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Affirmative Action
A policy designed to correct the effects of past discrimination; requirement by law that positive steps be taken to increase the number of minorities in businesses, schools, college, and labor.
Agenda Setting
The process of forming the list of matters that policymakers intend to address.

Amendment
A revision or change to a bill, law, or constitution.
Amicus curiae brief
Friend of the court; interested groups may be invited to file legal briefs supporting or rejecting the arguments of the case.
Anti-Federalists
Opposed the adoption of the U.S. Constitution because it gave too much power to the national government at the expense of the state governments and it lacked a Bill of Rights.
Appellate jurisdiction
Gives the court authority to hear cases on appeal from the lower courts.
Apportionment
Distribution of representatives among states based on the population of each state.
Appropriations
Money granted by Congress or a state legislature for a specific purpose.
Articles of Confederation
The first national constitution of the United States that created a government lasting from 1781 to 1789; replaced by the current Constitution.
At-large
All the voters of a state or county elect their representatives.
Bicameral
A legislature divided into two chambers; Congress has the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Bill
A law proposed by the legislature.
Bills of attainder
Prohibits a person from being found guilty of a crime without a trial.
Bill of Rights
The first 10 amendments to the constitution guaranteeing certain rights and liberties to the people.
Blanket Primary
Voters may vote for candidates of either party.
Block grant
Money given to states for general programs within a broad category.
Brief
Legal document submitted to the court setting forth the facts of a case of supporting a particular position.
Brief Orders
The returning of a case to a lower court because a similar case was recently decided.
Brown v. Board of Education
Supreme Court decision that overturned Plessy v. Ferguson; ended legal segregation, said school segregation is unconstiutional.
Bureaucracy
A systematic way of organizing a complex and large adminstrative structure with responsibility for carrying out the day-to-day tasks of the organization, departments, and agencies of the government.
Bureaucratic Theory
The hierarchical structure and standardized procedures of government allow bureaucrats to hold the real power over public policy; proposed by Max Weber.
Cabinet
Government departments headed by presidential appointees to help establish public policy and operate a specific policy area of governmental activity.
Casework
Assitance given to constitutents by congressional members, answering questions and doing favors.
Categorical Grants
Federal grants for specific purposes defined by law.
Caucus
Locally held meeting in a state to select delegates who, in turn, will nominate candidates to political offices.
Caucus (congressional)
An association of congressional members who advocate a political ideology, regional, ethnic, or eonomic interest.
Certificate
A lower court asks the Supreme Court about a rule of law or procedure.
Checks and Balances
Each branch of government is subject to restraints by the other two branches.
Civil liberties
Constitutional freedoms guaranteed to all citizens.
Civil Rights
Positive Acts of government designed to prevent discrimination and provide equality before the law.
Closed primary
Only registered party members may vote.
Cloture
Prevents filibustering and ends debate in the senate by a three-fifths vote of the Senate.
Coattail Effect
Weaker of lesser-known candidates from the president's party profit from the president's popularity by winning votes.
Commerce and Slave Trade Compromise
Resolved differences between northern and southern states; Congress could not tax exports nor ban the slave trade for 20 years.
Comparable Worth
Women should be paid salaries equal to men for equivalent job responsibilities and skills.
Concurrent powers
Powers shared by federal and state governments.
Concurring opinon
Justice or justices who agree with the majority's opinion but not with the reason behind the decision.
Conference committee
A temporary committee to work out a compromise version of a bill that has passed the House of Representatives and Senate in different forms.
Congressional Districting
State legislatures draw congressinal districts for states with more than one representative.
Connecticut (Great) Compromise
Settled disputes between the states over the structure of the legislative branch.
Conservative
A person whose political views favor more local, limited government, less government regulation, conformity to social norms and values; tough on criminals.
Constituency service
asework, assistance to constituents by congressional members.
Constituent
All residents of the state for Senators, all residents of a district for House members.
Constitution
The document setting forth the laws and principles of the government; a plan of government.
Constitutional Courts
Federal courts created by Congress under Article III of the Constitution, including the district courts, Cour of Appeals, and specialized courts such as the U.S. Court of International Trade.
Constitutional Law
Laws relating to the interpretation of the Constitution.
Cooperative federalism
Cooperation among federal, state, and local governments; "marble cake" federalism.
Court of Appeals
Federal courts that review decisions of federal district courts, regulatory commissions, and other federal courts.
Critical election
Sharp changes in the existing patterns of party loyalty due to changing social and economic conditions.
Dealigning election
Party loyalty becomes less important to voters, and they vote for the other party candidate or independents.
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