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There are many ways to participate in politics. One thing is true about all of them. It is that in the United States, political participation is ______ in comparison to most other democratic countries.
List three types of political participation.
voting, discussing politics, and researching politics
There are several factors that influence political participation. What are the three most important factors?
Explain why income is an important influence on participation.
Income- Poor people have other priorities such as worrying about food and shelter, also may have small feeling of political efficacy (vote makes a difference or gov. cares what they have to say). Higher income individuals most likely to feel high level of political efficacy and feel like they have to do with the outcome of the election.
Education- People with less education feel intimidated because they don’t understand the political process and may not have the time to participate. These people may also feel low amount of political efficacy. People will more education feel a higher form of political efficacy or that their vote truly makes a difference.
Age- The older the person is, the higher chance they will vote because of the feeling of having a stake in the future of this country. Younger are less likely to worry about political issues, while having high sense of cynicism (government is corrupt/can’t be trusted).
Define political efficacy.
Political efficacy is when people feel that the government cares about what they have to say and that their vote makes a difference
There are two big questions about political participation in the United States. What are these two questions?
1. “Why is voting participation in the United States much lower than participation in other democratic countries?”
2. “Why has voting participation in the United States dropped so much since 1960?”
What is the major cause of low political participation in the United States when compared to participation in other democratic nations? Other democratic countries have many more _____ ___ than the United States.
In most democratic countries, the partisan make-up of legislative bodies is determined by the use of what system?
proportional representation (percentage of popular vote= percentage of seats in parliament)
three possible explanations for the fact that political participation in the United States has decreased significantly since 1960
Increasing Number of Elections-
Cynicism- Distrust of the government which may have started after the Vietnam War and Watergate. These beliefs are that politicians are corrupt, voting is a waste of time, and government doesn’t care about what the people think.
Television- Caused a decrease in civil engagement; free time is spent in front of TVs or surfing the internet instead of interacting with others and reinforcing feelings about this civic responsibility.
Increasing numbers of elections has overwhelmed and confused citizens (except the most dedicated).
Define “interest group” in one sentence.
A group that wants to influence policy by having structure, identified leadership, and an agenda which in turn affects the social, economic, or emotional well-being of a person
Interest groups pursue different “goods.” A good that is consumed by people without having to share with others is called a(n) _ ___. A good that you must share, like clean air, is called a(n) ____ __.
Groups that pursue collective goods are called __________ ________ groups. Give an example of such a group.
Some people join interest groups solely for the “rewards” they get as part of their memberships. These are called ___ _____. Give two examples.
Ex 2- Sierra Club (environmental org.) gives coffee mugs, magazine subscriptions, tote bags, etc.
What is the ultimate goal of any interest group?
influence policy (relevant to its members)
What do interest groups seek to help them achieve their ultimate goal? They seek to gain ______ to government officials.
When representatives of interest groups meet with government officials to try to influence their decisions, they are engaging in a practice known as ____ ______.
Briefly explain the difference between iron triangles and issue networks.
Iron Triangle- Policymaking is a closed process with ONLY 3 players: interest groups, congressional committees, and bureaucracies. Interest groups lobby committees in congress and manipulate them with gifts.
Issue Networks- Unlike the Iron Triangle, issue networks is a combination of different interests groups working together and focusing on broad areas of policy (e.g. agriculture, telecommunications).
Iron Triangle- Policymaking is a closed process with ONLY 3 players: interest groups, congressional committees, and bureaucracies. Interest groups lobby committees in congress and manipulate them with gifts. The committees then write the laws that the lobbyist wanted in fear that the lobbyist will complain and cause problems later with their budget
Issue Networks- Unlike the Iron Triangle, issue networks is a combination of different interests groups working together and focusing on broad areas of policy (e.g. agriculture, telecommunications). Issue Networks are too open to be in triangles. Sectors of groups revolve around a “hallow core” in the center and coalitions of interests groups are constantly reforming, breaking, or forming around different types of issues
Briefly explain the impact strong interest groups have on political parties.
They have weakened political parties. Some groups have greater impact than others and are favored more so it seems unfair. Interest groups provide motivated individuals a more effective impact on policymaking
Interest group members who don’t interact with other group members but simply support the group financially are known as __________.
Interest groups that address a range of issues are known as _____
Interest groups try to _____ governmental action that will harm them.
Define public opinion.
Public opinion is a collection of the opinions of many individuals
What are the three components of an opinion? Define each part.
Opinions come from an individuals’ values (what they see as right and wrong), beliefs (ideas about the way things are), and attitudes (persons’ likes/dislikes)
What is a normative perspective in public opinion?
A normative perspective refers to the role that public opinion should play in our society
When an elected representative uses his or her own judgment to decide how to vote, he or she is acting as a ____.
When an elected representative relies on public opinion and feedback from his or her constituents to decide how to vote, he or she is acting as a ___.
What is the device used to measure public opinion?
*problem with measuring public opinion: Some groups collect data after trying to sway people’s opinions for legitimate polls (based off of how public feels about an issue). Pseudo polls (one-sided) influences how people answer questions.
When everyone in a population has an equal chance of being questioned, a sample is said to be ______.
When a sample includes an appropriate percentage of people from each socio-economic demographic, it is said to be __________
What factor measure the accuracy of a poll?
Give a hypothetical example of a statistical dead heat.
A poll shows that one presidential candidate has a support of 52% and the other has 48%. However, with a +/- 4% margin of error, the first president could actually be as low as 48% and the second candidate could be as high as 52%. Therefor, you can’t really say who will have the highest percentage of support.
Explain what it means when the news media are referred to as "watchdogs for democracy."
Citizens want to be able to make informed decisions when it comes to voting. We rely on the media to provide us with information on government policymaking. Many citizens don’t have the time or want to do their own research so the news media plays an important role in American democracy
what kind of bias do the news media definitely demonstrate? Explain what this means
Profit bias is the one kind of bias that all media outlets have. They are privately owned and focused on making money. They focus mainly on information/stories that the public wants to read or watch. They try to cover conflict and scandal and hold back on stories about government policy which is what we need to see to be truly informed citizen
Explain what is meant when it is said that the media and politicians have an "adversarial relationship."
the media and politicians are constantly in conflict or fighting with each other
It is thought that a constant focus on the negative by the news media could be a cause of increased _______
What is wrong with too much public opinion polling?
Overuse of media has made polls (popularity contests) become too important. Polls have created opinions by constant repetition
What term describes an event that is designed for easy consumption by the media that may or may not contain actual news?
What term describes information “leaked” by a politician to see what the public’s reaction might be?
How have politicians changed their offices and structured the release of news to take advantage of the news media?
they use the media to their advantage by creating their image to the public (how they look). They stage planned events for the media to cover (pseudo events) and then the politicians can control what happens at these events, which makes them look good. They time events such as bad news that they want to be released but for fewer people to see. They also leak proposed policies to see the public’s reaction
n order to properly assess the presence and direction of political bias in the media, it is necessary to do what?
it is important to examine differences in coverage of issues and elections, domestic and international policies, and also the differences by in coverage of mainstream and advocacy media
The first attempts to measure popular sentiments on a large scale developed by newspapers in the nineteenth century are known as _______
Define the term "political party."
A political party is a group of like-minded people who organize in an attempt to win elections, take control of government, and make public policy
In Addition, chapter 6 describes that a political party consists of citizens (whom consider themselves members), elected officeholders, and the activists whom run the party organization
What was the third party system in the United States?
we have always been a two-party country but third parties have still contributed to American politics. Third parties can act as a check on the main parties, provide a civilized way for citizens to express discontent with the major parties, and popularize ideas the major parties ignore;third parties are also known as “minor parties”.
Political parties do different things in different contexts. Explain what is meant by Party in the Electorate
Political party members used to pick their nominees at conventions ran by party members They are likely to vote for members of their own party.
The elected and appointed officials who identify with a political party
The fragmentation of parties. Relates to the structures/ procedures of political parties. Party organization is layered, with each layer linked to another but still independent of each other. This also means that each level has its own resources and base, and acts by its own interests
Explain the framers’ original opinion about political parties. How and why did that opinion change?
The framers originally tried to prevent a party system by designing the Electoral College and did not mention political parties in the Constitution. George Washington cautioned against the political parties in his farewell address.
This opinion changed when framers realized that groups of people have different views about the government and how it should be run/ what policies to use. For instance, at the Constitutional Convention Hamilton and Madison had strong disagreements about the government and it created a serious split between them. Later Madison argued that parties were natural and unavoidable and served as a check on each other, which essentially made the framers in favor of organized opposition.
It is said that political parties serve many functions in our system. List three functions.
1. Protect Democracy- Makes sure there is always a legitimate voice for people who don’t agree with what the government is doing.
2. Organize Government- Coordinates activities, controls chaos, and is used as a organizing tool.
3. Simplify the Process of Voting- Offer information shortcut to citizens which helps with voting.
Explain how parties organize the government
Parties organize government by facilitating the development of policy and coordinating activities of elected representatives. Also, the parties organize committees and opposing groups for action (majority and minority leaders or whips)
Parties help to protect democracy by providing an outlet for those opposed to the people in power. What term describes this kind of opposition?
When a party holds a majority in Congress and can clearly be praised or blamed by the voters on election day, it is known as what?
When large numbers of voters switch their loyalty from one party to the other, such as with the formation of the New Deal coalition, which shifted support to the Democrats, it is known as __________.
The seeming reluctance of voters today to align with either political party is known as __________.
Parties were greatly weakened around the turn of the twentieth century by the “reforms” of what group?
One reform that has contributed to the incidence of divided government through split-ticket voting is adoption of the __________.
Official Ballot (AKA Australian Ballot)
What reform did the most damage to party leaders, by taking away their power to choose the party’s nominees for office?
The reforms took another powerful tool from party leaders when they took away their ability to reward loyal supporters with government jobs. This practice was known as __________. It was replaced with the __________.
What reform decreases voter turnout because it requires that prospective voters plan several weeks ahead before showing up at the polls?
List four reasons America has a two-party system instead of a multi-party system.
3. Single-Member, Single Plurality (SMSP)
4. Rules of the Game
Explain how the parties have written the rules of the game to ensure that America remains a two-party system.
Two parties have always dominated American politics, making a “vicious cycle”. This domination of the two parties has allowed the parties to conspire and write the rules of the electoral game at the federal and state levels, which favor only two parties.
At the state level, third parties must collect enough signatures to even get on the ballot. While at the Federal Level, the FEC places severe restorations on third-party candidates, making it difficult to receive federal aid for presidential campaigns. Also, there is less incentive for parties to win a seat in Congress. Finally, the SMSP makes elections where winner-takes-all and parties end up merging and in the end there will only be two parties left
Explain how American political history contributed to the two-party system.
Political History- Since the beginning, there was always the question of how big the government should be, which split the people into two groups. After the Constitution was adopted, these two groups consisted of who wanted a strong government and those who did not. This was known to form the two political parties- the Democrats and the Republicans
Political Ideology- Classic liberalism influences most Americans. Our country is not like others and we are not split between ideological lines. Also, we only have two parties that are very similar to each other
SMSP is an acronym for what phrase?
Single-Member, Simple Plurality System
Explain how SMSP contributes to the fact that we have a two-party system in America.
SMSP makes it that two big parties compete with each other, rather than having several small parties compete. We have local elections , where the winner-takes-all and theres no incentive for winning certain percentages of the votes. SMSP has incentives for multiple parties merging, so the parties form alliances, merge, and in the end there will be only two parties left
List and briefly describe three types of third parties we've had in American political history. Give an example of each type of party.
1. Ideological parties - Promote ideology and winning office is not primary goal. Ex- Green Party
2. Protest parties- Focus on issues not being addressed by major parties. Ex- Populist Party
3. Splinter parties- Puts pressure on party and convinces it to alter its position. Ex- Bull Moose Progressive Party
List and briefly explain two contributions made by third parties throughout our history.
Third parties popularize ideas that the major parties ingnore and the result is that the main parties give attention to the new issues, the ideas are addressed, and new policies are developed.
They give an alternative to civil disorder or violence by providing a peaceful way for citizens to express discontent with the major parties.
There are several criteria for a good election according to the commentary. List three of them.
Campaigns can provide information and be educational for voters, but three things must happen. What are the three steps in the information process?
1. The issues must be debated by the candidates.
2. The news media should effectively report on the debate, while not focusing on conflict or personality.
3. The public has to pay attention.
Define demagoguery. Why is it bad for a campaign?
Demagoguery is an attempt to stir up people’s prejudices, emotions, and fears. This is bad for a campaign because people are mislead and don’t make reasonable decisions. It also doesn’t help the campaigns informational goals
What was the main factor in President George H. W. Bush’s defeat in 1992?
There was a weak economy and the country just went through a small recession. Bill Clinton focused his campaign on the economy and healthcare, which he claimed Bush didn't know how to fix or didn't want to do anything about. This ultimately helped Clinton win the election
The presence of a strong third-party candidate made the election of 1992 somewhat unusual. Who was the third-party candidate in 1992?
What was the name of the platform the Republicans offered to voters across the country during the 1994 campaign?
Contract with America
Unlike the 1992 election, in 1994 the economy was strong. Briefly explain why the results of the 1994 off-year election were unusual from a historical perspective.
this off year election was nationally-oriented instead of being broadcasted locally .Republicans had unusual anger- the economy was good. They were mad at Clinton-said he was incompetent bcuz his character, mishandling of the universal healthcare bill and gays in military. The Republicans created the Contract w/ America outlining whatd do if they gained majority in Congress. The Republicans won control of the House of Representatives but a public relation disaster then followed for the Republicans after two gov. shutdowns
What was the name of the strategy President Clinton and his advisors devised to take over Republican positions on certain key issues?
Explain what was unusual about the 1998 congressional election.
Second-term presidents usually lose seats in mid-term elections, but the Democrats gained seats in this one. The economy was still going strong and Clinton's job approval was a strong number
According to many predictions based on models using data from many previous elections, why was the Democratic candidate in the 2000 election expected to win the election?
Gore was expected to win the election because of the stength of the economy and Clinton's high job approval (the "in" party holds the office)
What are the possible explanations for Gore’s loss in 2000?
1. "Clinton Fatigue"- people were happy with economy, but tired of the low moral standards of the president and associated Gore with this
2. Sidelines- Gore kept Clinton there and didn't let him ralley the Democratic voters and energize them
3. Bush campaign- did a good job and painted Gore as a dishonest man who would do anything to become President
What were the major issues in both the 2002 mid-term election and the 2004 presidential election?
The economy and war on terrorism were the major issues
What happened in 2006 that was surprising, given the outcome of the 2004 presidential and congressional elections?
The Republicans lost enough seats in both houses of Congress, which caused them to lose contorl of the House of Representatives and the Senate. This gave the Democrats unififed control of Congress fot the first time in 12 years
Assess the quality of the elections since 2000. Were they good elections? Why or why not? (
No, the turnout has been bad since 2000 and they haven’t inspired the voters. There was also demagoguery in 2000 which was considered a bad election
As soon as one election happens, the next campaign begins. This is known as what?
When voters vote for or against incumbents on the basis of their past performance, it is known as what?
Why did the framers create the Electoral College?
They didn't trust the people to make electoral decisions. They also didn't trust people with power either. So they made the electoral college where an independent body of people would come together to choose the President. Each memeber of the Electoral College is chosen by their own state
How does the Electoral College work?
every state has a number of electors equal to the size of its congressional delegation. However, because of the Twenty-Third Amendment, Washington DC gets 3 electoral votes when it has no representatives in Congress. This makes a total of 538 Electoral College votes. When a candidate gets the most popular votes in a state, then they win all of the states electoral votes. Then to become the President, the candidate must have majority of the votes. If theres no majority win, then the House decides the presidency
In what years did the House of Representatives determine the outcome of a presidential election, and who were the candidates?
1800: Jefferson and Aaron Burr
1824: Andrew Jackson, William Crawford, John Quincy Adams, and Henry Clay
In what years did the winner of the popular vote fail to win the presidency, and who were the candidates?
1824: Jackson, Adams, Crawford, and Clay
1876: Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilden
1888: Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland
2000: George W. Bush and Al Gore
Explain the most significant criticism of the Electoral College.
Electors don't use their wisdom and dsicretion to choose the best president like the framers wanted. Instead, they vote for candidtates that win the popular vote in their state
The constitutionality of limits on campaign donations and on campaign spending was determined by what 1976 Supreme Court case?
Buckley vs. Valeo (1976)
What are the three major components of the BCRA?
1. Hard Money Donations- Increased the size of hard money donations to $2,000 per candidate per election
2. Soft Money Donations-soft money donations illegal
3. Issue Advertisments- limits the running of advertisements during campaigns
What 2007 Supreme Court case limited the impact of one of the three provisions of the BCRA?
Federal Election Commission vs. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc
States that are competitive in presidential elections, where both candidates think they have a chance to win, are known as what?
Battleground states (A.K.A. swing states)
Why were there no televised presidential debates from 1960 until 1976?
no more presidential debates were being held. The leading candidates didn't want to risk being ahead
suggests that policymaking is a closed process with three players: interest groups, congressional committees, and bureaucracies.
What is local orientation for members of Congress?
Members of Congress have to worry about their constituents in order to remain in office, so while they are serving in a national legislature, they are often thinking locally. Many laws are passed to benefit individual districts or states, and the committee system helps members focus on the folks back home.
How is Congress designed not to work? Why is it designed not to work?
Only one in every ten bills introduced actually becomes law. This is because a bill must go through several steps in each chamber of Congress and be passed in identical versions by both. This design was deliberate, to keep the government from being able to do too much—the framers didn't want to create another government like the British one.
What is the committee system? What purposes does it serve?
The bulk of work in the House and the Senate takes place in committees. First, it allows for a division of labor. Second, it helps facilitate the local orientation.
Describe the leadership of the House.
The presiding officer in the House is the speaker. Second is the majority leader, and third is the majority whip. The leader of the minority party is the Minority Leader.
Describe the leadership of the Senate.
The president of the Senate is the vice president of the United States. The presiding officer on most occasions is the president pro tempore, who is a senator elected by his/her fellow senators. The day-to-day management of the Senate is handled by the majority leader. The minority party is led by the minority leader.
In what way is Congress irresponsible and ill-suited as a national legislature?
Because of local orientation members often worry more about their constituents and less about the country. This is often not good for a national legislature. The policies passed may result in irresponsible spending that drives up the national debt in the name of keeping the folks at home happy.
What is Congress's biggest job? How does it do it?
Congress's biggest job is determining the budget. This is a year-long process, starting with the president's budget proposal in February. The budget year ends September 30; the new year begins October 1.
Representatives serve two-year terms with no term limits. Senators serve six-year terms with no term limits.
Congressional districts are drawn by state legislatures based on the census, which is taken every ten years. The process is called reapportionment.
There are several advantages of incumbency, meaning that once someone is elected, it is easier to be reelected. What are the advantages of incumbency?
Once a person is elected to Congress, it is easier to be elected again. Members of Congress naturally get more media coverage. They also get ways to communicate with their constituents that are paid for by Congress, such as free mailing and satellite television facilities to use for giving interviews at home.
What is oversight?
Oversight is a responsibility of Congress. They are to check up on agencies of government to see that they are doing what Congress has mandated them to do. Are they spending their budget money properly, enforcing the law as it was to be enforced?
Who is eligible to become president?
A presidential candidate must be a natural born citizen who is thirty-five years old or older and has fourteen years of permanent residency.
What are the functions of the presidency?
Functions of the president include the following:
foreign policy leader,
commander in chief,
administrative chief, and
These functions can be boiled down to two main categories: head of state and head of government.
What are the formal powers of the president?
Formal powers of the president include the following:
What are the foreign policy responsibilities of the president?
The foreign policy duties of the presidency include the following: developing national security; avoiding nuclear proliferation and other weapons of mass destruction; protecting U.S. economic interests; managing situation and crisis; and promoting democracy and human rights.
Why do we say presidents are more successful in making foreign policy than domestic policy?
Congress is more hands off with foreign policy, a tradition that dates back to George Washington. Everyone expects presidents to lead foreign policy. In domestic policymaking, Congress is much more competitive and jealous of its turf.
Which presidents are rare examples of success in domestic policymaking?
Successful domestic policymakers include
George W. Bush.
Why are bureaucracies hopelessly inefficient?
Two possible explanations for the inefficiency of government are Parkinson's Law and the Peter Principle.
What was patronage and what system replaced it?
Patronage was giving jobs to political supporters as a form of payback. It was replaced by civil service, which makes it more difficult to hire and fire government workers.
What are the levels and types of courts in the federal judiciary?
The levels of courts are original jurisdiction and appellate. The types are district courts (original jurisdiction), circuit courts of appeal (appellate), and the Supreme Court (appellate).
What does it mean that the American court system is adversarial?
Our system pits the parties in a case against each other, government versus criminal defendants, and so forth. The idea is that the truth is reached through confrontation.
What does it mean that the American court system is nonpolitical?
The court system is nonpolitical in the sense that judges don't run for election and the courts try to avoid overtly political cases.
What are the primary function and primary objective of the courts?
The primary function of the courts is adjudicating (making decisions). The primary objective is the protection of liberty.
Why are judges appointed and why are they appointed for life?
Judges are appointed to avoid the politics related to elections. They are appointed for life for two reasons:
- to make it an attractive job to talented legal minds,
- to provide courts protection from the interference of the other branches and to insulate them from public opinion.
Why does the Supreme Court have the job of judicial review?
The court has the power of judicial review because some organization needs to be able to review the actions of government and decide whether the Constitution has been violated.
How does the Supreme Court decide to hear a case?
If four judges agree to hear a case, the court issues a writ of certiorari. The two sides submit briefs to the Supreme Court and there is a one-hour hearing, thirty minutes per side. The justices then meet in private and vote. The majority writes the opinion of the court outlining why it decided the case as it did.
Describe two controversies about the Supreme Court.
Two controversies about the Supreme Court include the following:
------The politicization of the judicial selection process—this has become a fertile ideological battleground in recent decades.
--- What method of interpretation justices should use in interpreting the Constitution—original intent or living constitution.
What was the case of Marbury v. Madison?
Marbury v. Madison is the case that set the precedent for the Supreme Court to use the power of judicial review.
What was the case of McCulloch v. Maryland?
McCulloch v. Maryland is the case that set the precedent for the federal government's superiority over state governments. The case also established that the federal government may do things not explicitly listed as a power in the Constitution.
Describe limits on the power of the Supreme Court.
Limits on the power of the Supreme Court include the following:
• The justices restrain themselves.
• The jurisdiction of the court and the justices who serve on it can be changed by the president and Congress.
A student was dismissed from his university because a resident advisor walked into his unlocked dorm room and found marijuana. The advisor confiscated the drugs and reported the student to the housing authority, which expelled the student from the dorm. The student sued the university and alleged that his room had been illegally searched. Had the room been illegally searched?
This is a complicated question. Many university housing authorities require students to sign statements granting RAs this authority, so if he had signed such an agreement, then the search would clearly have been legal. However, if there was no such agreement, the search was probably illegal. The RA had no reason to enter the room, and even though the drugs were in plain sight, he wouldn't’t have found them had he not entered the room.
Six students at a local high school passed out condoms at the entrance of the school and also passed out literature about the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases. The school forced them to stop, and the students sued the school alleging that their First Amendment right of free speech had been violated. Was the First Amendment right of free speech violated?
The school is public property. From that angle, the students are probably right. Since they were outside and not disrupting the activities of the school or blocking access, they probably had a right to be there. However, while schools are public facilities, students are minors and school administrators have pretty wide latitude in regulating student behavior.
Take the same six students from the scenario about passing out condemns at the HS. Now a local newspaper publishes a story on the lawsuit filed by the students. In the story, the newspaper identified the six students as homosexual. In fact, only one of the students was homosexual. She sued the paper, claiming her privacy had been invaded. Was the student's privacy invaded?
This is not an invasion of her privacy if it is a fact. When Gerald Ford was the president of the United States, a woman attempted to assassinate him. He was saved, in part, by the actions of a man who knocked the gun away. In published stories, it was revealed that he was homosexual. He sued, claiming his privacy had been invaded and the courts ruled against him. You might ask why such a fact was relevant, but it was not an invasion of his privacy.
Again, take the same six students from the HS passing out condoms scenario. This time, the other five students who weren't’t homosexual sue the paper for libel because it said they were homosexual. Is this a viable lawsuit?
The newspaper would probably be able to argue successfully that by participating in such an act, the students made themselves public figures and although the newspaper made a factual error, it was not libelous. Libel is defined as the printing or broadcasting of false statements that tarnish a person’s reputation. The courts are traditionally unwilling to extend this protection to public figures unless there is evidence of some malicious intent.
Imagine there is a book assigned for a high school English class called Sexually Active, which contains a graphic sex scene. The family of a student in the class sues the school arguing that this book is pornographic. As the judge, do you agree with the family?
The decision would depend on the local judge’s interpretation of local community standards. The Supreme Court has said that pornography is sexual material that is patently offensive to the average person in the community and that lacks any serious literary, artistic, or scientific value. If something is determined at the local level to be pornographic, it can be regulated. In addition, the court has said that some material may be fit for adults but unfit for children and special actions can be taken to protect children.
A family brought suit against a high school for teaching the theory of evolution in biology class. They argued that if the school was going to teach evolution, it should also teach creationism. The suit argued that teaching evolution was state support for the religion of secular humanism and, therefore, violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment. How would you rule on this suit?
The Supreme Court has never accepted the argument that secular humanism, which is essentially atheism, is a religion. The court has found teacher- or student-led prayer to be illegal establishment. Similarly, it has ruled the teaching of creationism to be illegal establishment. However, in this case, the lawsuit would probably fail. This case doesn't touch on the free exercise clause, religious protection in the First Amendment, which is intended to prevent the govt from interfering with people practicing their religion.
Two homosexuals engaging in sexual activity in an apartment are arrested when a police officer enters the apartment. The officer came for an unrelated reason, but he arrested them for violating the state’s sodomy law. They were convicted and appealed, arguing their privacy had been violated. Was there a violation of privacy?
First of all, many states have sodomy laws. Almost none of them enforce them, but they could be used to arrest and prosecute gays. In 1986, the Supreme Court said in Bowers v. Hardwick that the right of privacy doesn't’t extend to homosexual conduct. However, in 2003, as mentioned above, the court reversed this decision in Lawrence v. Texas, so the two men would probably win their case.
What are civil liberties?
Civil liberties include protections from government interference and limiting the government.
What are the major liberties protected by the Bill of Rights? Emphasize the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments.
What is the right to privacy? Where is it found, according to the Supreme Court?
We have a constitutional right to privacy. The Supreme Court has concluded the right is found in several amendments. For example, the First Amendment's freedom of association; the Third Amendment's freedom from having to quarter troops in your home during times of peace; the Fourth Amendment's protection from unreasonable searches and seizures; and the Fifth Amendment's freedom from compulsory self-incrimination.
What is the Fourteenth Amendment?
The Fourteenth Amendment was added after the Civil War. It was meant to extend the protections of the Bill of Rights to the states.
What is selective incorporation?
Selective incorporation is the piecemeal process by which the Supreme Court has extended the protections in the Bill of Rights, via the Fourteenth Amendment, to the states.
What are the influences on a Supreme Court civil liberties decision? Use Texas v. Johnson to illustrate them.
Influences on a Supreme Court civil liberties decision include
- the Constitution,
- the justices' personal views, and
- public opinion/politics.
What are civil rights?
Civil rights are things the government does to actively try to protect people's civil liberties.
What were the two parts of the civil rights movement?
The two parts of the civil rights movement include the legal fight and the protest movement.
Describe the court fight for desegregation of education.
Desegregation began with higher education. Victories include Missouri ex. rel. Gaines v. Canada, Sweatt v. Painter, and McLaurin v. Oklahoma. Desegregation moved to elementary and secondary education with Brown v. Board of Education.
Describe some major pieces of federal legislation passed to help promote equal rights.
Civil Rights Act of 1964: prohibits discrimination (race, color, religion, national origin) in public accommodations;prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of same plus gender or physical handicap
Voting Rights Act of 1965: made illegal to keep blacks from voting, (ex literacy tests); mandated that federal voting registrars be sent 2 counties where <50% of voting age population was registered 2 vote; mandated those voting registrars be protected by armed U.S. Marshals.;
Civil Rights Act of 1968: banned discrimination in the sale/rental of housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, having children, being disabled.
What type of economy does the United States have?
The United States has a mixed economy—partly capitalist, partly socialist.
Why does the government regulate the economy?
The government regulates the economy by controlling big fluctuations, up or down. The public has come to expect the government to prevent times from getting too bad.
What is fiscal policy? How does it affect the economy?
Fiscal policy is government taxing and spending. When the government spends, it puts money into the economy. When the government taxes, it takes money out of the economy. Decreasing taxes can put more money into the economy. Increasing spending and cutting taxes are two things that can stimulate the economy.
What is monetary policy? How does it affect the economy?
Monetary policy involves the money supply. Increasing the amount of money available is believed to stimulate the economy. Reducing the amount of money available is believed to slow the economy down. These strategies affect the economy by manipulating interest rates, selling or buying government securities, and changing the amount of money it requires banks to keep on hand.
What is the biggest job of the U.S. Congress each year? Why?
The biggest job of the U.S. Congress is the budget. The budget is symbolically important because it sends a signal about what is important to our leaders. It is practically important because without it, the government shuts down.
Why should people care about foreign policy?
People should care about foreign policy because technology has made the world a smaller place and what happens around the world can affect our economy and our physical security.
What are the goals of American foreign policy?
Goals of U.S. foreign policy include physical protection of the United States, economic security, protection of neighbors, extending our sphere of influence, and promoting democracy and human rights.
Who makes foreign policy for the United States?
U.S. foreign policy is made by the president and his advisers, Congress, interest groups, think tanks, and other elites.
How is the military used in foreign policy?
The military is our main diplomatic tool. The use of force, or the threat of force, go a long way in persuading other nations to do what we'd like them to do.
How are economic strategies used in foreign policy?
In the post-Cold War world, we use economic tools more often. These include treaties, free trade agreements, and economic sanctions. We hope that we can put economic pressure on countries to get them to do what we want, though if that fails, we may fall back on the military.
he act of using government funds on local projects that are primarily used to bring more money to a specific representative's district. Basically the politician tries to benefits his/her constituents in order to maintain their support and vote.
1) Standing Committee - permenant committee of the House or Senate that deal with specific issues
2) Select Committee - temperary committees that tackle a certain issue
3) Conference Committee - used to tackle legislation passed by House and Senate
US District Courts
The general jurisdiction trial courts in the federal system.
Overturned Barron vs. Baltimore, said that due process also applies to the state governments
A term referring to the government's control of money supply.
1) National Security- Most important foreign policy of the president.
2) Controlling arms proliferation (controlling weapons of mass destruction)
3) Economic- promoting US economics
4) Crisis Management
5) Promotion of Democracy and Human Rights
Due Process of Law
It is an idea that the government must follow procedures established by law and guaranteed by the Constitution.
powers directly stated in the constitution
The Peter Principle is that in a bureaucracy, people are promoted to the utmost level of incompetence. This affects bureaucracies because people who are not best suited for the job operate them. People are initially introduced into government work by civil service exams. If they do well, they are likely promoted, and if they do well at that level, they are promoted again, until they are promoted to jobs they cannot do very well.