Government 101

  1. Federalism
    Federalism is a system in which the power to govern is shared between national and provincial/state governments, creating a federation.
  2. Executive Branch
    • The branch of the United States government that is responsible for carrying out the laws, via the President.
    • May veto bills passed by Congress (but the veto may be overridden by a two-thirds majority of both houses)
  3. Judicial Branch
    • The branch of the United States government responsible for the administration of justice.
    • Exercises judicial review, reviewing the constitutionality of laws.
    • Determines how Congress meant the law to apply to disputes.
  4. Legislative Branch
    • Oversees, investigates, and makes the rules for the government and its officers.
    • Has sole power of impeachment.
    • Passes bills; has broad taxing and spending power; controls the federal budget; has power to borrow money on the credit of the United States.
  5. Magna Carta
    Historic british document where that the nobles agreed that the government was not absolute.
  6. Bill of Rights
    • The first ten amendments, or corrections that were added later to the constitution.
    • It would not have been passed at the same time as the Constitution because it would not have gotten any votes to pass it.
  7. McCulloch vs. Maryland
    Point: Congress possessed unenumerated powers not explicitly outlined in the Constitution.
  8. Gibbons vs. Ogden
    • New York's licensing requirement for out-of-state operators was inconsistent with a congressional act regulating the coasting trade.
    • The New York law was invalid by virtue of the Supremacy Clause.
  9. US v. Butler
    The Court found the Act unconstitutional because it attempted to regulate and control agricultural production, an arena reserved to the states.
  10. US v. Lopez
    Unconstitutional because the possession of a gun in a local school zone is not an economic activity that might have a substantial effect on interstate commerce.
  11. First Amendment
    Freedom of speech, of the press, and of assembly; right to petition
  12. Second Amendment
    Right to keep and bear arms.
  13. Fourth Amendment
    Protection from unreasonable search and seizure.
  14. Fourteenth Amendment
    • All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.
    • Defines citizenship.
  15. Nineteenth Amendment
    Women's rights.
  16. Civil Liberties
    • Civil liberties are rights and freedoms that protect an individual from the state.
    • Civil liberties set limits on government so that its members cannot abuse their power and interfere unduly with the lives of private citizens.
  17. Civil Rights
    Equal treatment of all people with respect to protection of the law and to the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property.
  18. Dred Scott v. Sanford
    Dred Scott was a slave. Under Articles III and IV, argued Taney, no one but a citizen of the United States could be a citizen of a state, and that only Congress could confer national citizenship.
  19. Plessy v. Fergusen
    • The separate-but-equal doctrine, that separate facilities for blacks and whites satisfied the Fourteenth Amendment so long as they were equal.
    • Segregation does not in itself constitute unlawful discrimination.
  20. Feiner v. New York
    Feiner's arrest was a valid exercise of "the interest of the community in maintaining peace and order on its streets."
  21. U.S. v. O'Brien
    if the governmental interest is unrelated to the suppression of free expression; and if the incidential restriction on alleged First Amendment freedoms is not greater than is essential to the furtherance of that interest.
  22. Civil Rights Act
    Outlawed major forms of discrimination against blacks and women, including racial segregation.
  23. Voting Rights Act
    The Act prohibits states from imposing any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.
  24. Interest Group
    A person with a concrete interest who is interested in a piece of legislation, who can sway the deciding votes.
  25. Lobbyist
    Lobbying usually attempts to influence legislation at the federal and state level, whereas advocacy is a much broader range of activities which may or may not include lobbying.
  26. Political Party
    A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to attain and maintain political power within government, usually by participating in electoral campaigns.
  27. What are the principal features of the U.S. Constitution?
    • Representative democracy, federal system, national government with delegated powers, checks and balances, separation of powers. No one branch can become more powerful than the other.
    • It also has the judicial, legislative and the executive powers. They wanted to limit the king's power so they wanted to fix the system so that one group could not get more powerful than the others like the King did back in Britain.
  28. What are the major features of the Declaration of Independence?
    The particulars of what the King did to them is in the Declaration of Independence.
  29. What is the relationship between it and the Constitution?
    In the Constitution they fix all of that by making the rules for their own government.
  30. What are the limitations on the powers of each branch of the national government?
    • The system of checks and balances creates the ability to distribute power among the three branches. Each branch exercises some form of power over the others.
    • The justices of the Supreme Court (judiciary) are appointed by the president (executive) but their appointments are subject to the consent of the Senate (legislative).
    • The judiciary can strike down unconstitutional laws passed by Congress, and the President can veto either.
  31. How does the U.S. Constitution point to the complexity of American Society when it was written?
    During the time when it was written most people were farmers, with all of the colonies and stuff. All of these together were a country. It treats each one of the colonies as a state, so it permitted the states to continue, and whatever they were doing they could do, with stuff like slavery (3/5ths clause with slavery). So the Constitution is friendly to all types of agriculture.
  32. What is the Bill of Rights?
    First ten amendments.
  33. What was its importance at the time it was written, and what is the importance now?
    At the time that the constitution was being drafted, including a bill of rights would not have passed it. it had to be passed by all the states, and that would not have happened. They protect specific people from the central government. They were aware of what the governmental abuse was like, and they didn't want anything like that. It protects our very basic rights, like equality, religion and press.
  34. What are the complexities of the structure of the American governmental institutions that make it difficult to make any major changes in public policies as they are practiced?
    • There are multiple levels. It has to go through the House of Representatives, the Senate, the States and the President.
    • There are also interest groups with lots of money on both sides, then it becomes immobilized because of too much pressure on the bill. (Private Unions, Private Groups)
  35. You are the principal domestic policy adviser to President Obama. He tells you that he wants to continue the changes in health care policy to make the single payer the national policy the national policy. How would you advise him?
    • Get through all the Houses and the Senate, and all of the outside interest groups. Talk to the interest groups and figure out what they want and mix it with what you want - a compromise. A town hall meeting with the stakeholders (someone who has a concrete interest in the particular industry) like hospitals and insurance companies.
    • The insurance companies would have lost money in the single payer plan, and they pressured people not to vote for it.
  36. What does money have to do with contemporary American politics?
    Money to campaign (travel, food, etc.) which can influence the candidate to make them feel obligated to do things their way.
  37. Discuss the structure of the media. If you were advising a weak national interest group to move forward an issue of concern to them?
    You would go from low cost - low effect to high cost - high effect. You could advertise and have an event that draws in the media.
  38. Based on what you know about the media, how would you go about establishing a third party?
    • If you have a member of legislation on the number of people, then plurality wins in a two party system. Single member districts are just two parties. With 4 parties, if one gets 25, one gets 15, one gets 20 and one gets 40, then #4 wins, but since #1 is the highest, it can choose to compromise with groups #2 and 3.
    • Media-wise, you would have to advertise as the solution and show them you can do better by creating your own network or something like it, whether by social networking or by television or radio. Hit the issues that can bring the independent side and maybe people from both sides will come over if you hit topics like health or immigration.
Card Set
Government 101
Notecards for Government 101.