AP US Government

Unit 1 Vocabulary
● write your name next to the term you want to define
● if everyone defines 2 or 3 terms we should be good
● Include textbook definition
● Bold the term
1. Government
● The institutions through which public policies are made for a society
● In the case of our own national government, these institutions are Congress, the president,
the courts, federal administrative agencies (“the bureaucracy”)
● Thousands of state and local governments also decide on policies that influence our lives
2. Democracy
● A system of selecting policymakers and of organizing government so that policy
represents and responds to the public’s preferences
3. majority rule
● A fundamental principle of traditional democratic theory. In a democracy, choosing
among alternatives requires that the majority’s desire be respected
4. minority rights
● A principle of traditional democratic theory that guarantees rights to those who do not
belong to the majority.
5. pluralist theory
● A theory of American democracy emphasizing that the policymaking process is very
open to the participation of all groups with shared interests, with no single group usually
dominating. Pluralists tend to believe that as a result, public interest generally prevails.
6. elite + class theory
● A theory of government and politics contending that societies are divided along class
lines and that an upper-class elite will rule, regardless of the formal niceties of
governmental organization. (basically oligarchy)
7. hyperpluralism
● A theory of American democracy contending that groups are so strong that government,
which gives in the many different groups, is thereby weakened.
8. Policy Gridlock
● A condition that occurs when no coalition is strong enough to form a majority and
establish a policy. The result is that nothing may get done.
9. liberals
● A belief that government can and should achieve justice and equality.
● Liberals favor more government regulation of business, support social welfare, and
oppose regulation of private social conduct.
10. Conservatives
● A belief that government should be limited to give freer reign to the private individual
and private sector
● Conservatives favor more limited and local government, less regulation of markets, and
social stability through adherence to traditional morals and values.
11. Constitution
● A body of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or
other organization is acknowledged to be governed.
12. limited government
● A government that is subject to strict limits on its lawful uses of power, and hence on its
ability to deprive people of their liberty.
● The government has only the powers that the Constitution gives to it, The US
government does not derives its power from itself. It must follow its own laws and it can
only act using powers given to it by the people
12. Articles of Confederation
● Drafted by the second continental congress on November 15 1777 to create a unified
front of colonies against the British. Its powers were extremely limited and promised the
states complete independence and self governance resulting in several near logistical
disasters in the revolutionary army. The Articles were eventually replaced by the US
Constitution which granted the Federal government much more power, most notably the
ability to tax states.
13. Shay’s Rebellion
● Happened in 1787, Massachusetts due to a tax raise on poor farmers. Daniel Shay led an
army of about 1200 farmers on the state’s weapon storage (Arsenal). This rebellion is
important because it revealed the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation and the
weak central government
14. New Jersey Plan
● This plan was originated by William Patterson for a way to determine how many
delegates each state has in the legislature. Patterson proposed that each state has 2
delegates in a 1 house legislature. This was proposed because Patterson believed that a
unicameral legislature that had delegates based on state’s population would
disproportionately This became the template for the US Senate after the Great
15. Virginia Plan
● The Virginia Plan described a form of government representatives based on population
size. This form of government became the format for the US House of Representatives.
16. Connecticut Compromise
● The Connecticut Compromise offered a solution between large states and small states
being represented in government. The House of Representatives would be determined
based on population, helping the larger states, and the Senate would have equal
representatives from each state, helping the smaller states.
17. Writ of Habeus Corpus
● Abraham Lincoln suspended this human right to detain Confederates without explanation
(unlawful arrest).
● This right (translated “right to one’s self”) protects people against tyranny so that they
keep all of their rights, especially in a court of law.
18. Separation of power
● Separation of powers, therefore, refers to the division of government responsibilities into
distinct branches to limit any one branch from exercising the core functions of another.
● Under this model, the political authority of the state is divided into legislative, executive
and judicial powers. He asserted that, to most effectively promote liberty, these three
powers must be separate and acting independently. Source
19. Checks and Balances
● The ability of different branches of government to stop each other from acting; designed
to prevent one branch from gaining too much power. source
19. republic
● A state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives,
and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.
20. Federalists
● The supporters of the proposed Constitution called themselves "FEDERALISTS." Their
adopted name implied a commitment to a loose, decentralized system of government. In
many respects "FEDERALISM" — which implies a strong central government — was
the opposite of the proposed plan that they supported. A more accurate name for the
supporters of the Constitution would have been "NATIONALISTS." source
21. Anti-Federalists
● in early U.S. history, a loose political coalition of popular politicians such as Patrick
Henry who unsuccessfully opposed the strong central government envisioned in the
U.S. Constitution of 1787 and whose agitations led to the addition of a Bill of Rights.
The first in the long line of states’-rights advocates, they feared the authority of a single
national government, upper-class dominance, inadequate separation of powers, and loss
of immediate control over local affairs. Stilling their opposition in order to support the
first administration of President George Washington, the Anti-Federalists in 1791 became
the nucleus of the Jeffersonian Republican Party (subsequently Democratic-
Republican, finally Democratic) as strict constructionists of the new Constitution and in
opposition to a strong national fiscal policy.
22. Federalist papers (Margaret):
The Federalist Papers consist of eighty-five letters written to newspapers in the late 1780s
to urge ratification of the U.S. Constitution. With the Constitution needing approval from
nine of thirteen states, the press was inundated with letters about the controversial
document. Celebrated statesmen Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay
weighed in with a series of essays under the pseudonym “Publius,” arguing that the
proposed system would preserve the Union and empower the federal government to act
firmly and coherently in the national interest. These articles, written in the spirit both of
propaganda and of logical argument, were published in book form as The Federalist in
23. Marbury v. Madison (Alejandra):
“Thomas Jefferson defeated John Adams in the 1800 presidential election. Before Jefferson took
office on March 4, 1801, Adams and Congress passed the Judiciary Act 1801, which created new
courts, added judges, and gave the president more control over appointment of judges. The Act
was essentially an attempt by Adams and his party to frustrate his successor, as he used the act to
appoint 16 new circuit judges and 42 new justices of the peace. The appointees were approved
by the Senate, but they were not valid until their commissions were delivered by Secretary of
State James Madison.”
24. Judicial review (Bryan)
- First established in the Marbury vs Madison case which which gave the Supreme Court
the power to decide if a law is constitutional or not.
25. Federalism (Musab)
Federalism, mode of political organization that unites separate states or other polities within an
overarching political system in such a way as to allow each to maintain its own fundamental
political integrity. Federal systems do this by requiring that basic policies be made and
implemented through negotiation in some form, so that all the members can share in making and
executing decisions. The political principles that animate federal systems emphasize the primacy
of bargaining and negotiated coordination among several power centres; they stress the virtues of
dispersed power centres as a means for safeguarding individual and local liberties.
The various political systems that call themselves federal differ in many ways. Certain
characteristics and principles, however, are common to all truly federal systems. SOURCE
26. Supremacy clause (Alejandra):
Article VI, Paragraph 2 of the U.S. Constitution is commonly referred to as the Supremacy
Clause. It establishes that the federal constitution, and federal law generally, take precedence
over state laws, and even state constitutions. It prohibits states from interfering with the federal
government's exercise of its constitutional powers, and from assuming any functions that are
exclusively entrusted to the federal government. It does not, however, allow the federal
government to review or veto state laws before they take effect
27. Tenth Amendment (Gabby)
- Quoted: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by
it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
- Meaning: 1. The Tenth Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights to further define the
balance of power between the federal government and the states. The amendment says that the
federal government has only those powers specifically granted by the Constitution. These powers
include the power to declare war, to collect taxes, to regulate interstate business activities and
others that are listed in the articles.
2. Any power not listed, says the Tenth Amendment, is left to the states or the people. Although
the Tenth Amendment does not specify what these “powers” may be, the U.S. Supreme Court
has ruled that laws affecting family relations (such as marriage, divorce, and adoption),
commerce that occurs within a state’s own borders, and local law enforcement activities, are
among those specifically reserved to the states or the people.
28. McCulloch v. Maryland (Gabby)
- U.S. Supreme Court case decided in 1819, in which Chief Justice John Marshall affirmed the
constitutional doctrine of Congress’ “implied powers.” It determined that Congress had not only
the powers expressly conferred upon it by the Constitution but also all authority “appropriate” to
carry out such powers. In the specific case the court held that Congress had the power to
incorporate a national bank, despite the Constitution’s silence on both the creation of
corporations and the chartering of banks. It was concluded that since a national bank would
facilitate the accomplishment of purposes expressly confided to the federal government, such as
the collection of taxes and the maintenance of armed forces, Congress had a choice of means to
achieve these proper ends. The doctrine of implied powers became a powerful force in the steady
growth of federal power.
- Strengthened federal authority and upheld the constitutionality of the bank of the United States
by establishing that the state of Maryland did not have the power to tax the bank.
29. Enumerated powers (Abby)
specific powers granted to congress under Article I, section 8, of the constitution; these powers
include taxation, coinage of money, regulation of commerce, and the authority to provide for a
national defense.
29. implied powers (Abby)
powers which are granted to the national government that are derived from the expressed powers
by the Necessary and Proper Clause
30. Elastic clause (Mahera)
Also known as the Necessary and Proper Clause is found in the Constitution. It states that
Congress has the authority to use powers that are not listed in the Constitution. In other words
Congress can pass any laws if they deem it necessary.
31. Devolution (Joshua)
- The transfer or delegation of power to a lower level, especially by central government to
local or regional administration.
32. full faith + credit (Robert)
- This says that state level courts have to respect the legislative actions, court decisions,
and public records of other states.
33. extradition (Joshua)
- The action of extraditing a person accused or convicted of a crime.
35. Separation of Power (Audrey)
The institutional arrangement that assigns judicial, executive, and legislative powers to different
persons or groups, thereby limiting the powers of each.
36. Montesquieu (Audrey)
(Baron de Montesquieu) The person famous for the idea of having 3 branches of government so
that no single branch can have too much power.
39. US v. Lopez (Audrey)
(1995) In 1992, Alfonso Lopez, a 12th-grade student in San Antonio, Texas, took a handgun to
school. Lopez was charged with violating a Texas statute that prohibited the carrying of a firearm
on school grounds. The charges were dropped and Lopez was charged with violating the GunFree School Zones Act, which made it unlawful for a person to possess a firearm in a school
zone. Lopez’s attorneys attempted to dismiss the charges by arguing that Congress had exceeded
its authority by passing the act under the commerce clause, which states that “to regulate
Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with Indian Tribes.”
Congress argued the effects of gun possession on the economy, making the passing of the act
permissible. However, the Supreme Court ruled the act was purely a criminal statute and had
nothing to do with interstate commerce or economic activity and struck down the act as an
impermissible exercise of congressional power under the commerce clause.
40. John Locke (Bryan)
- “The father of Liberalism”, key philosopher during the Enlightenment period who
vouched for natural rights of man. Locke was an English political philosopher whose
ideas inspired the American revolution. He wrote that all human beings have a right to
life, liberty, and property, and that governments exist to protect those rights. He believed
that government was based upon an unwritten "social contract" between the rulers and
their people, and if the government failed to uphold its end of the contract, the people had
a right to rebel and institute a new government.
41. Hobbes (Julie)
- English materialist and political philosopher who advocated absolute sovereignty as the only
kind of government that could resolve problems caused by the selfishness of human beings.
42. David Hume (Julie)
- Warned that people following their self-interest could infringe of the rights and liberties of
others. Guided by law, self-interest could motivate work and innovation.
43. Richard Hofstadter (Julie)
- He embraced consensus history, becoming the "iconic historian of postwar liberal consensus",
largely because of his emphasis on ideas and political culture rather than the day-to-day doings
of politicians.
44. C. Wright Mills
- Urged sociologist to get back to social reform. Wrote “The Power Elite” called attention to the
interwoven interests of the leaders of the military, corporate, and political elements of society
and suggests that the ordinary citizen is a relatively powerless subject of manipulation by those
entities. Ideas grew popular among a new generation of sociologist.
45. James Madison
- known as the "father of the constitution" He believed that a stronger national government was
needed to help the country. He had a leading role at the convention. He was a federalist and
switched over to a democratic republican once the first political parties were formed.
46. Devolution (Colin)
- The delegation of powers from the central government to smaller more local governments.
State governments are a good example of this as they write the vast majority of laws governing
the states people, independent of federal guidance.
47. politics (Jess)
The process by which we select our governmental leaders and what policies these leaders pursue.
Politics produces authoritative decisions about public issues.
48. Federalism (Haya)
- Constitutional arrangement in which power is distributed between a central government and
subdivisional governments, called states in the United States. The national and the subdivisional
governments both exercise direct authority over individuals.
49. Unitary system (Alex)
- A central government that holds supreme power n a nation. Most national governments today
are unitary governments.
50. Confederation (Alex)
- A group of nations or states, or a government encompassing several states or political
divisions, in which the component states retain considerable independence. The members of a
confederation often delegate only a few powers to the central authority.
51. Dual Federalism (Colin)
- This describes the Federalism practiced in the United States which is highly decentralised
compared to other countries. Power in America is divided between the central government and
states who write their own laws and have their own taxes. Because of the large amounts of power
invested in the states, the central government must have their support to enforce some laws.
52. Enumerated powers (Robert)
- This states that under Article 1 Section 8 there are 18 clauses that state powers the
government have and can use anytime they wish. To see them, go to
53. Expressed powers (Haya) - Powers that the constitution specifically grants to one of the
branches of the national government//any power given to the national government which is
clearly stated in the Constitution
54. Implied powers (Fiza)- powers of the federal government that go beyond those enumerated
in the Constitution, in accordance with the statement in the Constitution that Congress has the
power to "make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution" the powers
enumerated in Article I.
55. elastic clause (chuck)- A clause in the United States Constitution that states that congress has
the power to create whatever laws are “necessary and proper” to help congress carry out
enumerated powers.
56. McCullogh v. Maryland (chuck)- The decision established that Congress had not only the
powers expressly conferred upon it by the Constitution but also all authority “appropriate” to its
carrying out such powers—including, in this case, the authority to establish a national bank. The
doctrine of implied powers became a powerful force in the steady growth of federal power.
57. Tenth Amendment (Musab)
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the
States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
The Tenth Amendment helps to define the concept of federalism, the relationship between
Federal and state governments. As Federal activity has increased, so too has the problem of
reconciling state and national interests as they apply to the Federal powers to tax, to police, and
to regulations such as wage and hour laws, disclosure of personal information in recordkeeping
systems, and laws related to strip-mining.
58. Gibbons v. Ogden- Arose from an attempt by New York State to grant a monopoly of
steamboat operation between New York and New Jersey. Ogden was licensed to operate the
ferry and argued that navigation commerce could be regulated by states, but Gibbons, having his
own ferry company, argued that Congress should regulate interstate commerce. Court ruled that
only Congress may regulate interstate commerce. Judge Marshal, of the supreme court, reminded
that congress has the sole power to control interstate commerce. This decision was a major blow
to state rights.
59. full faith and credit clause (Layne) The Full Faith and Credit Clause—Article IV,
Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution—provides that the various states must recognize legislative
acts, public records, and judicial decisions of the other states within the United States. It states
that "Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial
Proceedings of every other State." The statute that implements the clause, 28 U.S.C.A. § 1738,
further specifies that "a state's preclusion rules should control matters originally litigated in that
state." The Full Faith and Credit Clause ensures that judicial decisions rendered by the courts in
one state are recognized and honored in every other state. It also prevents parties from moving to
another state to escape enforcement of a judgment or to relitigate a controversy already decided
elsewhere, a practice known as forum shopping.
60. extradition(Layne) is an act where one jurisdiction delivers a person accused or convicted of
committing a crime in another jurisdiction, over to their law enforcement. It is a cooperative law
enforcement process between the two jurisdictions and depends on the arrangements made
between them. Besides the legal aspects of the process, extradition also involves the physical
transfer of custody of the person being extradited to the legal authority of the requesting
61. privileges and immunity (Layne) The Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV,
Section 2 of the Constitution states that "the citizens of each state shall be entitled to all
privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states." This clause protects fundamental
rights of individual citizens and restrains state efforts to discriminate against out-of-state citizens.
However, the Privileges and Immunities Clause extends not to all commercial activity, but only
to fundamental rights.
62. cooperative federalism (Robert)
Model of government where there is a recognized overlap between the federal and state
government. This is the opposite of dual federalism, that says the federal and state governments
have completely separate and different functions. This acknowledges that there is not one level
where power is concentrated, it is rather shared between the state and federal level. In the 1970’s
the government took more power and controlled the states slightly more, giving them deadlines
for decisions instead of allowing them more freedom. There is a very strict interpretation of the
10th amendment. This is seen most obviously in the federal mandates that they are relying on the
states to enforce.
63. fiscal federalism (Jess) The federal system well-known for spending a lot, taxing a lot, and
giving a lot. Federal funds are allocated to lower levels of government through transfer of
payments and grants and shares its revenue with lower levels of government. Basically, the
federal government collect revenue in the form of taxes and then distributes a large portion to
states. This is the cornerstone of the national government’s relations with state and local
64. categorical grants (Jess) Federal grants that can be used only for specific purposes or
“categories” of state and local spending. They come with strings attached, such as
nondiscrimination provisions. Some examples of this in the United States include Head Start, the
Food Stamp Program, and Medicaid. There are two types of categorical grants: project grants
(money states apply for by submitting specific project proposals) and formula grants (money
given to states according to a mathematical formula.
65. project grants (Margaret):
Project grants are a type of categorical grant. They are given for specific purposes and
awarded on the basis of merit of applications. For example, the National Science
Foundation gets national grants for research
66. formula grants (Margaret):
Formula grants are also categorical. Rather than being based on merit it is a type of U.S.
federal grant that specifies a precise formula (The formula has been set by legislation and
regulations) to be used in determining the amount of funding that a recipient is eligible to
receive. Formula grants are distributed at the state level, and are typically calculated
based on such factors as the proportion of the population that is unemployed or below
poverty level; the rate of infant mortality; and state population or density of housing. The
elements in the formula are typically chosen to reflect certain characteristics that are
associated with the purpose of the funding.
67. block grants (Joey): These are broad state grants to states for prescribed activities—welfare,
child care, education, social services, preventive health care, and health services—with only a
few strings attached. States have greater flexibility in deciding how to spend block grant dollars,
but when the federal funds for any fiscal year are gone, there are no more matching federal
68. Schavio case (Joey):
A legal struggle over end-of-life care in the United States from 1990 to 2005, involving Theresa
Marie "Terri" Schiavo, a woman in an irreversible persistent vegetative state. Feeding tubes
69. Yucca Mountain (Joey): Only candidate for underground radioactive storage of 70,000
tons of radioactive material. Mountain in Nevada bordering California. Was a part of the 1987
Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments.
70. Euthanasia (Nguyen)
- Euthanasia is the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and
suffering. It is illegal in most of the United States, with it being legal in only 6 states plus
Washington D.C. It is mostly opposed by Christian denominations who oppose the idea
of allowing one the right to end the life of another person.
71. No Child Shall Be Left Behind Act (Nguyen)
72. Same Sex Marriages (Nguyen)
73. Funded Mandates (Linda):
- A statute or regulation passed by a higher level of government that requires a lower level
of government, public individual, or organization to perform a task.
- This higher level of government includes the funding necessary to cover the cost of
carrying out the task
74. Unfunded mandates (Arunan
75. Printz v. United States
Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997), was a United States Supreme Court case in which
the Court held that certain interim provisions of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act
violated the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
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