American Government and Politics: A Concise Introduction
Publication Year: 2003
American Government and Politics is a completely new introductory textbook designed and written for all students of politics coming to the subject for the first time. It provides a lively and accessible introduction and guide to all the main features and characteristics of one of the most distinctive and complex contemporary political systems in the world. From the impeachment of Bill Clinton, to the controversy surrounding the 2000 presidential election, and the Bush administration's responses to September 11, students will gain a balanced and critical understanding of all the key issues and debates in contemporary American government and politics today.
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: Americanism
- The Architecture of American Politics
- America's Social Base
- ‘Americanism’ as an Ideology
- An Anti-Government Political Culture
- American Exceptionalism: How Different?
- Further Reading
- Chapter 2: The US Constitution
- Origins: What did the Founding Fathers Want to Achieve?
- Why has the Constitution Endured So Long and Changed So Little?
- Constitutional Amendment and Judicial Adaptation
- Interpreting the Constitution
- An Aid to Social Change or a Barrier?
- Further Reading
- Web Links
- Chapter 3: Political Parties and the Party System
- The US Constitution
- What do the Democrats and Republicans Stand for?
- How Healthy? Decline, Adaptation and Revival
- Further Reading
- Web Links
- Chapter 4: Elections and Voting Behaviour
- Voting and Non-Voting: Rationality and Ignorance
- The Electoral System and the Electoral College
- The Features of American Elections
- Explaining American Voting Behaviour
- Further Reading
- Web Links
- Chapter 5: Presidential Selection
- The Traditional Picture
- The Breakdown of the Established System
- The Post-Reform Process
- Evaluating the Criticisms
- Further Reading
- Web Links
- Chapter 6: The Presidency
- The US Constitution
- Presidential Leadership
- Presidential Success
- From Imperial to Impotent and Back Again?
- After the Postmodern Presidency
- Further Reading
- Web Links
- Chapter 7: Congress
- The US Constitution
- American Bicameralism: House and Senate
- Committees and Leadership
- Parties and Caucuses
- The Electoral Connection
- Three Eras of Congress
- In Defence of Congress: A Qualifying Note
- Further Reading
- Web Links
- Chapter 8: The Supreme Court
- The Role of the Courts
- The Structure of the Court System
- Denying Democracy? The Case of Flag-Burning
- Appointing the Justices
- After the Appointment: Life Tenure and Judicial Independence
- Three Courts, Three Types of ‘Activism’
- The Limits to Court Influence
- A Juridicized Politics and a Politicized Judiciary?
- Further Reading
- Web Links
- Chapter 9: Interest Groups
- Interest Group Activism
- A Typology of Interest Groups
- Interest Group Functions, Strategies and Tactics
- Approaches to Interest Group Influence
- The Best Democracy Money Can Buy?
- Further Reading
- Web Links
- Chapter 10: The Federal Bureaucracy
- The Growth of the Federal Bureaucracy
- The US Constitution
- Bureaucratic and Democratic Values
- The Functions of the Federal Bureaucracy
- Structure and Composition
- Evaluating the Federal Bureaucracy
- Further Reading
- Web Links
- Chapter 11: Domestic Policy
- Public Policy
- Economic Policy
- Social Policy
- Criminal Justice Policy
- Further Reading
- Web Links
- Chapter 12: Foreign Policy
- The Historical Context
- Making Foreign Policy
- The US Constitution
- The Executive Branch
- The Military-Industrial Complex
- Intermediary Organizations
- Further Reading
- Web Links
- Chapter 13: Conclusion
Endorsements for American Government and Politics[Page ii]
Rob Singh has written a finely organized and informative textbook that combines to an unusually high degree analytical clarity, accessibility of style and form, and an enlightened scepticism about received wisdom. This is an admirable book.
Nigel Bowles, St. Anne's College, University of Oxford
Full of topical information and written with sparkling clarity, this book is a short-cut to excellence for the discriminating student.
Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones, Professor of American History, University of Edinburgh
In American Government and Politics Robert Singh provides an excellent introduction to the subject. His approach is wide ranging, his examples well selected and his style is accessible. It will make an ideal book for introductory and more advanced university courses on US government. I strongly recommend the book to teachers and students.
Desmond King, Mellon Professor of American Government, Nuffield College, University of Oxford
This is a well written and lively book that is an important addition to the ranks of textbooks on American politics. One of its many virtues is its recognition that the textbook today is useful to a student only if it links to the world of web-based resources. Highly recommended.
Alan Ware, Worcester College, University of Oxford
For Exten, critic and friend
© Robert Singh 2003
First published 2003
Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study, or criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form, or by any means, only with the prior permission in writing of the publishers, or in the case of reprographic reproduction, inaccordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency. Inquiries concerning reproduction outside those terms should be sent to the publishers.
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British Library Cataloguing in Publication data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
ISBN 0 7619 4093 6
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Library of Congress catalog card number 2002109397
Typeset by Photoprint, Torquay, Devon
Printed in Great Britain by The Alden Press, Oxford
List of Exhibits and Tables[Page ix]
- Exhibit 1.1 A model of American politics 4
- Exhibit 1.2 The Declaration of Independence (1776) 7
- Exhibit 1.3 The American Creed 9
- Exhibit 1.4 Becoming American 10
- Exhibit 1.5 Born in the USA: the political meaning(s) of Bruce Springsteen? 13
- Exhibit 1.6 From Red Scare to Fed scare: American conspiracies 17
- Exhibit 1.7 Ideology in America: backs, boardrooms and bedrooms 19
- Exhibit 1.8 Why no socialism? 21
- Exhibit 1.9 Explaining American exceptionalism 22
- Table 1.1 Religion in American life 6
- Table 1.2 Public opinion on government in five democracies 14
- Table 1.3 The political economy of the New Deal 15
- Table 1.4 Selected federal laws of the 1970s 16
- Table 1.5 Respect in American life for a sample of occupations 18
- The US Constitution
- Exhibit 2.1 Key events in the evolution of American democracy 28
- Exhibit 2.2 Separation of powers and checks and balances 30
- Exhibit 2.3 The elected branches of the federal government 31
- Exhibit 2.4 The Bill of Rights: what the federal government may not do 32
- Exhibit 2.5 Formal constitutional amendments after the Bill of Rights (Numbers 11–27) 33
- Exhibit 2.6 Amending the US Constitution 35 [Page x]
- Exhibit 2.7 Supreme Court cases incorporating (applying to the states) provisions of the Bill of Rights through the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment 37
- Exhibit 2.8 Originalism in the dock of time and civilization 38
- Exhibit 2.9 Original intent v. A ‘living Constitution’: a case study 39
- Political Parties and the Party System
- Exhibit 3.1 Party structures 50
- Exhibit 3.2 Contrasting positions in the 1996 party platforms 51
- Exhibit 3.3 Democratic Party factions, 1990–2000 54
- Exhibit 3.4 Republican Party factions, 1990–2000 55
- Exhibit 3.5 Celebrity political careers 56
- Exhibit 3.6 Against third parties: the case of Charles Evers 57
- Exhibit 3.7 Switching parties I: too many extremists, too many moderates 58
- Exhibit 3.8 Switching parties II: party-switching since 1900 59
- Exhibit 3.9 The bees of American politics: third parties 60
- Exhibit 3.10 Mickey Mouse politics 61
- Exhibit 3.11 The re-election calculation: one constituency or several for a Democratic Party candidate? 65
- Exhibit 3.12 The money-go-round: campaign finance regulations 66
- Exhibit 3.13 Selected campaign finance laws 67
- Exhibit 3.14 Parties as coalitions: the Republicans and the Christian Right 69
- Table 3.1 Party identification in America, 1964–96 62
- Table 3.2 Party identification, 1980–2000 62
- Table 3.3 Top ‘soft money’ donors, 1995–96 68
- Elections and Voting Behaviour
- Exhibit 4.1 Constitutional amendments expanding the right to vote 76
- Exhibit 4.2 A stolen election? 2000's ‘perfect tie’ 83
- Exhibit 4.3 Celebrity donors 89
- Exhibit 4.4 Factors affecting the candidate's vote 89
- Exhibit 4.5 Racial gerrymandering: affirmative electoral action 90
- Table 4.1 Voter turnout in presidential elections, 1960–2000 77
- Table 4.2 Tuning out the news? 77
- Table 4.3 A sample of electoral systems in liberal democracies 80
- Table 4.4 The Electoral College, 2004 81
- Table 4.5 Presidential election results, 1932–2000 82
- Table 4.6 Party control of the Senate 87
- Table 4.7 How money enters federal elections, 1974–2002 88 [Page xi]
- Table 4.8 The New Deal era and the era of divided government, 1932–2000 91
- Table 4.9 Losses by the White House party in midterm elections, 1946–98 93
- Table 4.10 The 1996 Gallup Opinion Survey 95
- Table 4.11 Changing electoral orders, 1932–2002 97
- Table 4.12 The 2000 presidential vote: electoral geography and issues (%) 100
- Presidential Selection
- Exhibit 5.1 Protecting the presidential candidates 106
- Exhibit 5.2 Chicago: 1968's turbulent year 106
- Exhibit 5.3 Major changes in rules effected by reform 107
- Exhibit 5.4 Primary colours: the party nominations 108
- Exhibit 5.5 National party conventions: the ‘bounce’ 112
- Exhibit 5.6 ‘Morning in America’: the triumph of symbol over substance? 114
- Exhibit 5.7 Two ways of choosing a leader 116
- Exhibit 5.8 The ‘invisible primary’ 117
- Exhibit 5.9 Presidential life begins at 40? 121
- Exhibit 5.10 Choosing a ‘Veep’ 122
- Table 5.1 Number of presidential primaries and percentages of convention delegates from primary states by party, 1912–96 109
- Table 5.2 2000 Republican presidential nominating calendar 110
- Table 5.3 Focus of television news coverage, 1988 presidential election 115
- Table 5.4 Peaking too early 120
- The Presidency
- Exhibit 6.1 Qualifications for the office of the presidency 129
- Exhibit 6.2 The formal and informal resources of the presidency 130
- Exhibit 6.3 Presidential powers: George W. Bush and the war presidency 132
- Exhibit 6.4 Presidents and prime ministers: ‘presidentialism’? 133
- Exhibit 6.5 The line of succession to the presidency 134
- Exhibit 6.6 The State of the Union 135
- Exhibit 6.7 Presidential honeymoons 135
- Exhibit 6.8 Presidential vetoes, 1933–2001 137
- Exhibit 6.9 The rise and fall of the presidential line-item veto 138
- Exhibit 6.10 The presidential difference: Eisenhower, Kennedy and George W. Bush 139
- Exhibit 6.11 Presidential pay: value for money? 140 [Page xii]
- Exhibit 6.12 Presidential greatness 141
- Exhibit 6.13 The modern presidents: a rough guide 142
- Exhibit 6.14 Should President Clinton have been impeached? 149
- Table 6.1 US presidents in the era of the modern presidency (post-1933) 129
- Table 6.2 Executive arrangements in 15 democracies 130
- Table 6.3 Presidential pardons, 1944–2000 131
- Table 6.4 Average number of executive orders per year 133
- Table 6.5Congressional Quarterly s presidential success rate history 146
- Table 6.6 Minority presidents by popular vote 148
- Exhibit 7.1 The ‘Contract with America’, 1994 159
- Exhibit 7.2 Categories of committees in the House of Representatives, 2001–02 160
- Exhibit 7.3 How a bill becomes a law 162
- Exhibit 7.4 Airport security: to federalize or not to federalize? 163
- Exhibit 7.5 Factors affecting the decisions and activity of lawmakers 167
- Exhibit 7.6 Constitutionalizing congressional pay 167
- Exhibit 7.7 The seniority principle 168
- Exhibit 7.8 Key changes to the House of Representatives committee system in the 1970s 170
- Exhibit 7.9 Referrals 171
- Exhibit 7.10 Killing the bill: filibusters 172
- Table 7.1 Public confidence in American institutions (2000 v. 2002) 155
- Table 7.2 A sample of liberal democracies using different legislative arrangements 157
- Table 7.3 State representation in the Senate 158
- Table 7.4 Lawmakers’ occupations, 107th Congress, 2001–02 164
- Table 7.5 The House of Representatives, 1960–2003 165
- Table 7.6 The Senate, 1960–2003 166
- Table 7.7 Party unity: average scores, 1964–2000 172
- Table 7.8 Filibusters and clotures, 1951–98 173
- The Supreme Court
- Exhibit 8.1 Law versus politics? 180
- Exhibit 8.2 The problems of judging 182
- Exhibit 8.3 The American court system 183
- Exhibit 8.4 How the process works: hearing and writing the opinion 184 [Page xiii]
- Exhibit 8.5 Courting the public: name that judge 186
- Exhibit 8.6 The strange story of Judge Robert Bork 189
- Exhibit 8.7 Judicial independence: the ones that got away 190
- Exhibit 8.8 Key cases under the Warren Court 191
- Exhibit 8.9 Key cases under the Burger Court 192
- Exhibit 8.10 Key cases under the Rehnquist Court 193
- Exhibit 8.11 Close calls: some key split-decisions from the 1999–2000 term 194
- Exhibit 8.12 Symbolism or substance? abortion and desegregation 195
- Table 8.1 Presidential judicial appointments compared 187
- Interest Groups
- Exhibit 9.1 The legitimacy of interest group influence in America 205
- Exhibit 9.2 America's most powerful lobby? The National Rifle Association 208
- Exhibit 9.3 The ‘iron triangle’ 210
- Exhibit 9.4 The inequality of interest group influence 211
- Exhibit 9.5 The best Congress money can buy? 213
- Exhibit 9.6 Religion and politics: the Christian Right 216
- The Federal Bureaucracy
- Exhibit 10.1 The federal government: how large? 222
- Exhibit 10.2 The growth of the federal bureaucracy: a brief history 223
- Exhibit 10.3 The constitutional basis of bureaucratic authority 225
- Exhibit 10.4 The Federal Reserve Board and monetary policy 226
- Exhibit 10.5 Making rules 227
- Exhibit 10.6 The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) 229
- Exhibit 10.7 Components of the federal bureaucracy 231
- Exhibit 10.8 Independent regulatory commissions, independent executive agencies, and government-sponsored corporations, 1998 232
- Table 10.1 The 14 federal government departments 221
- Domestic Policy
- Exhibit 11.1 Varieties of federalism 242
- Exhibit 11.2 The state in American bedrooms 243
- Exhibit 11.3 Federal government transfers to state governments 244
- Exhibit 11.4 American environmental policy 246
- Exhibit 11.5 Economic policy: taxing, spending and regulating 247
- Exhibit 11.6 Key participants in economic policymaking 248
- Exhibit 11.7 The federal budget process(es), 1995–97 250
- Exhibit 11.8 Main federal social policy landmarks 253 [Page xiv]
- Exhibit 11.9 ‘To end welfare as we know it’? 254
- Exhibit 11.10 Health care in America 255
- Table 11.1 The administrative structure of American government 241
- Table 11.2 The federal tax burden 251
- Table 11.3 Breakdown of federal expenditures (FY2001) 251
- Foreign Policy
- Exhibit 12.1 The Middle East: Kansas? 264
- Exhibit 12.2 The four traditions of American foreign policy 265
- Exhibit 12.3 American and Vietnam 267
- Exhibit 12.4 Select laws on foreign sanctions 269
- Exhibit 12.5 Curbing presidential wars? The War Powers Resolution 271
- Exhibit 12.6 The Clinton foreign policy 272
- Exhibit 12.7 Three levels of foreign policy 273
- Exhibit 12.8 The history of ‘fast track’ 275
- Exhibit 12.9 A military-industrial complex? 276
- Exhibit 12.10 ‘Rivers Delivers’ 276
- Exhibit 12.11 The ‘iron triangle’ on defence policy 277
- Exhibit 12.12 Contemporary positions on US foreign policy 279
- Exhibit 12.13 Three periods of ethnic group influence on US foreign policy 281
- Exhibit 12.14 US policy towards Israel 281
- Table 12.1 The separation of powers in foreign policy 269
- Table 12.2 Federal expenditures on national defence, 1960–96 278
- Table 12.3 US Navy active ship force levels, 1917–2000 278
- Table 12.4 America's downsized defences: 1989 v. 1999 279
- Table 12.5 A typology of conditions for ethnic interest group influence on US foreign policy: the case of Israel 282
American politics provides a genuine challenge to study. On the one hand, the governmental and political system of the twenty-first century United States is especially complex and yet retains much of the original design penned by the ‘Founding Fathers’ in the eighteenth century. The distinctive belief systems of the American people, the pervasive influence of the US Constitution, the complex workings of federalism, the relative weakness of political parties, the pivotal relationship between White House and Capitol Hill, the powerful but limited role of the federal courts – all these make for a tremendously rich but especially complex body of information to master.
On the other hand, America's profound political, economic, military and cultural influence brings the nation ‘closer’ than most to those of us outside the United States. Students therefore typically enter the study of American politics with ideas, stereotypes and prejudices about both the nation and its people gleaned from films, music and books in ways unlike those of other nations. A mix of Madonna, The Simpsons and Hollywood treatments of subjects from JFK to Vietnam accord students an apparent familiarity with things American that brooks no comparison with other nations. Simultaneously, news coverage of the US invariably focuses on aspects that tend to personalize and sensationalize American public life: the president's particular intentions and indiscretions, seemingly routine outbreaks of gun violence, state executions, urban riots, political fanatics, and the cult of celebrity. It is hardly surprising, in the light of this, that many students enter US politics courses with a view that the president is the executive branch, the executive is the federal government, and the federal government is the government in America.
Beyond this, America is uniquely prone to academic criticism – even demonization – on the grounds of its singular military and economic position, self-conscious celebration of free market capitalism, and chequered record of respect for human rights and civil liberties. Within a discipline where leftist critiques are popular, if not predominant, the ease with which student prejudices can be confirmed makes America especially vulnerable to misleading, partial or biased characterizations. Among these are the notions that: Americans all own guns, hate communists, drive big cars, and don't vote; the president is in charge and can do what he likes, especially when it comes to war; Kennedy was a sleaze, Clinton was a sex-fiend, and Bush is a dunce; political parties don't exist in America, but the Democrats and Republicans are two right-wing parties with [Page xvi]virtually no differences between them; elections are entirely based on personality, not issues; money rules; American cities are crime-ridden, drug-infested dens of iniquity; black Americans are all poverty-stricken and America is being taken over by Hispanics; most Americans are religious extremists and bigots; and Americans neither care nor know about the rest of the world and believe that the Middle East is Kansas.
Many facts therefore get lost before courses on US politics even commence: that most Americans do not own guns; that the supposedly free market is one of the most heavily regulated by government of all liberal democracies; that American political parties today are strongly partisan and differ at least as much as they agree on public policies; that the presidency is confronted by a myriad of competing and powerful political actors that impede his freedom of action; and that, long before September 11, 2001, the American public was more internationalist, pro-multilateral action, and willing to accept US military casualties than easy acceptance of the ‘Vietnam syndrome’ or the ‘Body Bag effect’ suggested.
The study of American politics should be dispassionate, balanced, and informed. But it should also be fun. The pages that follow hope to achieve both these ends and, thereby, to encourage further study of a unique national experiment in political, economic and social organization.
A large number of people participated in the development of this book, a few directly but most unwittingly. The first thanks that I should therefore offer is to the several hundred students whom I have been lucky enough to teach over the past 12 years at the universities of Oxford, Sussex, Dublin (Trinity College), Edinburgh, Glasgow and London. Lecturing and discussing American politics remains a genuine pleasure, all the more so for having enthusiastic, intelligent and critical students willing to engage in an open-minded fashion in the many issues that politics in the US raises.
The School of Politics and Sociology at Birkbeck College has offered a particularly welcoming and supportive home since my arrival there in 1999. I should thank in particular my colleague Bill Tompson, a Texan expert on all things Soviet and post-Soviet, whose many conversations have contributed enormously to my education about the States and much else besides. Birkbeck has a special mission and our students are overwhelmingly mature adults studying part-time. Each year has only added to my amazement at how impressive our students are, not simply in terms of their academic achievement but in managing to marry tough courses of study to coping with demanding jobs and personal responsibilities. Among the many who have helped to make teaching such a rewarding experience, I should especially thank Craig O'Callaghan, Andy Coath, Robert Dockerill, Paul Carabine, Tim Carlier, Gloria De Piero, Hazel Nyandoro, Lindsey-Jane Chiswick, Liz Rubenstein, Paula Clemett, and Martin Burke. I should also thank Kathryn Westmore, who offered extensive feedback on several chapters of this book and made several very helpful suggestions for revisions.
Another ex-Birkbeckian, Lucy Robinson, and the staff at Sage had sufficient confidence in the book and its companion volume, Contemporary American Politics and Society: Issues and Controversies, to take these twins on at a late stage of gestation and deliver them both – for which I'm enormously grateful.[Page xviii]
Adjudication. Court-like decision-making by the federal bureaucracy as to whether an individual or organization has complied with or breached federal regulations.
Administrative discretion. The ability of bureaucrats to make decisions that translate broad statute laws into specific rules.
Advice and consent. Provision of the Constitution conferring on the Senate the power to approve or reject presidential nominations to the executive and judicial branches of government.
Affirmative action. A set of procedures that attempts to correct the effects of past discrimination against minority groups and that can include specific goals and quotas for hiring minority applicants.
Agency. A term for any administrative unit of the federal government.
Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). Federal funds, administered by the states, for children living with parents or relatives who fall below state standards of need.
American exceptionalism. The notion that the United States is different from other nations. At its strongest, exceptionalism suggests that America is unique. In its weaker sense, exceptionalism points to certain features of American political development that distinguish it as different.
Amicus curiae. Written briefs submitted to the Supreme Court by third-party individuals or organizations – who are not party to a lawsuit – that want their opinions to be considered by the Court in reaching a decision. Latin for ‘friend of the Court’. The number of such briefs increased steadily with the judicial activism of the Warren Court, and reached notable peaks in the Bakke and Webster cases.
Anti-Federalists. Those forces who favoured strong state governments and a weak national government and who were opponents of the constitution proposed at the Constitutional Convention of 1787.[Page 289]
Appellate courts. Courts that reconsider the decisions made by trial courts, at the request of the losing party seeking to appeal.
Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. Adopted by the Continental Congress in 1777 and ratified in 1781 as the United States’ first constitution – established a loose union of states and a Congress with few powers, and provided the formal basis for America's national government until 1789, when they were supplanted by the US Constitution.
Bicameral. A legislature divided into two separate houses, such as Congress.
Bill of attainder. A legislative act declaring a person guilty of a crime and setting punishment without the benefit of a formal judicial hearing or trial; prohibited by Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution.
Bill of Rights. The first ten Amendments to the Constitution, which collectively guarantee the fundamental liberties and rights of citizens from abuse by the national government. Over time, American courts have ‘incorporated’ the Bill of Rights so that the first eight Amendments apply to the state, as well as the federal, governments.
Block grants. Money given to the states by Congress that can be used in broad areas and is not limited to specific purposes like categorical grants. A means introduced in the mid-1960s to give states greater freedom.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas(1954). The Supreme Court unanimously struck down the ‘separate but equal’ doctrine as fundamentally unequal. It eliminated state power to use race as a criterion of discrimination in law and provided the national government with the power to intervene by exercising strict regulatory policies against discriminatory actions.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (Brown II)(1955). The Supreme Court issued a mandate for state and local school boards to proceed ‘with all deliberate speed’ to desegregate schools.
Buckley v. Valeo(1976). The Court limited congressional attempts to regulate campaign finance by declaring unconstitutional any absolute limits on the freedom of individuals to spend their own money on campaigns.
Budget deficit. The case when expenditures exceed revenues.
Budget surplus. The case when budget revenues exceed expenditures.
Bureaucracy. Any large, complex organization in which employees have specific job responsibilities and work within a hierarchy. Often used to refer to both government agencies and the people who work in them.
Cabinet. An official advisory board to the president, composed of the heads (secretaries) of the 14 major departments of the federal government. The secretaries, or chief administrators, are appointed by the president with the consent of the Senate. Approval is normally taken for granted, but recent years have seen rejections.[Page 290]
Candidate-centred campaign. A campaign in which paid consultants or volunteers coordinate campaign activities, develop strategies and raise funds. Political parties play a secondary role.
Capital punishment. The execution of convicted criminals by the state for certain types of crime. Currently legal in 38 states and for the federal government, the death penalty is constitutional. Although the courts have ruled certain types of execution to be a violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments, the principle of capital punishment has not been so ruled since 1976.
Casework. Work done by members of Congress to provide constituents with personal services and help through the maze of federal programmes and benefits.
Categorical, or conditional, grants. Money given to the states and localities by Congress that was to be used for limited purposes under specific rules.
Caucus (congressional). An association of members of Congress based on party, ideology, interest or demographic characteristics such as gender, race and ethnicity. The most influential congressional caucuses include the Congressional Black Caucus and the Caucus on Women's Issues.
Caucus (political). A forum of a political or legislative group, normally closed to the public until the early 1900s, to select candidates, plan strategy or make decisions on legislative matters. Contemporary party caucuses are local party meetings which are open to all who live in the precinct and in which citizens discuss and then vote for delegates to district and party conventions. Party caucuses in Congress comprise the rank-and-file members, and party leadership posts and committee chairmanships are now subject to caucus ratification.
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The agency responsible for gathering and analysing information for policymakers.
Checks and balances. The principle that lets the executive, legislative and judicial branches share some responsibilities and that gives each branch some control over the others’ activities. The major support for checks and balances comes from the Constitution's distribution of shared powers. Key examples are the presidential veto power over congressional legislation, the power of the Senate to approve presidential appointments, and judicial review of laws and executive orders.
Civil liberties. Areas of personal freedoms, most of which are spelled out in the Bill of Rights, that protect individuals from excessive or arbitrary government interference.
Civil rights. Rights that guarantee protection of individuals by the government against discrimination or unreasonable treatment by other individuals or groups.
Civil servant. A federal bureaucrat who is not politically appointed.
Class action suit. A lawsuit in which large numbers of persons with common interests join [Page 291]together under a representative party to bring or defend a lawsuit, such as hundreds of workers together suing a company.
Clear and present danger test. The proposition proclaimed by the Supreme Court in Schenck v. United States (1919) that the government had the right to punish speech if it could be shown to present a grave and immediate danger to the government's interests.
Closed primary. A primary election that allows voters to obtain only a ballot of the party for which they are registered.
Closed rule. A provision by the House Rules Committee limiting or prohibiting the introduction of amendments during floor debate on a bill. It emerged as an important tool by which party leaders controlled legislative outcomes and was used extensively after 1981.
Cloture. The rule for ending debate in the Senate that requires a vote of at least two-thirds or three-fifths of the members in a legislative body to set a time limit on debate over a given bill (currently, three-fifths are required – 60 senators – to cut off discussion in the 100-member Senate). Although cloture votes sometimes succeed, each senator has an individual incentive not to vote for cloture, as infringing a senatorial privilege that may be personally useful at some later date.
Coat-tail effect. Result of voters casting their ballots for president or governor and ‘automatically’ voting for the remainder of the party's ticket. With divided party control of the federal government the norm since 1968, the coat-tail effect has become an increasingly rare phenomenon in national American politics.
Cold War. The post-Second World War period characterized by ideological and policy confrontations between the American-led West and the Soviet-led East. Scholars differ over dating the Cold War: from 1917–91; 1947–91; and 1947–62. Although the Cold War achieved a ‘long peace’ in the sense that American and Soviet military forces did not engage in direct military conflict, a succession of ‘hot’ wars occurred as proxies for the main conflict.
Commerce power. The power of Congress to regulate trade among the states and with foreign nations.
Common law. Also called judge-made law, it refers to law based on the precedent of lower and prior court decisions.
Concurrent powers. Those powers the Constitution grants the national government but does not deny to the states, for example, to lay and collect taxes.
Concurring opinion. Opinion written by Supreme Court justices that agrees with the conclusion but not the reasoning of the majority opinion.
Confederation. An arrangement in which ultimate government authority is vested in the states that make up the nation. Whatever power the national government has is derived from the states being willing to give up some of their authority to a central government.[Page 292]
Conference committees. Temporary joint committees that are formed to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of a bill.
Confirmation. The power of the US Senate to approve or disapprove a presidential nominee for an executive or judicial post.
Congressional authorization. The power of Congress to provide the president with the right to carry out legislated policies.
Constituents. Members of the district from which an official is elected.
Constitutional government. A system of rule in which formal and effective limits are placed on the powers of the government.
Constitutionalism. An approach to legitimacy in which the rulers give up a certain amount of power in return for their right to utilize the remaining powers.
Containment. The foreign policy pursued during the Cold War by the US that called for preventing the Soviet Union from making expansionist moves.
Cooperative federalism. A period of cooperation between state and national government that began during the Great Depression. The national government assumed new responsibilities, and state and local officials accepted it as an ally, not an enemy.
Covert actions. Activities ranging from gathering intelligence to assassinating foreign leaders that are intentionally hidden from public view and may be of questionable legality.
Critical electoral realignment. The point in history when a new party supplants the ruling party, in turn becoming the dominant force. It tended to occur approximately every 32–36 years in America until 1968.
De facto segregation. Racial segregation that is not a direct result of law or government policy, but is instead a reflection of residential housing patterns, income distributions or other social factors.
De jure segregation. Racial segregation that is a direct result of law or government policy rather than residential housing patterns or other voluntary decisions by the races.
Declaration of Independence. The document declaring the colonies to be free and independent states that was adopted by the Second Continental Congress in July 1776. Written by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration also articulated the fundamental principles under which the new nation would be governed, such as the consent of the governed and natural rights (among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness). The document was both a catalyst for the revolutionary war and provided its intellectual rationale.
Deficit. An annual debt incurred when the government spends more than it collects. Each yearly deficit adds to the nation's total debt.[Page 293]
Deficit financing. Usually refers to deficits that are deliberately incurred as part of an effort to fight off a deflationary phase of the business cycle. Deficits are financed by borrowing. Despite his professed belief in a balanced budget, President Ronald Reagan took deficit spending to unprecedented heights and made America the world's largest debtor nation during 1981–89.
Delegated powers. Sometimes referred to as ‘enumerated powers’, these are the powers the Constitution gives the Congress that are specifically listed in the first 17 clauses in Section 8 of Article I. Assigned to one government agency but exercised by another agency with the express permission of the first.
Department. The major federal bureaucracies that are given this name by the Congress, are led by a Secretary, and serve as part of the president's Cabinet.
Department of Defense. Also know as ‘The Pentagon’, after the shape of the building in which it is located. The agency most closely linked with military policymaking. It includes the Departments of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.
Department of State. The Cabinet department responsible for day-to-day operation of embassies, the protection of US interests abroad, formal negotiations between the US and other nations, and the provision of assistance and advice to the president.
Deregulation. A policy of reducing or eliminating regulatory restraints on the conduct of individuals or private institutions.
Detente. The relaxation of tensions between nations. The name for President Nixon's policy – formulated closely with his National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger – of taking a more cooperative approach with the Soviets while enhancing American security arrangements with its allies.
Deterrence strategy. The build-up and maintenance of nuclear and conventional forces and large stockpiles of weapons to discourage any potential enemy from attacking the United States or its allies.
Dissenting opinion. A decision written by a justice in the minority in a particular case in which the justice wishes to express his or her reasoning in the case. Dissenting opinions are publicly available and can provide the rationale for political opposition and future judicial rulings that overturn majority holdings.
Divided government. The condition when the presidency is controlled by one party while the opposing party controls one or both houses of Congress. Political scientists disagree over both the causes and consequences of divided government. Some see the causes as purposeful, in that the American electorate is consciously voting to split control. Others contend that the result is an ‘accident’ of the electoral system. For some American critics, the division exacerbates existing problems of the separated system, making accountability impossible, leading to gridlock and encouraging political irresponsibility. However, scholars such as David Mayhew (1991) argue that divided government makes no difference in terms of the passage of major legislation.[Page 294]
Double jeopardy. Trial more than once for the same crime. The Constitution guarantees in the Sixth Amendment that no citizen shall be subjected to double jeopardy.
Dred Scott v. Sandford(1857). The most infamous case in the history of the Supreme Court. Chief Justice Roger Taney wrote that black Americans were not citizens and that they ‘were never thought of or spoken of except as property’. In a futile attempt to settle the slavery issue, which was threatening to tear the nation apart, the Court went further to rule that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional and Congress could not bar slavery from the territories. The ruling, in many critics’ views, hastened the onset of the Civil War. It was overturned by the ratification of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution.
Dual federalism. The perspective on federalism that emerged after the Civil War. It saw the national and state governments as equal but independent partners, with each responsible for distinct policy functions and each barred from interfering with the other's work.
Due process. To proceed according to law and with adequate protection for individual rights. Guaranteed as a citizenship protection under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Due process has become the main vehicle by which the Bill of Rights is incorporated so that its protections apply to state governments as well as the federal authority.
Elastic clause. See ‘necessary and proper clause’.
Electoral coalitions. Groups of loyal supporters who agree with the party's stand on most issues and vote for its candidates for office.
Electoral College. The system set up by the Constitution that provides for the people to elect a number of electors in each state equal to the number of US senators and representatives for that state. The electors from each state meet in their respective state capitals after the popular election to cast ballots for president and vice president. The presidential candidate winning the plurality vote in a state receives all its Electoral College votes.
Electorate. All of the eligible voters in a legally designated area.
Elite theory. The theory that public policies are made by a relatively small group of influential leaders who share common values, goals and beliefs.
Entitlement programmes. Government programmes that pay benefits to all eligible recipients. The amount of money spent depends on the number of those eligible rather than on some predetermined figure.
Entitlements. Automatic payments to any person or government meeting the requirements specified by law, such as social security benefits and military pensions.
Environmental impact statement. Since 1969, all federal agencies must file this statement demonstrating that a new programme or project will not have a net negative effect on the human or physical environment.
Equal employment opportunity. Federal programmes developed under civil rights legislation [Page 295]that prohibit workplace and other forms of discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin or handicapped status.
Equal Protection Clause. A clause in the Fourteenth Amendment that requires that states provide citizens with the ‘equal protection of the laws’.
Equal time rule. A Federal Communications Commission requirement that broadcasters provide candidates for the same political office an equal opportunity to communicate their messages to the public.
Equality of opportunity. A universally shared American ideal that all people should have the freedom to use whatever talents and wealth they have to reach their fullest potential. It embraces a conception of equality that is focused on process rather than results, but has been used by both liberals and conservatives, respectively, to support and attack policies such as affirmative action.
Exclusionary rule. The principle that evidence, no matter how incriminating, cannot be used to convict someone if it is gathered illegally in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The rule was established by the Supreme Court in Mapp v. Ohio (1961). Conservatives view the rule as an excessive protection for criminals and an unwarranted constraint on legitimate law enforcement activity.
Exclusive powers. All the powers that the states are in effect forbidden to exercise by the Constitution, that rest exclusively with the national government.
Executive agreements. Agreements with other nations made by the president without the Senate's consent. They have all the legal force of treaties but, unlike treaties, are not binding on succeeding presidents. Since they do not require Senate approval, executive agreements have come to exceed treaties by a ratio in excess of 40:1.
Executive order. A rule or regulation issued by the president that has the effect of law.
Executive privilege. The traditional right, claimed by presidents since George Washington, to withhold information from Congress and the courts.
Faction. A group of people with common interests, usually in opposition to the aims or principles of a larger group or the public. The Constitution was designed in part to minimize the influence of factions. The most influential party faction during the middle of the twentieth century was the cohort of Southern Democrats who opposed moves towards desegregation by the federal government.
Fairness doctrine. A Federal Communications Commission requirement for broadcasters who air programmes on controversial issues to provide time for opposing views.
Federal government. The national government of the United States. Although millions of Americans readily accept the distributive benefits offered by the federal government, most remain physically as well as psychologically distant from its principal seat in Washington, D.C.[Page 296]
Federal Register. The publication that contains all proposed and final federal regulations.
Federal Reserve Board. The governing board of the Federal Reserve System comprising a chair and six other members, appointed by the president with the consent of the Senate. The independent central bank that controls interest rates. Under its chairman, Alan Greenspan, the Fed was widely credited with maintaining the remarkable economic growth and stability of the 1990s.
Federal Reserve System (The Fed). Consisting of 12 Federal Reserve Banks, the Fed facilitates exchanges of cash, cheques and credit, regulates member banks and uses monetary policies to fight inflation and deflation. Alan Greenspan's successful chairing of the Fed made him a national (and international) figure of enormous repute and influence.
Federalist Papers. A series of editorials written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay in 1788 to support the ratification of the Constitution in New York State. Now regarded as a major source of information on what the Framers were thinking when they wrote the Constitution and an important work in political philosophy.
Federalists. Those forces who supported a stronger national government and only reluctantly agreed to a Bill of Rights as the price of ratifying the new Constitution of 1787.
Federation (federal system). A mixture of confederation and unitary systems in which the authority of government is shared by both the national and state governments. In its ideal form, a federal constitution gives some exclusive authority over some governmental tasks to the national government, while giving the states exclusive authority over other governmental matters. There would also be some areas where the two levels of government would share authority.
Feudalism. A medieval political economic system in which landless families secured protection and the use of farmland in exchange for providing services and resources to the land's owner.
Filibuster. A prolonged debate in the Senate that is intended to kill a bill by preventing a vote. Once given the floor, senators have unlimited time to speak, and it requires a cloture vote of three-fifths of the chamber to end the filibuster.
Fiscal policy. The management of government expenditures and tax rates as a means of conducting national economic policy. Policymakers raise or lower government spending and taxes to execute fiscal policy.
Foreign aid. Assistance provided by the United States to another country. This usually takes the form of a grant of money or supplies, but it can also be a low-interest loan. By the later 1990s foreign aid assumed less than 1 per cent of the total US federal budget outlays, the major recipients remaining Israel, Egypt and Ireland.
Formula grants. Grants given to states and localities on the basis of population, number of eligible persons, per capita income or other factors.
Franking privilege. The power of members of Congress to send out mail free of charge, allowing incumbents to cultivate a favourable image among constituents.[Page 297]
Freedom of Information Act. A law enacted in 1996 that guarantees the public access to information about bureaucratic policies and activities.
Full faith and credit. Article IV of the Constitution requires that each state respect in all ways the acts, records and judicial proceedings of the other states. It has ensured that driving licences and divorces must be recognized as legal despite differences in individual state laws.
Gerrymandering. Apportionment of voters in districts in such a way as to give unfair advantage to one political party.
Going public. A strategy that attempts to mobilize the widest and most favourable climate of opinion within the United States.
Government. Institutions and procedures through which a territory and its people are ruled.
Grand Old Party (GOP). The Republican Party.
Grants-in-aid. A general term for funds given by Congress to state and local governments.
Gridlock. A term used to describe the state of affairs when the executive and legislative branches of government cannot agree on major legislation and neither side will compromise.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP). An index of the total output of goods and services. A very imperfect measure of prosperity, productivity, inflation or deflation, but its regular publication both reflects and influences business conditions.
Habeas corpus. A court order demanding that an individual in custody be brought into court and shown the cause for detention. Habeas corpus is guaranteed by the Constitution and can be suspended only in cases of rebellion or invasion.
Hatch Act. The federal law enacted in 1929 that makes it illegal for federal bureaucrats to take an active part in political campaigns or run for elective office. It was modified in 1993 to expand the political rights of federal workers.
Ideology. The combined doctrines, assertions and intentions of a social or political group that justify its behaviour. Americanism itself has been considered as an ideology.
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) v. Chadha(1983). The first of two cases since 1937 in which the Supreme Court invalidated an act of Congress on constitutional grounds, declaring the legislative veto unconstitutional.
Impeachment. Formal charge of misconduct brought against a federal public official by the House of Representatives. If found guilty of those charges by the Senate, the official is removed from office.[Page 298]
Implied powers. Those powers given to Congress by Article I, Section 8, clause 18 of the Constitution that are not specifically named but are provided by the ‘necessary and proper’ clause.
Impoundment. Efforts by presidents to thwart congressional programmes that they cannot otherwise defeat by refusing to spend the funds that Congress has appropriated for them. Congress placed limits on impoundment in the Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 after a series of controversial impoundments by President Nixon in 1973.
Independent agency. A federal bureaucracy that is not part of the president's Cabinet. They are considered ‘independent’ because, although the president appoints the agency head, the president may not remove him or her.
Independent counsel. A prosecutor appointed under the terms of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 to investigate criminal misconduct by members of the executive branch. The legislation had been a response to the Watergate scandal and led, indirectly, to the (ultimately unsuccessful) impeachment of President Clinton in 1998–99.
Indirect election. Provision for election of an official where the voters first select the delegates or ‘electors’, who are in turn charged with making the final choice. The presidential election is an indirect election.
Inflation. A consistent increase in the general level of prices.
Injunction. A court order requiring an individual or organization either to cease or to undertake some form of action to prevent a future injury or to achieve some desirable state of affairs.
Interest group liberalism. A theory of governance that, in principle, all claims on government resources and action are equally valid, and that all interests are equally entitled to participation in and benefits from government. Associated especially with Theodore Lowi's 1979 book, The End of Liberalism.
Intergovernmental lobby. The many individuals and groups that have a special interest in the policies and programmes implemented through the growing intergovernmental relations system. These lobbyists represent private, consumer and business groups.
Interpretation. The process wherein bureaucrats implement ambiguous statutes, requiring agencies to make educated guesses as to what Congress or higher administrative authorities intended.
Interpretivism. An approach to constitutional interpretation that demands some search for what the Constitution actually says, either in its plain meaning, its original meaning or in terms of the intentions of the authors of particular provisions.
Iron triangle. The stable and cooperative relationships that often develop between a congressional committee or subcommittee, an administrative agency, and one or more supportive interest groups. Not all of these relationships are triangular, but the ‘iron triangle’ formulation is perhaps the most typical.[Page 299]
Judicial activism. The concept that the Supreme Court has a right and obligation to practise judicial review, especially in defence of political minorities.
Judicial restraint. Limited and infrequent use of judicial review – advocated on the grounds that unelected judges should not overrule the laws of the elected representatives.
Judicial review. The power of the courts to declare an act of a legislature constitutional or unconstitutional.
Judicial supremacy. The claim that the influence of courts in America is so great as to make the judiciary the supreme lawmaking, as well as law-interpreting, body.
Jurisdiction. The authority of a court initially to consider a case. It is distinguished from appellate jurisdiction, the authority to hear appeals from a lower court's decision.
Korematsu v. United States(1944). The Supreme Court held that it was not unconstitutional to impose legal restrictions on a single racial group, in this case wartime measures prohibiting persons of Japanese ancestry from living in certain areas.
Legislative intent. The supposed real meaning of a statute as it can be interpreted from the legislative history of the bill.
Legislative supremacy. The pre-eminence of Congress among the three branches of the federal government, as established by the Constitution.
Legislative veto. A device in a bill that allows Congress or a congressional committee to veto the actions of an executive agency or the president in an area covered by the bill. It was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1983 in Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha. However, Congress continues to enact legislation incorporating such a veto.
Legitimacy. The belief of citizens in a government's right to pass and enforce laws.
Libel. The use of print or pictures to harm someone's reputation. An offence that is punishable by criminal law and subject to civil prosecution for damages.
Liberal. A liberal generally supports political and social reform, extensive governmental intervention in the economy, the expansion of federal social services, more vigorous efforts on behalf of the poor, minorities and women, and greater concern for consumers and the environment.
Line-item veto. The power of a president to veto portions of a bill but sign the rest of it. Without a line-item veto, a governor must accept or reject an entire bill.
Lobbying. Strategy by which organized interests seek to influence the passage of legislation by exerting direct pressure on members of the legislature.
Lochner v. New York(1905). Seeking to protect businesses from government regulation, the Supreme Court invalidated a New York State law regulating the sanitary conditions and hours of labour of bakers on grounds that the law interfered with liberty of contract.[Page 300]
Logrolling. A legislative practice wherein reciprocal agreements are made between legislators, usually in voting for or against a bill. Unlike bargaining, logrolling unites parties that have nothing in common but their desire to exchange support.
Majoritarianism. The belief that public policies should be decided either primarily or exclusively by majority vote.
Majority Leader. The second-ranking party position in the House (the first in the Senate). The Majority Leader schedules floor action of bills and guides the party's legislative programme through the House.
Majority rule. Rule by at least one vote more than half of those voting.
Majority system. An electoral system in which, to win a seat in the parliament or other representative body, a candidate must receive a majority of all the votes cast in the relevant district.
Mandate. A claim made by a victorious candidate that the electorate has given him or her special authority to carry out campaign promises.
Marbury v. Madison(1803). The landmark case in which Chief Justice Marshall established that the Supreme Court had the right to rule on the constitutionality of federal and state laws, despite the fact that judicial review was not explicitly granted by the Constitution.
Marshall Plan. A plan proposed in 1947 by Secretary of State George Marshall to provide financial aid and low-cost loans to help rebuild Europe after the Second World War. Over $34 billion was spent for relief, reconstruction and recovery.
Massive retaliation. The military strategy favoured by the Eisenhower administration during the 1950s, which warned the Soviet Union and its allies that any military confrontation could produce an annihilating nuclear attack on Moscow and other Soviet cities.
Matching grants. Programmes in which the national government requires recipient governments to provide a certain percentage of the funds needed to implement the programmes.
McCulloch v. Maryland(1819). The first and most important case favouring national control of the economy over state control. In his ruling, John Marshall established the ‘implied powers’ doctrine enabling Congress to use the ‘necessary and proper’ clause of Article I, Section 8, to interpret its delegated powers. This case also concluded that when state law and federal law conflicted national law took precedence.
Means testing. Procedure by which potential beneficiaries of a public assistance programme establish their eligibility by demonstrating a genuine need for the assistance.
Medicaid. A federally funded, state-operated programme for medical services to low-income persons.[Page 301]
Medicare. National health insurance for the elderly and the disabled.
Merit system. The method for hiring federal workers based on their performance in open, competitive examinations. It replaced the spoils system.
Military-industrial complex. A concept coined by President Eisenhower in his farewell address of 1961, in which he referred to the threats to American democracy that may arise from too close a friendship between major corporations in the defence industry and the Pentagon.
Minority Leader. The head of the minority party in the Senate. Also the leader of the minority party in the House, who represents its interests by consulting with the Speaker and Majority Leader over the scheduling of bills and rules for floor actions.
Miranda v. Arizona(1966). The Warren Court ruled that anyone placed under arrest must be informed of the right to remain silent and to have counsel present during interrogation.
Monroe Doctrine. An American policy established in 1823 that warned European nations not to interfere in Latin America while promising that the United States would not interfere in European affairs.
Multilateralism. A foreign policy that seeks to encourage the involvement of several nation-states in coordinated action, usually in relation to a common adversary, with terms and conditions usually specified in a multi-country treaty, such as NATO.
Multiple-member constituency. Electorate that selects all candidates at large from the whole district; each voter is given the number of votes equivalent to the number of seats to be filled.
Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). The strategy that evolved during the 1960s whereby each of the nuclear powers would hold the other in check by maintaining the ability to annihilate the other in any major nuclear confrontation. Superbly satirized by the Stanley Kubrick movie starring Peter Sellers – Dr Strangelove (1964).
Nation-centred federalism. The view that the authority of the national government goes beyond the responsibilities listed in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution. It is based on the necessary and proper clause and the principle of national supremacy.
National Economic Council (NEC). A council patterned after the National Security Council created by President Clinton to coordinate foreign and domestic economic policy matters. The NEC is headed by the national economic council advisor, who is expected to facilitate coordination of relevant policy concerns.
National Security Adviser. The head of the NSC staff, who may sometimes have a strong influence on foreign and defence policies.
National Security Agency (NSA). A highly secret intelligence-gathering agency operated by the Department of Defense.[Page 302]
National Security Council (NSC). Created by Congress in 1947 to advise the president on foreign policy and to coordinate its implementation.
National supremacy. The principle, stated in Article VI as the ‘supremacy clause’, that makes the Constitution and those laws and treaties passed under it the ‘supreme law of the land’.
Nationalism. The widely held belief that the people who occupy the same territory have something in common, that the nation is a single community.
Nation-state. A political entity comprising a people with some common cultural experience (nation), who also share a common political authority (state), recognized by other sovereignties (nation-states).
Necessary and proper clause. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, which enumerates the powers of Congress and provides Congress with the authority to make all laws ‘necessary and proper’ to carry them out; also referred to as the ‘elastic clause’.
New Federalism. Attempts by Presidents Nixon and Reagan to return power to the states through block grants.
New Jersey plan. A framework for the Constitution which called for equal representation in the national legislature regardless of a state's population.
Nomination. The process through which political parties select their candidates for election to public office.
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). An agreement among the nations of Canada, Mexico and the United States that promotes economic cooperation and abolishes many trade restrictions between the three nations.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). A 1949 treaty tying US security interests to those of Western European and other member nations. It represented a major break in the US commitment to unilateralism.
Open primary. A primary election in which the voter can wait until the day of the primary to choose which party to enrol in to select candidates for the general election.
Opinion. The written explanation of the Supreme Court's decision in a particular case.
Original jurisdiction. The authority to hear a case before any other court does.
Originalism. An approach to constitutional interpretation.
Oversight. The effort by Congress, through hearings, investigations and other techniques, to exercise control over the activities of executive agencies.
Partisan primary. A primary election in which candidates run for their own party's nomination.[Page 303]
Partisanship. Loyalty to a particular political party.
Party identification. The tendency of people to think of themselves as Democrats, Republicans or independents.
Party machines. Local party organizations that control urban politics by mobilizing voters to elect the machines’ candidates.
Party vote. A roll-call vote in the House or Senate in which at least 50 per cent of the members of one party take a particular position and are opposed by at least 50 per cent of the members of the other party. Party votes were fairly common in the nineteenth century, became increasingly rare over the twentieth, only to recover somewhat in the 1980s and 1990s.
Party whips. Members of Congress who support the party leaders in the House and Senate by communicating the party positions to the membership and keeping the leaders informed of members’ views.
Party-as-organization. With few members, this primarily consists of state and county chairpersons and ward and precinct captains who work for the party throughout the year, recruiting candidates and participating in fundraising activities.
Party-centred campaigns. A campaign in which the party coordinates activities, raises money, and develops strategies.
Party-in-the-electorate. Includes anyone who identifies with a particular party, tends to vote for that party's candidates and may even contribute to its campaigns.
Party-in-government. The individuals who have been elected or appointed to a government office under a party label. They play a major role in organizing government and in setting policy.
Patronage. The resources available to higher officials, usually opportunities to make partisan appointments to offices and confer grants, licences, or special favours to supporters.
Pendleton Act. The federal law enacted in 1883 that replaced the patronage system with the merit system.
Plaintiff. The individual or organization who brings a complaint in court.
Platforms. Statements of party goals and specific policy agendas that are taken seriously by the party's candidates but are not binding.
Plessy v. Ferguson(1896). In an infamous case, the Supreme Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment's ‘equal protection of the law’ clause was not violated by racial distinction as long as the ‘separate’ facilities were ‘equal’.
Pluralism. The view that political power is and should be dispersed among many elites that share a common acceptance of the rules of the game.[Page 304]
Plurality system. An electoral system in which, to win a seat in parliament or other representative body, a candidate need only win the most votes in the election, not necessarily a majority of votes cast.
Pocket veto. An action whereby the president fails to sign a bill during the last ten days of a term and thereby effectively kills the bill.
Police powers. The powers of state governments over the regulation of behaviour within their borders. These police powers were used to justify state jurisdiction over economic matters.
Policy adoption. The stage of policymaking at which a struggle to gain government support occurs, typically demanding much bargaining and compromise.
Policy evaluation. The last stage in the policymaking process: looking at government actions and programmes to see whether goals have been achieved or to assess a policy's effectiveness and efficiency.
Policy formulation. Policymakers and their staffs deliberate the pros and cons of each issue in a process that may take years to complete.
Policy implementation. The carrying out of policy mandates through public programmes and actions.
Political Action Committee (PAC). An independent organization that interest groups, officeholders, and political candidates can establish for the sole purpose of contributing money to the campaigns of candidates who sympathize with its aims. PACs are the result of federal laws that prohibit most interest groups from donating money to political campaigns.
Political consultant. An individual, trained in public relations, media or polling techniques, who advises candidates on organizing their campaign.
Political culture. A set of values, beliefs and traditions about politics and government that are shared by most members of society. Political culture in the United States includes faith in democracy, representative government, freedom of speech and individual rights.
Political efficacy. The perception of one's ability to have an impact on the political system.
Political ideology. A pattern of complex political ideas presented in an understandable structure that inspires people to act to achieve certain goals.
Political participation. Encompasses a broad range of activities, from involvement in learning about politics to engagement in efforts that directly affect the structure of government, the selection of government authorities, or the policies of government.
Political parties. A coalition of people organized formally to recruit, nominate and elect individuals to office and to use elected office to achieve shared political goals.[Page 305]
Political socialization. The process by which individuals acquire political values and knowledge about politics. It is strongly influenced by people with whom the individual has contact from early childhood through adulthood.
Polity. A society with an organized government; the ‘political system’.
Poll tax. A state-imposed tax upon the voters as a prerequisite to registration. It was rendered unconstitutional in national elections by the Twenty-fourth Amendment and in state elections by the Supreme Court in 1966.
Popular sovereignty. The concept that the best form of government is one that reflects the general will of the people, which is the sum total of those interests that all citizens have in common. First described by Jean-Jacques Rousseau at the time of the American Revolution.
Populism. A late 1870s political and social movement of western and southern farmers that challenged eastern business interests; a set of ideological beliefs that tends to favour government intervention in both economic and personal affairs.
Pork-barrel legislation. Legislation that appropriates funds for local projects in an area that a member of Congress represents.
Power. The capacity and ability to influence the behaviour and choices of others through the use of politically relevant resources.
Precedents. Prior cases whose principles are used by judges as the bases for their decisions in present cases.
Precinct. The bottom of the typical local party structure: a voting district that generally covers an area of several blocks.
Preferential primary. A primary election in which the elected delegates to a convention are instructed, but not bound, to vote specifically for the presidential candidate preferred by the voters on a separate part of the ballot.
Presidency. Although relegated to the second article of the federal Constitution, the presidency has emerged as the fulcrum of American government. The New Deal expanded the responsibilities of the federal government and the role of the executive branch in administrating federal programmes, while American participation in the Second World War – and the rapid transformation of that conflict into the Cold War – sustained the importance of foreign affairs to the United States. Although the presidential dominance of the era from 1941 to 1966 has been eroded since, the presidency remains the single most important office in American government.
Primary election. An election in which party members select candidates to run for office under the party banner.
Priming. The capacity of the mass media to isolate particular issues, events or themes in the news as the criteria for evaluating politicians.[Page 306]
Privileges and immunities clause. A provision in Article IV of the Constitution stating that the citizens of one state will not be treated unreasonably by officials of another state. That is, citizens of one state are guaranteed the ‘privileges and immunities’ of every other state, as though they were citizens of that state.
Progressive/regressive taxes. A judgement made by students of taxation about whether a particular tax hits the upper brackets more heavily (progressive) or the lower brackets more heavily (regressive).
Project grants. Grants awarded to states and localities for a specific programme or plan of action.
Proportional representation. The electoral system whereby legislative seats are assigned to party candidates in proportion to the percentage of the vote that the party receives in the election.
Public law. Cases in private law, civil law or criminal law in which one party to the dispute argues that a licence is unfair, a law in inequitable or unconstitutional, or an agency has acted unfairly, violated a procedure or gone beyond its jurisdiction.
Public policies. Actions taken by government officials in response to problems and issues raised through the political system.
Racial gerrymandering. Redrawing congressional boundary lines in such a way as to divide and disperse a minority population that otherwise would constitute a majority within the original district.
Realignment. A major shift by voters from one party to another that occurs when one party becomes dominant in the political system, controlling the presidency and Congress as well as many state legislatures.
Reapportionment. The redrawing of election districts and the redistribution of legislative representatives due to shifts in population after each ten-year census.
Red tape. The complex bureaucratic rules and procedures that make it difficult to get things done.
Referendum. The practice of referring a measure proposed or passed by a legislature to the vote of the electorate for approval or rejection.
Regulation. The rules that the federal bureaucracy develops to implement legislation.
Regulatory agencies. Departments, bureaux or independent agencies, whose primary mission is to eliminate or restrict certain behaviours defined as being undesirable in themselves or undesirable in their consequences.
Regulatory commissions. Federal agencies led by presidentially appointed boards that make and enforce policies affecting various sectors of the US economy. Formally [Page 307]independent of the White House to avoid presidential interference, these agencies employ large professional staffs to help them carry out their many functions.
Regulatory techniques. Techniques that government uses to influence the conduct of people.
Reinventing government. An approach to bureaucratic reform adopted by the Clinton administration that emphasized empowerment and decentralization in order to enhance the performance of government agencies and programmes.
Religiosity. The scope and intensity of religious beliefs among Americans. The United States remains distinguished by resistance to the secularizing trends that have affected European nations in the modern era. One important consequence has been to sustain issues such as abortion, school prayer, pornography and gay rights as salient issues in American politics.
Representative democracy. A system of government that provides the populace with the opportunity to make the government responsive to its views through the selection of representatives who, in turn, play a significant role in government decision-making.
Republic. A form of government in which decisions are made democratically by elected or appointed officials.
Republicanism. A doctrine of government in which decisions are made by elected or appointed officials who are answerable to the people; decisions are not made directly by the people themselves.
Reserved powers. Sometimes called ‘residual powers’, these are the powers that the Constitution provides for the states, although it does not list them specifically. As stated in the Tenth Amendment, these include all powers not expressly given to the national government or denied to the states.
Retrospective voting. The process by which individuals base their voting decisions on the candidates’ or parties’ past record of performance, not its promises for the future.
Revenue acts. Acts of Congress providing the means of raising the revenues needed by the government. The Constitution requires that all such bills originate in the House of Representatives.
Revenue sharing. A scheme to allocate national resources to the states according to a population and income formula.
Riders. Provisions that Congress knows the president opposes but that Congress attaches to bills the president otherwise desires.
Roe v. Wade(1973). One of the most famous cases, in which the Court held unconstitutional all state laws making abortion a crime. The Court ruled that states could not interfere in a woman's ‘right to privacy’ and her right to choose to terminate a pregnancy.[Page 308]
Roll-call vote. A vote in which each legislator's yes or no vote is recorded as the clerk calls the names of the members alphabetically.
Rule of law. The principle that there is a standard of impartiality, fairness and equality against which all government actions can be evaluated. More narrowly, the concept that no individual stands above the law and that rulers, like those they rule, are answerable to the law. It was one of the most important legacies of the Framers of the Constitution.
Run-off primary. An election between the two top primary vote getters that determines the party's candidate in a general election. It is held in the southern states, where a majority of the vote is needed to win the primary. It is criticized as a device for excluding black candidates from winning nominations.
Select, or special, committees. Temporary committees established by the House of Representatives or the Senate to study particular problems.
Seniority system. A tradition through which the member of the majority party with the longest continuous service on a committee automatically becomes its chair. A neutral method of selection which privileges those members of Congress most successful at reelection (or those with the least competitive contests). For much of the twentieth century, this accorded white southern segregationists disproportionate influence in Congress. Although the power of committee chairs was undermined by the reforms of the 1970s, seniority remains the principle which – with few, but significant, exceptions – still determines who occupies the leadership of committees.
Separation of powers. The division of the powers to make, execute and judge the law among the three branches of American government: the Congress, the presidency and the courts. This principle was adopted by the Framers to prevent the tyranny and factionalism in the government. However, no actual separation exists, since this was deliberately compromised by the establishment of checks and balances. What does exist is a separation of personnel, such that no member of one branch of government can simultaneously hold office in another branch – another means by which the independence of the three branches is buttressed.
Simple majority. Fifty per cent plus one of those actually voting.
Single-issue group. An activist group that seeks to lobby Congress on a single or narrow range of issues.
Single-member district electoral system. The system of election used in America in all national and state elections and most local elections. Officials are elected from districts that are served by only one legislator, and a candidate must win a plurality – more votes than any other candidate, but not necessarily a majority – to win election.
Slander. Injury by spoken word which, like libel, is outside First Amendment protection and punishable by criminal law and civil prosecution.
Social Security. A contributory welfare programme into which working Americans [Page 309]contribute a percentage of their wages, and from which they receive cash benefits after retirement.
Soft money. Money contributed directly to political parties for voter registration and organization.
Solicitor General. The top government lawyer in all cases before the appellate courts where the government is a party.
Sound bite. A word or phrase that is meant to convey a larger meaning or image; used by political candidates to describe briefly their stand on issues.
Speaker of the House. The only House position created by the Constitution. The Speaker is chosen by a vote of the majority party and is the presiding officer of the House, the leader of its majority party, and second in line to succeed the president. Some Speakers have acted as effective prime ministers during periods of divided government. Most notably, Jim Wright and Newt Gingrich assumed aggressive, pro-active policy roles.
Split-ticket voting. The practice of casting ballots for the candidates of at least two different political parties in the same election. Voters who support only one party's candidates are said to vote a straight party ticket.
Spoils system. The system by which the party controlling the White House is able to hire its supporters as federal employees.
Standing. The right of an individual or organization to initiate a case.
Standing committees. Permanently established committees that consider proposed legislation in specified policy areas and decide whether to recommend passage by the larger body.
Stare decisis. Latin for ‘let the decision stand’. A previous decision by a court applies as a precedent in similar cases until that decision is overruled.
State. A community that claims the monopoly of legitimate use of physical force within a given territory; the ultimate political authority or sovereign.
Statute. A law enacted by a state legislature or by Congress.
Straight party vote. The practice of casting ballots for candidates of only one party.
Sub-governments. Alliances among specific agencies, interest groups and relevant members of Congress. In their most extreme forms, called ‘iron triangles’, these alliances may effectively exercise authority in a narrow policy area, such as tobacco price supports. Other forms of sub-governments, called issue networks, involve a large number of participants with different degrees of interest.
Subsidies. Governmental grants of cash or other valuable commodities, such as land, to individuals or organizations. Subsidies can be used to promote activities desired by the government, to reward political support or to buy off political opposition.[Page 310]
Substantive due process. A judicial doctrine used by the appellate courts, primarily before 1937, to strike down economic legislation the courts felt was arbitrary or unreasonable.
Suffrage. The right to vote.
Supremacy clause. A provision in Article IV declaring the Constitution the supreme law of the land, taking precedence over state laws.
Supreme Court. The highest court in a particular state or in the United States. It serves primarily an appellate function.
Tariffs. Taxes on goods brought into the country from abroad that are often intended to protect growing domestic industries from foreign competition.
Three-fifths Compromise. Agreement reached at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 that stipulated that for purposes of the apportionment of congressional seats, every slave would be counted as three-fifths of a person.
Ticket-balancing. Strategy of party leaders to nominate candidates from each of the major ethnic, racial and religious affiliations.
Ticket-splitting. The practice of voting for candidates of different parties on the same ballot.
Treaties. Legally binding pacts by which two or more nations formalize an agreement reached through negotiation.
Trial court. The first court to hear a criminal or civil case.
Turnout. The percentage of eligible individuals who actually vote.
Unfunded mandates. Required actions imposed on lower-level governments by federal and state governments that are not accompanied by money to pay for the activities being mandated.
Unicameral. A legislature composed of only one house.
Unilateralism. The policy of taking action independently in foreign affairs, avoiding political or military alliances.
Unitary system. A form of government in which ultimate authority rests with the national government. Whatever powers state or local governments have under this type of government are derived from the central government.
United States v. Nixon(1974). The Supreme Court declared unconstitutional President Nixon's refusal to surrender subpoenaed tapes as evidence in a criminal prosecution. It held that executive privilege did not extend to data in presidential files or tapes bearing on a criminal prosecution.[Page 311]
Veto. An important presidential check on the power of Congress. It is the president's power to reject legislation passed by Congress. The veto can be overruled, however, by a two-thirds vote of both chambers of Congress. In 1995, Congress passed a limited line-item veto that gave the president power to strike specific provisions of appropriation and tax bills but this was subsequently ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
Virginia Plan. A framework for the Constitution, introduced by Edmund Randolph, which called for representation in the national legislature based upon the population of each state.
Voting Rights Act (1965). The Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 and represents one of the landmark legislative measures in civil rights history. By allowing black Americans in the South to register to vote with federal registrars rather than their local courthouses, the measure contributed to a steep increase in the black electorate and, largely as a consequence, a steady increase in the number of black elected officials at local, state and federal level. Amended by Congress in 1975 and 1982, judicial interpretations of its provisions against minority vote ‘dilution’ yielded several congressional districts whose boundaries were drawn in order to elect a minority representative to the House of Representatives.
Wall of separation. An interpretation of the establishment clause that requires a complete separation of government and religion.
War Powers Resolution (WPR) (1973). Passed by Congress over the veto of President Nixon, the WPR was a response to the conduct of the Vietnam War under Johnson and Nixon and the development of the ‘imperial presidency’. Successive presidents ignored or contested the constitutionality of the WPR, and the Supreme Court has consistently refused to offer a clear ruling on the question. More important in limiting American military interventionism has been the legacy of Vietnam – the ‘Vietnam syndrome’ – that cautioned presidents against using ground troops in large numbers against a powerful or tenacious opponent.
Wards. City council districts that are, in the party organization, a level below that of the citywide level.
Whip system. Primarily a communications network in each house of Congress. Whips poll the rank-and-file membership to learn their voting intentions on specific legislative issues and to assist the majority and minority leaderships in various tasks.
White House Office. An agency within the Executive Office of the President that comprises the president's key advisors and assistants who help him with the daily requirements of the presidency.
The Constitution of the United States of America[Page 312]Preamble
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.Article ISection 1.
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.Section 2.
The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.
No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other [Page 313]Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.
When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.
The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.Section 3.
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.
Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.
No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.
The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.
The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.
The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.[Page 314]Section 4.
The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.Section 5.
Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.
Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behavior, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.
Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.
Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.Section 6.
The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.
No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.Section 7.
All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.
Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he [Page 315]shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.
Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.Section 8.
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
To establish Post Offices and post Roads;
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
To constitute Tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;[Page 316]
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repeal Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of Particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards and other needful Buildings; – And
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.Section 9.
The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census of Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.
No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.
No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear or pay Duties in another.
No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.
[Page 317]No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State.Section 10.
No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.
No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.
No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.Article IISection 1.
The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representatives from each State having one Vote; a quorum [Page 318]for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.
The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.
No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.
The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.
Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation: – ‘I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.’Section 2.
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess [Page 319]of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.Section 3.
He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information on the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.Section 4.
The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.Article IIISection 1.
The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.Section 2.
The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority; – to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls; – to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction; – to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party; – to Controversies between two or more States; – between a State and Citizens of another State; – between Citizens of different States; – between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the Supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.
The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.[Page 320]Section 3.
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.Article IVSection 1.
Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.Section 2.
The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.
A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.
No Person held to Service or Labor in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labor, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labor may be due.Section 3.
New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.
The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.Section 4.
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.[Page 321]Article V
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.Article VI
All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any state to the Contrary notwithstanding.
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.Article VII
The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the same.Amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America
Articles in addition to, and amendment of, the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the several states, pursuant to the Fifth Article of the original Constitution.Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.Amendment II
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.[Page 322]Amendment III
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.Amendment VII
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.Amendment VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.[Page 323]Amendment XI
The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.Amendment XII
The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate; – The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted; – The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President – The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.Amendment XIII
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.Amendment XIV
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens [Page 324]of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.Amendment XV
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.Amendment XVI
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.[Page 325]Amendment XVII
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.
When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.Amendment XVIII
Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
Section 2. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.Amendment XIX
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.Amendment XX
Section 1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.
Section 2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.
Section 3. If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall [Page 326]not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.
Section 4. The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.
Section 5. Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article.
Section 6. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission.Amendment XXI
Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
Section 2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.
Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.Amendment XXII
Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President, when this Article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.
Section 2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the Congress.[Page 327]Amendment XXIII
Section 1. The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct: A number of electors of President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.
Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.Amendment XXIV
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.Amendment XXV
Section 1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.
Section 2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
Section 3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.
Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body [Page 328]as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.Amendment XXVI
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.
Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.Amendment XXVII
No law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.
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