect voting choices (generalizations)

Education (people with high education favor Republican), income and occupation (lower income brackets favor Democrat and higher income brackets Republican), gender (women favor Democrat and men favor Republican), age (old favor Republican and young favor Democrat), religious background (Catholics favor Democrat and Protestants favor Republican), ethnic background (African-Americans favor Democrat as well as Latinos), geography (people in larger cities favor Democrat and people in smaller cities favor Republican), and family (larger families prefer Democrat and singles prefer Republican).


Reasons for campaign finance laws

so candidates cannot buy their office and to prevent special interest favors


Flaws in the Electoral College system

Electoral College dictates where and how candidates campaign.
All electors are not required to vote as pledged.
A third party candidate won't win but could affect outcome.
The winner of the popular vote is not always guaranteed the presidency.
The election may have to be decided by the House of Representatives


Ideological parties

party based on social, economic, or political ideas


Single-issue parties

Parties that concentrate on only one public policy matter


Economic protest parties

Parties rooted in poor economic times, lacking a clear ideological base, dissatisfied with current conditions and demanding better times


splinter parties

Parties that have split away from one of the major parties


Original Jurisdiction

the authority to hear cases for the first time


Appellate Jurisdiction

The authority of a court to review decisions made by lower courts


Judicial Review

the power of the Supreme Court to declare laws and actions of local, state, or national governments unconstitutional


Writs of mandamus

Orders issued by a higher court to a lower court, government official, or government agency to perform acts required by law


Judicial Activism

an interpretation of the U.S. constitution holding that the spirit of the times and the needs of the nation can legitimately influence judicial decisions (particularly decisions of the Supreme Court)


Judicial Restraint

Philosophy proposing that judges should interpret the Constitution to reflect what the framers intended and what its words literally say.


First Amendment

The constitutional amendment that establishes the four great liberties: freedom of the press, of speech, of religion, and of assembly.


Religious Freedom

a belief that individuals should be free to choose and practice their religious faith and that government should not establish any particular religion as the official or preferred religion


Lemon Test

The three-part test for Establishment Clause cases that a law must pass before it is declared constitutional: it must have a secular purpose; it must neither advance nor inhibit religion; and it must not cause excessive entanglement with religion.


Compelling Interest Test

A method for determining the constitutionality of a statute that restricts the practice of a fundamental right or distinguishes between people due to a suspect classification. In order for the statute to be valid, there must be a compelling governmental interest that can be furthered only by the law in question.


Free Speech

The right to express any opinion in public without censorship or restraint by the government


Symbolic Speech

Using actions and symbols rather than words to convey an idea


Free Press

a press not restricted or controlled by government censorship regarding politics or ideology


Freedom to Assemble

basic right which is laid down in the constitution and expresses the right for the citizens to gather.


Freedom to Petition

The right of the public to petiton against the government and change, add, or get rid of a law.



unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice


14th Amendment

This amendment declared that all persons born or naturalized in the United States were entitled equal rights regardless of their race, and that their rights were protected at both the state and national levels.


Equal Protection

the 14th ammendment states that no person should be denied the same protection of law enjoyed by others


Reasonable discrimination

compelling purpose to treat someone different


Plessy v. Ferguson

the Supreme Court ruled that the segregation of public places facilities was legal as long as the facilites were equal


Separate-but-equal Doctrine

the doctrine established by Plessy v Ferguson (1896) that African Americans could constitutionally be kept in separate but equal facilities


Brown v. Board of Education

1954 - The Supreme Court overruled Plessy v. Ferguson, declared that racially segregated facilities are inherently unequal


Affirmative Action

a policy designed to redress past discrimination against women and minority groups through measures to improve their economic and educational opportunities


Reverse Discrimination

discrimination against the majority group (sometimes by giving special treatment to minorities in compensation for past discrimination)


UC Regents v. Bakke

1978 Supreme Court decision holding that state university could not admit less qualified individuals solely because of their race


Grutter v. Bollinger

affirmative action case; race could be used as a factor in admissions as long as there was no point system and race was not a major factor; upheld Bakke case


Gratz v. Bollinger

affirmative action case; a point system for admission in which points were given for race was ruled unconstitutional; too much like a quota system; upheld Bakke case


Due Process

principle in the Fifth Amendment stating that the government must follow proper constitutional procedures in trials and in other actions it takes against individuals


Procedural due process

Constitutional requirement that governments proceed by proper methods; limits how government may exercise power.


Substantive due process

Constitutional requirement that governments act reasonably and that the substance of the laws themselves be fair and reasonable; limits what a government may do.


Police Power

the power to protect and promote the public health, safety, morals, and general welfare; the power to safeguard the well-being of the people of the state


Right to Privacy

the right to a private personal life free from the intrusion of government


Griswold v. Connecticut

Established that there is an implied right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution, married couple wanted to get contraceptives; struck down a Connecticut law prohibiting the sale of contraceptives; established the right of privacy through the 4th and 9th amendment


Roe v. Wade

(1973) legalized abortion on the basis of a woman's right to privacy


Exclusionary Rule

a rule that provides that otherwise admissible evidence cannot be used in a criminal trial if it was the result of illegal police conduct


Purpose of Exclusionary Rule

to protect against illegal searches and seizures by deterring PO's from conducting illegal searches and seizures, thereby protect people from illegal searches and seizures.


Exceptions to Exclusionary Rule

inevitable discovery, honest mistake, good faith


Congress (total of 40 questions)

Congress (total of 40 questions)



composed of two legislative bodies



to stop proceedings temporarily (Court or Congress meeting for example)



adjourn, as in a legislative session


Special session

an extraordinary session of a legislative body, called to deal with an emergency situation



redistribute, as in seats in a legislative body


Congressional districts

the area that a member of congress represents



the drawing of legislative district boundaries to benefit a party, group, or incumbent



The people and interest that political officers represent.


Qualifications for House members

Must be 25 years old, a Citizen of the United States for seven years, and a legal resident of the state which they represent


Qualifications for Senators

Must be at least 30, have been a US citizen for at least 9 years, and live in the state they represent


Speaker of the House

the leader of the majority party who serves as the presiding officer of the House of Representatives


President of the Senate

the presiding officer of a senate; in Congress, the Vice President of the United States


President pro tempore

Officer of the Senate selected by the majority party to act as chair in the absence of the vice president


Floor leaders

members of the House and Senate picked by their parties to carry out party decisions and steer legislative action to meet party goals


Standing committees

permanently established legislative committees that consider and are responsible for legislation within a certain subject area


Party whips

a member of the Senate/House who is chosen by his/her party colleagues to assist the party's floor leader in managing its legislative program.


party caucus

a meeting of the members of a party in a legislative chamber to select party leaders and to develop party policy. Called a conference by the republicans


conference committee

a temporary joint committee set up when the House and the Senate have passed different versions of the same bill


How a bill becomes a law

1. written 2. discussed in committee + voted 3. discussed in House of Reps. and Senate + voted on in both 4. President signs it or vetoes it (which brings back to Congress, needs 2/3 vote to override veto)



a tactic for delaying or obstructing legislation by making long speeches



the power or right to prohibit or reject a proposed or intended act; the power of a chief executive to reject a bill passed by the legislature


Pocket veto

a bill fails to become law because the president did not sign it within ten days before Congress adjourns


President's Roles

Chief Executive, Commander in Chief, Chief Citizen, Chief of State, Chief Diplomat, Chief Legislator, Chief of Party, Chief Administrator, Chief legislator, Chief of staff, and Press Secretary.


Formal qualifications to be President

Must be 35 years old
2. Must be born in the US
3. Must have lived in the US for at least 14 years


Presidential term limits

4 years per term, later the Constitution was amended to limit the presidency to two consecutive for year terms in Amendment 22 (possible to have 10 years of presidency if someone were to be Vice President and the President were to get short 2 years into their term and the Vice President then ran for president two terms in a row)


Order of presidential succession

The Vice President
Speaker of the House
President pro tempore of the Senate
Secretary of State Hillary
Secretary of the Treasury
Secretary of Defense
Attorney General
Secretary of the Interior


Presidential disability

Section 3 of the 25th amendment deals with a situation in which the president communicates in writing to Congress that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of the office. The vice president then assumes the role of acting president. The vice president continues in this role unless and until the president is able to transmit a declaration to the contrary.


National Security Council

a committee in the executive branch of government that advises the president on foreign and military and national security


Office of Management and Budget

Executive office responsible for helping the President write the federal budget and monitoring federal spending.


Presidential Cabinet

group of officials who head government departments and advise the president


Fifteen Executive Departments

State , Treasury, Justice, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Defense, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Education, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security.


President's executive powers

Executing the law - enforces, administers, and carries out provisions of the law (While President is required to enforce laws by Constitution, he can use his own discretion on how vigorously he enforces them)
2. Ordinance Power gives President power to issue executive orders, directives, rules, or regulations that have the effect of the law
3. Appointment Power - With Senate majority consent, President appoints to-ranking officers in Federal Government
4. Removal Power - President has the power to remove any officer he appoints with the exception of Federal judges


President's diplomatic and military powers

Power to make treaties - formal agreements between 2 or more sovereign states
-Treaties negotiated through Secretary of State, needs 2/3 approval, President ratifies treaty with other parties involved
-Treaties have same legal standing as law
2. Power to make executive agreements - a pact between the President and the head of a foreign state (Does not require Senate consent)
3. Power of Recognition - When President receives Diplomatic representative of another sovereign State, he is acknowledging the legal existence of that country.
-If the people become displeased with the actions of another nation, President may ask to recall their ambassador or diplomatic representative. Official recalled is considered persona non grate, sharpest rebuke to give to a country short of war
4. Commander in Chief - President is commander of nation's armed forces and in this capacity, his powers are almost unlimited (But Congress can withhold money)


President's judicial powers

To appoint federal court judges. To pardon people convicted of federal crimes (except in cases of impeachment). To reduce a person's jail sentence or fine.


President's legislative powers

Message power - influence a person gets by being in the public eye, veto power - presidential power to stop a bill from becoming a law by rejecting it, and recommending legislation - the President shall report to Congress on the state of the Union and recommend necessary legislation.


Hobbes Main Ideas

"People are selfish. They will fight constantly if left alone (state of nature).
People value order above freedom (for protection). Social contract: people agree to give up freedom
(forever) for protection.
One ruler with absolute power. Rebellion is not allowed."