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GOPO Final Terms

527 Organization An independent organization set up to influence the outcome of an election; can receive unlimited "soft money" donations but cannot directly advocate for a particular candidate or have any connection to a candidate. Rendered obsolete by Citizens United.
Affirmative Action Government or business policies favoring a historically disadvantaged minority group (university admissions, hiring decisions); raises 14th Amendment equal protection problems (reverse discrimination); limited by Bakke v. University of California (race can be "plus factor" in admissions but no racial quota system)
Agents of Socialization Family (most important); TV/media (growing in importance); friends/peers; school (formal socialization). How we develop (absorb) opinions & beliefs.
American Party System 2 main parties (because of electoral rules) with other smaller and less powerful third parties (spoiler, splinter, extremist)
American Political Culture A set of basic, foundational values and beliefs about government that is shared by most citizens. Key elements: democracy, equality before the law, limited government, capitalism & private property
Americans With Disabilities Act (1990) Major anti-discrimination law for disabled; requires access (ramps, braille, etc.); unfunded mandate
Amicus Curiae Brief Literally, a "friend of the court" brief, filed by an individual or interest group to present arguments / points of view in addition to those presented by the immediate parties to a case (lobbying). Solicitor General files Amicus Briefs for U.S. government.
Anarchism Belief in the abolition of all government (maybe through violent means)
Anti-Federalists A group who opposed the ratification of the Constitution in 1787. They opposed a strong central government (tyranny) and supported states' rights. "I smell a rat!"
Appellant The losing party in a court case who appeals the case to an appellate court.
Appellate Jurisdiction The jurisdiction of courts to hear appeals from lower trial or appellate courts. Appellate courts determine whether cases were decided correctly by the court below. Circuit courts have mandatory AJ (they have to hear appeals from District Courts). Supreme Court has discretionary AK (they can choose to hear appeals from Circuit Courts and State Supreme Courts).
Appellee The party opposing an appeal from a lower court to an appellate court.
Appropriations Committees Decide how to spend money allocated to each spending category by Budget Resolution; 12 subcommittees for major areas of budget (ex. defense, energy, agriculture); major source of earmarking
Articles of Confederation Set up the 1st independent American government (1783-88). Nonbinding "league of friendship" among sovereign states with weak central government to help with common defense & cooperation (like the European Union). Replaced by our current constitution in 1788.
Attorney General Head of the Justice Department and the chief law enforcement officer of the United States
Bandwagon Effect Copy-cat behavior. People often do things just because other people do them. In primary elections, it is when people support the candidate everyone else seems to be supporting (poll leaders). Leads to Primary Frontloading (states want to have the most impact in the primary process)
Bill of Attainder Laws that punish individuals or groups without a trial. These laws are always unconstitutional.
Bill of Rights First ten amendments to the Constitution; major source of civil liberties; applies to states via selective incorporation doctrine; promised to Anti-Federalists to secure ratification of Constitution
Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act Banned soft money donations to political parties (loophole from FECA); also imposed restrictions on 527 independent expenditures (issue ads only, not direct advocacy for a candidate). Declared unconstitutional by Citizens United case. Also known as McCain-Feingold Act.
Blanket Primary Anyone can vote in any party primaries (like open primary) but voters not limited to one party (can vote for example in Democratic presidential primary and Republican senate primary). Least amount of party control over process.Declared unconstitutional (violates party's freedom to associate)
Block Grants Grants ($) given to the states by the federal government for a general purpose (like education or road-building). Unlike categorical grants, states have discretion to decide how to spend the money. Example = Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) (States develop and implement welfare programs using federal money).
Budget Committee House & Senate standing committees that begins budget process in Congress by setting overall budget size and amounts that will be spent on different topics (ex. defense, education)
Bully Pulpit The Presidency is one- a good position from which to inspire Congress & the nation, with the help of the media, to follow his political agenda. Example = FDR's fireside chats, Obama's televised State of the Union Address...
Cabinet Departments The fifteen largest and most influential agencies of the federal bureaucracy (e.g., Department of State, Treasury, Justice...) Headed by Secretary or Attorney General (Department of Justice)
Casework Assistance given to individual constituents by congressional members, like helping an elderly person figure out how to get Medicare benefits. Major incumbency advantage.
Categorical Grant A grant ($) given to the states by the federal government for a specific purpose or program. The federal government tells the states exactly how to spend the money (no state discretion unlike block grants). Example = Medicaid. Most common type of federal grant because it gives Congress the most control over the states.
Chaplinsky v U.S. 1942 case establishing "fighting words" category of unprotected speech.
Checks and Balances A major principle of the American system of government. Helps maintain separation of powers so that no one branch gets too powerful. Explained in Federalist 51. Examples: President vetos laws; Senate confirms appointments & treaties; Congress impeaches president & judges...
Chief Justice Earl Warren Chief Justice from 1953-1969; led activist liberal court; known for cases expanding rights of criminal defendants (Mapp v Ohio, Gideon v Wainwright, Miranda v Arizona)
Chief Justice John Marshall In office from 1801-1835 (longest serving CJ). Supported increased power of federal government. Decided McCulloch v. Maryland, Gibbons v. Ogden, and Marbury v. Madison.
Chief Justice John Robers Current Chief Justice (appointed by Bush in 2005); moved court in conservative direction; known for pro-corporation cases (Citizens United)
Circuit Courts (Courts of Appeal) Intermediate federal appellate courts. Cover 13 "circuits" across America. Hear appeals from District Courts in their jurisdiction.
Civil Disobedience Intentional breaking of a law to protest against the law. Thoreau vs. Mexican-American War, Rosa Parks & MLK vs. Jim Crow segregation.
Civil Law Laws dealing with private rights of individuals (defamation, breach of contract, negligence). Violation results in damages or injunction.
Civil Rights Act of 1964 Prohibits discrimination based on race or gender in employment or public accommodations (restaurants, hotels). Created EEOC to enforce. Based on Congress's interstate commerce clause power (discrimination impacts interstate commerce). The most important federal civil rights law.
Civil Service Government bureaucracy; non-elected agents ("worker bees") that work for executive agencies to execute the law; hierarchical organization, job specialization, detailed rules & procedures, administrative discretion. Massive growth since New Deal & WWII (2.5m people = nation's largest employer)
Class Action Lawsuit Allows an entire class of people who have been hurt in a similar manner by the same person or corporation to join together in one legal suit. (Example: AT&T overcharging 10 million customers 1 cent a month for a year).
Clear & Present Danger Test Used in Schenck v. US (1919) to determine whether speech is unprotected "incitement" to illegal activity. Replaced by stricter "imminent lawless action" test in Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969)
Closed Primary Only registered party members can vote in the party primaries. Maximum party control over process, used in most state primaries.
Closed Rule Rule in the House of Representatives that prohibits any amendments to bills or says that only members of the committee reporting the bill may offer amendments
Cloture A procedure used in the senate to limit debate on a bill (end a filibuster); requires 60 votes.
Commander-in-Chief Constitutional power of the president - "supreme commander" of the nation's armed forces. Important to keep military under civilian control, leads to conflict with Congress over war power (War Powers Act)
Commerce Clause Art. 1, Sec. 8 of the Constitution (enumerated power). Congress has the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, among the several states ["Interstate Commerce Clause"], and with the Indians. Interpreted by the Supreme Court very broadly (Gibbons v. Ogden) until Lopez & Morrison.
Committee Chairperson Leader of a congressional committee. Usually the longest serving member of the majority party on that committee (seniority rule). A very powerful position - Controls the committee calendar, agenda, and hearings. Can pigeonhole (table) a bill by refusing to schedule debate on it.
Concurrent Powers Powers that are given to both federal and state governments. Ex., the power to tax and create courts. Exclusive powers are given only to one level of government (ex., the power to declare war)
Confederation Nonbinding union of sovereign states (example = European Union, America under Articles of Confederation).
Conference Committees A joint committee appointed to resolve differences in the senate and house versions of the same bill
Congress' Enumerated Powers Power to tax, borrow & coin money, regulate foreign & interstate commerce, establish army, declare war, make all laws necessary & proper for carrying out the enumerated powers (elastic clause)
Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Non-partisan legislative support agency (economists) to analyze President's Budget Proposal & how much programs and budget items will cost. Goal is to aid the Congressional budget process.
Congressional Caucuses Association of members created to support a political ideology or regional economic interest (black caucus, women's caucus, blue dog democrats...)
Congressional Committee System Evolved as a way for Congress to handle large and complex work-load; divides up law-making into major subject areas; major responsibility for debating & marking up bills + oversight of execution of laws (the bureaucracy)
Congressional Demographics Rich highly educated white male protestant lawyers & businessmen! Women VERY underrepresented! (<17%)
Congressional District System (Electoral College) Minority state system for allocating electoral college votes (used in ME & NE). The winner of each congressional district is awarded that district's electoral vote, and the winner of the state-wide vote is awarded the state's remaining two electoral votes. More accurately reflects voter will, but reduces states' influence in electoral process.
Congressional Oversight The power of Congress to oversee how laws are carried out ("watchdog function" to prevent fraud & waste). Carried out through committee hearings & investigations, approprations process (how much are we spending on that program again?), GAO..
Connecticut Compromise Solves big state-little state debate over representation in federal legislature at Philly Convention. Created bicameral legislature with equal representation for states in Senate and proportional representation in House (seats based on population).
Constituent Services Services a congressperson provides for his/her constituents (ex., helping with government claims like social security & veterans benefits)
Constitution A nation's basic law, creates political institutions, assigns or divides power in government and often provides certain guarantees to citizens. Can be written or unwritten.
Cooperative Federalism System of federalism where federal & state governments help each other perform governmental duties. Also known as marble-cake federalism. E.g., After hurricanes federal and state agencies work together to provide relief. Can cause confusion and/or conflict among among different levels of government. Best explanation of how federalism works today (instead of dual federalism)
Council of Economic Advisors Three economic experts to help president understand and develop economic policy; must be confirmed by senate
Criminal Law Laws dealing with offenses against society (murder, rape, arson). Prosecuted by the government, violation results in fines or prison sentences
Critical Election Election in which existing patterns of party loyalty shift. Ex. Northern Democrats switch parties in 1860 to vote for Republican Party (Lincoln).
Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson's statement of political liberalism (limited government to protect life liberty and pursuit of happiness; right to revolution).
Defamation False and malicious (mean) writings ("libel") or speech ("slander") about a living person. Not protected speech under 1st Amendment but check out NY Times v. Sullivan (very difficult for "public figures" to prove defamation)
Defendant An individual or group being sued by a plaintiff or charged with a crime by a prosecutor.
Defense of Marriage Act (1996) Federal law defining marriage as man-woman & declaring that no state is forced to recognize same-sex marriage (unconstitutional exception to full faith & credit clause?)
Democratic Party Demographics: Racial minorities, Jews, Women (gender gap), Labor Unions, PoorIdeology: Center-left coalition... support liberal economic & social policies (government aid, gay marriage, no death penalty, tax on wealthy). (liberalism is a dirty word in America)
Democratic Party Coalition (modern) Major supporters of Democratic Party = African-Americans, Jews, Women, Labor Union members, poor people
Department of Defense Cabinet-level agency in charge of the armed forces and military policy. HQ = The Pentagon.
Department of Justice Federal department responsible for enforcing federal laws (includes FBI, Civil Rights Division, Antitrust Division, Drug Enforcement Administration...)
Department of State Cabinet-level agency in charge of foreign policy & international affairs.
Deregulation The lifting of government rules & restrictions on business, industry, and professional activities; major goal of Republicans
Devolution Revolution The effort to reduce the size & power of the federal government by returning (devolving) power to the states. Associated with economic conservatives, President Reagan & the Tea Party.
District Courts Federal trial courts. Limited jurisdiction (primarily to hear cases involving constitution and/or federal law). Must follow Supreme Court & their Circuit Court precedents (stare decisis). Federal government represented by U.S. Attorney's Office.
Divided Government When policymaking institutions of government (President, Senate, House) are divided among the parties (e.g., Democratic President, Republican Congress). Requires more compromise; can lead to gridlock.
Docket The list of cases that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear (granted certiorari to) in a term (usually 70-100 cases)
Doctrine of Implied Powers Established by CJ Marshall in McCulloch v. Maryland. Congress has the power to make all laws that are "necessary and proper" for carrying out its enumerated powers. So it can create a National Bank to carry out its power to coin money. Major cause of growth of federal power.
Don't Ask Don't Tell Compromise gay policy in military from 1993; finally ended by Obama in 2011.
Dual Federalism System of federalism that strictly separates federal power (ex. foreign relations) and state power (ex. protect against crime). Each level of government is dominant within its own sphere. Probably how the Founders thought America would work (enumerated federal powers + reserved state powers). Also known as "layer-cake federalism."
Earmarking Practice of congressmen of securing ("appropriating") federal money ("pork") for projects that will benefit their constituents. Major incumbent advantage & source of budget increases
Electioneering Activity that seeks to influence the outcome of an election. Independent electioneering (SuperPacs & 527s) is protected free speech and so cannot be limited by government.
Electoral College Constitutional system for electing president and vice president. Each state has electors = to number of senators + representatives (DC also has 3 because of 23rd Amendment). Citizens of state vote for candidate. Winner gets all electoral college votes (except Maine & Nebraska which uses proportional system). Winner of majority of electoral college votes becomes president. If no majority then President picked by House from top 3 candidates.
Electoral Dealignment A lessening of the importance of party loyalties in voting decision (more independent voters, more split ticket voting, more divided government). Perhaps occurring now?
Elite Theory Belief that American democracy is a sham; we really live in a plutocracy. The Constitution was written by rich white men for rich white men.
Equal Rights Amendment Proposed constitutional amendment requiring full equal treatment for men and women (ex. allow women special forces). Proposed by Congress in 1972 but never ratified
Equal Time Rule FCC rule requiring media stations to offer advertising time to all candidates if they offer it to one candidate.
Establishment Clause 1st Amendment clause: Congress cannot "establish" a religion. Accomodationists (establishment = government-funded religion) vs. Separationists (establishment = ANY involvement with religion); Lemon test
Ex Post Facto Laws Laws that punish conduct that was not illegal when it was performed. These laws are always unconstitutional. Also known as a retroactive law.
Exclusionary Rule Evidence obtained in violation of 4th Amendment is not admissible in criminal trial. (Weeks v. U.S., Mapp v. Ohio)
Executive Agreement Non-treaty agreement between the U.S. president and other nations that does not require Senate ratification (but is not binding on future presidents). Since 1939, executive agreements have comprised more than 90% of the international agreements (because senate ratification is a real drag!)
Executive Enumerated Powers Commander-in-chief of armed forces; pardon power (except for impeachment); treaty power; appointment power; veto power
Executive Office of the President (EOP) Ten organizations that advise the President. Includes the Office of Management and Budget, the Council of Economic Advisors, and National Security Council. Top positions must be confirmed by Senate.
Executive Orders Regulations & orders from the President to an agency about how to execute a law. They are one of the ways presidents can try to control the bureaucracy.
Executive Privilege The President's self-declared power to keep executive communications confidential, especially if they relate to national security. Informal amendment to Constitution (by tradition). Can lead to conflict with other branches (Watergate).
Exit Poll A poll of voters exiting the polls (voting locations) to attempt to predict the outcome of the election. May create a bandwagon effect.
Faithless Elector Elector who does not vote for the candidate they promised to vote for. These have never determined outcome of presidential election but is a major problem with electoral college system
Federal Communications Commission Federal agency that regulates the radio, television, wire, satellite and cable communications.
Federal Election Campaign Act First major federal law (1971) to regulate federal elections. Created Federal Election Commission (FEC). Required disclosure of sources of campaign funds (transparency), set limits on contributions to candidates (individuals = $1000, PACs = $5000), spending limits for candidates, limits on independent expenditures.
Federalism A system of government in which power is divided between one central government and several regional governments (dual or cooperative). Used in USA and a few other countries. Most countries have unitary governments.
Federalist Papers Written in 1788 by Madison, Hamilton, and Jay to support ratification of the Constitution. Fed 10 (factions) & Fed 51 (separation of powers, checks & balances)
Federalists Supporters of the new constitution in 1787. Supported a strong central government. Hamilton, Washington, Marshall. Became first political party (vs. Jefferson's Democratic-Republicans)
Filibuster Use of unlimited time for debate in the Senate to kill bills by making (or threatening to make) long speeches. No filibuster in House (House Rules Committee places time limits on all debates). Broken by cloture motion (60 votes)
Fiscal Federalism Federal government using money (grants) to influence & control states.
Formal Amendment Process Article V; the (very difficult) process of adding or deleting words to the constitution (27 times since 1788); propose by 2/3 vote of Congress or Constitutional Convention (never used); ratify by 3/4 vote of state legislators or state convention (only used once)
Franking Privilege The right of congresspeople to send job-related mail to their constituents without paying postage. Incumbency advantage.
Free Exercise Clause 1st Amendment clause; Government cannot make a law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. Beliefs are 100% protected but religious practices are not exempt from neutral laws that affect everyone (ex., polygamy & illegal drugs)
Free Speech Clause 1st Amendment clause; Congress can make no law abridging freedom of speech (including symbolic speech); Gitlow v. NY incorporates clause into 14th Amendment.
Freedom of Information Act Gives all citizens the right to inspect all records of federal agencies except those containing military, intelligence, or trade secrets; increases accountability of bureaucracy
Full Faith & Credit Clause States must recognize laws & judicial decisions of other states (ex., marriage, child support payments); public policy exception for gay marriage?
Gender Gap Belief / observation that women are more likely to support Democratic / liberal candidates & issues than men. Women are more likely to support spending on welfare & education, and to oppose higher levels of military spending.
General Election Election in which the winner becomes an elected government official.
Gerrymandering The drawing of district boundaries by the state legislature to benefit a party, group, or incumbents. Major types are political & racial.
Gibbons v Ogden Commerce clause case (1824). Decision greatly enlarged Congress' interstate commerce clause power by broadly defining the meaning of "commerce" to include virtually all types of economic activity. Pair with Lopez & Morrison cases (limiting commerce power).
Government Accountability Office A federal legislative agency that audits (investigates) other agencies of the federal government and reports it's findings to Congress (makes sure they are not spending more money than the government has appropriated for them).
Government Corporation Corporation set up and run by the government; provides a service to the public (ex. US Postal Service)
Government Corporations A government organization that, like regular corporations, provides a service to the public and typically charges for its services. The U.S. Postal Service is an example. Privatization would abolish GCs.
Grandfather Clause Jim Crow era state laws that discouraged African Americans from voting by saying that if your grandpa couldn't vote, then neither can you. The newly-freed slaves grandpas couldn't vote, so neither could they. Declared unconstitutional in 1915.
Grassroots Activism Electioneering and issue advocacy by ordinary & unpaid citizens (the roots of American political system). Examples include Tea Party, youth activism in Obama 2008. Compare with "Astroturf Activism" - fake grassroots efforts (paid for by political interests).
Grassroots Politics Political action on the local level by ordinary citizens (the roots): fundraising, volunteering, get-out-the-vote activities (knocking on doors); important function of local party organization
Habeas Corpus The right to challenge the legality of your detention by government (to have a judge determine whether or not the government can detain you). This right can be temporarily suspended by Congress in times of rebellion or unrest.
Honeymoon Period The short period (days or months) following an election when a president's popularity and ability to influence Congress is at its highest.
Horse-Race Journalism Media tends to cover elections like a sporting event because it generates excitement (who is ahead, who is behind) & it is easy to do (poll data). HRJ is bad because it reduces time spent on analysis of issues & it can create a bandwagon effect in coverage of elections ("Romney looks like he will win this one...")
House and Senate Whips Deputy leadership position. Connects leaders with "rank and file" members, and tries to encourage party unity & discipline
House Rules Committee Powerful House standing committee that reviews all bills coming from other House committees before they go to the full House (gatekeeper function); sets time limit for debate decides whether amendments can be added (open or closed rule).
House Ways and Means Committee Important House standing committee responsible for initiating all taxation bills.
Hyperpluralist Theory Pluralism gone wrong; belief that government is paralyzed by too many interest groups demanding things too many things from government
Idealism (foreign policy) Use American power to promote democracy and peace around the world. (Compare with realism)
Impeachment Process Constitutional process for removing executive officers & judges for "treason, high crimes & misdemeanors" (whatever Congress thinks is impeachable). Two stages: (1) House decides to impeach (accuse) target (simple majority); (2) Senate holds trial to convict (2/3 majority). Andy Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached but not convicted. Nixon resigned as Articles of Impeachment were being drafted!
Incumbent Advantages Name recognition, campaign contributions, credit-claiming (pork & casework).
Independent Executive Agencies Federal agencies that aren't large or important enough to get department status. Directors appointed by President w/ advice & consent of Senate. Ex. NASA, CIA, EPA
Independent Regulatory Commissions Independent agencies created by Congress to regulate important aspects of the nation's economy. Commissioners appointed by President but not removable except "for cause" (to protect independence). Most independent and least accountable part of the federal bureaucracy.
Informal Amendment Process Changing the meaning of the Constitution without changing the actual words (which requires a formal amendment through Article V process). Examples = Supreme Court opinions, laws, traditions.
Initiative Where some states allow citizens to come up with their own ideas for laws to put on an election ballot. If the proposition passes it becomes a law. Requires many voter signatures (petition) to get on the ballot. Most direct form of democracy (citizen law-making)
Injunction A judicial order to a party to do or stop doing something (example: a restraining order to stay away from a specific person).
Invisible Primary Informal raising of support (and money) before first primaries
Iron Triangle Creation of powerful (iron) relationship of mutual benefit & support among congressional committee, government agency and regulated interest group(s). Can lead to corruption and "agency capture" (where the agency is controlled by the target of regulation). Problem exacerbated by revolving door.
Isolationism Old as Washington, a belief that America should not seek to become engaged in foreign affairs.
Jacksonian Democracy The first major opening up of American suffrage (voting rights) by Jackson's new Democratic Party in 1830s. Franchise extended to all white men (not just rich white men). Achieved by state legislation not constitutional amendment.
Jim Crow Era Era in the South after Civil War (1865) until 1950s. African Americans were freed from slavery and could legally vote (Amendments 13, 14, 15) but were still subjected to discriminatory state laws enforcing segregation and kept from voting by laws (ex. poll taxes, literacy tests) and by violence (KKK)
John Locke Father of political liberalism (limited government to protect life liberty & property; right to revolt if government becomes a tyranny); he greatly influenced Jefferson & the Declaration of Independence.
Joint Chiefs of Staff One General from each of the 4 armed service branches (army, navy, air force, marines) and, since 1/2012, the National Guard. The JCS are key military advisors to the President.
Joint Committees Congressional committees to discuss & supervise certain topics, with membership drawn from both houses. (ex., Committee on Library, Taxation)
Judicial Activism A philosophy of judicial decision-making whereby judges allow their personal views about public policy (liberal or conservative) to guide their decisions. Activist judges are comfortable declaring laws unconstitutional.
Judicial Appointment Factors Political ideology (litmus test); acceptability to Senate (not too radical); judicial experience; diversity
Judicial Restraint A philosophy of judicial decision-making whereby judges give significant deference to the decisions made by elected representatives in the legislative and executive branches. Restrained judges are uncomfortable declaring laws unconstitutional.
Judicial Review The power of the Supreme Court to declare laws and actions of local, state, or national governments unconstitutional. Established in Marbury v. Madison (informal amendment to Constitution)
Jurisdiction The right & power to make decisions in a particular area. Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Before a federal court can hear a case it must establish that it has the power to hear this type of case (primary jurisdiction is to hear cases involving the federal constitution and/or federal law).
Lame Duck Person holding office after his or her replacement has been elected to the office, but before the current term has ended. Lame Duck Presidents may find it hard to influence Congress (why work with a guy who is about to leave?)
Legislative Oversight Congress making sure the Executive Branch and the Bureaucracy is correctly executing (carrying out) laws.
Libertarianism Belief in as much freedom and as little government as possible (tolerates some government to provide stability & security). Supports free market economy, no government regulation of morality, low taxes.
Line Item Veto Law giving president power to veto portions of budget bill; purpose = reduce size of national deficit; declared unconstitutional (violates separation of powers)
Line-Item Veto Allows president to veto bad parts of a bill but keep the rest. Like a scalpel. Especially useful for cutting out pork from spending bills. Declared unconstitutional (impermissibly changed the detailed law-making process established in Article I)
Literacy Test A method to deny blacks right to vote during the Jim Crow Era by requiring reading or civics test in order to vote. Could be selectively applied. Rationale: only the educated should vote. Prohibited by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Lobbying The act of trying to influence a politician or bureaucrat. Usually lobbyists are highly paid insiders with access to people in power (revolving door). Major weapon of corporate interest groups.
Logrolling You support my bill, I'll support yours. Trading favors by legislators to help pass their bills.
Mapp v Ohio 1961 case incorporating 4th Amendment (and exclusionary rule) into 14th Amendment DPC, binding on states.
Marbury vs. Madison Chief Justice John Marshall famously announces the existence of the power of judicial review: the power of the Supreme Court to declare laws and actions of local, state, or national governments unconstitutional.
Marking Up The process by which a congressional committee debates, amends, and/or rewrites bills.
McCulloch v. Maryland (1824) (1) CJ Marshall establishes doctrine of implied powers (Congress can create a national bank because it is necessary & proper to carrying out the enumerated power to coin money); (2) Supremacy clause prevents state (Maryland) from taxing the National Bank. Very important case enlarging power of federal government.
Motor Voter Act (1993) Tried to increase voter turnout by allowing voter registration at same time as getting or renewing driver's license. Increased the registration rate, but not the voter turnout rate (people still apathetic or not motivated to vote)
Narrowcasting The modern media trend for TV and radio shows to target very narrow ideological audiences (ex. conservatives watch Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly); results in greater political polarization
National Committee National party organization that, with Congressional leaders and President, runs party affairs between national conventions, (DNC and RNC, each is headed by a chairperson).
National Convention The meeting of party delegates every four years to choose a presidential ticket and write the party's platform. Brokered Convention occurs if no candidate has won a majority of delegates in state primaries & caucuses.
National Security Counsel Consults with the president on matters of defense and foreign policy.
Necessary and Proper Clause Gives congress the power to do anything that is necessary and proper to carry out an enumerated power. Also known as the "elastic clause." Leads to implied powers doctrine (McCulloch v. Maryland)
New Jersey Plan Plan at Philadelphia Convention for equal representation in new Congress (1 state 1 vote). Also known as "small state plan." Opposite of the Virginia "big state" Plan. Becomes basis of representation in the Senate.
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Free trade agreement among USA, Canada & Mexico. Goal = promote economic prosperity & cooperation. Easier perhaps to achieve at regional level than global level (World Trade Organization).
Office of Management and Budget EOP agency that helps the President prepare annual budget proposal and evaluates budget priorities and effectiveness of federal agencies (oversight)
Open Primary Anyone can vote in any party primaries (but can only vote in the primaries of one party). Less party control over process. May cause raider effect.
Open Rule An order from the House Rules Committee that permits a bill to be amended on the floor (allows "death by amendment")
Oral Arguments The stage in Supreme Court proceedings in which attorneys for both sides appear before the Court to present their positions and answer questions posed by the justices. Good theater (for law nerds).
Original Jurisdiction The jurisdiction of courts to hear a case for the first time (trial). Trial courts (District Courts in federal system) assess the facts in a case and the issue the first decision (guilt, innocence). Supreme Court has OJ over disputes between 2 states.
Party Caucus (historical) A meeting of important party members to select party candidates. Attacked as corrupt and anti-democratic so not used anymore.
Party Caucus (modern) One way for a state party to select delegates to send to the National Convention. Consists of a series of meetings (local, county, state) among party members (no "open caucuses").
Party Platform A political party's statement of its goals and policies for the next four years, created at National Convention. Lofty rhetoric and specific legislative goals. Can cause splintering (example: southern whites abandoned Democratic Party in 1948 when it adopted a pro-civil rights plank.
Patriot Act (2001) Law responding to 9/11. Expands anti-terrorist powers (wiretapping, surveillance); 4th Amendment concern for civil liberties.
Patronage System AKA Spoils System. Filling government bureaucracy based on connections & political favors not merit (cronyism); ended by Pendleton Act (1883)
Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act 1883 reform law that replaced the patronage/spoils system in the federal bureaucracy with a merit-based professional system. "Important" leadership positions in bureaucracy (Secretaries, Commissioners, Directors) & federal judges still appointed by president.
Pigeonholing Occurs when a committee ignores a bill and doesn't report it out. Also known as "tabling" or "death by committee." Major cause of bill death.
Plaintiff One who brings a court action against another (the complainer)
Pluralist Theory Belief that American political system basically works; competing interest groups all get heard at different times and places in government. Federalism helps (more layers of government).
Pocket Veto If a bill is proposed within 10 days of congress adjourning and the president does not sign it , it will die (un-overrideable veto).
Political Action Committee A committee set up by a corporation or interest group to raise and funnels money to political candidates. Donation amounts to PACs are limited by FECA rules (hard money).
Political Ideology A more or less consistent set of beliefs about what policies government should pursue.
Political Participation Main form = voting. Also joining political party, volunteering on political campaign, campaign contributions, running for office, protests...
Political Party A group of individuals with broad common interests who organize to nominate candidates for office, develop a party platform (policy goals), win elections, and run government
Political Socialization The process by which individuals acquire (absorb) a sense of political identity (beliefs & behaviors). Key agents of socialization include family, media, peers.Process can be informal (family) or formal (APGOPO)
Poll Tax Tax on voting. Used to discourage African Americans from voting during the Jim Crow era. Also used to exclude poor whites. Declared unconstitutional by 24th Amendment.
Precedent A decision in a previous court case that is used as the basis for a decision in a similar case.
President's Budget Proposal Detailed budget outline prepared by President & OMB. Sets priorities in discretionary spending & proposes changes to entitlement programs. Start of annual budget process.
Primary Election One way for a state party to select delegates to send to the National Convention. Can be closed, open or blanket. Now used by most states instead of caucus (cheaper, quicker, more democratic).
Primary Election Election to select party's candidate for each office. It is now the main way of selecting party candidates. Most democratic method and simpler than caucus. Greatly weakens the power of party leaders and increases power of ordinary voters.
Primary Frontloading The tendency of states to move their primaries & caucuses earlier in the calendar in order to maximize their impact on nomination process (bandwagon effect).
Prior Restraint Government censorship of written material (preventing publication). Almost impossible due to 1st Amendment (only when major threat to national security). See Pentagon Papers Case (NY Times v. US)
Privatization Process of ending government services and allowing the free market (private firms) to provide the service. Purpose = reduce government spending & provide more efficient services. Example = abolishing the postal service. Supported by Republicans.
Procedural Due Process Literal meaning of 5th & 14th Due Process Clauses: Government cannot deprive you of life, liberty or property without holding certain procedures (trial, lawyer, right to question witnesses). Many elements of PDP are specifically protected by 5th, 6th, 7th & 8th Amendments.
Prosecutor The state or federal government attorney in a criminal case.
Rally Effect Short-term patriotic increase in president's popularity and power during times of serious international crisis or war (e.g. Bush after 9/11)
Realism Major foreign policy ideology. Act in the world only to protect and benefit yourself. (Contrast with idealism)
Redistricting Process When a state legislature or independent commission draws new House district lines (if gain/loss of seats after reapportionment process based on census every ten years)
Republic Representative democracy. Sovereignty rests with the people, as opposed to a king or monarch.
Republican Party One of the two major modern American political parties. It emerged in the 1850s as an antislavery party and consisted of former northern Whigs and antislavery Democrats. Now the party is conservative (pro-life, anti-affirmative action, anti-too much government intervention, anti-taxing on the rich, pro-death penalty)
Republican Party Coalition (modern) Major supporters of Republican Party = WASPs, business people, the rich
Rule of 4 How the Supreme Court decides whether to hear a case. Requires four or more justices to "grant certiorari" (agree to hear an appeal). Supreme Court agrees to hear <1% of cases.
Select Committees Temporary congressional committees appointed for a specific purpose, such as impeachment investigations or the "Super Committee" on the Budget
Selective Incorporation Doctrine Judicial doctrine that applies the Bill of Rights (one right at a time) to state and local governments by incorporating them into the concept of liberty in the 14th Amendment's Due Process Clause (which is binding on the states)
Senate Leaders The heads of the minority and majority parties in the Senate. Less powerful than the Speaker, they set legislative agenda for their party and help set the daily Senate agenda.
Senatorial Courtesy Senate will not confirm a presidential nomination for a position within a state (ex., District Court Judge) without the consent of the senior senator of the President's party from that state. Informal amendment to appointment process (by tradition)
Seniority Rule A congressional custom that gives the chair of a committee or subcommittee to the member of the majority party with the longest continuous service on the committee.
Separation of Powers The principle of dividing governmental powers among different branches of government to protect against tyranny (Federalist 51).
Shays' Rebellion Failed rebellion in 1786 by poor farmers in MA against state government & banks that were taking their farms. Showed how weak the central confederation government was vs. threats to private property and order. Major factor in creation of Constitutional Convention in 1787 (Elite theory)
Single-Member Plurality District (SMPD) Electoral district with only one representative (single member). The representative is whoever wins a plurality of the votes in a general election (no run-off elections). Senate and House districts are SMPDs. Discourages third parties, leads to two-party system.
Social Conservatism Government should protect "traditional" (Christian) views on marriage, gender roles, & social issues. Oppose gay marriage, legalization of drugs, abortion.
Social liberalism Belief in government assistance to improve society, especially for the poor and minorities. Socially liberal policies include universal health care, public education, affirmative action, welfare programs
Socialism A policial ideology that opposes capitalism and supports government control of major aspects of the economy (ex. electricity, health care).
Soft Money Money that is not subject to campaign finance limits and regulation by the FEC. All money before FECA was soft money. FECA shut down unlimited contributions to candidates so soft money flowed to political parties. McCain-Feingold shut down soft money contributions to political parties so now unlimited contributions flow to 527s and Super-Pacs.
Solicitor General Senior Justice Department attorney. Decides what cases the government will appeal to the Supreme Court, files amicus briefs with the Supreme Court in cases the government is interested in, and represents the United States before the Supreme Court.
Speaker of the House The leader of the majority party and presiding officer of the House of Representatives. Key role in assigning bills to committee and members to committees & setting party's legislative agenda
Spin The attempt of politicians to cast their words & actions in the most flattering light (propaganda, distortion)
Spoiler Effect When a 3rd party candidate takes enough votes away from one of the main party candidates to make him/her lose the election. Ex., Ralph Nader & Green Party may have caused Al Gore to lose 2000 election to George Bush.
Standing Committees Permanent committees in House and Senate that handle bills dealing with a particular subject area. Examples: Defense, Budget, Education.
Stare Decisis The decision stands. A rule in deciding cases where judges follow precedent (how similar cases were decided in the past). Helps promote consistency and fairness in the legal process. Lower courts must follow precedent set by higher courts. Supreme Court can reject precedent if absolutely necessary (Example: Brown rejects precedent of Plessy).
Stare Decisis Let the decision stand; the principle that cases should be decided in ways consistent with similar prior cases. Promotes consistency & fairness.
State of the Union Address A yearly report by the president to Congress required by Constitution describing the nation's condition and recommending programs and policies (bully pulpit to set legislative agenda )
Subcommittees A group within a standing committee that specializes in a subcategory of the standing committee's responsibility. (Ex. House Committee on Foreign Affairs has subcommittees on Asia, Europe, Africa, etc.)
Super-PAC Organization set up after Citizens United to engage in independent electioneering. Can receive unlimited donations but cannot coordinate with a candidate. Causing amount of money spent on elections to skyrocket (SuperPacs have spent $85 million so far in Election 2012)
Supremacy Clause The Federal constitution, laws, and treaties are the supreme law of the land. States cannot interfere with federal power (ex. McCulloch v. Maryland).
Supreme Court Final federal appellate court ("court of last resort"). Hears appeals from Circuit Courts (certiorari petition / rule of 4). Only hears "important" constitutional cases.
Swing State A state that could go either way in a presidential elections (unlike "safe states"). Target of a lot of attention in elections. Also known as "battleground states" or "purple states" (Ohio, Florida in 2008)
The Cabinet Group of important advisors to the President (Heads of Department agencies, VP and other VIPs chosen by president). Created by Washington, example of an informal amendment to the Constitution based on custom / tradition.
The New Deal Series of liberal (Keynesian) economic laws enacted by FDR to combat Great Depression. Includes Social Security System & federal minimum wage law. Birth of Democratic Party as liberal party (soft electoral realignment)
Third Party Any political party that appears as an alternative to the two main parties of the Democrats and the Republicans. Often extremist, single-issue or candidate-centered. Not major feature of US political system because of winner-take-all electoral system. Can have spoiler effect (Nader in 2000) or are absorbed into major party (Tea Party in 2008).
Ticket Splitting Voting for one party for one office and for another party for other offices. Frequent among independent voters; leads to divided government.
Title IX Major anti-gender discrimination law that applies to universities and schools that accept federal funding. Controversial because many universities cut male sports programs so as not to violate Title IX.
U.S. v. Nixon Supreme Court intervenes in battle between President Nixon and Congress (impeachment process). President cannot use executive privilege as an excuse to withhold evidence in impeachment process. Leads to Nixon's resignation.
Unfunded Mandates Federal laws that require the states to do things without providing the money to do so. Examples: ADA (wheelchair ramps), NCLB (AIMs testing)
Unitary State A state ruled by one central government. This is the system used by most countries. Compare with federal state.
United Nations Replaced the League of Nations after WWII. Global organization to maintain peace and facilitate diplomacy.
US Constitution The supreme law of the land. Written in 1787 at Philadelphia Convention to replace Articles of Confederation and create stronger central government. Outlines structure & power of 3 branches of national government. Oldest written constitution still in use (but amended 27 times plus myriad informal amendments).
Veto Process President may veto any bill by returning it to Congress with explanation. Congress can override with 2/3 vote in both houses (very hard to do)
Vice President Back-up president. Only constitutional role = President of Senate & casts tie-breaker vote in Senate. Typically selected to increase odds in election (Biden experience & foreign policy; Palin youth & Tea Party)
Virginia Plan Also known as the Big State Plan. Wanted proportional representation in Congress (based on population).
Voter Turnout About 50-60% of eligible voters in Presidential elections; much less in midyear elections (30-40%)
Voter Turnout Low in America compared to other western democracies (50-60% for presidential elections; 40-50% for midterms)
Voting Rights Act (1965) Federal law protecting against racial discrimination in voting. Major accomplishment of civil rights movement vs. Jim Crow. Bans all discriminatory voting procedures. Requires ballots to be printed in minority languages. Section 5 = federal policing of states with history of discrimination (still necessary?)
War Powers Act A law passed in 1973 after Vietnam fiasco requiring (1) president to notify Congress within 48 hours of sending troops into combat and (2) begin to remove troops after 60 days unless Congress approves of the action. Limited effort to reverse erosion of Congress' war powers since World War II (last formal declaration of war).
Watergate Scandal Nixon's "friends" broke into Democratic National Committee HQ during 1972 election, then Nixon tried to cover up White House involvement. Example of media muckraking (Woodward & Bernstein). Led to resignation of Richard Nixon.
White House Chief of Staff Closest presidential advisor ("Jafar"). PowerfulgGatekeeper in pyramidal system; does not require senate confirmation
White House Office EOP group that includes the President's most trusted personal advisors (led by White House Chief of Staff); members do not need senate confirmation
White House Press Secretary Member of White House staff that controls flow of information from president, holds daily press briefings, tries to spin/control media
White Primary A form of restricting African American's 15th Amendment rights during the Jim Crow Era by only allowing whites to vote in the primary elections; giving African Americans only the opportunity to vote for white racist A or white racist B.
Winner-Take-All System (Electoral College) Most common state system for allocating electoral college votes (candidate with the most votes wins all of the electoral votes of that state). Used in all but 2 states. Maximizes states' influence in electoral process but completely ignores votes for losing candidates (undemocratic).
Writ of Certiorari An order by the Supreme Court saying that it will hear a certain case (rule of 4). Granted in cases that raise important constitutional questions or where circuit courts have reached different opinions on a particular issue.
Created by: rcms1516