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CHAPTER 5,6,4, AND 9

 
affirmative action
                  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
                  decision.
 
appellate jurisdiction
                  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.
 
appropriations bill
                  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
                  Topeka, Kansas, was inherently unconstitutional because it violated the
                  Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection. This case
                  marked the end of legal segregation in the United States. See also
                  Plessy v. Ferguson.
 
casework
                  Helping constituents as individuals; cutting through bureaucratic red tape
                  to get people what they think they have a right to get. See also pork
                  barrel.
 
conference committees
                  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
                  committees.
 
district courts
                  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.
 
exclusionary rule
                  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.
 
filibuster
                  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 Ways and 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.
 
impeachment
                  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
                  Misdemeanors."
 
joint committees
                  Congressional committees on a few subject-matter areas with
                  membership drawn from both houses. See also standing committees,
                  conference committees, and select committees.
 
judicial review
                  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
                  Marbury v. Madison. See also judicial interpretation.
 
libel
                  The publication of false or malicious statements that damage someone's
                  reputation.
 
majority leader
                  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.
 
majority rule
                  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.
 
minority leader
                  The principal leader of the minority party in the House of Representatives
                  or in the Senate.
 
minority majority
                  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.
 
Mapp v. Ohio
                  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
                  exclusionary rule.
 
Miranda v. Arizona
                  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.
 
original jurisdiction
                  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
                  jurisdiction.
 
Plessy v. Ferguson
                  An 1896 Supreme court decision that provided a constitutional
                  justification for segregation by ruling that a Louisiana law requiring "equal
                  but separate accommodations for the white and colored races" was not
                  unconstitutional.
 
pocket veto
                  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.
 
pork barrel
                  The mighty list of federal projects, grants, and contracts available to
                  cities, businesses, colleges, and institutions in the district of a member
                  of Congress.
 
 
precedents
                  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.
 
standing committees
                  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.
 
stare decisis
                  A Latin phrase meaning "let the decision stand." The vast majority of
                  cases reaching the courts are settled on this principle.
 
Supreme Court
                  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
                  own agenda.
 
veto
                  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.
 
whips
                  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. Madison,
                  Marbury and his associates asked the Supreme Court to issue a writ
                  ordering Madison to give them their commissions.
 
Nongermane riders
                  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.
 
Pigeonholing
                  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.