Domain 1: American Government/Civics (approximately 18% of the test)
Overview of the Domain
Students describe, explain, analyze, and evaluate information related to
the Declaration of Independence
the United States Constitution
the structure, function, and purpose of the national government
civil liberties and civil rights
participation in civic life and elections
Associated Concepts and Skills:
Assessment of this domain will focus on the following:
analyzing the philosophy and the nature of government in the Declaration of Independence
explaining the main ideas in the debate over the ratification of the U.S. Constitution and the fundamental
principles on which the document is based
the structure and function of the national government
° explaining the branches of the federal government
° explaining the federal system
° explaining the difference between the House of Representatives and the Senate and describing the
legislative process
° analyzing the role of the President of the United States
° explaining the functions of the cabinet
° explaining the operation of the federal judiciary
° describing tools used to carry out foreign policy
explaining civil liberties and civic life, including the Bill of Rights, due process, the balance between
individual liberties and the public interest, and equal treatment under the law
describing participation in civic life
explaining political parties and the nomination and election process; and identifying how amendments
extend the right to vote
What’s the Diff?
Different types of government
Different types of government
 Dictatorships
 Oligarchies
 Constitutional
 Democracies
 Republics
What type of government does the U.S.
What is the difference between a direct
democracy and a representative
Different Theories of Government
 Socialism—the
government controls all of
the social services (transportation,
education, healthcare, police/fire, postal
services, utilities etc) through tax money.
Wealthy pay more taxes than poor.
Different Theories of Government
“proletariat” (working
class man) controls the government—the
government tells the citizens what to do—
0 individual freedom—you are told what
job you will have, where you will live, what
you can buy, etc…
 Communism—The
Different Theories of Government
 Democracy—the
power of the government
rests with the will of the people
 There is a social contract between the
government leaders and the people—the
people are willing to give up some
freedoms to the government (laws) for the
good of the majority, but the government
agrees to protect the people.
 In
a democracy, what can be done if the
government breaks the social contract with
the people?
 When
was the last time a government
broke a social contract with the American
people? What was done about it?
The 2 governments of the US
The Articles of the Confederation (during the
American Revolution-1787)
Weak government—a league of friendship
No President or Court System
The States had ALL the power
Shay’s Rebellion
The US Constitution (1787-current day)
Separation of powers (3 branches of government)
Federal government more powerful than States
Whiskey Rebellion
The US Constitution
The Highest Law of the Land
Ratifying the Constitution
 Federalists—supported
the new
James Madison, Alexander Hamilton & John
Jay wrote 80 essays to defend the new
Constitution called The Federalist Papers
 Anti-Federalists—opposed
the new
Lacked a Bill of Rights
Compromised and added a Bill of Rights—1st
10 Amendments to the Constitution
A living document
 How
can the US constitution be changed?
 How many times has the US constitution
been changed?
Express Powers v Implied Powers
Expressed Powers: specific powers that are
listed in the US Constitution—they are
written down
Implied Powers: powers that are NOT
written down in the Constitution, but are
very vague and subject to interpretation
The Power of the US Constitution
 The
highest law of the land
 The power to change (through the
amendment process)
 Checks and balances
Branches of the
Government: Executive
The Powers of the President
The Executive Branch
Qualifications: at least 35 years old; a
natural born citizen; a resident of the US
for at least 14 years
Terms of office: 4 year terms; cannot serve
more than 2 consecutive terms as
President (8 years total)
Can Arnold Schwarzenegger ever be
President? Why or why not?
How is a President elected?
ways: popular vote and electoral college
 Popular vote: every American citizen over
18 has the right to vote in the Presidential
election on the 2nd Tuesday of November
every 4 years
 Electoral college: a group of
representatives for each state meet on the
2nd Tuesday of December every 4 years
and cast their votes for President
More on the electoral college
 Presidents
are NOT elected by the popular
vote or the direct democracy approach
BUT…it does help the electoral college
make up its mind who to vote for…
 Each state receives a certain number of
electoral college votes. The electoral
college representatives of each state has
the responsibility of voting for the will of
the people of that state…
 How
did GA vote in the election of 2008?
Specific Powers of the President
 Commander
in chief—has the power to
send troops anywhere in the world
 President is the “Chief Executive”—the
leader of the United States
 Determines the national budget
 President sets the national agenda (what
goals does the country have)
The Presidential Cabinet
The chief advisors to the President
The Vice President + 15 Departmental Leaders
Department of the State
Departemnt of the Treasury
Department of the Defense
Department of the Interior
Department of the Education
Department of the Agriculture
Department of the Commerce
Department of Homeland Security
The Office of Presidency
 Who
keeps the President on schedule?
 The White House staff is approximately
400 people.
 The Chief of Staff keeps the White House
running and the President on task.
Branches of the
Government: Legislative
The Powers of Congress
The Elastic Clause
 Article
I of the Constitution states:
 “The Congress shall have Power - To
make all Laws which shall be necessary
and proper for carrying into Execution the
foregoing Powers, and all other Powers
vested by this Constitution in the
Government of the United States, or in any
Department or Officer thereof.”
2 Houses of Congress
House of
2 year term
435 members
Elected by state
responsibilities include
raising taxes
6 year term
100 members (2 each
Elected by the state as
a whole
Primary responsiblities
include consenting to
treaties and
Congressional Powers over the Economy
 “power
to levy taxes & provide for the
general welfare of the US”
Revenue Bills (raising taxes) began in House
and then move to the Senate for a vote
Appropriations bills—proposed laws to
authorize spending money—not defined by
Congressional Powers over the Economy
 Constitution
gives Congress the power to
borrow money
 Constitution gives Congress the power to
print and coin money and punish
 Congress has power to make bankruptcy
laws—usually allows States to handle
individual bankruptcies
Congressional Foreign Powers
 Power
to approve treaties, declare war,
create and maintain a military, make rules
of military & regulate foreign commerce
 War Powers Act (1973)—President can
only commit troops into action for 60 days
without congressional notification within 48
The Power of Impeachment
 House
votes to impeach
 Senate hears the trial
 2/3’s vote is required for conviction &
 Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
presides over the process
Powers denied to Congress
Bill of Rights—specified rights and liberties to
individuals of the US
 Writ of habeas corpus—Congress cannot keep
an individual prisoner if the Courts have
released said individual
 Bills of attainder—finding individuals guilty and
punishing them without a trial
 Ex Post Facto Laws—(after the fact laws)—
Congress cannot find individuals guilty of crimes
that were legal when they were committed
 What
if…a person was texting while driving
in March of 2009 and was involved in a car
crash and killed 4 people. The national
government (Congress) passed a new
amendment in September of 2011 that
made it illegal for a person to text while
driving with a mandatory sentence of 10
years in federal prison. Would the person
who texted while driving in 2009 be subject
to this law? Why or why not? What is this
an example of?
Branches of the
Government: Judicial
The Powers of the Courts
The Supreme Court
 There
are 9 supreme court justices