Text of the AP Government
What philosophe argued in favor of a three branch government?
Who was the first to introduce the idea of natural rights that should
What document defined the first gov’t of the U.S.?
Articles of Confederation
What were three key weaknesses of this document?
no executive, no power to tax, coin money, regulate trade, pay for a
Identify three of the men who stood out as early leaders of the
George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Wilson, James Madison
Which section of the Constitution establishes its purpose? Who
did it say the Constitution would serve?
The Preamble, the people
How many articles does the Constitution have? What do the first
7, the 3 major branches
What is the “supremacy clause”?
Makers it clear that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land
In what kinds of circumstances is a presidential veto likely to be
overridden by Congress?
The opposition party has strong majority’s in both houses, the bill in
question has strong bipartisan support, these are amplified if the
President is a lame duck
What is the last section of the Constitution made up of? Why is
this so important?
Amendments, which allow the Constitution to be changed – makes it a
flexible “living” document
The Constitution is based on rule of the people, also known as ______.
What is the name for federal spending on local projects members of
Congress want in order to win favor from their constituents?
pork barrel spending
How does the Constitution handle the question of political parties?
It doesn’t, parties have emerged and reshaped their coalitions (who
supports them) over time
What is divided government? What are some consequences?
When the White House is in one party’s hands and the opposition
controls one or both houses of Congress; delayed nomination approval,
trouble getting legislation/budgets passed, etc.
Who can exert more influence over the legislative process, an
individual member of the House, or an individual Senator? Why?
Senator, more informal proceeding in Senate & rules allowing for
filibusters, cloture, etc.
What is the name for the process by which Congress holds the Executive
branch, and all bureaucratic agencies, accountable?
Congressional (or legislative) oversight
What is cooperative federalism?
When national and state governments both work on common policy areas
(law enforcement, immigration, etc.)
When do senators use a motion for cloture? What kind of majority do you
need for a cloture motion?
to end a filibuster; 3/5 or 60% (60 senators makes you “filibuster
When the federal government cedes more specific policy making powers to
the state governments it is called _____.
devolution (power being passed down)
What is a block grant? A categorical grant?
Block grant is money given to state by fed with a general purpose,
categorical is money given with a specifically designed purpose and
In general, all bills pertaining to revenue and other monies must
House of Reps
What is an entitlement program? What are the two biggest examples?
Government program that provides benefits to a specific group of
people; Social Security and Medicare
What is the name for a system in which power is divided between
national and state governments?
Why did the founders choose a federalist approach?
Even though the weak union of the A of C failed, they still feared
putting too much power in the hands of the central gov’t
What is the primary purpose of separation of powers?
Limit overall power of central gov’t by dividing powers between branches
What is judicial review? What case established it?
The power of the courts to declare laws invalid if they violate the
Constitution, Marbury v. Madison
When federal and state gov’ts work together on a project, it is known
as _________ federalism.
Define the concept of limited gov’t.
The Constitution limits gov’t by specifically listing the powers it
does and does not have
Which branch did the founders believe would be the most powerful?
Why did they fear its power?
Congress, bad experiences with Parliament
In what list are most of the specific powers of Congress found?
What two areas do most of these relate to?
The enumerated powers, finance and defense
What gives Congress the power to make all laws “necessary and proper”?
What was the key outcome of McCulloch v. Maryland?
Broad interpretation of the elastic clause
What gov’t role was a part time job for much of the first 100 years of
our history? When did Congress first start meeting in continuous
Working in congress, mid 20th century
The federal gov’t providing funding to state governments is an example
of ________ federalism.
What is the primary point Madison makes about factions in Federalist
They happen naturally, but can be controlled by institutions
How many bills are introduced in Congress each year?
Which branch was expected to execute acts of Congress and protect
against mass movements to redistribute wealth?
The Executive branch
What are three specific powers given to the President?
Commander in Chief, appoints cabinet members, grant pardons, make
treaties appoints judges and ambassadors, etc.
Why was Washington so careful about the discharge of his duties?
Fearful of setting precedents, which is how most presidential powers
have been established
In what way do we have a “dual court” system in the U.S.?
We have both Federal and State courts, each of whom has different
What is the only way to overrule the Supreme Court on a constitutional
Amend the Constitution
Whys is the process of amending the Cons such a great example of
All amendments must meet stringent approval requirements at federal and
state levels, balancing interests
Which branch most often takes exception to the growing power of the
Who has the power to create new courts? Do they use this power
Who must the Supreme Court count on to make sure that its decisions are
Which early plan became the basis for the new constitution? Who
was its primary author?
The Virginia Plan, James Madison
Which plan was devised to represent the needs of the small states?
The New Jersey Plan
Why did the New Jersey Plan want to keep the unicameral legislature?
Because it made representation equal for all states, regardless of size
A legislature made up of reps from single member districts usually
leads to a ____ party system.
After the New Jersey Plan was rejected, what question deadlocked the
Whether representation should be equal for all states or determined by
What was the name of the compromise that resolved this issue?
What did it do?
Connecticut Compromise, provided for 2 houses - the House (by
population) & the Senate (equal for all states)
What issue was resolved by the 3/5 Compromise? How did it resolve
How to count slaves in a state’s population, 1 slave = 3/5 of a free
man (for both representation and taxes)
What 2 groups quickly formed during the debate over ratification
Federalists (for the Cons.) and Anti Federalists (against the Cons.)
Identify two reasons the Anti-Federalists opposed the new Constitutions.
Drafted in secret, the convention had overstepped it’s bounds, main
reason: had no Bill of Rights
What famous Patriot was opposed to the Constitution because it lacked a
bill of rights? What was his argument?
Patrick Henry, if people are not explicitly given rights the government
will take them away
Why did the federalists argue that a Bill of Rights was unnecessary?
because most of the states already had them in their constitutions
The right of members of Congress to send mail to their constituents at
the gov’ts expense is called____. Why is this an advantage for
Franking, constant PR at no expense to themselves
What did the federalists promise in order to move the Constitution
that a Bill of Rights would be the first order of business for the new
Which Constitutional clause has been used most often to expand the
power of the national gov’t? How?
Commerce clause; so many things fall under the purview of regulating
What did John Jay and Alexander Hamilton do to try and assure
ratification in New York?
They wrote The Federalist Papers
Who served as the first President and Vice President of the United
George Washington and John Adams
Which branch did the framers intend to have the most power?
The legislative branch (Congress)
How many sessions is each term of congress divided into? How long
does a modern session last?
2, January to November
What is the age requirement for serving in the House? The
25 years of age, 7 years a citizen
How many representatives currently serve in the House? How are
these reps divided between the states?
435, by population
Who has the power to cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate?
The Vice President
How long is the term of office in the house?
What organization determines the population of each state? How
often is this done?
The Census Bureau, every ten years
Who is in charge of redistricting a state after the census?
The legislature of each state
Identify the two main ways that state legislatures have traditionally
abused this power.
creating districts of unequal population and gerrymandering
What is gerrymandering?
it’s when districts are drawn to benefit a specific political party
What did the “one person-one vote” decision require?
that all districts contain approximately 600,000 people, assuring equal
power for each vote
What is the age requirement to be a senator? The citizenship
30 years of age, 9 years a citizen
How long is the term of office for a senator? What portion of the
senate is up for reelection every two years?
6 years, 1/3 is up for reelection
What is censure?
a formal vote that disapproves of a member’s behavior
Describe the average member of congress in terms of age, ethnicity,
profession and gender.
over 50, white, lawyer and male
What percentage of incumbents won reelection between 1945-1990?
Identify two reasons why incumbents are generally more successful in
money from PACs, gerrymandering, voter recognition, franking privileges
When did the tide begin to turn against incumbents?
the “Voter Revolution” of 1994
Identify the three House leaders chosen by the majority party.
Speaker, majority leader, majority whip
What are two of the main powers of the Speaker?
assigning bills to committees, presiding over House debates, playing a
key role in the calendaring of bills
What do the party leader and whip do, respectively?
leader sets the agenda and priorities, whip maintains party discipline
What is the primary role of congressional committees?
to closely evaluate proposed bills, hold hearings on them, and decide
whether they go on to the full house or senate
Which committee controls the proceedings of the house and gives final
consent to the calendar?
the Rules Committee
Who appoints Justices & Ambassadors? Who approves them?
Who has the power to negotiate treaties and enforce the laws?
Who has the power to declares laws/acts unconstitutional?
Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
Who has the power to tax, regulate trade and coin money?
Who is commander in Chief of the armed forces and also in charge of
federal departments (Defense, Treasury, State, etc.)
Who has the power to declare war, raise an army, and approve treaties?
What branch has used many precedents over time to add to its powers?
What are two ways the President can try to influence Congress?
veto, call special session, make State of the Union Address
What are two powers Congress has over the President?
approve treaties, cabinet officials, & judges, veto override,
control the budget
What percentage of bills actually become laws?
Which amendment states that powers not granted to the federal
government nor prohibited to the states are reserved to the states or
What is the basic procedure for amending the Constitution?
Amendments originate in Congress (2/3 support) and then must be passed
by ¾ of the state legislatures
What type of representative system often leads to domination by two
major political parties?
Single representative system – in which each geographical district has
only one representative
How has the Supreme Court ruled on the use of the legislative veto?
Unconstitutional, violates separation of powers
Who is responsible for drawing the boundaries for Congressional
districts? When is this done?
State legislatures (or their designees), every 10 years after census
What type of congressional committee helps reconcile differences in
bills passed by the House and Senate?
The power of Congress most frequently contested in the courts relates
to what activity?
The power to regulate interstate commerce
What is a plurality election?
An election involving more than two candidates in which the person who
receives the most votes is the winner
What primary weakness of the Articles of Confederation that was
effectively dealt with by the new Constitution in 1787?
Providing the nation with a strong national government