American Government Study Guide

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Government
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is the institution through which a society makes and enforces its public policy
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Public policy
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is all of the goals a government sets and the various courses of action it pursues as it attempts to realize these goals.
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Legislative power
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the power to make a law and to frame public policies
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Executive power
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The power to execute, enforce, and administer law
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Judicial Power
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The power to interpret laws, to determine their meaning, and to settle disputes that arise within the society
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Constitution
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is the body of fundamental laws setting out the principles, structures, and processes of government.
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dictatorship
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is a form of government in which the leader has absolute power and authority.
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democracy
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is a form of government in which the supreme authority rests with the people.
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state
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is a body of people living in a defined territory who have a government with the power to make and enforce law without the consent of any higher authority.
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Sovereignty
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is having supreme power within its own territory; neither subordinate nor responsible to any other authority.
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Autocracy
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a political system governed by a single individual
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oligarchy
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a political system governed by a few people
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unitary government
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a centralized government in which all government powers belong to a single central agency
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federal government
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a form of government in which powers are divided between a central government and several local governments
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division of powers
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Basic principle of federalism; the constitutional provisions by which governmental powers are divided on a geographic basis (in the United States, between the National Government and the States).
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confederation
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a political system in which a weak central government has limited authority, and the states have ultimate power.
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presidential government
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A form of government in which the executive and legislative branches of the government are separate, independent, and coequal
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parliamentary government
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A form of government in which the executive branch is made up of the prime minister, or premier, and that official’s cabinet
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Compromise
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to settle a dispute by terms agreeable to both sides
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free enterprise system
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an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods; investments that are determined by private decision rather than by state control, and determined in a free market
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law of supply and demand
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A law which states that when supplies of goods and services become plentiful, prices tend to drop. When supplies become scarcer, prices tend to rise.
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Mixed economy
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an economy in which private enterprise exists in combination with a considerable amount of government regulation and promotion
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limited government
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government is restricted in what it may do, and each individual has certain rights that government cannot take away
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Representative government
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system of government in which public policies are made by officials selected by the voters and held accountable in periodic elections
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Magna Carta
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This document was signed by King John in 1215. It was the first document that limited the power of the government.
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Petition of Right
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Document prepared by Parliament and signed by King Charles I of England in 1628; challenged the idea of the divine right of kings and declared that even the monarch was subject to the laws of the land
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English Bill of Rights
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King William and Queen Mary accepted this document in 1689. It guaranteed certain rights to English citizens and declared that elections for Parliament would happen frequently. By accepting this document, they supported a limited monarchy, a system in which they shared their power with Parliament and the people.
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Charter
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legal document giving certain rights to a person or company
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Bicameral
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a legislature consisting of two parts, or houses
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proprietary
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characteristic of an owner of property; constituting property
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unicameral
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one-house legislature
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confederation
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is an alliance of independent states for a common purpose, with a weak central government.
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Albany plan of union
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plan proposed by Benjamin Franklin in 1754 that aimed to unite the 13 colonies for trade, military, and other purposes; the plan was turned down by the colonies and the Crown
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Delegate
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to divide up, especially responsibilities
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boycott
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refusal to buy or sell certain products or services
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Repeal
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to cancel a law
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Popular Sovereignty
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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
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Articles of Confed
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created in 1777, gov where power is given to state or local gov, each state can govern w/in its own territtory, i vote in continental congress for each state
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Ratification
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formal approval
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Framers
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Group of delegates who drafted the United States Constitution at the Philadelphia Convention in 1787
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Virginia Plan
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The proposal at the Constitutional Convention that called for representation of each state in Congress in proportion to that state’s share of the U.S. population.
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New Jersey Plan
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Opposite of the Virginia Plan, it proposed a single-chamber congress in which each state had one vote. This created a conflict with representation between bigger states, who wanted control befitting their population, and smaller states, who didn’t want to be bullied by larger states.
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Connecticut Compromise
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Compromise agreement by states at the Constitutional Convention for a bicameral legislature with a lower house in which representation would be based on population and an upper house in which each state would have two senators
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Three-Fifths Compromise
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agreement at the constitutional Convention that 3/5 of the slaves in any state be counted in its population
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Federalists
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people who supported ratification of the Constitution
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Anti-Federalists
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people who opposed the Constitution
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Quorum
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The minimum number of members who must be present to permit a legislative body to take official action
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Preamble
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Introduction to the Constitution
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Articles
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Numbered sections of a document. The unamended Constitution is divided into seven articles.
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Constitutionalism
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basic principle that government and those who govern must obey the law; the rule of law
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Rule of law
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principle that the law applies to everyone, even those who govern
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Separation of Powers
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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
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Checks and balances
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A system that allows each branch of government to limit the powers of the other branches in order to prevent abuse of power
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Veto
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the power or right to prohibit or reject a proposed or intended act (especially the power of a chief executive to reject a bill passed by the legislature)
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Judicial Review
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The power of the Supreme Court to declare laws and actions of local, state, or national governments unconstitutional
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Unconstitutional
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not permitted by the Constitution
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Federalism
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A system in which power is divided between the national and state governments
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Amendment
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a change in, or addition to, a constitution or law
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Executive agreement
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A formal agreement between the U.S. president and the leaders of other nations that does not require Senate approval.
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Treaty
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a formal agreement between the governments of two or more countries
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Electoral College
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a group of people named by each state legislature to select the president and vice president
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Cabinet
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persons appointed by a head of state to head executive departments of government and act as official advisers
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Senatorial Courtesy
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a system in which the president submits the name of a candidate for judicial appointment to the senators from the candidate’s state before formally submitting it for full senate approval
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Division of Powers
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basic principle of federalism; the constitutional provisions by which governmental powers are divided on a geographic basis
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Delegated Powers
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Those powers, expressed, implied, or inherent, granted to the National Government by the constitution
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Expressed Powers
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powers directly stated in the constitution
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Implied Powers
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Powers not specifically mentioned in the constitution
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Inherent Powers
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powers that the national government may exercise simply because it is a government
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Reserved Powers
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powers that the Constitution does not give to the national government that are kept by the states
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Exclusive Powers
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Those powers that can be exercised by the National Government alone
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Concurrent Powers
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powers that are shared by both the federal and state governments
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Enabling Act
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a provision in a law that confers on appropriate officials the power to implement or enforce the law
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Act of Admission
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a congressional act admitting a new state to the union
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Categorical Grant
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Grant for which Congress appropriates funds for a specific purpose
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Block Grant
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Money given to states for general programs within a broad category
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Project Grant
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grants made to States, private agencies for projects
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Political Party
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A group that seeks to elect candidates to public office
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Major Parties
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In American politics, the republican and the democratic parties.
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Minor Parties
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smaller political parties-have little impact on national elections
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Partisanship
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government action based on firm allegiance to a political party
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Party in Power
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Party that controls the executive branch of government.
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Plurality
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Candidate or party with the most votes cast in an election, not necessarily more than half.
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Bipartisan
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Involving two political parties
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Pluralistic Society
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a society which consists of several distinct cultures and groups
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Consensus
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general agreement
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Coalition
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an organization of people (or countries) involved in a pact or treaty
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Incumbent
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the official who holds an office
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Electorate
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all persons having the right to vote
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Precinct
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The smallest unit of election administration; a voting district
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Split-ticket Voting
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voting for candidates of different parties for different offices at the same election
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Straight-ticket Voting
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Practice of voting for candidates of only one party in an election
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Suffrage
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the right to vote
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Transients
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persons living in the state for only a short time
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Purge
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an act of removing by cleansing
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Poll books
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the official lists of qualified voters in each precinct
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Poll Tax
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tax required before a person can vote
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Gerrymandering
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Process of redrawing legislative boundaries for the purpose of benefiting the party in power.
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Injunction
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a formal command or admonition
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Preclearance
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the prior approval by the justice department of changes to or new election laws by certain states
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General Election
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a national or state election
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Caucus
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a private meeting of party leaders to choose candidates for office
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Direct Primary
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Election in which voters choose party nominees
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Closed Primary
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Primary election in which only persons registered in the party holding the primary may vote.
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Open Primary
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Primary election in which any voter, regardless of party, may vote.
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Absentee Voting
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Voting by those unable to get to their regular polling places on election day
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Coattail Effect
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the effect of a strong candidate running for an office at the top of a ballot helping to attract voters to other candidates on the party’s ticket
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Polling Place
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the place where the voters who live in a certain precinct go to vote
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Ballot
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a document listing the alternatives that is used in voting
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Public Affairs
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those events and issues that concern the people at large
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Public-interest group
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an organization that seeks a collective good that will not selectively and materially benefit the members of the group.
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Single-interest group
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political action committees that concentrate their efforts exclusively on one issue
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Lobbying
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direct contact made by an interest group representative in order to persuade government officials to support the policies their interest group favors
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Grass roots
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of or from the people, the average voters
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Propoganda
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information designed to promote a cause or spread an idea and usually damage the other side
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Adjourn
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to stop proceedings temporarily; move to another place
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Apportion
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to divide and give out in shares
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Constituency
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voters represented by an elected official; district so represented; group of supporters (or constituents)
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Oversight function
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review by legislative committees of the policies and programs of the executive branch
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Direct tax
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a tax paid directly by the person or organization on whom it is levied
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indirect tax
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a tax levied on goods or services rather than on persons or organizations
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Deficit financing
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government policy of spending more money than it is able to bring in through revenues
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Public debt
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all of the money borrowed by the government and not yet repaid, plus the accrued interest on that money; also called the national debt or federal debt
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Commerce power
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exclusive power of congress to regulate interstate and foreign trade
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Naturalization
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the legal process by which a person is granted citizenship
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Eminent domain
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The right of government to take private property for public use
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Appropriate
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acquire; take possession of for one’s own use without permission; set aside for a particular purpose; allocate; CF. misappropriate
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Doctrine
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a belief, principle, or teaching; a system of such beliefs or principles; a formulation of such beliefs or principles
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Successor
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a person who inherits a title or office
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Impeach
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to accuse government officials of misconduct in office
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Acquit
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to find not guilty of a fault or crime
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Perjury
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lying under oath
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Subpoena
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a court order requiring appearance and/or testimony
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Standing committee
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A permanent committee established in a legislature, usually focusing on a policy area
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Select Committee
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a temporary legislative committee established for a limited time period and for a special purpose.
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Joint Committee
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legislative committee composed of members of both houses
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Conference Committee
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a temporary joint committee set up when the House and the Senate have passed different versions of the same bill
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Bill
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a proposed law
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Rider
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amendment or clause added to a legislative bill
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Resolution
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solution to a problem
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Filibuster
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to attempt to block a bill from becoming law by speaking at length against it
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Cloture
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a procedure used in the senate to limit debate on a bill
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Veto
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rejection of a bill
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Civil service
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the group of people whose job it is to carry out the work of the government
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Spoils System
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The practice of rewarding supporters with government jobs. Jackson made this practice famous for the way he did it on a wide scale.
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Jurisdiction
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(law) The right and power to interpret and apply the law
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Inferior Courts
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lower federal courts beneath the supreme court
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Exclusive Jurisdiction
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authority of only federal courts to hear and decide cases
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Concurrent jurisdiction
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authority for both state and federal courts to hear and decide cases
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Plaintiff
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a person who brings an action in a court of law
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Defendant
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An individual or group being sued or charged with a crime
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Appellate jurisdiction
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the authority of a court to review decisions made by lower courts
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Criminal case
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A case in which a defendant is tried for committing a crime as defined by the law
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Civil case
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cases in which two sides disagree over some issue
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Docket
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a court’s calendar, showing the schedule of cases it is to hear
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Majority Opinion
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a statement that presents the views of the majority of supreme court justices regarding a case
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Precedent
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an example that may serve as a basis for imitation or later action
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Concurring opinion
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An opinion that agrees with the majority in a Supreme Court ruling but differs on the reasoning.
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Dissenting opinion
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an opinion disagreeing with the majority decision in a Supreme Court ruling
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Due process
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following established legal procedures, principle in the Fifth Amendment stating that the government must follow proper constitutional procedures in trials and in other actions it takes against individuals
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Probable Cause
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Reasonable cause for issuing a search warrant or making an arrest; more than mere suspicion
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Exclusionary rule
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Improperly gathered evidence may not be introduced in a criminal trial
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Grand Jury
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a group of citizens that decides whether there is sufficient evidence to accuse someone of a crime
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Indictment
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the act of accusing; a formal accusation
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Double Jeopardy
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Putting someone on trial for a crime of which he or she was previously acquitted
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Miranda rule
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the constitutional rights which police must read to a suspect before questioning can occur
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Role of Congress
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to make laws
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Role of President
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higest elected official and represents all Americans, duty to carry out laws, directs foreign policy and makes treaties with other nations & appoint ambassadors, Commander and Chief of the armed forces, suggests new laws and works for their passage, grant pardons and call special sessions of Congress, living symbol of nation, welcome foreign leaders, commemorate national holidays and give medals of honors to national heroes
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Term length of Congress
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Senate: 6 years House: 2 years President: 4 years
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Formal Qualifications for members of Congress
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formal-House resident of state they are elected to rep,25 yrs old, US citizen for 7 years. Senators- 30 yrs old and US citizen for 9 years. Informal-white males middle to upper class
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Bill of Rights
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The first ten amendments of the U.S. Constitution, containing a list of individual rights and liberties, such as freedom of speech, religion, and the press.
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3 types of english colonies
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1) Proprietary Colonies- controlled by a proprietor directly appointed by King 2) Charter Colonies- got special rights– to rule themselves– mainly independent 3) Royal Colonies- controlled by King himself
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6 purposes of government
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1. to form a more perfect union 2. establish justice 3. insure domestic tranquility 4. provide for the common defense 5. promote the general welfare 6. secure the blessings of liberty
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6 principles of the Constitution
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1. Popular Sovereignty 2. Federalism 3. Checks and Balances 4. Separation of Powers 5. Judicial Review 6. Limited Government
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Functions of political parties
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1. recruiting candidates for public office 2. organizing and running elections 3. Presenting alternative policies to the electorate 4. Accepting responsibility for operating the government 5. acting as the organized opposition to the party in power.
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History of voting Rights
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1. Early U.S. history: In order to vote must meet qualifications a. Religious Affiliation b. Property ownership 2. Mid 1800’s: End of property qualifications 3. 1870-Fifteenth Amendment makes it a crimes to deny anyone the right to vote because of the person’s race, color of previous servitude 4. 1920- Nineteenth Amendment makes it a crime to deny a woman the right to vote 5. 1924- Indian Citizenship Act gives Native Americans citizenship and the right to vote in federal elections 6. 1961- Twenty-third Amendment gives the district of Columbia three electors for presidential elections 7. 1964-Twenty-fourth amendment bans poll tax to keep poor African Americans from voting in elections 8. 1965- Voting Rights Act of 1965 ends literacy tests and other tests used to keep African Americans from voting; law applies to local, state, and federal elections 9. 1971- Twenty-sixth amendment lowers to the voting age to 18 10. 1993- Federal “Motor Voter” Law enables citizens to register to vote when they register their cars 11. 2002- Help America Vote Act requires states to update their registration and voting systems (know for test: 15th, 19th, 23rd, 24th, 26th Amendments and Voting Rights Acts 1965, 1993 Motor Voter Law, and 2002 Help America Vote)
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Civil Rights Legislation
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Prohibits discrimination of protected classes based on gender, race, color, religion, and national origin. it is enforced by the EEOC, and applies to employers with 15 or more employees
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How a bill becomes a law
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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)

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