We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution, Level 3
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Unit 4 Terms

advisory opinion

In some judicial systems, a formal opinion on a point of law given by a judge or court when requested by a legislature or government official.    [ audio ]

appeal

The bringing of a court case from a lower court to a higher court in an attempt to have the lower court's decision reversed. Grounds for appeal include errors of law, fact, or procedure.    [ audio ]

appellate jurisdiction

The legal authority of a court to hear appeals from a lower court.    [ audio ]

bill

A proposed law placed before a legislature for approval.    [ audio ]

bureaucracy

Governmental departments and agencies and their staffs, principally civil service members and political appointees.    [ audio ]

cabinet

The group of advisors to the president composed of the heads of the departments of the executive branch and certain other officials. Cabinet advice to U.S. presidents is not binding, as opposed to parliamentary systems, where the consensus of cabinets is said to bind prime ministers.    [ audio ]

civil service

Employment in federal, state or provincial, and local governmental agencies. The civil service was formed in an effort to reduce political patronage and promote professionalism in government.    [ audio ]

cloture

A rule of the U.S. Senate stipulating that debate on a legislative proposal be cut off and the proposal voted upon by the full Senate if sixty members agree.    [ audio ]

commander in chief

Highest ranked person of the military forces. According to the U.S. Constitution, the president is commander in chief of the nation's armed forces.    [ audio ]

delegate theory

The idea that a legislative representative should exactly mirror his or her constituents' views in deciding on public policy. See also trustee theory of representation    [ audio ]

enforcement powers

The power of Congress to enforce laws.    [ audio ]

enumerated powers

Those rights and responsibilities of the U.S. government specifically provided for and listed in the Constitution.    [ audio ]

executive orders

Directives issued by the president, including Presidential Directives, National Security Directives, and Homeland Security Presidential Directives. Presidents have issued such orders since 1789. Such orders are open to the public, except for National Security Directives.    [ audio ]

executive power

The authority to carry out and enforce the law.    [ audio ]

federalism

A form of government in which power is divided and shared between a central government and state and local governments.    [ audio ]

filibuster

The practice of refusing to surrender the floor during a debate to prevent the Senate from voting on a proposal.    [ audio ]

gerrymandering

Drawing the boundaries of an electoral district to favor a political party.    [ audio ]

impeachment

Charging a public official with a crime while in office and bringing him or her to trial. Convicted officials are removed from office.    [ audio ]

implied powers

Those powers authorized by a legal document that are not expressly stated but can be inferred from expressly stated powers. The power of Congress to do all things "necessary and proper" to carry out the powers delegated to it by Article I, Section 8, Clause 18 of the U.S. Constitution. The "necessary and proper" clause is also known as the "elastic clause," because it greatly expands the Constitution's enumeration of the powers of Congress. Implied powers can be distinguished from "inherent powers," those that are expressly provided for in the Constitution.    [ audio ]

independent agencies

Administrative organizations located outside the structure of executive departments.    [ audio ]

inherent powers

Those powers ingrained so deeply in an institution that they need not be stated. For example, what the "inherent powers of the presidency" might be is a hotly contested subject in American national politics.    [ audio ]

initiative

A proposed law placed on the ballots of some states for voter decision. Initiatives that pass immediately become law.    [ audio ]

jurisdiction

The power or authority to hear cases and make decisions.    [ audio ]

landmark decision

A legal decision that constitutes a turning point or stage. Brown v. Board of Education (1954) is an example of a landmark decision.    [ audio ]

litigant

A party involved in a lawsuit.    [ audio ]

lobbying

The practice of attempting to affect legislation by influencing legislators.    [ audio ]

local government

Government of a specific local area, such as state subdivisions authorized by states or governments of cities, counties, and towns. Also includes special government units, such as water districts.    [ audio ]

methods of constitutional interpretation

Interpretive methods employed by U.S. Supreme Court justices when considering constitutional issues of some cases. See strict construction, original intent, fundamental principles, and instrumentalism    [ audio ]

original jurisdiction

In some cases, such as those in which a state is a party, the Supreme Court has the right to consider the facts and the law in a case without it having first been passed on by a lower court.    [ audio ]

patronage

Support, often financial, given by a person or institution to a person, group, or institution in need.    [ audio ]

pocket veto

A presidential practice that allows a bill to die if not signed within ten days and Congress is adjourned. The president is conceived as keeping the bill in his pocket rather than taking it out and signing it.    [ audio ]

police powers

The inherent authority of a government to impose restrictions on private rights for the sake of public welfare, order, and security within the boundaries of constitutional law.    [ audio ]

power to investigate

The power of Congress to undertake formal inquiries into matters of public business and public policy.    [ audio ]

quasi–judicial powers

Actions of an agency, board, or other government entity in which there are hearings, orders, judgments, or other activities similar to those of courts.    [ audio ]

quasi–legislative powers

Having a partly legislative character by possession of the right to make rules and regulations having the force of law.    [ audio ]

recall

A process of using special or general elections for removing elected officials from office.    [ audio ]

referendum

Placing a measure approved by a legislature on a ballot for popular approval.    [ audio ]

reserved powers

Those powers referred to in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments that are reserved to the states or to the people.    [ audio ]

resolution

A formal statement of a decision or expression of opinion put before or adopted by an assembly such as the U.S. Congress.    [ audio ]

seniority

Length of service. In the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate, certain powers and responsibilities of congressional members, such as committee chairmanships, are granted on the basis of their time in office.    [ audio ]

trustee theory of representation

The idea that a legislative representative should use his or her best judgment in making decisions on public policy, regardless of constituent opinion. See also delegate theory of representation    [ audio ]

writ of certiorari

A type of writ seeking judicial review of a legal decision.    [ audio ]
Unit 4      Terms
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