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Why is the Supreme Court called the high court?
it is the last court in which federal questions can be decided. it is the last resort.
What is the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court?

Original jurisdiction: Supreme Court has the power to hear a case in first. The Supreme Court will hear any case that first deals with a government officials and controversies between states

Appellate Jurisdiction: Supreme court has the power to hear cases from the lower courts in all other cases. (Most of the cases that the Supreme Court hear come from its appellate jurisdictions)

Types of Cases and jurisdiction:

Judicial power extends to all cases arising out of the Constitution

Laws of the United States

Issues involving treaties

Cases involving ambassadors or public ministers/counsels

All cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction

Controversies the United States is party to

Controversies between the states

Controversies between states and citizens of different states

Controversies between the United States and individuals

Land disputes over $20.00 (today it is 75000)B

etween the citizens of the United States and foreign governments

Why did the founding fathers want to ensure the independence of the Judiciary?
To minimize bias and ensure impartiality
What is the term of constitutional/federal judges? Who determines the terms?
They serve for life on good behavior. They can be impeached by house and tried by senate therefore they determine if they need to be fired. Judges can also resign themselves.
What is the jurisdiction of federal courts


Examples:the United States government, the Constitution or federal laws, or. controversies between states or between the U.S. government and foreign governments.

How do federal courts decide to hear cases?
Supreme court uses rule of 4. 4 judges decide to hear a case.
Rule of four

Cases have come either from United States Court of Appeals or State Supreme Court

Case must involve an important federal questions that needs to be resolved or deal with Constitution

How the Supreme Court decides whether to hear a case. Requires four or more justices to "grant certiorari" (agree to hear an appeal). Supreme Court agrees to hear <1% of cases.

What is the importance of Marbury v. Madison?
(1803) landmark case in United States law wherein the U.S. Supreme Court established judicial review as a legitimate power of the Court on constitutional grounds.

judicial review

the power of the judicial branch of goverment to examine laws to determine whether they are constitutional
Why did the United States need a national court system?
Created under Article III to ensure that cases or justice were being handled fairly and without bias. Additionally, to make sure courts were handling cases in their jurisdiction specified by Congress and constitution
What is the difference between a civil liberty and a civil right?
The law differentiates between civil rights, which means the basic right of freedom from discrimination based on certain personal characteristics such as gender, race, or disability, and civil liberties which are basic freedoms. Civil liberties concern the actual basic freedoms; civil rights concern the treatment of an individual regarding certain rights.
Free Exercise Clause
A First Amendment provision that prohibits government from interfering with the practice of religion.
Establishment Clause
Clause in the First Amendment that says the government may not establish an official religion.
What is the purpose of the exclusionary rule?
to deter police misconduct; to control the behavior of the cops
What is protected speech? Symbolic-Petition

Symbolic Speech: Non-verbal plus some kindof conduct- Tinker vs. Des Moines, Texas vsJohnson, United States vs O'Brien (burningdraft card)

Freedom of Assembly/Protest: Can peacefullyassemble to express your view point butcannot be spontaneous- Cox vs. NH- timeplace manner restrictions

•Must have permit 30 days in advance

•Police protection

•Pay permit up to $1000

•Can't disrupt public order or have spontaneous demonstrations

Freedom of Petition: Right to address the government via e-mail or letter writing to let them know your discontent- cannot circulate on military bases or government buildings

-government can disclose the names of voters who signed referendum petition and states cannot bar people hired to circulate petitions

Protected Speech Press-Political Speech

Freedom of Press: Can't stop the publication of material that you don't like- Near Vs. MN and NYT vs USA

Hate Speech: Advocating the overthrow of the government in the abstract is allowed as long as don't incite someone to violence-people can say things that you don't like.Doesn't always mean violence- Brandenburg vs OH and National Socialist Party vs. Skokie

Freedom of Association: Can associate with/interact with anyone that you choose . Forms the basis of interest groups and political parties- NAACP vs AL

Right to a Fair Trial- judge can limit but can't bar reporters from court room

Political Speech: the ability to criticize the federal government and government officials holds the accountable


School Settings: your rights can be limited at school: dress codes, books taken out of library

No Libel: written defamation of character that is malicious or cruel- NYT vs. Sullivan

No Slander- oral defamation of character that is malicious or cruel

Fighting Words: Personally abusive language that the intent is to rile a person to aggressive action- Chaplinsky vs. NH

Commercial Speech- False Advertising- cannot be false or misleading

National Security/ AntiGovernment Speech: "Clear and Present Danger Rule". Creates"imminent lawless action" or a high probability that such action will occur.--

Speech that seeks to incite a riot, overthrow the government, sabotage, espionage, hindering the war effort not allowed- Scheck vs. USA

Obscenity: Language that offends public morality or that elicits sexual conduct is prohibited-Miller vs CA-

Miller Test-

1.Work only appeals to sexual interest

  1. Offensive to community standards- people decide No literary, artistic, scientific, political value

What rights are protected in the Miranda Rule?
-Right to remain silent-Right to attorney (appointed if u cannot afford)
What rights are given to those accused of a crime?
due process (5 and 14), right to counsel (6th amendment), speedy trial (6), jury trial(6), confront witneses (6), no self incrimination (5), no excessive bail or fines or cruel and unusual punishment (8)
When a police officer arrests a person, what must they do first?
Tell them their Miranda Rights
What are the steps to arresting someone to when the verdict is heard?
  1. miranda rights read and arrested

  2. Selecting a jury.

  3. Opening statements.

  4. Witness testimonies and cross-examination.

  5. Closing arguments.

  6. Jury instruction.

  7. Deliberation and verdict.

Why is the lawmaking function so important to democracy?
It is the way public will becomes public policy
What are the qualifications to become a Representative and Senator?

Representative: 25, state in which elected, 7 years

Senators:30, state in which elected, 9 years

Typical characteristics of members of Congress?
-White middle aged men
Why did founding fathers choose a bicameral legislature?

Historical: The British Parliament and colonial governments were bicameral (two houses) and the system was well known.

Practical: Dividing into a Senate with equal representation and a House of Representives based on population was a way to resolve differences between large and small states. (Connecticut Compromise)

Theoretical: Framers wanted to ensure that each chamber could "check" the other to make sure no one branch dominated. (checks and balances)

What is gerrymandering? What is true about congressional districts?
drawing a district with boundaries that favor one or more groups of voters and/or some candidates- all Congressional districts are supposed to be as close to the same size as possible
What are some differences between the House and the Senate?


435 member

2 year terms

Low turnover

Speaker bill referral hard to challenge Scheduling/rules Scheduling/rules controlled by majority party with powerful Rules Committee ((controls time of debate, controls time of debate, amends., etc)

Senate-100 members; six-year term-moderate turnover-referral decisions easily changed-scheduling rules agreed to by the majority of congress

How were Senators originally chosen? How are they chosen now? What amendment changed this?

Originally chosen by state legislators. Now they are chosen by the people. The 17th amendment changed that

What is the importance of McCullough versus Maryland? What are some examples of implied powers?

This case said that congress has implied powers that are derived from the "Necessary and Proper"

Clause gave Congress the power to establish a national bank.

Implied Powers:

Punish tax evaders

Establish federal reserve system of banks

Regulate and limit immigration

Draft Americans into military

Establish minimum wage

Prohibit mail fraud

Who has the sole power of impeachment? Who acts as the judge and jury during impeachment trials?
-The house of reps has the sole power of impeachment-Usually the senate acts as judge and jury during impeachment trials.
Why is Congress given the power to investigate?
-so better policies can be made by legislators-Because of the system of checks and balances-uncovers presidential abuses and corruption
Why are committees in Congress so important? What do committees do in congress?
Divides the workload & allows members to specialize in particular areasInvestigate, legislate, review and draw attention to any important matter that are referred to them and give advice.
What are four actions a president can take in trying to pass legislation (bill to law)?

-sign the bill

-veto the bill

-let it sit on the desk becomes law after 10 days

-if congress adjourns law dies out

What is the filibuster? How can the filibuster be ended?

To prolong debate and delay or prevent a vote on a bill, resolution, amendment, or other debatable questionRule of Cloture: requires a 3/5 (60 senators) majority to end debate and permitted each member to speak for an additional hour after that before voting on the final passage

What are the jobs of majority floor leaders?

DEFINITION:Floor Leaders: leaders elected by their party members to serve as the chief spokesperson for that party.

ROLES:Leaders try to push their party's agenda forward.They lead the strategy of the party.They often serve as the party "mouthpiece" to the media and act as the party voice.

Why is the commerce clause so important?
The commerce clause is important because it grants more power to the central government. It grants Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce.
What are the functions of political parties?

W - watchdog function [watch over president & congress, criticize & constructive criticism, beneficial policymaking]I - informer stimulator function [write platform, policymaking, inform the people, give cues]

N - nominating function [name candidates for office and present them to voters]

G - governmental function [channels in parties, forums, office holders, organization by party line, coordination]

S- seal of approval function [recruit, insurance, choose the qualified]

How do people join a political party?
People are considered part of a political party if they voted for that party or are registered under that party.
Why do we have a two-party system in the United States?

• Force of tradition: people accept it•

Electoral System: election law is written for two parties- winner take all system

• Historical Basis- we started out with two parties

• American Ideological Consensus: most people have general agreement on fundamental matters

What happens at the national convention?

-many speeches

-releases the party platforms

-officially choose the president and VP candidates

-delegate voting

What is the importance of minor parties?

-serve as a safety valve; if a voter dislikes both major party candidates they still have a 3rd option.

-They bring new groups into the electorate

What role do they serve in the election?

-Spoiler Role: take decisive votes away from one party and change the outcome of the election

-Critic: Take clear cut stands on issues and draw attention to issues the two major parties would rather ignore

-Innovator: propose solutions to problems- often incorporated into the major party platforms.

Provide an alternative: give frustrated voters a candidate to support and bring new groups into the electorate

-Safety Valve for Discontent: allow voters to express their dislike for candidates and politics in general

What are the different types of minor parties?

-Ideological: based on a certain set of beliefs

-Single Issue: based on one topic

-Economic Protest: Proclaim their disgust with major parties, demand better times, focus energy on a monetary system

-Splinter Party: Those who have separated or split away from the major parties

Who oversees voting qualifications and elections?
The states determine whether names of minor candidates are on the ballot,whether the candidates' names appear in random order, or whether all thecandidates are listed under the political party which encourages straight-ticketvoting.
If a candidate is trying to reach the attention of 18-24-year-olds, what platform should they use?
social media platforms
How might a campaign staff determine which issues are of most concern to the candidate's potential supporters?
Organizing an interest/focus group(polls)
Why do campaigns study demographics of particular voters?

-Decide the success or failure of a political campaign-Maximizing resource use to serve an area

-Understanding of the demographics

Why do people want to regulate campaign donations?

-Wealthy donors are able to exert immense influence over our political process by donating through a super PAC

-Receive a lot of money-Loophole money

What are the qualifications to be president?

1.) A "natural-born" citizen

2.) At least 35 years of age

3.) Resident of the US for atleast 14 years

Duties of Vice president

Elected in general presidential election

Chief presiding officer (constitutionally) of the Senate

Cannot participate in floor debate


1. Casts vote in case of tie

2. presides over Senate (recognized first on any floor debate)

3. Assists the president.

What are some major flaws in the Electoral College system?

Winner of popular vote may not win Electoral College

• If there is a tie, then the election is decided by the House of Representatives

• Potential for undemocratic outcome

• Bias against minor parties who are not included

• Possibility of faithless elector changing their vote

• Why founders chose Electoral College no longer relevant

- people can get information about candidates through technology and political parties

• Gives too much power to swing states and thus candidates campaign solely in those states to win their votes

How does the Electoral College system work to elect the president?

-cast a vote for someone they knew and someone they did not in December on the first Monday after the second Wednesday.

-States in the past all followed the winner-takes-all system.

-They then created a list of everyone who had cast a vote, along with the number of votes they received, and signed and certified the list before sending it to the vice president who would open and count votes in front of Congress

.-The person with the highest number of votes would be president and the runner-up would be vice president. If there was a tie the House chose from the top 5. On the other hand, a tie for vice president was settled by the Senate through a ballot.

-Now separate votes for president and vice president

What caused the Electoral College to break down in 1800? How did the 12th Amendment fix the Electoral College?
. There was a tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Because of the election of 1800, the 12th Amendment (separate votes for president and vice president)(ticket system) was passed, making the Electoral College simpler.
Why do we not use the direct voting method to elect the President?
-Founding fathers wanted to protect minority from tyranny of majority- Populous states would overshadow everyone else
What Executive Powers does the President have?
• Executive privilege- withhold information from Congress• Executive orders- make laws without Congress• Executive agreements- exactly like treaties but don't need Senate approval
How does the President try to control legislation?

• Impoundments- withholding of funds so Congress overspends on the budget

• Preparing the budget- legislative clearance- uses budget to control bureaucracy

• Use of the media to get public on his side- push his agenda

• Use of his own party to push his agenda• Use of interest groups to lobby Congress

• Power of persuasion and prerogative (acting without the need for legislation)

• Use of public approval rating both domestically and abroad

• Threat of veto to get Congress to help him w/agenda

• Bargaining with members of Congress- invite them to WH

What factors have caused the powers of the President to grow in recent decades?

People demand more of him- disaster relief and more national security

• He has taken power for himself (military powers)

• Congress has given power away (budget)

• During economic crisis situations or natural disasters power grows

• Mass media and television- communicate directly with people and doesn't have to rely on political party

• Government has grown- bureaucracy has grown- he commands the bureaucracy that provides these services

• Technological advances improve the economy and the president is tasked with managing it

• International relations- interactions with foreign countries- he's our representative abroad

War Powers Resolution
A law passed in 1973 spelling out the conditions under which the president can commit troops without congressional approval for 60 d.
President's removal power
Unless removal is limited by statute (like supreme court or private agencies), the President may fire any executive branch office
The President's military powers

Commander in Chief of the Army & Navy

Commander in Chief of the state militias (now the National Guard)

Commissions all officers

Power to commit troops in foreign conflicts

War Powers Resolution- Congress tried to limitpresidents powers to commit troops abroad butended up expanding them- can only committroops for 60 days without declaration of warfrom congress

President's Legislative Powers

Give State of the Union address to Congress and offers a plan of action. The President pushes his own agenda

Recommend "measures" to the Congress and uses all informal tools at his disposal

He can call special sessions

Upon "extraordinary occasions" adjourn both houses of Congress

Presidential Veto

Veto Message within 10 days of passing

The House of origin- congress writes objections into journal

Pocket Veto - President does not sign within 10 days when congress not working- bill dies

If president does not sign within 10 days while congress working- bill becomes law without his signature

Congress can override with 2/3 majority from both Houses

(Threat of veto can cause Congress to make changes in legislation)

President's Judicial Powers
To appoint federal court judges. To pardon people convicted of federal crimes (except in cases of impeachment). To reduce a person's jail sentence or fine.
President powers constraints/limitations

• Has to be elected by a majority of the people and earn 270 electoral votes

• Relatively short terms (4 years- can only serve 2 terms maximum

• Can be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors• Executive Actions checked by Supreme Court

• Congress controls money and Senate confirms presidential appointments

• Divided Government- if Congress is of a different party than himself limits how much he can accomplish of his agenda

• Public opinion-if public doesn't support his agenda

• Public opinion abroad- his relations with foreign countries and NATO

What is the difference between a treaty and an executive agreement?
A treaty is made with the approval of Congress (senate specifically). On the other hand, an executive is approved and coordinated only by the president with the leader of the country they are making the agreement with.
Presidential line of succession act of 1947
An Act To provide for the performance of the duties of the office of President in case of the removal, resignation, death, or inability both of the President and Vice President.
Line of succession
Vice president, Speaker of the House, President pro tempore, and Secretary of State
Who is next in line to become president after the Vice President?
Speaker of the House
Who does the president rely upon to help him enforce the laws? How do these people get their jobs?
Cabinet, executive office, and bureaucracy. Cabinet is chosen by president. Executive office also chosen by president but some positions require Senate approval. Bureaucracy also mostly chosen by president. Some positions require senate approval.
What are the six purposes of government are as outlined in the Preamble of the Constitution?
  1. Establish Justice- make sure government processes are fair for everyone

    1. Ensure domestic tranquility-to preserve order and to make rules to help govern the people and to make rules to help govern the people

    1. Provide for the common defense-to protect theUnited States from foreign enemies

    1. Link the American people together-to provide access to politicians

  2. 5.To promote the general welfare -to provide services to help the American people

    1. To secure the blessings of liberty-To safeguard -To safeguardour individual rights and liberties (freedom)

What are the major ideas of John Locke?

Natural rights: rights inherent in human beings, not dependent on government- rights dependent on due process of law

Consent of the governed: government derives its authority by the people

Limited Government: certain restrictions should be placed on government to protect natural rights of citizens. Government can only do what the people have given it the power to do

Popular Sovereignty: power of government comes from the people

Purposes of Legislature and Executive: serve the will of the people and to protect property rights

Social Contract: People join government willingly to be protected

What is the main idea of the social contract theory?

People establish governments to achieve a goal

Give up some rights to be protected by government

The idea of a democracy challenged what ideas that the founders were most familiar with? (Think monarchy)
Divine right to rule and the fact that monarchy was exempted from rule of law
Why was the Declaration of Independence written?
to explain why the colonies were separating from Great Britain
What are the key ideas in the Declaration of Independence?

Declaration states that people have right to abolish an unjust government and form a new one

Not only have the right but we also have the duty to alter or abolish any government that does not secure our unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness .They also emphasized rule of law and that no one had a divine right to lead.

What documents and philosophers influences the founding fathers? What were some ideas they pulled from when writing the Constitution?

Acts of Parliament- make the laws and have bicameral structure

Ideas of Constitution: (England did not write down their constitution)

Political traditions and customs

Magna Carta 1215, Petition of Rights 1628, and British Bill of Rights 1688

They pulled many ideas like rule of law, separation of powers (Montesquieu), checks and balances(Montesquieu), natural rights, social contract, popular sovereignty, etc.

Why did the Founding Fathers meet in Philadelphia? What did they intend to accomplish?
They met to revise the Articles of Confederation but decided to scrap it. Philadelphia was chosen because the Declaration of Independence was signed there. They intended to make a new better government.
Why did the Anti-Federalists want a Bill of Rights added to the Constitution?



What were some of the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation?

Unicameral congress but powers limited- no power to tax to get money, couldn't make states enforce laws of congress, couldn't regulate the economy, and no court system to maintain rights or to settle disputes

It was slowly causing the national government to go broke and Shay's Rebellion was the breaking point. Central government had no power. States were doing whatever they wanted.

Popular Sovereignty
A belief that ultimate power resides in the people.
Limited Government
A principle of constitutional government; a government whose powers are defined and limited by a constitution.
Checks and Balances
A system that allows each branch of government to limit the powers of the other branches in order to prevent abuse of power. Charles Montesquieu came up with this.
Separation of Powers
the division of power among the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government
division of powers between the national government and the individual states
Judicial Review
The power of the courts to declare laws unconstitutional
Marbury v. Madison
This case establishes the Supreme Court's power of Judicial Review
Gibbons versus Ogden 1824
The first case involving the commerce clause to reach the Supreme Court. Rose out of a clash over the regulation of steamboats by the state of New York. Robert Fulton steamboat the Claremont made its first run up the Hudson river. Fulton was given exclusive rights to navigate the waters of the state by steamboat. Thomas gibbons challenged this. Ogden sued and New York Court ruled in his favor. Gibbons appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that Gibbons had the right to sail on the Hudson.
McCullough v. Maryland court case
Was significant because it was one of the first and most important Supreme Court cases on federal power. It brought up the fact that the national government has the ability to build a bank because of the "Necessary and Proper" clause in the constitution
What is the difference between separation of powers and checks and balances?
Separation of powers is the fact that each branch of government has powers that other branches do not have. Checks and balances are how each branch keeps the others from abusing their power.
Powers of the Federal Government
to print moneyto declare warto create an armyto make treaties
Powers of State Government
Establish schools, conduct elections, marriage and divorce laws, establishing a local government
What powers do both state and federal government have?

Making and enforcing laws

Making taxes

Borrowing money

Build roads

Create lower courts

Four Methods of formal amendment process
1. ⅔ vote each house of Congress- Ratified by state conventions called by ¾ of state legislatures2. ⅔ vote each house of Congress-Ratified by ¾ state legislatures(38 states are needed to ratify)3. National Convention called by ⅔ of state legislatures-Ratified by State conventions called by ¾ of state legislatures4. National Convention called by ⅔ of state legislatures-Ratified by ¾ state legislatures(38 states are needed to ratify)
What is the informal Amendment Process?
Process through which changes have been made to the Constitution over time without changing the written words of the document
Methods of informal amendments
Basic legislation- congress passes a law, it has the same effect as if they passed an amendment Executive action- based on what is known as an executive agreement which usually is made between the president and the head of a foreign country, difference between this and a treaty is that a treaty must be approved by the senate, the executive agreement does not have to be approved Court Decisions- a decision by the us supreme court as to whether an act of government is constitutional Party Practices- The Constitution makes no mention of political parties but they developed over time anyway. Before, they believed that anyone who was qualified and wanted to run for president should be allowed to. Now, presidential elections are based on primaries for each individual party and then a final election. Custom- many unwritten customs in the government are just as strong as written laws. These customs include, the 14 executive departments making up the president's cabinet, and FDR and the custom of term limit.
What are some state guarantees to one another?
  1. Full Faith and Credit: Each state must respect, recognize the validity of the laws, public records, and court decisions of every other state (taken from the Articles of Confederation)

  2. Extradition- Criminals taken to state where they committed crime

  3. Fugitive Slave Clause- mended by Amendment 13 - Free states must return fugitive slaves that have run away to free states/ territories.

  4. Privileges and Immunities- States cannot discriminate against people from other states

Why are local governments created? Where do they get their power to operate from?

They provide services to people. They get their power from states

What are some national government guarantees to the States?
Powers not delegated to United States are reserved to the states or the people. (Amendment 10)
Give some examples of amendments that have been formally added to the Constitution.
27 amendments have been added to our constitution. The first ten were all added at the same time. This process demonstrates federalism. Both the federal and the state governments must work together to make changes to our constitution.
Give examples to of changes to the Constitution without changing the written words.
Examples include expanding voting rights, seats in the House, and a minimum wage.