AP GOV Unit 2 Vocabulary

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Amicus Curiae

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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.

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Appellate Jurisdiction

A legal authority of a court to hear appeals from a lower court

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Appropriation Bill

An act of Congress that actually funds programs within limits established by authorizations bills; usually covering one year

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At-Large Election

Elected by the state as a whole rather than from particular districts

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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

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Bill

A proposed law given to the legislature for approval

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Budget Resolution

A resolution binding congress to a total expenditure level, supposedly the bottom line of all federal spending for all programs

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Bully Pulpit

A position that provides a platform and opportunity to speak out and be listened to

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Chief of Staff

Responsible for managing and overseeing all policy development, daily operations, and staff activities for the President and Executive branch

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Cloture

A procedure for terminating debate, especially filibusters, in the Senate

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Concurrent Jurisdiction

Exists where two or more courts from different systems simultaneously have jurisdiction over a specific case

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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

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Conference Committee

Temporary joint committee created to reconcile any differences between the two houses' versions of a bill

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Constituents

The residents of a congressional district or state

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Contiguous Body

Governing body whose seats are never all up for election at the same time

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Continuing Resolution

When Congress cannot reach agreement and pass appropriations bills, these allow agencies to spend at the level of the previous year

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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

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Deficit

An excess of federal expenditures over federal revenues.

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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

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Dissenting Opinion

Written explanation of the views of one or more judges who disagree with a decision reached by a majority of the court

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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

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Divided Government

When control of the executive branch and the legislative branch is split between two different political parties

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Entitlements

Policies for which Congress has obligated itself to pay X level of benefits to Y number of recipients. Social Security benefits are an example

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Executive Argument

A binding international agreement with the leader of another country

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Executive Order

A rule or order issued by the President to an executive branch of the government and having the force of law

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Executive Privilege

The President's power to refuse to disclose information

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Expenditures

Government spending. Major areas of federal spending are social services and national defense

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Filibuster

Various tactics aimed at defeating a bill in a legislative body by preventing a final vote; typically seen in the U.S. Senate

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Floor Consideration

The process by which proposed laws are considered and acted upon by the House and Senate

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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

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Gerrymandering

The drawing of the electoral district lines to the advantage of a party or group

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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

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Hold

A procedural practice in the Senate whereby a senator temporarily blocks the consideration of the bill or nomination.

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Independent Executive Agencies

Agencies that are within the Executive Branch but not part of the cabinet and operate on their own

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Independent Regulatory Commissions

Agencies that regulate various aspects of the nation's economy outside of the President's control

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Joint Committee

Legislative committee composed of members of both houses

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Judicial Activism

Philosophy that judges should interpret the Constitution to reflect current conditions and values

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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.

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Judicial Restraint

Philosophy that judges should interpret the Constitution to reflect what the founders intended and what its words literally say

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Liberal Constructionist

One who believes in a broad interpretation of the Constitution, in particular regard to federal government powers

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Logrolling

Mutual aid and vote trading among legislators

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Majority Opinion

An explanation of the reasoning behind the majority decision of the Supreme Court

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Original Jurisdiction

The legal authority of a court to be the first to hear a case

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Oversight Function

Review of the policies and programs of the executive branch by the legislative branch

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Party Caucus

A closed meeting of a party's house or Senate members

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Pigeonholed

Expression describing the fate of most bills that are introduced in Congress; either being buried or never acted upon

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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

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Pork Barreling

Utilization of government funds for projects designed to please voters or legislators and win votes

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President of the Senate

The presiding officer in the Senate, in our case the Vice President

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President Pro Tempore

A member of the Senate chosen to preside in absence of the Vice President

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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

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Reapportioned

Redistribution of political representation on the basis of population changes, usually after a census

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Recess

A time where both houses of Congress temporarily suspend business

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Reconciliation

A congressional process through which program authorizations are revised to achieve required savings. It usually also includes tax or other revenue adjustments

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Resolution

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

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Revenues

The income of a government from taxation, excise duties, customs, or other sources, used for the payment of the public expenses

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Rider

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

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Select Committee

Legislative committee created for a limited time and form some specific purposes

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Session

The regular period of time during which a legislative body conducts business

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Single Member District

Electoral district in which one person is chosen by the voters for each office

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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

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Speaker of the House

The presiding officer of the House of Representatives; chosen by and from the majority party in the House

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Standing Committee

Permanent committee in the legislative body to which bills of a specified subject matter are sent

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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

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Strict Constructionist

One who believes in a narrow interpretation of the Constitution; in particular regard to federal government powers

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Tax Expenditures

Revenue losses that result from special exemptions, exclusion, or deductions allowed by federal tax law

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Term

Two-year period of time during which Congress meets between each national election

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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.

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War Powers Resolution

A law limiting a President's right to send troops into battle without consulting Congress

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Whips

assistants to the floor leaders in the House and Senate, responsible for monitoring and marshaling votes

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