CHAPTER 5,6,4, AND 9
A policy designed to give special attention to or compensatory treatment
of members of some previously disadvantaged group.
amicus curiae (briefs)
Legal briefs submitted by a "friend of the court" for the purpose of raising
additional points of view and presenting information not contained in the
briefs of the formal parties. These briefs attempt to influence a court's
The jurisdiction of courts that hear cases brought to them on appeal from
lower courts. These courts do not review the factual record, only the legal
issues involved. Compare original jurisdiction.
An act of Congress that actually funds programs within limits established
by authorization bills. Appropriations usually cover one year.
Brown v. Board of Education
The 1954 Supreme Court decision holding that school segregation in
, was inherently unconstitutional because it violated the Topeka, Kansas
Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection. This case
marked the end of legal segregation in the
. See also United States
Helping constituents as individuals; cutting through bureaucratic red tape
to get people what they think they have a right to get. See also pork
Congressional committees formed when the Senate and the House pass
a particular bill in different forms. Party leadership appoints members
from each house who iron out the differences and report back a single
bill. See also standing committees, joint committees, and select
The ninety-one federal courts of original jurisdiction. They are the only
federal courts in which no trials are held and in which juries may be
empaneled. Compare courts of appeal.
The rule that evidence, no matter how incriminating, cannot be introduced
into a trial if it was not constitutionally obtained. The rule prohibits use
of evidence obtained through unreasonable search and seizure.
A strategy unique to the Senate whereby opponents of a piece of
legislation try to talk it to death, based on the tradition of unlimited
debate. Today, sixty members present and voting can halt a filibuster.
House Rules Committee
An institution unique to the House of Representatives that reviews all bills
(except revenue, budget, and appropriations bills) coming from a House
committee before they go to the full House.
House Waysand Means Committee
The House of Representatives committee that, along with the Senate
Finance Committee, writes the tax codes, subject to the approval of Congress
as a whole.
The political equivalent of an indictment in criminal law, prescribed by the
Constitution. The House of Representatives may impeach the president
by a majority vote for "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and
Congressional committees on a few subject-matter areas with
membership drawn from both houses. See also standing committees,
conference committees, and select committees.
The power of the courts to determine whether acts of Congress, and by
implication the executive, are in accord with the U.S. Constitution.
Judicial review was established by John Marshall and his associates in
. See also judicial interpretation. Madison
The publication of false or malicious statements that damage someone's
The principle partisan ally of the Speaker of the House or the party's
wheelhorse in the Senate. The majority leader is responsible for
scheduling bills, influencing committee assignments, and rounding up
votes in behalf of the party's legislative positions.
A fundamental principle of traditional democratic theory. In a democracy,
choosing among alternatives requires that the majority's desire be
respected. See also minority rights.
The principal leader of the minority party in the House of Representatives
or in the Senate.
The emergence of a non-Caucasian majority, as compared with a white,
generally Anglo-Saxon majority. It is predicted that, by about the middle
of the next century, Hispanic Americans, African Americans, and Asian
Americans will outnumber white Americans.
The 1961 Supreme Court decision ruling that the Fourth Amendment's
protection against unreasonable searches and seizures must be
extended to the states as well as the federal government. See also
The 1966 Supreme Court decision that sets guidelines for police
questioning of accused persons to protect them against self-incrimination
and to protect their right to counsel.
The jurisdiction of courts that hear a case first, usually in a trial. These
are the courts that determine the facts about a case. Compare appellate
An 1896 Supreme court decision that provided a constitutional
justification for segregation by ruling that a
law requiring "equal Louisiana
but separate accommodations for the white and colored races" was not
A veto taking place when Congress adjourns within ten days of having
submitted a bill to the president, who simply lets it die by neither signing
nor vetoing it. See also veto.
The mighty list of federal projects, grants, and contracts available to
cities, businesses, colleges, and institutions in the district of a member
How a similar case has been decided in the past.
Roe v. Wade
The 1973 Supreme Court decision holding that a state ban on all
abortions was unconstitutional. The decision forbade state control over
abortions during the first trimester of pregnancy, permitted states to limit
abortions to protect the mother's health in the second trimester, and
permitted states to protect the fetus during the third trimester.
Speaker of the House
An office mandated by the Constitution. The Speaker is chosen in
practice by the majority party, has both formal and informal powers, and
is second in line to succeed a presidential vacancy.
Separate subject-matter committees in each house of Congress that
handle bills in different policy areas. See also joint committees,
conference committees, and select committees.
A Latin phrase meaning "let the decision stand." The vast majority of
cases reaching the courts are settled on this principle.
The pinnacle of the American judicial system. The Court ensures
uniformity in interpreting national laws, resolves conflicts among states,
and maintains national supremacy in law. It has both original jurisdictions
and appellate jurisdiction, but it, unlike other federal courts, controls its
The constitutional power of the president to send a bill back to Congress
with reasons for rejecting it. A two-thirds vote in each house can override
a veto. See also pocket veto and legislative veto.
Party leaders who work with the majority leader to count votes
beforehand and lean on waverers whose votes are crucial to a bill favored
by the party.
writ of habeas corpus
A court order requiring jailers to explain to a judge why they are holding a
prisoner in custody.
writ of mandamus
A court order forcing action. In the dispute leading to Marbury v.
Marbury and his associates asked the Supreme Court to issue a writ
to give them their commissions. Madison
Amendments to bills the subjects of which are different from the legislation to
which they area attached; prohibited by the rules in the House but a frequent
occurrence in the Senate.
Ex post facto law
A law that makes an action criminal even though the action was legal at the time
it was done, or increases the penalty for a crime after it has been committed.
A tactic used by legislators to avoid dealing with a measure at any given
time; the proposal is put aside for an indefinite time, usually with the
intention of killing it.