AP GOV Unit 2 Vocabulary

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Amicus Curiae
Legal briefs submitted by a "friend of the court" for the purpose of raising additional points of view and presenting information not contained in the briefs of the formal parties. These briefs attempt to influence a court's decision.
Appellate Jurisdiction
A legal authority of a court to hear appeals from a lower court
Appropriation Bill
An act of Congress that actually funds programs within limits established by authorizations bills; usually covering one year
At-Large Election
Elected by the state as a whole rather than from particular districts
Attorney General
Leads the Department of Justice, is the chief lawyer of the federal government, and serves as the principal advisor to the president on all legal matters
A proposed law given to the legislature for approval
Budget Resolution
A resolution binding congress to a total expenditure level, supposedly the bottom line of all federal spending for all programs
Bully Pulpit
A position that provides a platform and opportunity to speak out and be listened to
Chief of Staff
Responsible for managing and overseeing all policy development, daily operations, and staff activities for the President and Executive branch
A procedure for terminating debate, especially filibusters, in the Senate
Concurrent Jurisdiction
Exists where two or more courts from different systems simultaneously have jurisdiction over a specific case
Concurring Opinion
Written explanation of one or more justices who support a decision reached by the majority of the court, but wish to add a point tat was not made in the majority decision
Conference Committee
Temporary joint committee created to reconcile any differences between the two houses' versions of a bill
The residents of a congressional district or state
Contiguous Body
Governing body whose seats are never all up for election at the same time
Continuing Resolution
When Congress cannot reach agreement and pass appropriations bills, these allow agencies to spend at the level of the previous year
Court of Appeals
Appellate courts empowered to review all final decisions of district courts, except in rare cases. In addition, they also hear appeals to orders of many federal regulatory agencies
An excess of federal expenditures over federal revenues.
Discharge Petition
Petition that, if signed by majority of the House of Representatives' members, will pry a bill from committee and bring it to the floor for consideration
Dissenting Opinion
Written explanation of the views of one or more judges who disagree with a decision reached by a majority of the court
District Courts
The court of original jurisdiction for most federal cases. This is the only federal court that holds trials where juries and witnesses are used
Divided Government
When control of the executive branch and the legislative branch is split between two different political parties
Policies for which Congress has obligated itself to pay X level of benefits to Y number of recipients. Social Security benefits are an example
Executive Argument
A binding international agreement with the leader of another country
Executive Order
A rule or order issued by the President to an executive branch of the government and having the force of law
Executive Privilege
The President's power to refuse to disclose information
Government spending. Major areas of federal spending are social services and national defense
Various tactics aimed at defeating a bill in a legislative body by preventing a final vote; typically seen in the U.S. Senate
Floor Consideration
The process by which proposed laws are considered and acted upon by the House and Senate
Floor Leader
Members of the House and Senate picked by their parties to carry out party decisions and steer legislative action to their party goals. One represents the majority party and the other the minority in each house
The drawing of the electoral district lines to the advantage of a party or group
Government Corporation
A government organization that, like business corporations, provides a service that could be delivered by the private sector and typically charges for its services
A procedural practice in the Senate whereby a senator temporarily blocks the consideration of the bill or nomination.
Independent Executive Agencies
Agencies that are within the Executive Branch but not part of the cabinet and operate on their own
Independent Regulatory Commissions
Agencies that regulate various aspects of the nation's economy outside of the President's control
Joint Committee
Legislative committee composed of members of both houses
Judicial Activism
Philosophy that judges should interpret the Constitution to reflect current conditions and values
judicial implementation
How and whether court decisions are translated into actual policy, thereby affecting the behavior of others. The courts rely on other units of government to enforce their decisions.
Judicial Restraint
Philosophy that judges should interpret the Constitution to reflect what the founders intended and what its words literally say
Liberal Constructionist
One who believes in a broad interpretation of the Constitution, in particular regard to federal government powers
Mutual aid and vote trading among legislators
Majority Opinion
An explanation of the reasoning behind the majority decision of the Supreme Court
Original Jurisdiction
The legal authority of a court to be the first to hear a case
Oversight Function
Review of the policies and programs of the executive branch by the legislative branch
Party Caucus
A closed meeting of a party's house or Senate members
Expression describing the fate of most bills that are introduced in Congress; either being buried or never acted upon
Pocket Veto
An indirect veto of a legislative bill by the president or a governor by retaining the bill unsigned until it is too late for it to be dealt with during the legislative session
Pork Barreling
Utilization of government funds for projects designed to please voters or legislators and win votes
President of the Senate
The presiding officer in the Senate, in our case the Vice President
President Pro Tempore
A member of the Senate chosen to preside in absence of the Vice President
Presidential Precedent
Actions taken by a former President that are used as a guide or an example of how current/future Presidents handle specific situations
Redistribution of political representation on the basis of population changes, usually after a census
A time where both houses of Congress temporarily suspend business
A congressional process through which program authorizations are revised to achieve required savings. It usually also includes tax or other revenue adjustments
Often used to express Congress' approval or disapproval of something which they cannot otherwise vote on, due to the matter being handled by another jurisdiction, or being protected by a Constitution
The income of a government from taxation, excise duties, customs, or other sources, used for the payment of the public expenses
A provision, unlikely to pass on its own merit, added to an important bill certain to pass so that it will "circle" through the legislative process
Select Committee
Legislative committee created for a limited time and form some specific purposes
The regular period of time during which a legislative body conducts business
Single Member District
Electoral district in which one person is chosen by the voters for each office
Solicitor General
The law officer, in the Department of Justice, directly below the Attorney General in the U.S. Department of Justice, responsible for arguing cases before the U.S. Supreme Court
Speaker of the House
The presiding officer of the House of Representatives; chosen by and from the majority party in the House
Standing Committee
Permanent committee in the legislative body to which bills of a specified subject matter are sent
Stare Decisis
The rule of precedent, whereby a rule or law contained in a judicial decision is commonly viewed as binding on judges whenever the same question is presented
Strict Constructionist
One who believes in a narrow interpretation of the Constitution; in particular regard to federal government powers
Tax Expenditures
Revenue losses that result from special exemptions, exclusion, or deductions allowed by federal tax law
Two-year period of time during which Congress meets between each national election
Uncontrollable Expenditures
Expenditures that are determined by how many eligible beneficiaries there are for a program or by previous obligations of the government and that Congress therefore cannot easily control.
War Powers Resolution
A law limiting a President's right to send troops into battle without consulting Congress
assistants to the floor leaders in the House and Senate, responsible for monitoring and marshaling votes