American Government Final Study Guide

Bully pulpit
the president’s use of his prestige and visibility to guide or enthuse the American public.
Bureaucracy
A large, complex organization composed of appointed officials.
Caucus
A meeting of party members to select delegates backing one or another primary candidate.
Civic competence
A belief that one can affect government policies.
Civil disobedience
Opposing a law considered unjust by peacefully disobeying it and accepting the resultant punishment.
Closed primary
a primary election in which voting is limited to already registered party members
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Coattails
The alleged tendency of candidates to win more votes in an election because the presence at the top of the ticket of a better-known candidate, such as the president
District courts
The lowest federal courts; federal trials can be held only here.
Elite
People who have a disproportionate amount of some valued resource, like money or power.
Exclusionary rule
Improperly gathered evidence may not be introduced in a criminal trial.
Faction
A group with a distinct political interest.
Federalism
Government authority shared by national and local governments.
Filibuster
An attempt to defeat a bill in the Senate by talking indefinitely, thus preventing the Senate from taking action on the bill.
Franking privilege
The ability of members to mail letters to their constituents free of charge by substitution their fasimile signature for postage.
Gerrymandering
Drawing the boundaries of legislative districts in bizarre or unusual shapes to favor one party.
Good-faith exception
An error in gathering evidence sufficiently minor that it may be used in a trail
Gridlock
the inability of the government to act because rival parties control different parts of the government.
Habeas corpus
An order to produce an arrested person before a judge
Initiative
Process that permits voters to put legislative measures directly on the ballot
Interest group
An organization of people sharing a common interest or goal that seeks to influence public policy.
Iron triangle
A close relationship between an agency, a congressional committee, and an interest group.
Judicial review
The power of courts to declare laws unconstitutional.
Laissez-faire
An economic theory that government should not regulate or interfere with commerce.
Lame duck
A person still in office after he or she has lost a bid for reelection.
Legislative courts
Courts created by Congress for specialized purposes whose judges do not enjoy the protections of Article III of the Constitution.
Libel
Writing that falsely injures another person.
Line item veto
An executive’s ability to block a particular provision in a bill passed by the legislature.
Litmus test
An examination of the political ideology of a nominated judge.
Loaded language
Words that imply a value judgment, used to persuade a reader without having made a serious argument.
Malapportionment
Drawing the boundaries of legislative districts so they are unequal in population.
Material incentives
Money or things valued in monetary terms.
Multiple referral
A congressional process whereby a bill may be referred to several important committees.
Nullification
the doctrine that a state can declare null and void a federal law that, in the state’s opinion, violates the Constitution.
Pocket veto
A bill fails to become law because the president did not sign it within ten days before Congress adjourns.
Political culture
A patterned and sustained way of thinking about how political and economic life ought to be carried out.
Political ideology
A more or less consistent set of beliefs about what policies government ought to pursue.
Political machine
A party organization that recruits members by dispensing patronage.
Political question
An issue the Supreme Court will allow the executive and legislative branches decide
Political socialization
Process by which background traits influence one’s political views.
Prior restraint
Censorship of publication.
Purposive incentive
A benefit that comes from serving a cause or principle.
Quorum
The minimum number of members who must be present for business to be conducted in Congress.
Red tape
Complex bureaucratic rules and procedures that must be followed to get something done.
Republic
A government in which elected representatives make the decisions.
Sampling error
The difference between the results of random samples taken at the same time.
Selective attention
Paying attention only to those news stories with which one already agrees.
Selective incorporation
Court cases that apply Bill of Rights to states
Sequential referral
A congressional process by which a Speaker may send bill to a second commitee after the first is finished acting
Signing statement
A presidential document that reveals what the president thinks of a new law and how it ought to be enforced.
Simple resolution
An expression of opinon either in the House or Seate to settle procedural matters in either body.
Soft money
Funds obtained by political parties that are spent on party activities, such as get-out-to-vote drives, but not on behalf of a specific candidate.
Solidary incentives
The social rewards (sense of pleasure, status, or companionship) that lead people to join political organizations
Sovereign immunity
The rule that a citizen cannot sue the government without the government’s consent.
Split ticket
Voting for candidates of different parties for various offices in the same election.
Standing
A legal rule stating who is authorized to start a lawsuit.
Strict scrutiny
test, used by the Supreme Court in racial discrimination cases and other cases involving civil liberties and civil rights, which places the burden of proof on the government rather than on the challengers to show that the law in question is constitutional
Superdelegates
Party leaders and elected officials who become delegates to the national convention without having to run in primaries or caucuses.
Whip
A senator or representative who helps the partyleader stay informed about what partymembers are thinking.