Unit I – Constitutional Underpinnings
Chapters 1-3


Chapter 1 – Introducing Government in America
  • Vocab:

    • Government- the institutions and processes through which public policies are made for a society
    • Public Goods- goods, such as clean air and clean water, that everyone must share
    • Politics- the process by which we select our governmental leaders and what policies theses leaders pursue. Politics produces authoritative decisions about public issues
    • Political Participation- All the activities used by citizens to influence the selection of political leaders or the policies they pursue. Voting is the most common but not the only means of political participation a democracy. Other means include protest and civil disobedience.
    • Single-issue groups- Groups that have a narrow interest, tend to dislike compromise, and often draw membership from people new to politics. These features distinguish them from traditional interest groups.
    • Policymaking system- The process by which policy comes into being and evolves over time. People’s interest, problems, and concerns create political issues for government policymakers. These issues shape policy, which in turn impacts people, generating more interests, problems, and concerns.
    • linkage institutions- the political channels through which peopl's concerns become political issues on the policy agenda. includes: elections, political parties, interest groups, and the media.
    • policy agenda-the issues that attract the serious attention of public officials and other people actually involved in politics at any given point in time.
    • Political issue- an issue tha arises when people disagree about a problem and how to fix it.
    • Policymaking institutions-the branches of government charged with taking actions of political issues. Congress, the President, and courts are examples.
    • Public Policy-a choice that government makes in response to a political issue. A policy is a course of action taken with regard to some problem.
    • Policy Impacts-the effects a policy has on people and problems. Impacts are analyzed to see how well a policy has met its goal and at what cost.
    • Democracy-a system of selecting policymakers and of organizing government so that policy represents and responds to the public's preferences.
    • Majority rule-a fundamental principle of traditional democratic theory. In a democracy, choosing among alternatives requires that the majority's desire be respected.
    • Minority rights-a principle of traditional democratic theory that guarantees rights to those who do not belong to the majorities and allows that they might join majorities through persuasian and reasoned argument.
    • Pluralist Theory-a theory of government and politics emphasizing that politics is mainly a competition among groups, each one pressing for its own preferred policies.
    • Elite and Class Theory-a theory of government and politics contending that societies are divided along class lines and that naupper class elite will rule, regardless of the formal niceties of governmental organization.
    • Hyperpluralism- a theory of government and politics contending that groups are so strong that government is weakened. This is an extreme form of pluralism.
    • policy gridlock-a condition that occurs when no coalition is strong enough to from a majority and establish policy, nothing gets done.
    • Political culture-an overall set of values widely shared within a society.
    • Gross Domestic Product- the sume total of the value of all the goods and service produced in a nation

  • The federal government influences nearly all aspects of everyday life.
  • Older people, 65 years and over, tend to participate in politics than younger people, under 25 years
  • Interest in politics is decreasing with younger generations, so voter turnout is decreasing.
  • Goals of the government: maintain a national defense, provide public services, preserve order, socialize the young, and collect taxes.
  • Policies can be established through actions as well as inaction.
  • 3 Contemporary Theories of US government: pluralist, elite & class, and hyperpluralist (defined above)




Chapter 2 - The Constitution's dick Vocab:
  • Constitution-a nation's basic law. it creates political institutions, assigns or divides powers in government, and often provides certain guarantees o citizens.
  • Declaration of Independence-the document approved by representation of the AMerican colonies in 1776 that stated their grievences against the British monarch and declared their independence.
  • Natural Rights-rights inherent in human beings, not dependent of governments, which include life, liberty, and property.
  • Consent of the Governed-the idea that government derives its authority by sanction of the people.
  • Limited government-the idea that certain restrictions should be placed on government to protect the natural rights of citizens.
  • Shay's Rebellion-a series of attacks on courthouses by a small band of farmers led by Revolutionary War Captain Daniel Shays to block foreclosure proceedings.
  • U.S. Constituton-the document written in 1797 and ratified in 1788 that sets forth the institutional structure of US government and the tasks these institutions perform. It replaced the Articles of Confederation.
  • Factions- interest groups arising from the unequal distribution of property or weaalth that James Madison atttacked in Federalist Paper #10.
  • New Jersey Plan- the proposal at the Constitutional Convention that called for equal representation of each state in Congress regardless of the state's population
  • Virginia Plan- the proposal at the Constitutional Convention that called for equal representation of each state in Congress in proportion to that state's share of the US population
  • Connecticut Compromise- the compromise reached at the Constitutional Convention that established 2 houses of Congress, the House of Representatives & Senate. The House of Reps' representation is based one a state's share of the US population, and the Senate represents each state equally.
  • Writ of habeas corpus- a court order requiring jailers to explain to a judge why they are holding a prisoner in custody.
  • Separation of Powers-a feature of the Constitution that requires each of the 3 branches of government-executive, legislative, and judicial, to be relatively independent of the others so that one cannot control the others. Power is shared among these 3 institutions
  • Checks & Balances- features of the Constitution that limit government's power by requiring that power be balanced among the different governmental institutions.
  • Bill of Rights- the first 10 amendments to the US Constitution, drafted in response to some of the Anti-Federalist concerns. These amendments define such basic liberties as freedom of religion, speech, press, and guarantee defendent's rights.
  • Federalist Papers- a collection of 85 articles written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison under the name "Publius" to defend the Constitution in detail.
  • Equal Rights Amendment- a constitutional amendment passed by Congress in 1972 stating that "equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abriged by the United States or by any state on accout on sex." The amendment failed to aquire the necessary support from 3/4 of the state legislatures.
  • Marbury v. Madison- the 1803 case in which Chief Justice John Marshall and his associates first asserted the right of the Supreme Court to determine the meaning of the US Constitution. The decision established the Court's power of judicial review over acts of Congress, in this case the Judiciary Act of 1789.
  • Judicial Review- the power of the courts to determine whether acts of Congress and, by implication, the exutive are in accord to the US Constitution. Judicial Review was first established by John Marshall and his associates in Marbury v. Madison.
  • Summer of 1776 a small group of men met in Philadelphia and passed the Declaration of Independence.
  • Once the U.S. was independent, the Articles of Confederation were passed as the first set of laws.
  • The Articles created a government ruled by the states, not one central government.
  • Under the Articles, Congress lacked the power to tax the people.
  • Because Congress could not tax, it could not support a military for national defense, even though it was the duty of Congress to provide a national defense.
  • Congress could not regulate interstate commerce, which hurt foreign and domestic trade
  • The failure of the Articles provided certain ideas that a new Constitution should avoid.
  • The 55 delagates ordered to attend the Constitutional Convention were to "revise the Articles of Confederation"
  • The delegates ignored this order and wrote the Constitution of the United States
  • slavery was left out of the Constitution
  • to prevent tyranny, the Constitution created: a system of checks and balances among 3 branches, separation of powers among those branches, and government was to be under the direct control of the majority.
  • Constitution created 3 branches: The Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.
  • Each branch as its own powers, and limits the powers of the other 2 branches. external image pic.gif
  • Text of the United States Constitution
  • Text of the Bill of Rights
  • Text of Amendments 11-27



Chapter 3 - Federalism
  • Federalism isn’t mentioned in the Constitution
  • Framers carefully defined the powers of each branch of government: executive, legislative, judicial. They also defined the powers of the states (10th Amendment)
  • “Constitution’s Distribution of Powers” Chart between federal and state powers page 76 in textbook
  • Four key events that lead to increased government power: elaboration of the doctrine of implies powers, definition of commerce clause, the Civil War, and the long struggle for racial equality
  • Implied Powers:
McCulloch v. Maryland-created a national bank in 1791, gave the federal gov’t the power to print money, make loans, and engage in other banking tasks. No one was sure if the gov’t had the power to make a national bank, or leave it to the states
      • State verse national powers
      • Enumerated/implied powers
      • Elastic clause
        • Commerce Power:
Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate commerce
      • Gibbons v. Ogden- landmark case decided in 1824 in which the Supreme Court interpreted very broadly the clause in Article I, Sec. 8, of Constitution giving Congress the power to regulate interstate/international commerce, encompassing every form of commercial activity.
        • The Civil War:
“What McCulloch v Maryland pronounced constitutionally, the Civil War settled militarily”
      • Civil War was a struggle between states and national government
        • Struggle for Racial Equality:
Another court case: states’ rights verse national gov’t: Brown v. Board of Education
      • Brown v. Board of Education- Supreme Court declared segregated schools to be unconstitutional
        • Cooperative federalism:
        • Shared costs- cities and states can receive federal money for public uses such as road maintenance, water systems, etc.
        • Federal guidelines- most federal grants come with strings attached. Ex: Congress spends billions of dollars on highway construction, so in order to get federal dollars, states must adopt & enforce limits on highway speeds and drinking age
        • Shared administration- state officials implement local polices but they also have their own powers over that policy. Ex: US Dept. of Labor gives billions to states for job training, but states have the lee-way of using it the way they want to.

    • Vocab:
    • Supremacy clause- Article IV of the Constitution, which makes the Constitution, national laws, and treaties supreme over state laws when the national government is acting within its constitutional limits
    • Enumerated powers- powers of the federal gov’t that are specifically addressed in the Constitution, listed in Article I
    • Implied powers- powers of the federal gov’t that go beyond the those enumerated in the Constitution. The Constitution states that Congress has the power to “make all laws necessary and proper” to carry out enumerated powers
    • Full faith and credit- a clause in Article IV, Sec 1 requiring each state to recognize the official documents and civil judgments rendered by the courts of other states
    • Extradition- a legal process whereby an alleged criminal offender is surrendered by the officials of one state to officials of the state in which the crime is alleged to have been committed
    • Privileges and immunities- clause in Article IV, Sec. 2 of the Constitution according citizens of each state most of the privileges of citizens of other states
    • Dual federalism- a system of gov’t in which both the states and the national government remain supreme within their own spheres, each responsible for some policies
    • Cooperative federalism- system of gov’t in which powers and policy assignments are shared between states and the national government. They may also share costs, administration, and even blame for programs that work poorly.
    • Devolution- transferring responsibility for policies from the federal gov’t to state and local governments
    • Fiscal federalism- pattern of spending, taxing, and providing grants in the federal system; it’s the cornerstone of the national government’s relations with state and local governments
    • Categorical grants- federal grants that can be used only for specific purposes or “categories” of state and local spending. They come with strings attached, such as nondiscrimination provisions
    • Project grants- federal categorical grants given for specific purposes and awarded on the basis of the merits of applications
    • Formula grants- federal categorical grants distributed according to a formula specified in legislation or in administrative regulations
    • Block grants-federal grants given more or less automatically to states or communities to support broad programs in areas such as community development and social services

  • Marriage/divorce licenses, driver's licenses and birth certificates are valid in all states, see full faith and credit.
  • Dual Federalism-states have certain powers that only the states control. the national government has its share of special powers.
  • Cooperative Federalism- policies shared between national & state government.
  • These policies include: costs (sewage ,youth programs, etc.), federal guidlines (federal grants with strings attached), and shared administration (US Dept.www.loansathome.org.uk of Labor gives money to states for job training, but states have considerable latitude in spending the money.)
  • A system of federalism was chosen by the Founders when creating a new government because they feared that if the national government held all the power, the US may become a dictatorship; something they just fought a war over.


Number of Governments in America
Government Level
# of Governments
U.S. Government
1
States
50
Counties
3,034
Municipalities
19,429
Townships/Towns
16,504
School Districts
13,506
Special Districts
35,052
Total
87,576