PLS Final Test Flashcards

Stare Decisis

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.

Concurring Opinion

an opinion that agrees with the majority in a supreme court ruling
but differs on the reasoning

Dissenting Opinion

an opinion disagreeing with the majority in a supreme court ruling

Opinion of the Court

an explanation of a decision of the Supreme Court or any other
appellate court

Amicus Curiae Brief

Literally, a "friend of the court" brief, filed by an
individual or organization to present arguments in addition to those
presented by the immediate parties to a case


the list of potential cases that reach the Supreme Court

Informa Pauperis

A petition that allows a party to file as a pauper" and avoid
paying court fees

Judicial Restraint

a philosophy proposing that judges should strike down the action of
the elected branches only if they clearly violate the constitution.

Judicial Activism

a philosophy proposing that judges should freely strike down laws
enacted by the democratically elected branches

Senatorial Courtesy

the presidential custom of submitting the names of prospective
appointees for approval to senators from the states in which the
appointees are to work

Writ of Habeas Corpus

a court order requiring explanation to a judge why a prisoner is
being held in custody

U.S. Supreme Court

the court of last resort in the U.S. It can hear appeals from federal
circuit courts or state high courts
original jurisdiction and appellate jurisdiction
only federal courts used if the amount of controversy exceeds $75000


a decision made by a higher court such as a circuit court of appeals
or the Supreme Court that is binding on all other federal courts

Public Defender System

an arrangement whereby public officials are hired to provide legal
assistance to people accused of crimes who are unable to hire their
own attorneys

U.S. District Courts

courts in which criminal and civil cases are originally tried in the
federal judicial system

Original Jurisdiction

the authority of a court to hear a case "in the first instance

Appellate Jurisdiction

the authority of a court to review decisions made by lower courts

Solicitor General

the third ranking official in the Department of Justice who is
responsible for presenting the U.S. cases before the Supreme Court


the party instigating a civil lawsuit

U.S. Attorney General

the chief law enforcement officer in the U.S. and the head of the
Department of Justice

Justiciable Dispute

a dispute growing out of an actual case or controversy that is
capable of settlement by legal methods

Plea Bargain

an agreement between a prosecutor and a defendant that the defendant
will plea guilty to a lesser offense to avoid having to stand trial
for a more serious offense


in a criminal action, the person or party accused of an offense


Government lawyer who tries criminal cases, often referred to as a
district attorney or a U.S. attorney

Criminal Law vs. Civil Law

a law that defines crimes against the public order
a law that governs relationships between individuals and defines
their legal rights

Adversary System

a judicial system in which the court of law is a neutral area where
two parties argue their differences

Doctrine of Judicial Review

the power of a court to determine whether a law or government
regulation is consistent with the U.S. constitution or, in a state
court, the state constitution

Writ of Certiorari

order issued by the U.S. Supreme Court agreeing to hear a case coming
from a lower court under its appellate jurisdiction

Bankruptcy Judges

hear cases involving bankruptcy matters and their decisions are
subject to the review of the federal district court judges. These
judges are appointed by the U.S. court of appeals to serve as
assistants to the federal district courts. They serve 14 yr terms.

U.S. Court of Veteran Affairs

hears appeals regarding decisions made by the veterans administration
concerning disputes involving VA benefits

U.S. Court of Claims

hears and decides cases that involve property and contract damage
suits against the united states. Appeals from this court can he heard
by the U.S. Court of appeals for the federal circuit. The 16 judges
that sit on this court are appointed by the president for 15 yr terms
and must by confirmed by the senate

U.S. Tax Courts

Hear and decide cases that involve tax disputes with the internal
revenue service (IRS). It hears only tax cases that are civil in
nature. The 19 judges that sit on this court are appointed by the
president for 12 yr terms and must be confirmed by the senate. The
losing parties may appeal these courts decisions to the U.S. court of
appeals for the federal circuit.

U.S. Court of Military Appeals

Hears appeals from lower military courts that involve violations of
military law (U.S. code of military justice). It is the court of last
resort in the prosecution of offenses against the military personnel.
Decisions of this court are final and can not be appealed to the
Supreme Court. The 3 civilian judges who sit on this court are
appointed by the president for 15 yr terms and confirmed by the Senate.

Article I or "legislative" Courts

Congress, under its implied power under Article I, created courts to
carry out its express powers

U.S. Court of International Trade

Hears cases arising out of the administration of tariff and trade
disputes between the U.S. and its trading partners (e.g. Japan and
Mexico). Losing parties can appeal the decisions of the U.S. court of
international trade to the U.S. court of appeals for the federal
circuit. The 9 judges who sit on this court are appointed by the
president and confirmed by the Senate.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Hears all cases appealed from all federal U.S. district courts
relating to patent and copyright disputes. It also reviews appeals
regarding trade/tariff disputes from the U.S. Court of International
trade. Tax cases from the U.S. tax court are appealed to this court.
Also, appeals from the U.S. court of claims are heard in this court.
The 12 judges who sit on this court are appointed by the president and
confirmed by the Senate.

Substantive Due Process

focuses on "content of the law"
laws must be "reasonable"
can't be subject to unreasonable laws
5th and 14th amendments

Case of 1st Impression

case/idea never seen before

Doctrine of Selective Incorporation

a constitutional doctrine whereby selected provisions of the Bill of
Rights are made applicable to the states through the due process
clause of the 14th amendment

Double Jeopardy

trial or punishment for the same crime by the same government;
forbidden by the constitution


a formal written statement from a grand jury charging an individual
with an offense; also called a true bill

Petit Jury

a jury of 6 to 12 people that determine whether a defendant is found
guilty in a civil or criminal action

Grand Jury

a jury of 12 to 23 people, depending on state and local requirements,
who privately hear evidence presented by the government to determine
whether persons shall be required to stand trial. If the jury believes
there is sufficient evidence that a crime was committed, it issues an indictment.

Exclusionary Rule

a requirement that evidence unconstitutionally or illegally obtained
be excluded from a criminal trial

Search Warrant

a writ issued by a magistrate that authorizes the police to search a
particular place or person, specifying the place to be searched and
the objects to be seized

14th Amendment Due Process Clause

applies to the state governments
can't deprive us of life, liberty, or property without due process

5th Amendment Due Process Clause

applies to the federal government
can't deprive us of life, liberty, or property without due process

Procedural Due Process

focuses on "procedures of law"
reasonable notice
opportunity to be heard

Bill of Rights

(1-10) amendments of the constitution
originally only limits the federal government

Due Process

the right to be treated fairly by the government

Regulatory Taking

a government regulation that effectively takes land by restricting
its use, even if it remains in the owners name

Eminent Domain

the power of a government to take private property for public use;
the constitution gives national and state governments this power and
requires them to provide just compensation for property so taken

Property Rights

the rights of an individual to own, use, rent, invest in, buy, and
sell property.

Civil Disobedience

deliberate refusal to obey a law or comply with the orders of public
officials as a means of expressing opposition

Fighting Words

words that by their very nature inflict injury on those to whom they
are addressed or incite them to acts of violence


the quality or state of a work that, taken as a whole, appeals to a
prurient interest in sex by depicting sexual conduct in a patently
offensive way and that lacks serious literacy, artistic, political, or
scientific value.


written slander of another person. For public officials and public
figures, the constitutional tests designed to restrict these actions
are especially rigid.

Unprotected Speech

libel, obscenity, and fighting words, which are not entitled to
constitutional protection in all circumstances

Content or Viewpoint Neutrality

laws that apply to all kinds of speech and to all views, not only
that which is unpopular or divisive

Prior Restraint

censorship imposed before a speech is made or a newspaper is
published; usually presumed to be unconstitutional

Preferred Position Doctrine

an interpretation of the 1st amendment that holds that freedom of
expression is so essential to democracy that governments should not
punish persons for what they say, only for what they do

Clear and Present Danger Test

an interpretation of the 1st amendment holding that the government
cannot interfere with speech unless the speech presents a clear and
present danger that it will lead to evil or illegal acts

Types of Cases Federal Courts Can Hear and Decide

1. Constitutional Questions
2. Federal Laws
3. Treaties
4. U.S. is a party
5. 2 or more states are a party
6. citizens from 2 different states are a party and where amount
in controversy is over 75000
7. Admiralty and maritime disputes
8. Foreign ambassadors (diplomats)
9. suits brought by citizens of one state against another state
(these cases no longer be heard in federal court --- 11th amendment)

Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

overruled Plessy and found racial segregation in public schools
discriminatory and a violation of the 14th amendment "equal
protection clause

Plessy v Ferguson (1896)

separate but equal----- racial segregation is not discriminatory and
does not violate the 14th amendment "equal protection clause

19th Amendment

gave women the right to vote in all federal, state, and local elections

Civil War Amendments

13th, 14th, and 15th amendments

9th Amendment

right to marital privacy (Griswald v. Connecticut)
women's right to personal privacy (Roe v. Wade)
Due Process 14th and 5th protects privacy
1,3,4,5,9,24 create a zone of privacy

8th Amendment

excessive bail (applies only to the federal government)
cruel and unusual punishment

7th Amendment

applies only to the federal government
right to a jury trial in federal civil cases

6th Amendment

protections for those accused:
right to a speedy and public trial
right to an impartial jury
right to confront witnesses
right to counsel
right to know nature of charge against accused
right to subpoena witnesses to testify in accused's favor

Forced Confessions

5th and 14th illegal confessions (have to be read miranda rights)

Death Penalty

in murder state and federal cases you can be given this with 2
hearings (trial and sentencing) for a capital crime

5th Amendment

grand jury requirement (applies only to federal government) capital
crimes or felonies
Equal Protection of law---Due process clause
protection against self-incrimination (plead the 5th) and
forced/illegal confessions
double jeopardy---also applies to state governments

4th Amendment

Protection against "unreasonable" searches and seizures

3rd Amendment

applies only to the federal government
quartering of troops

2nd Amendment

applies only to the federal government and state governments
right to bear arms

Right to privacy

not expressly stated in the constitution----protected by the 5th and
14th amendment due process clause
Griswald v. Connecticut-marital privacy
Roe v. Wade-protects a womans right to terminate a
pregnancy-"liberty to choose

Freedom of Speech

protected (political, commercial, symbolic) and non-protected speech
(obscenity, libel/slander, seditious, and fighting words)

Freedom of Religion

2 clauses
establishment (Lemon v. Kurtzman 1971) ---The "Lemon" test
free exercise clauses

1st Amendment

2 religion clauses
freedom of speech
freedom of press
right to peacefully assemble
right to association---not expressly stated in this
right to petition government for redress of grievances
right to privacy

Bad Tendency Test

an interpretation of the 1st amendment that would permit legislatures
to forbid speech encouraging people to engage in illegal actions

Selective Incorporation

the process by which provisions of the bill of rights are brought
within the scope of the 14th amendment and so applied to state and
local governments

Free Exercise Clause

a clause in the 1st amendment stating that congress shall make no law
prohibiting the free exercise of religion

Article III Court with Special Jurisdiction

E.g. U.S. court of appeals for the federal circuit (patent appeals)
constitutional courts
Article III---source of judicial review

Judiciary Act of 1789

formally established U.S. supreme court and lower federal courts

Article I Courts

Legislative Courts

Federalist #78

Author Alexander Hamilton
Defines role of the federal judiciary

Writ of Habeaus Corpus

a court order requiring explanation to a judge as to why a prisoner
is being held in custody

Establishment Clause

a clause in the 1st amendment stating that congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion. The supreme court has
interpreted this to forbid direct governmental support for any or all religions

Commercial Speech

advertisements and commercials for products and services; they
receive less 1st amendment protection, primarily to discourage false
and misleading ads.

Ex Post Facto Law

a retroactive criminal law that works to the disadvantage of a person

Due Process Clause

a clause in the 5th amendment limiting the power of the national
government; a similar clause in the 14th amendment prohibits state
governments from depriving any person of life, liberty, or property
without due process of law

Affirmative Action

Remedial action designed to overcome the effects of discrimination
against minorities and women

Right of Expatriation

the right to renounce one's citizenship

Restrictive Covenant

a provision in a deed to real property and prohibiting its sale to a
person of a particular race, or religion. Judicial enforcement of such
deeds is unconstitutional

White Primary

a democratic party primary in the old "one-party south"
that was limited to white people and essentially constituted an
election; ruled unconstitutional in Smith v. Allwright (1944)

Majority-minority District

A congressional district created to include a majority of minority
voters; ruled constitutional as long as race is not the main factor in redistricting

Commerce Clause

the clause of the constitution (article I, section 8, clause 3) that
gives congress the power to regulate all business activities that
cross state lines of affect more than one state or other nations

Class Action Suit

a lawsuit brought by an individual or a group of people on behalf of
all those similarly situated

De Jure Segregation

segregation imposed by law

De Facto Segregation

segregation resulting from economic, social conditions or personal choice.

Equal Protection Clause

a clause in the 14th amendment that forbids any state to deny any
person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of laws. BY
interpretation of the 5th amendment, it imposes the same limitations
on the national government. Major constitutional restrain on the power
of government to discriminate against persons because of race,
national origin, or sex.

Due Process Clause

clause in the 5th amendment limiting the power of the national
government, a similar clause in the 14th amendment prohibits state
government from depriving life, liberty, or property within due
process of law

Rational Basis Test

a standard developed by the courts to test the constitutionality of a
law when applied, a law is constitutional as long as it meets a
reasonable government interest.

Strict Scrutiny Test

a test applied by the court when a classification is based on race;
the government must show that there is a compelling reason for the law
and no other less restrictive way to meet the interest

heightened scrutiny test

this test has been applied when a law classifies based on sex; to be
upheld, the law must be of an important government interest.

Literacy Test

A literacy requirement some states imposed as condition of voting,
generally used to disqualify black voters in the south; now illegal

Women's Suffrage

the right of women to vote

Dual citizenship

citizenship in more than one nation


a legal action conferring citizenship on an alien

Natural Rights

the rights of all people to dignity and worth; also called human rights

Civil Rights

the rights of all people to be free from irrational discrimination
such as that based on race, religion, sex, or ethnic origin.

Jim Crow Laws

State laws formerly pervasive---throughout the south requiring public
facilities to be segregated by race; ruled unconstitutional

Commerce Power

The congress's power to prevent discrimination by private individuals
in the area of public accommodations, employment, etc.

13th Amendment

the supreme court has upheld legislation passed by congress under the
13th amendment enabling clause to prevent private sector
discrimination in the area of sale or rental of most housing

Tax and Spend Power

The supreme court has upheld congress's use of tax and spend power to
prevent private sector discrimination on the basis of race, national
origin, sex, handicap, and age. Most often this occurs in area private
higher education.

Lemon v. Kurtzman 1970---Lemon test

this is used to determine if a federal or state/local law violates
the establishment clause. In order for a law to be constitutional it
must follow this three part test:
1) the law must have a secular (nonreligious) legislative purpose
2) its primary effect must neither advance (aid, endorse, promote)
nor inhibit religion
3) it must avoid excessive government entanglement with religion

13th Amendment

Abolished slavery in the United States

14th Amendment

Provided U.S. Citizenship to former slaves (this is also where you
find out in the constitution about who is a citizen of the United
States). Due process and equal protection of laws

15th Amendment

Gave former male slaves the right to be free of discrimination when
voting in national, state, and local elections. Today it prohibits
discrimination based on race or color in all elections.

Amendments not selectively incorporated

3rd Amendment- quartering of soldiers
5th amendment- grand jury requirement for capital or serious crimes
8th amendment- freedom from excessive fines or bail

Fundamental Rights

1. Right to travel
2. Right to vote
3. Right to associate to advance a political belief or idea