American Government Final Study Guide

What is the difference between a straw poll and a public opinion poll?

Straw poll - an informal survey of public opinionPublic opinion poll - a scientific survey aimed at gauging public preference for a candidate or issue(know the universe)

What does the margin of error in a poll show?

The mathematical calculation of how accurate the poll is

What is the difference between a direct democracy and a representativedemocracy? Under what conditions does a direct democracy work?

Representative democracy - people select a small group of citizens to represent themDirect democracy - all the people take part in every decision(works best in small communities)

What are the requirements to be a U. S. citizen?

• live in the U.S. legally for 5 years in the United States• The ability to read, right, and speak English• An understanding of American government and history

Explain federalism

power is shared by the states and the federal government

Why was the system of checks and balances built into our government andhow does it work? Give an example of a check each branch of governmenthas on the others.

Keeps the government from becoming diplomatic. Each branch of the government is separate, but has some control over the others- legislative - can override a veto- executive - veto bills- judicial - president isn't above the law

Is it the responsibility of the state or the federal government to organizeelections?

State, each state does it in their own way

What does the Establishment Clause do?

forbids the government for making any law about an establishment of religion

What were the strengths and weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation?

Strengths - set in place the constitution the we have nowWeaknesses - states thought of themselves as independent

What is the maximum number of years that anyone can be President?

8, but technically 10 if they took over the previous presidency

How does the fact senior citizens are more likely to vote than young people effect elections and campaigns?

The viewpoints that candidates present are tailored towards senior citizens rather then young people

Implied powers

Powers not specifically mentioned in the constitution

Loose construction

a broad interpretation of the Constitution, meaning that Congress has powers beyond those specifically given in the Constitution

Concurrent powers

powers shared by the national and state governments

Double jeopardy

the prosecution of a person twice for the same offense.

due process of law

denies the government the right, without due process, to deprive people of life, liberty, and property

Unitary government

A centralized government in which all government powers belong to a single, central agency.

Divine right

Belief that a rulers authority comes directly from god.

Delegated powers

Powers specifically given to the federal government by the US Constitution, for example, the authority to print money.

Strict construction

way of interpreting the Constitution that allows the federal government to take only those actions the Constitution specifically says it can take

Reserved powers

Powers given to the state government alone

exclusionary rule

prohibits the use of illegally obtained evidence in a criminal trial


A ruler who has complete power over a country


an organization that consists of a number of parties or groups united in an alliance or league.

Presidential veto

a president's authority to reject a bill passed by Congress; may be overridden only by a two-thirds majority in each house

Virginia plan

Three separate branches of government

inherent powers

powers the national government is assumed to have just because its the government of a sovereign nation

New Jersey plan

A proposal that each state would get one vote

Probable cause

reasonable cause for issuing a search warrant or making an arrest; more than mere suspicion


A government ruled by a few powerful people


A form of government in which citizens choose their leaders by voting

Grand jury

A group of citizens that decides whether there is sufficient evidence to accuse someone of a crime.

How often are members of the U. S. House and Senate elected?

House - every 2 yearsSenate - every 6 years

Who is the President of the Senate?

Vice President of US (Joe Biden)

What are the Constitutional requirements to be President?

- must be a naturally born citizen- must be at least 35 years of age- must have lived in the United States for at least 14 years

Explain the process to add an amendment to the Constitution.

An amendment must be proposed at the national level and then ratified by the states. There are two ways to do this:1. Act of congress: it takes 2/3 vote in both houses to approve a proposed amendment 2. National convention: called by congress at the request of the states

The first three articles of the Constitution spell out how the powers of thegovernment are divided. What branch of the government does each articledeal with?

Article 1, legislative Article 2, executiveArticle 3, judicial

What elements must be present for a fair trial?

Speedy, public, Impartial Jury, knowledge of Charges, Confront Witnesses, Call Witnesses, Attorney

Be able to identify positions generally taken by either Republicans orDemocrats.

Republicans - pro wall, pro choice, pro gunsDemocrats - against wall, pro life, pro gun restriction

Explain the Electoral College? What are some possible reforms? Why isunlikely that the Electoral College will ever change?

There are 538 electoral votes, 100 senators, 435 representatives, it takes 270 electoral votes to be elected President- possible reforms include the proportional vote plan - votes are based on state percentages - no balance between states - may lead to formation of 3rd parties- changes would require a constitutional amendment - unlikely that 3/4 of the states would ratify

Explain how the Great Compromise decided representation in Congress.

Bicameral(two houses)federal legislature, congressLower House: House of Representatives based on the population of the sate and voted on by the people ◦ Upper House: Senate: equal representation where each states gets two representatives appointed by state legislatures

What are the rules of a filibuster? Should the rules for a filibuster be reformed?

A senator may speak as long as they like about whatever they like unless 3/5 of the senators bring it to a close.

What are the different types of primaries? What type of primary does Oregonhave? Why is it necessary that we have that type of primary?

Direct(picks through general election), closed(declare affiliation before voting), open(do not choose before voting, but may only choose one side when voting), Blanket(can vote for anyone and any party, only vote once in each race), non-partisan(no party affiliation). Oregon has a closed primary.

What are the three types of protected speech identified by the Supreme Court?Give an example of each.

Pure speech - people talking shitSpeech+action - picketing Symbolic - flag burning

What is the Bill of Rights?

First 10 amendments to the Constitution

Gideon v. Wainwright

Was dumb and in jail- right to an attorney

Miranda v. Arizona

Didn't know right- Miranda rights were established

Texas vs. Johnson

Burned flags- protected by symbolic speech

Furman v. Georgia

Death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment

Weeks v. US

established exclusionary rule

Reynolds v. US

Court ruled that one cannot use religion as a defense to the crime of polygamy. Court ruled that religious practices that impair the public interest do not fall under the First Amendment.

Citizens United v. FEC

corporate funding of independent political broadcasts can't be limited

Engle v. Vitale

Mandatory prayer in schools is a violation of the establishment clause

Safford v. Redding

Strip searched a young girl- unreasonable inception and scope

Snyder v. Phelps

First amendment protects speech even if it causes intentional emotional distress.

Bakke v. University of California

the Supreme Court ruled that a university's use of racial "quotas" in its admissions process was unconstitutional, but a school's use of "affirmative action" to accept more minority applicants was constitutional in some circumstances.

Roe v. Wade

legalized abortion

New Jersey v. TLO

Supreme court case in which it was decided that a student may be searched if there is "reasonable ground" for doing so.

South Dakota v. Opperman

An INVENTORY SEARCH, following standard police procedures, of an impounded vehicle is not an unreasonable search so long as it is not done as a pretext concealing an investigatory police motive

Tinker v. Des Moines

Students wore black arm bands- protected under free speech

Kelo v. City of New London

government can take land for public use/purpose (eminent domain)

Riley v. California

Cannot search cell phones without warrants

Acton v. Vernonia

student athletes can be randomly drug tested by school officials

What are civil liberties? How are they protected by the individual Constitutional Amendments we studied?

Individual rights protected by law from unjust interferences. Our constitutional amendment lay out the base of our basic rights

How does the Constitution try to create a wall between church and state? Give an example based on the Supreme Courts cases we studied.

Establishment clause, tax exempt status, free exercise clause, etc. Engle v. Vitale - prayer not allowed in school

How might the Fourth Amendment restrict the police from doing their job and catching bad guys?

The fourth amendment protects from unreasonable search and seizure. Warrants can take time to receive which can become a problem for police, but they have probable cause to avoid this issue.

Be able to explain the "slippery slope" theory and how it can impact civil Liberties. Be ready with an example using a First or Fourth Amendment issue.

Slippery slope: the idea that relatively small first step leads to a chain or related events culminating in some significant (usually negative) effect. Ex: the allowance of burning the American Flag can cause burning other things "acceptable" even though it shouldn't be

Explain the process for a Bill to become a Law. Be sure to include all the possible steps.

If a bill has passed in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate and has been a approved by the president(or if a presidential veto has been overridden) the bill becomes a law and is enforced by the government

What was the issue in Citizens United v. FEC? What did the Supreme Court decide and how has that impacted politics?

corporate funding of independent political broadcasts can't be limited. This has allowed for candidates to spend as much as they desire on campaigns.