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Bill of Rights
The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
checks and balances
The principle under which the powers of the national government are divided among three separate branches-the executive, legislative, and judicial branches-each of which exercises a check on the actions of the others.
commerce clause
The provision in Article I, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution that gives Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce.
due process clause
The provisions in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution that guarantee that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. Similar clauses are found in most state constitutions.
equal protection clause
The provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution that guarantees that no state will "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." This clause mandates that the state governments must treat similarly situated individuals in a similar manner.
establishment clause
The provision in the First Amendment to the Constitution that prohibits the government from establishing any state-sponsored religion or enacting any law that promotes religion or favors one religion over another.
federal form of government
A system of government in which the states form a union and the sovereign power is divided between the central government and the member states.
filtering software
A computer program that is designed to block access to certain Web sites based on their content. The software blocks the retrieval of a site whose URL or key words are on a list within the program.
free exercise clause
The provision in the First Amendment to the Constitution that prohibits the government from interfering with people's religious practices or forms of worship.
meta tag
A key word in a document that can serve as an index reference to the document. On the Web, search engines return results based, in part, on the tags in Web documents.
police powers
Powers possessed by the states as part of their inherent sovereignty. These powers may be exercised to protect or promote the public order, health, safety, morals, and general welfare.
preemption
A doctrine under which certain federal laws preempt, or take precedence over, conflicting state or local laws.
supremacy clause
The provision in Article VI of the Constitution that provides that the Constitution, laws, and treaties of the United States are "the supreme Law of the Land." Under this clause, state and local laws that directly conflict with federal law will be rendered invalid.
symbolic speech
Nonverbal expressions of beliefs. Symbolic speech, which includes gestures, movements, and articles of clothing, is given substantial protection by the courts.
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