KEY TERMS OF GOVERNMENT
Amendment – An addition to a formal document such as the Constitution.
Bicameral – Consisting of two houses, or chambers, especially in a legislature.
Bill – A proposed law.
Bill of Attainder – Punishes someone without the benefit of a trial.
Cabinet – A group of advisors to the President.
Caucus – A meeting held by a political party to choose their party’s candidate for president.
Checks & Balances – The system in which each branch of government has a check on the other two branches so that no one branch becomes too powerful.
Citizen – A person who owes loyalty to and is entitled to the protection of a state or nation.
Concurrent Powers – Powers shared by the sates and the federal government.
Constituents – People that members of Congress represent.
Constitution – A formal plan of government.
Due Process of Law – Idea that the government must follow procedures established by law and guaranteed by the Constitution.
Elastic Clause – A section in the Constitution that allows Congress to stretch their powers to fulfill their responsibilities.
Electoral College – A special group of voters selected by their state’s voters to vote for the president and vice-president.
Enumerated Powers – Powers belonging only to the federal government.
Ex Post Facto Law – Punishes someone for something they did that was not illegal at the time they did it.
Executive Branch – The branch of government headed by the president that carries out the nation’s laws and policies.
Federalism – The sharing of power between the federal and state governments.
Habeas Corpus – A legal order for an inquiry to determine whether a person has been lawfully imprisoned. A writ of habeas corpus is used to get someone out of jail who is being held without evidence or cause.
Impeach – To bring formal charges against a public official for misconduct.
Implied Powers – Powers not specifically mentioned in the Constitution.
Incumbent – Someone who currently holds an office or position.
Judicial Branch – The branch of government, including the federal court system that interprets the nation’s laws.
Judicial Review – The right of the Supreme Court to determine if a law violates the Constitution.
Legislative Branch – The branch of government that makes the nation’s laws.
Limited Power of Government – A government whose powers are outlined to restrict or limit their power. No people or groups are above the law.
Naturalization – The process of becoming a citizen or to grant citizenship to a foreigner.
Nullify – To cancel or make ineffective.
Override – To defeat or overturn, as a bill proposed in Congress.
Partisan – Favoring one side of an issue.
Poll Tax – A tax that had to be paid in order to vote.
Popular Sovereignty – A political theory that government is subject to the will of the people.
Primary – An election in which voters choose their party’s candidate.
Ratify – To approve.
Reserved Powers – Powers retained by the states.
Separation of Powers – The division of power among the three branches of government each with their own powers and responsibilities.
Suffrage – The right to vote.
Supremacy of National Law – The Constitution is the highest law of the land.
Unconstitutional – Goes against the Constitution.
Veto – To reject a bill and prevent it from becoming a law.