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AP GOVERNMENT – REVIEW

(revised 4/27/15)

I. STRUCTURE OF EXAM

TIME # QUESTIONS TYPE OF QUESTION %GRADE


45 min. 60 Mult. Choice 50%
100 min. 4 Essay 50%

The Exam is 2 hours and 25 minutes long. The majority of this is devoted to writing
four mandatory essays (100 minutes). The multiple-choice portion is now graded on strict
right/wrong answers, therefore there is NO penalty for guessing. Make an educated guess
as to EVERY multiple-choice question! Also, attempt each essay. Even if you are only
giving background information on the TOPIC without specific details, such answers may
well stumble into points. You may know more about a topic than you realize. Write an
answer for EVERY essay. This is the difference between 2s and 3s, or 3s and 4s, in most
cases.

AP scores range from a low of 1 (No recommended college credit) to a high of 5


(Extremely well qualified). You need to obtain a 3 (Qualified) in order to be considered by
most colleges for exam credit. To obtain a 3, you only need to answer 50 - 60% of the
multiple choice questions correctly and score in the middle to upper range on the essay
portion of the exam. If you spend the time preparing for this exam and learning the basics
(i.e. at least 60% of the information), you will have no problem reaching a 3. Good Luck.

II. 6 TOPICS COVERED ON EXAM

1) Topic: Constitutional Underpinnings of American Government


Percentage of Exam: 5 - 15%
Objectives:
*Why did Madison fear factions?
*Why was the Bill of Rights adopted swiftly?
1. Considerations that influenced the formulation and adoption of the
Constitution.
2. Separation of Powers
3. Federalism
4. Theories of democratic government (republican gov’t, pluralism, and
elitism)

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2) Topic: Political Beliefs and Behaviors
Percentage of Exam: 10 - 20%
Objectives:
1. Beliefs that citizens hold about their government and its leaders
2. Processes by which citizens learn about politics (families, school, media)
3. The nature, source, and consequences of public opinion
4. The ways in which citizens vote and otherwise participate in political life
(voting, protest, mass movements)
5. Factors that influence citizens to differ from one another in terms of
political beliefs and behaviors (demographics, race, wealth)

3) Topic: Political Parties, interest groups, and mass media


Percentage of Exam: 10 - 20%
Objectives:
A. Political parties and elections
1. Functions
2. Organization
3. Development
4. Effects on the Political Process
B. Interest Groups, including Political Action Comm. (PAC’s)
1. The range of interests represented
2. The activities of interest groups
3. The effects of interest groups on the political process
4. The unique characteristics and roles of PACs in the political process
C. The Mass Media
1. The functions and structures of the media
2. The impacts of media on politics

4) Topic: Institutions of National Government: Congress, Presidency, Bureaucracy,


and Federal Courts
Percentage of Exam: 35 - 45%
Objectives:
*What are the conflicting interests and powers of Congress and the President
which help explain the repeated struggles to adopt a national budget?
A. The major formal and informal institutional arrangements of power
B. Relationships among these four institutions, and varying balances of
power
C. Linkages between institutions and the following:
1. Public opinion and voters
2. Interest Groups
3. Political Parties
4. The media
5. Subnational governments

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5) Topic: Public Policy
Percentage of Exam: 5 - 15%
Objectives:
*Iron Triangles
A. Policy making in a federal system
B. The formation of policy agendas
C. The role of institutions in the enactment of policy
D. The role of bureaucracy and the courts in policy implementation and
interpretation
E. Linkages between policy processes and the following:
1. Political institutions and federalism
2. Political Parties
3. Interest Groups
4. Public Opinion
5. Elections
6. Policy Networks

6) Topic: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties


Percentage of Exam: 5 - 15%
Objectives:
*Marbury v. Madison -- judicial review
*Terry v. Ohio -- expanded police power to ‘stop & frisk’
*Mapp v. Ohio -- exclusionary rule
*Roper v. Simmons – death to <18 yrs. old violates 8th Amd.
*Lemon v. Kurtzman -- separation of church & state
*Van Orden v. Perry (McCreary County) – 10 commandment cases
*Roe v. Wade (Griswold v. Connecticut) -- right to privacy
*Lawrence v. Texas – Gay sex is ok (‘liberty’ interest)
*McCulloch v. Maryland -- expanded federal power
*U.S. v. Nixon -- limited power of executive privilege
*Bakke v. Regents -- affirmative action/equal protection
*Grutter v. Bollinger – affirmative action ok for diversity (~25 yrs?)
1. The development of civil liberties and civil rights by judicial
interpretation
2. Knowledge of substantive rights and liberties
3. The impact of the Fourteenth Amendment on the constitutional
development of rights and liberties

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III. HOW TO TAKE THE MULTIPLE CHOICE SECTION

Beginning in 2011, College Board changed the way the multiple choice section is
scored. They adopted a ‘points earned’ system based on the number of questions you get
correct. Thus, there is no penalty for guessing. At least try to Guess on every question! (Ok,
that sounds bad like I’m just encouraging guessing. What I mean is, do NOT leave multiple
choice questions blank. Make an educated guess where you are unsure. You never know,
you might get it right. And, since there is no penalty for missing a question, why not go for
it?
Each question usually has five possible answers (Scantron A-E). Two will usually be
obviously wrong ‘distractors’ leaving three choices. Of those, two will be very ‘tricky.’ Use
your knowledge from class and your materials to select the ‘most correct’ answer.
In recent years, there was a push to have more visual interpretation on the Exam.
Thus, there may be about 6 of 60 multiple choice questions that refer to some chart, graph,
or cartoon to determine the answer. Similarly, on the essay portion of the Exam, one (or
more) of the essay prompts usually has a visual to which the question refers.

IV. HOW TO TAKE THE ESSAY SECTION

There is no choice in which essays you write. There are 4 and they are all mandatory.
You cannot skip any!! Each of the essays is weighted equally, meaning that each of the four
essays counts for one-fourth of the total grade on the essay portion of the test (i.e. You must
try them all! Don’t just write a book on the one or two you know about. Once you get the
points, the rest of your information is just a waste of time. This is not an English paper so
no one really cares about your style and depth of writing!)

One or more of the essays may be data-based (i.e. requiring you to analyze and
respond to information contained in a graph, chart, cartoon, etc.) You should try to time
yourself and spend about 25 minutes per essay depending on the depth of the question. If
you feel that you are about to run out of time, outline the remainder of your essay putting
the key information in bullet form.

Read the question carefully to determine what it wants! Underline the key parts of
the essay question and make sure that you perform all tasks that are listed in the question.
(While this sounds simple, many people are in such a hurry, they overlook the simple things
like giving 3 examples when called for or taking a position, etc.) The essays are seeking to
get you to regurgitate a range of specific information. You receive points for hitting those
areas. In some instances, you receive points for even picking to agree or disagree, therefore,
leaving an essay blank proves you are an idiot. Play the system and obtain at least a few
points. Those precious few points could mean the difference between a 2 and a 3. Although
it is not encouraged, if you sort of remember a topic but are not sure if it represents x or y,
beat around the bush in your essay and state both facts in an eloquent manner. If the reader

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feels that you knew the information, they may give you a point. Whatever you do, Never
leave an essay blank.

Because the readers are taking about 90 seconds to read your essay, they are scanning
for key points. To assist them in determining the organization and purpose of your essay,
always put in a thesis sentence. Use paragraphing to make it easy for them to find point 1,
point 2, etc. Below is a list of the type of question types you will see:

* To what extent (explain the relationship and role)


* Evaluate the claim (determine the validity)
* Assess the accuracy (determine the truth of the statement)
* Critically evaluate evident that both supports and refutes (give
examples that agree and disagree)
* Define and evaluate the contention
(give a definition and analyze the point of view)
* Compare the strengths and weaknesses (show differences)
* Analyze the effects of (evaluate the impact)
* Explain (offer the meaning, cause, effect, influence)
* Discuss ( give examples that illustrate)

Although it goes without saying, write neatly. If they can’t read it in 90 seconds, it is
not likely that they are going to try to decipher your “unique” penmanship. Finally, because
the rubrics may be very ‘tight,’ it is advisable to rephrase the prompt as a statement in your
answer. (In 2010, the question asked about re-election rates of Democratic Congressmen vs.
Democratic Presidential candidates. If you did not use the word “Democratic” in your
answer, you got NO points. If you had restated the prompt, you would have gotten the
points.)

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V. EXAM TOPIC NUTSHELLS

A. Constitutional Underpinnings of American Government


Percentage of Exam: 5 - 15%

1. Defining “Government” and “Politics” and Their Relationship to Public


Policy

Government can be defined as those institutions that create public policy.


Constitutionally, this means the three branches of government (Executive, Legislative and
Judicial). Modern theory of government has added a “fourth branch of government”, that
of the bureaucracy that implements public policy.

A noted political scientist Harold Laswell defined politics as “who gets what, when,
and how”. This definition can be expanded to include “why” some are able to succeed or
fail in obtaining election or implementing public policy. Politics is not defined in the
constitution, but rather evolved out of the writings of our founding fathers. Politics is
characterized by conflict and resolution, compromise, and the interrelationship of
individuals and groups.

In the end: Government + Politics = Public Policy; What the government does
through politics results in public policy.

2. Origins of Representative Democracy

Early in our nation’s history, it became evident that the founding fathers believed
that a democracy should rely on the consent of the people. This emanated from the writings
of John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government which states that men have natural rights
in nature such as the right to life, liberty and accumulating property, and only give up their
inherent freedom in becoming subservient to a government so that the government might
protect them (i.e. police protect life, property, etc.) This is known as Social-Contract Theory.
A necessary corollary, however, is that if the government fails to protect its citizens in the
basics of life, liberty or property, then the citizens have a duty and obligation to revolt and
overthrow the government. These ideas are expressed clearly by our Declaration of
Independence and also shine throughout the Constitution.

Under social-contract theory, the focus of government becomes the individual. In a


direct democracy, all citizens have input and the wishes of the majority become law. In a
large society, such a system becomes impractical and often unfair to the individuals in the
minority. Our nation has adopted a republican form of government whereby all citizens
can vote for representatives who then temper the often intolerant attitude of the masses.
This is called and indirect-democracy. Thus, a republic serves a goal of reducing “mob

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rule.” Remember, however, that “ballot initiative” and “recall” processes have allowed
states to empower such “mob rule,” at least at the state level. This is destructive to the
power of the republican principle of limiting chaotic mob mentality.

One important thing to remember is that our government also took two attempts to
get it right. The first government was based upon the Articles of Confederation. A
confederation is a national government whose power emanates from the individual states
that make up the nation. Without their consent, the national government is essentially very
weak. Our Founding Fathers set up our new government in this manner to avoid a new
tyrannical King. Thus, our national government consisted of a one-house congress in which
legislation had to be passed by 2/3 majority. There was no Executive or Judiciary and the
only powers of congress were to declare war, make peace and sign treaties. These powers
were limited however because the congress could not draft for an army or tax individual
states to raise revenue to pay for programs. All of the limitations on the national
government led to chaos with individual states taxing one another to achieve dominance in
trade and no army to defend our fledgling nation. States and individual state legislatures
became the dominant forces. Economic problems took over as our nation tried to repay its
war debts. Ultimately, farmers (who were being taxed to repay war debts and were losing
their farms) who believed that the new government was not fulfilling the objectives of the
Declaration of Independence took up arms. Shays’ Rebellion, a farmer led march/riot led
by Daniel Shays, to protest taxation of farmers and seizure of lands was quelled, but not
before the message was sent. The laws affecting farmers were changed. Seeing that
government was susceptible to influence by armed factions, many called for change in the
government. Because it took a unanimous vote of the Congress to amend the Articles of
Confederation, there was no easy way to change things.

By 1787, the calls for change were loud. A Constitutional Convention finally
convened in Philadelphia in 1789. Quickly, the delegates determined to not revise the
Articles, but to start drafting an entirely new Constitution. This set the stage for a debate
about how much power to give the national government. There arose a debate between
those favoring a strong national government (The Federalists) and those favoring
maintaining strong state control of national policy (Anti-Federalists).

The Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay argued
that a “tyranny of the majority” would result if states and individuals simply allowed to
run the national government. They believed that there should be a system of checks and
balances to ensure the protection of minorities. Thus, the three branches of government
(new Executive and Judiciary) would practice separation of powers. Furthermore, there
was a representative system in place to ensure insulation of the government from strong
factions (See Madison’s Federalist #10). (i.e. representative democracy or republican form
of government described above).

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The Anti-Federalists, led by the emerging middle-class believed that the new
national government would firmly establish the economic elite in power and create the
potential for abuse, especially in the area of individual liberties. The Anti-Federalist insisted
that a Bill of Rights be attached to the new Constitution prior to its enactment.

The debate over power led to the creation of a bicameral (2 house) legislature. The
lower House would be popularly elected by the citizens of each states, while the members
of the upper Senate would be elected by the state legislatures (this was later changed by
constitutional amendment (17th) to allow for popular election of Senators). This
compromise that allowed for some popular input into government while allowing a stable
upper-house was called the Connecticut Compromise. Furthermore, the basic powers of
the Congress were detailed in Article 1 of the Constitution. This established the basis
concept of federalism in our government. That is, the division of powers between the
national and state governments. Unlike the Articles of Confederation, however, this new
Constitution stated in Article 6 that the national governments’ laws were supreme. This is
the supremacy clause which means that states may not pass laws in conflict with those
which Congress passes.

Once the structure of government had been agreed upon, the basic freedom
questions were debated. Ultimately, the Anti-Federalists were successful in delaying the
approval of the new Constitution until Madison and Hamilton promised that the new
Congress’ first priority would be to draft a Bill of Rights to send to the states for ratification.

3. Our Republic in the Age of Initiatives

Our Founding Fathers didn’t trust us!! Remember what Madison said in Federalist
#10 about “men are not angels” indicating what we know is true from Locke’s Second
Treatise on Gov’t: left to our own devices, we will form groups hell-bent on getting our way
and destroying all others. This leads to Madison’s “tyranny of the majority” from Fed. #10.
To defuse the ability of passions of the day from becoming ruling law, the Founders
instituted a system of supermajorities into the Constitution. That is, in order to change the
Constitution, it takes almost all of the people’s consent (2/3 Congress; ¾ of States). Thus,
while people “demand” that their Congress pass a Constitutional Amendment to overturn
Roe v. Wade, require a balanced budget, allow prayer in school, or protect the flag from
desecration, these Amendments have thus far failed to attract the supermajority needed for
passage. Closest was the Balanced Budget Amendment which failed by 1 vote in the Senate
in 1995.

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4 “FORMAL” METHODS TO AMEND CONSTITUTION

a) 2/3 vote both houses of Congress, and

* Ratified by State Legislatures in 3/4 of States; or


* Ratified by Ratifying Conventions in 3/4 of States.

b) Constitutional Convention
(called at request of 2/3 of states), and

* Ratified by State Legislatures in 3/4 of States; or


* Ratified by Ratifying Conventions in 3/4 of States.

That is not to say that our Constitution cannot be changed “informally.” This occurs all the
time as the Supreme Court issues opinions or “Case Law” that explains our Constitution and interprets
its provisions. Also, the practices of our Congress/President become accepted. For example, the
ability of Presidents to use “Executive Privilege” has become a part of our established doctrine
through history.

Unfortunately, while our Founding Fathers knew about human nature being corrupt at its core
(“original sin”), we tend to forget such things and believe that we can trust each other. This has led
to the rise of Inititiative whereby voters can gather enough signatures of registered voters on a petition
to force an issue to be put on the ballot. This allows organized groups to put an issue on the ballot
and then vote it into law which takes us right back to “Mob Rule” direct democracy. The self-serving
nature of this is demonstrated in CA where they have limited taxes only to find themselves with no
money to fund schools, roads, etc. Another area where our indirect democracy has been compromised
is where Legislators abdicated their responsibility to make tough decisions by “letting the voters
decide” in a Referendum. This is where the measure is simply put on the ballot for the voters to
decide yes/no. While this sounds nice, how qualified is the electorate to make technical decisions on
complicated issues? If the legislators with their expertise and staff can’t decide on “Clean Air
Legislation”, what makes anyone think that Grandpa who watches “Wheel of Fortune” can get it
right?
These rise of Initiative and Referendum are a threat to our system of indirect democracy which
was implemented by our Founding Fathers to protect us from ourselves. Only via a republic (indirect
democracy) can we isolate the “tyranny of the majority” and allow our nation to be evenly, equally
and fairly governed.

4. Federalism (Dual, Layer Cake, Marble Cake)

Federalism is defined as the division of power between the state and national
government. Where one draws the line to divide the power is a constant struggle that has
even resulted in a Civil War.
The Constitution and Bill of Rights define a federal system whereby certain powers
are given to the federal government (e.g. Congress in Article I, Sec. 8 allowing federal
control of post offices, monetary policy and the military) while most others are reserved to
the States (e.g. 10th Amendment). A limited amount of power would be jointly exercised

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(e.g. courts,etc.) In this structure, the power of the federal government should be
interpreted narrowly. This dual federalism became the first type of relationship for the
United States. Each level of government was dominant within its own sphere with the
Supreme Court serving as the umpire in case of disputes. Thus, in dual federalism, the
powers and policy assignments of the layers of government are distinct, as in a layer cake.
Because of this, dual federalism is often referred to as layer cake federalism. (Thus, a
conservative Republican might endorse this concept of federalism in that it keeps the
powers of the federal government in check by limiting their power to their layer.)
Even after the Civil War, this layer cake federalism continued with the states
continuing to control things on the local levels. Supreme Court cases such as Plessy v.
Ferguson (1896) allowed for “separate but equal” facilities for minorities, in spite of federal
efforts to pass Civil Rights legislation. This form of federalism with the federal and state
government controlling certain spheres existed until about the 1930’s when the Supreme
Court redefined the relationship between the federal government and states.

With the passage of the 14th Amendment in 1868 and the Supreme Court’s initial
adoption of the Doctrine of Incorporation making the Bill of Rights applicable to the States
in the 1920’s, the relationship between state and federal government was changed
dramatically. In addition, the political needs of the nation during the Great Depression
brought about a need for cooperation between the federal gov’t and states to make the New
Deal and WWII a success. Thus, a new concept of federalism evolved whereby a
cooperative federalism existed that functioned as a system to deliver governmental goods
and services to the people and called for cooperation among levels of government to “get
the job done.” This cooperative federalism blurred the lines of distinction between state
and federal levels of control because powers and policy assignments were shared. Thus,
cooperative federalism is often referred to as marble cake federalism. (Thus, what was once
seen as “cooperation” between state and federal governments are more blurred. With the
increased use of “strings” attached to categorical grants from the federal government, the
making and implementation of policy is increasingly driven by the federal government. As
such a conservative Republican would reject this concept of federalism, while a liberal
Democrat would favor it.)
The major impact of cooperative federalism is that it became extremely difficult to
determine where the responsibility of the federal government ended and the role of the state
governments began. Cooperative federalism today has three standard methods of
operation:
a) Cost Sharing -- cost of programs that would normally fall completely
within state sphere are partially paid for by federal gov’t through
matching programs (e.g. airport construction, sewage treatment)
b) Federal Guidelines -- In order to qualify for most federal grants, the
states must follow guidelines or rules set down by the federal gov’t.
This is the money with strings attached theory. In order to get federal
highway construction money, states must lower speed limit to 55 and
raise drinking age to 21.

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c) Shared Administration -- There exists dual administration of programs
such as Medicaid. Another example is the area of job training by the
Department of Labor. The federal government gives billions of $ for
the job training, but leaves considerable discretion in spending the
money to the state and local governments which implement the federal
job training programs.

In the early 1970’s, Richard Nixon began an agenda of insisting on giving power back
to the states. This small attempt to reverse the marble cake concept of federalism was called
the New Federalism. It was later adopted by Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bob Dole.
It calls for the states to be given more responsibility in dealing with the nation’s fiscal
resources and management.

This new federalism essentially amounted to a fiscal federalism whereby the states
benefit from federal money in three common circumstances.
The first method of returning federal tax dollars to the states in the form of categorical
grants of funds for specific purposes (2 types: project grants awarded competitively such as
National Science Foundation grants; and formula grants whereby funds are given to states
according to a formula such as Medicaid funding being computed based upon population,
per capita income, etc. Because formula grants are given automatically to states, there is
great debate in Congress over how the formula is determined so as to get ones own state a
larger portion of the pie. :)) The key to understand about categorical grants is that they
come with “strings” attached which limit states’ discretion in how to implement the
program. (E.g. state gets funding for highways, but must raise their drinking age to 21). In
order to expand healthcare coverage for 30 million Americans, Obamacare required states
that participate in Obamacare to expand their coverage to the “working poor.”
Furthermore, the law made it a ‘take it or leave it’ proposition (i.e. states spend money to
cover more poor or get zero Medicaid funding). Thus, the strings attached to the categorical
grant (Medicaid) put tremendous pressure on states. As a result, they sued the federal
government. In its ruling in NFIB v. Sebelius (2012), the Supreme Court ruled that Congress
could not blackmail states in such a way so as to undermine the constitutional principle of
federalism. Thus, the sovereignty of states guaranteed by the 10th Amendment was upheld.
This severely complicated the federal government’s plan to expand healthcare.
While states are sovereign entities under our system of federalism, the federal
government often attaches “strings” or conditions to grants of money provided to the states
for various things. These “strings” or mandates must be complied with by states to receive
the money from the federal government. Because many of the “strings” are not fully paid
for by the grant itself, these are called unfunded mandates. States are now complaining that
the number of unfunded mandates is both bankrupting them, and also intruding upon their
10th Amendment sovereignty (federalism). This is a continuing battle in our nation over
who will control policy (i.e. local control or federal mandates).
In response to these mandates placed upon states, Republicans began to favor large
block grants given to states allowing discretion in how to spend the money (automatic

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grants of money from fed to states for support of broad community and social services such
as welfare.)
Finally, there is revenue sharing (no strings attached, just lots of extra money for
states to use as they saw fit. This type of fiscal federalism was cut dramatically under
Reagan’s administration as our government tried to balance its budget.)

5. Federalism Today (Its Death & Resurrection & Death Again)

Initially, dual federalism system allowed the 10th Amendment to have full
force. That is to say, the States were supreme in those matters not specifically delegated to
the national government. As outlined above, the amount of power delegated to the States
has slowly eroded over time.
The Supreme Court slowly expanded Congress’ power (i.e. national gov’t power)
through McCulloch v. Maryland(1819) in explaining “Necessary & Proper” Clause to give
Implied Powers. Note that this was only a slight expansion of power as “implied powers”
could only flow from those powers actually enumerated in the Constitution.
More importantly, the Court stated in Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) that Congress could
regulate not only interstate commerce but also anything “affecting interstate commerce”,
thereby allowing regulation of intrastate activity. Combining these rulings with the
supremacy clause allows Congress virtually unlimited authority. This broad interpretation
of federal power was at its apex in Wickard v. Filburn (1942) wherein the Court approved
of regulating wheat grown totally for home consumption (logic being that if he didn’t grow
his own, he would buy it and thereby ‘affect’ interstate commerce). Today, almost every
single law passed by Congress is done so via their Commerce Clause power! Everything
from Civil Rights laws (remember Heart of Atlanta Motel case whereby S.Ct. upheld Civil
Rights laws because discrimination by private business enterprises affected commerce) to
anti-violence measures are based on their impact on commerce. Steadily, the Supreme
Court made rulings that destroyed dual federalism and gave all power to the federal
government via commerce power (“permissive federalism” where states can only act where
federal gov’t has not). This took place slowly from the 1930’s rise of New Deal federal
control throughout the 1960s rise of Civil Rights and legislation to “protect” people from
evil actions by States.
During the past two decades, a conservative Supreme Court has made some
movement to clarify federal power and resurrect the idea of true federalism and State’s
Rights. Such action first came about in U.S. v. Lopez (1995) (guns on schools not an implied
power or commerce) and again in U.S. v. Morrision (2000) (violence against women was not
a matter that affected commerce). While these cases do reiterate that federalism is still a
respected U.S. doctrine, realize that the Supreme Court is just playing with the fringes and
is not about to totally reverse our well-established top-heavy (i.e. federal ) power structure.
This was proven recently in Gonzales v. Raich (2005), the ‘medical marijuana’ case from
California, wherein the Court ruled 6-3 in favor of regulating the marijuana because though
never sold, it would interfere/disrupt/destroy enforcement of fed’s regulation of sale of

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illegal drugs. For the foreseeable future, the Court might rule 5-4 to occasionally slap
Congress on the hand, but Congress will still continue to generally win and states lose.
Congress’ interstate commerce clause power was thought to be the heart of President
Obama’s healthcare reform which required individuals to purchase health insurance
beginning in 2014. The President and Congress argued that the individual’s failure to
purchase insurance negatively affects the cost of insurance in so far as ‘healthy’ people do
not buy insurance and deprive the companies of revenue necessary to cover costs of ‘sick
people’. Furthermore, those ‘healthy’ people eventually get sick and then cost the medical
system a lot of money which in turn must be recovered via higher premiums on everyone
else (e.g. Medicaid law requires hospitals to treat indigent patients without insurance. But,
hospitals then double the bill to insured customers to cover the costs. This causes insurance
companies to raise their premiums which causes more people to forego insurance. Thus, a
viscous cycle of rising insurance premiums begins.) Those that opposed Obama’s
healthcare reform questioned how Congress’ power to govern interstate commerce ‘activity’
reaches a private individual’s ‘inactivity’ (failure to buy something). Also, those in
opposition question where the logical limit on Congress’ authority is found when they can
mandate people take action because “doing nothing is causing something.” The Supreme
Court ruled in National Federation of Independent Business, NFIB v. Sebelius (2012) that
Congress could regulate commerce, but could not mandate commerce. As such, the
insurance mandate under Obamacare exceeded Congress’ Commerce Clause authority.
Fortunately for President Obama, the Court then ruled that Congress could levy fines
against those that did not purchase insurance under Obamacare as a legitimate part of
Congress’ power of taxation. As such, Obamacare was saved via Congress’ power to tax,
but the Court, once again, held that Congress’ power to regulate Commerce must be tied to
tangible commerce. Furthermore, the Medicaid mandate (states must take the Medicaid
funding along with the “strings” that states cover many more people, or lose ALL federal
Medicaid funding) was declared unconstitutional in the NFIB case as a violation of the
sovereignty of states under the 10th Amendment. Thus, federalism that empowers state
sovereignty was also endorsed by the Court.

6. Theories of Agenda Control


(Pluralism, Elitism, Hyperpluralism)

Politics (who get what, how, when and why) is governed by several theories which
focus on who controls the agenda. Theoretically, if you control the agenda, you will control
the outcome of the political game. They three prevailing theories are pluralism, elitism, and
hyperpluralism.
Pluralism involves different groups all vying for control of the agenda. No single
group emerges, forcing the groups to compromise. This is generally considered the best
theory of politics for all concerned (rich, poor, etc.)
The second theory is elitism (also known as class theory) which holds that economic
forces control and because the wealthy dominate linkage institutions, they drive public
policy agendas.

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The third theory is hyperpluralism which is pluralism gone amuck. There are so
many interest groups seeking control that government cannot operate. There is gridlock
which leads to watered down, often ineffective policy by those that are able to influence
officials. For much of the past few decades, we have been living under hyperpluralism and
its consequent hyperpartisan-gridlock. Hence, our federal government could not reach
agreement on the federal budget in 1995, and again in 2013, which triggered a federal
government “Shutdown.”

7. Interest groups and Linkage Institutions

Politics deals with individuals and their needs, values and attitudes, so it is logical
that people with similar feelings will band together to form political parties. How
candidates are perceived by these groups determine the candidate’s ultimate success or
failure.

A linkage institutions can be defined as the means by which individuals can express
preferences regarding the development of public policy. These include a) political parties;
b) interest groups; c) elections; and d) the media. The interaction of these linkage
institutions leads to the election of candidates who form public policy. In a large democracy
such as ours, linkage institutions translate input from the public into output from the policy-
makers. By joining parties or interest groups and voting for a particular candidate,
individuals are making choices that influence which policy will become law. Individuals,
of course, are influenced by the media, and candidates try to attract their support in
“soundbites”.

B. Political Beliefs and Behaviors


Percentage of Exam: 10 - 20%

1. NATURE & SOURCE OF PUBLIC OPINION

Some of the things which influence our opinions are:


1) Age
2) Race
3) Income
4) Occupation
5) Group Affiliations (e.g. ACLU, Church, etc.)
6) Family
7) Schools -- job is to indoctrinate children to be “good citizens”.
8) Role Models -- these people have more than usual influence of
others. May be professionals, local community leaders, activists, or
movie stars.

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9) Media -- Radio, T.V., films, newspapers, magazines, and books
all work to influence us. 98% have televisions and they are on an
average of 7 hours a day.

2. PROCESSES BY WHICH CITIZENS LEARN ABOUT POLITICS

Mass Media include in order of influence: T.V., newspaper, Radio, magazines.


People acquire most of their political information from these sources. Television is now the
principle source of information for an estimated 55% of the population. As for being the
“general” source of information, TV wins with 67%, versus 47% for Internet.

The media’s influence is most visible in two areas:


1) the public agenda; and
2) electoral politics.

Regarding the setting of the American political agenda, the media focuses the
public’s attention to certain matters. They don’t tell the public what to think, but they do
tell people what to think about. This is important because media is now driven by
commercial concerns. Pure “hard news” (pure factual reporting without judgment or
commentary by the reporter) does NOT make money. As such, the “news” is now made up
of more and more “soft news” “human interest” stories that are catchy and attract voters.
These tend to include mostly scandals, blood and violence.
Thus, voters are shown a warped view of the world. They are bombarded with “Kids
killing kids with guns” and “Sharks attacking Swimmers”. Even though the actual number
of kids using guns is actually decreasing, the public has the perception that gun violence is
out of control. Likewise, summer 2001 people thought sharks were going crazy when in
fact, the number of attacks was the same as always (i.e. low). But, importantly for you,
realize that when asked by pollsters what concerned them, voters would respond: Gun
violence, sharks, etc…. Politicians, always eager to please their constituents, then rush to
action filing bills and passing laws to address problems that really don’t exist except within
an editing booth at some media outlet.

As the media has grown to cover political events, it has influenced electoral politics
and to some degree lessened the impact of political parties. Instead of turning to the party
to learn about issues, people turned to TV (or, the Internet) or radio. Instead of relying on
the party to reach voters, a candidate can use television to appeal directly to the voters.
Unfortunately, as people watched more TV, their attention span has grown shorter. Thus,
candidates must focus on creating “sound bites” or snappy spots that only last 30 or 45
seconds long. This emphasis has shifted the focus from substance to style. It no longer
matters on content, but delivery. An unintended consequence of the focus on the candidate
and not his message is that politics has become “candidate centered”. As such, personal
failures of a candidate are fair game for journalists. This has given us tabloid politics
whereby anything in a candidate’s past will be turned into a tell-all expose. (e.g. George W.

15
Bush’s 30 year old DWI coming to light just 1 week before the 2000 election; Gary Hart’s
affair that ended his hopes for the 1988 Democratic nomination; Gary Condit’s evasiveness
about affair with missing Chandra Levy caused him to lose re-election; CBS’s Dan Rather’s
embarrassment in 2005 upon putting false documents on the air to ‘prove’ Bush was AWOL
during Vietnam Reserve duty)

3. FACTORS INFLUENCING POLITICAL BELIEFS/BEHAVIORS


(DEMOGRAPHICS SUCH AS RACE OR WEALTH)

a) Who joins what party?

Party identification is a psychological link between individuals and a party. In 2014,


32% said they were Democrats, 23% Republicans and 39% Independent. Remember: 30%
liberal, 40% moderate, 30% conservative.
A person’s family is very important in influencing them to join a particular party.
Nearly 2 out of 3 will follow their parents’ allegiance to party. Major events, however, can
also be influential, as can economic status, level of education, etc.
Membership in political parties is purely voluntary. Members of certain segments of
society tend to align themselves with one or the other of the major parties. Thus, African
Americans, Jews, and Catholics have voted more often for Democrats. On the other hand,
white males, Protestant and business owners more inclined to support Republicans.
There have been some evolving changes in these “stereotypes” though. During
1980s, blue-collar workers saw standard of living eroding and went to Republican party to
“protect American jobs.” Also, they went to Republicans to get “personal responsibility”
back into the American agenda. Also, in 2004, a slim majority of Catholics voted Republican
largely on its pro-life platform.
On the other hand, Northern white Protestants not as Republican b/c employed by
government and sympathetic to its role in solving problems. Well-educated voters also
growing toward Democrats due to issues such as health-care and environment.
The 2000 election provides a good snapshot at where Republican and Democratic
voters reside. Bush won 80% of nations’ counties, but got less than 50% of popular vote.
So, where did Gore get his popular vote majority? The answer is: Democrats win Big,
Urban, Metropolitan cities. Gore won key states with large populations (i.e. large electoral
vote counts) by winning large cities. As such, he carried New York, California, etc. When
looking at a map, he carried all of the states on the West Coast, states along the Great Lakes
(industrial corridor) and the New England (liberal) states. These areas had sufficient
population centers to give Gore a majority of the votes.
Bush, on the other hand, like most modern Republicans, was able to win support
from rural, conservative voters. Looking at the map, Bush looks to have won in a landslide.
The areas he won, however, were sparcely populated and gave him few electoral votes. He
did win in Florida, however. But how? Florida is made up of mostly old people, right?
Mostly, but one has to analyze the cross-cutting cleavages (i.e. issues that push people to
vote one way but other issues push them to voter another). Florida is a retirement state,

16
therefore lots of conservative Mid-westerners move there. They are pushed by roots to vote
Republican which tends to overshadow their elderly status and need for Social Security that
would otherwise cause them to vote Democratic. Thus, Bush picked up a large elderly
block. Also, he picked up the Cuban vote. While Hispanics tend to vote Democratic due to
minority status, Cubans have a strong cross-cutting cleavage in political ideology in their
opposition to Fidel Castro’s communist regime in Cuba. Because Republicans have long
welcomed Cuban refugees and shunned Castro, Cubans have always voted for the most
part as a Republican block. (Hence, the modern rise of Cuban-American Republicans such
as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.) Together, these blocks gave Bush just enough to get over
the top (with a little help from Ralph!)

It continues to be helpful to know the “Stereotypical” voter for purposes of the AP


exam. They are as follows:

VOTER PROFILES

WHO VOTES REPUBLICAN?

A. Education
*College graduates.
B. Age
*Persons over 50 years old.
*Older voters
C. Income
*Middle-income to upper-income brackets
D. Occupation
*Professionals & Business people
E. Gender(recent phenomenon)
*Men
F. Religion
*Protestants
G. Ethnic Group
*Whites
H. Geography
*Midwest and South
*Suburbs, smaller cities and rural areas

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WHO VOTES DEMOCRAT?

A. Education
*Less than college
B. Age
*Younger voters
C. Income
*Lower-income brackets
D. Occupation
*Manual workers
*Members of Labor Unions
E. Gender (recent ‘gender gap’ phenomenon beginning with Clinton)
*Women (especially, single women)
F. Religion
*Jews
*Catholics (split in 2004 on gay marriage/pro-life issue)
G. Ethnic Group
*Non-whites(African-Americans, Hispanics)
H. Geography
*West, North, and East (South still often votes Dem. in local elections)
*Large Cities

4. WAYS IN WHICH CITIZENS VOTE AND OTHERWISE PARTICIPATE IN


POLITICAL LIFE (E.G. VOTING)

a) Who can Vote?

The Framers of the Constitution could not agree on specific requirements to be a


voter. Thus, the States control who qualifies to vote. So, other than a few Constitutional
voter qualifications listed below (e.g. 26th Amd. and age to vote) and the general
Constitutional requirement that if someone can vote for state legislature, they must be
allowed to vote for U.S. Congressmen, the states are in control. Suffrage means the right to
vote.
Originally, only white male property owners could vote. Even after the Civil War,
Southern Whites were afraid of black voter activism, therefore they took measures to stop
them from voting by enacting such barriers as literacy test (Remember Alabama Literacy
Test which required extensive knowledge of the U.S. Constitution; Congress outlawed
literacy tests by passing the Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1970) and poll taxes
(eliminated by 24th Amd.).

The franchise was expanded due to the passage of:


1) 15th Amendment allowed black males to vote;
2) 19th Amendment in 1920 allowed all women to vote;
3) 24th Amendment in 1964 eliminated poll tax as a condition of voting, and
4) 26th Amendment in 1971 allowed anyone above 18 years old to vote.

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Over time, requirements that served as barriers to voter registration have
disappeared, and now over 200 million people are eligible to vote in U.S.

b.) What are the general qualifications to vote in most states?

1. Citizenship
Aliens are generally denied the right to vote, but the Constitution does not
forbid them from voting and States may allow them to. As a practical matter, however, few
do so. Texas requires you to be a citizen. In order to protect the sanctity of the ballot, some
states have begun to require a Voter ID to prove citizenship. While this has been alleged by
Democrats to discriminate against poor minorities, the Supreme Court ruled in Crawford
v. Marion Co. Election Board (2008) that Voter ID requirements are constitutional. Of
course, whether those southern states with restrictive supervision by the federal
government under the Voting Rights Act can enact such ID requirement is still being
litigated.

2. Residency
Most states require someone to live within the state for a certain period before
being eligible to vote. This combats people hiring voters to come to the state. Originally,
these time periods were about one year in the state and about six months in the county in
which you wanted to vote. Today, those time periods have been shortened. Many states
allow you to vote if you have lived there for as little as one month.

3. Registration
States require people to register to vote in order to prevent fraudulent voting.
Thus, they compile a list of the eligible voters. Generally, one must register to vote prior to
the election day. This gives the elections officials time to prepare the election poll books for
the election judges. Texas requires that you be registered at least 30 days prior to the
election.

c) What has the Government done to influence voting behavior? (Voting laws
and Civil Rights)

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 applied to all elections held in the U.S. This law moved
the government forward to eliminate poll taxes, literacy tests, or any other discriminatory
means by the states. Most importantly, it sent federal voter registrars into counties where
less than half of the people registered and voted in the election of 1964. (Theory: if so few
registered, there must be barriers to registration.) Thus, registrars were dispatched to all of
Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and Louisiana and large part of North Carolina.
Further, the law also stated that those areas, including most of the South, had to obtain
“preclearance” from the Department of Justice prior to making any changes to election

19
procedures. This judgment that mostly southern states needed heavy supervision to
prevent discrimination against minorities in voting may have been deemed necessary, and
legally justified, in 1965, but the Supreme Court ruled in Shelby County, Alabama vs. Holder
(2013), that state sovereignty under the 10th Amendment to run elections deprived the
federal government of perpetual supervision under “pre-clearance.” While many lamented
this decision as gutting the Voting Rights Act, the Act’s prohibitions against voter
discrimination are still intact. But, states are now free to implement changes to voting
without prior approval from the Dept. of Justice (e.g. Texas immediately implemented Voter
ID after the Shelby County decision.)
The federal government has also passed legislation called the “Motor-Voter Law.”
This law encourages states to adopt policies which automatically register a citizen to vote
when they do such tasks as renew their Driver’s license. This has been a large success in
registering voters, but the voter turnout is still the lowest in decades. You can register them,
but getting them to show up is an entirely different matter!

d) Are People Voting? The Problem with Non-Voting!

Of the estimated 235 million eligible voters for the 2012 presidential election, some
106 million did not. Thus, barely 55% of the eligible electorate decided the presidency.
Off-year (mid-term) elections even worse only 39% of electorate voted in off-year
elections of 2010.
Primaries are the worst where only about 10% of electorate votes. (In 2012
presidential primaries, it did hit 15.9%, so there is that.)

Only Switzerland has lower voter turnout!

Turnout in primaries is quite low. Voters in primaries are unrepresentative of the


public at large. They tend to have higher incomes and education. Also tend to be older,
whiter, more interested in politics, and more partisan.

WHY DO PEOPLE NOT VOTE?


Some reasons nonvoters give include:
1) Choose not to vote b/c distrust politicians and politics;
2) Choose not to vote b/c they are convinced that it does not make any difference (no
sense of Political Efficacy, the feeling that they can make a difference.);
3) Elections are too frequent and campaigns last so long (often referred to as “voter
fatigue” as presidential campaigns last ~1 -1/2 years);
4) Simply are not interested (usually woefully uninformed not knowing even simple
facts about upcoming elections.);
5) Didn’t know eligible? (alien status, mental disability, or felon status [13% African
American men ineligible in March 2001 b/c of felony conviction]); or
6) Are satisfied with way it is.

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WHAT FACTORS INFLUENCE NON-VOTING?

* Education

• 80% chance a college graduate will vote


• 50% chance a high school graduate will vote

* Income

• 2 of 3 non-voters have incomes below nat’l average


• “Class Gap” in turnout is widening

* Occupation

• Working class voter at lower rate than middle & upper class

* Age
• Young people vote much less frequently than older people
(e.g.) 1992 Presidential election: 38% of 18-20 year olds voted
70% of over 65 year olds voted
1994 Mid-Term election: 17% of 18-20 year olds voted
61% of over 65 year olds voted

C. Topic: Political Parties, Interest groups, and Mass Media


Percentage of Exam: 10 - 20%

1. WHAT IS A POLITICAL PARTY?

DEFN: A Political party is a group of persons who seek to control


government by recruiting, nominating, and electing their members
to public office. (Note: it is generally a coalition, and not necessarily
entirely based on ideological leanings. This is demonstrated by
“Blue Dog” Democrats being fiscally conservative, and also “Tea
Party” Republicans which may, in fact, be quite Libertarian in their
social beliefs.)

2. WHAT DO POLITICAL PARTIES DO?

A. NOMINATING FUNCTION
The major function of a political party is to name candidates for public office.
B. INFORMER-STIMULATOR FUNCTION
Parties inform the public and stimulate their interest by taking stands on
issues, criticizing candidates, etc.

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C. SEAL OF APPROVAL FUNCTION
Parties serve as a “bonding agent” to encourage good performance in its
candidates and officeholders.
D. GOVERNMENTAL FUNCTION
Public office holders are often chosen only on the basis of party. The public
believes that certain parties support certain issues. This is important in that
most government business done on partisan basis.
E. WATCHDOG FUNCTION
Parties serve to watch over the party in power. The party out of power plays
the “loyal opposition.”

3. TWO-PARTY SYSTEM AND ITS EVOLUTION

The Founding Fathers didn’t like political parties.


There were three reasons for this:
1) Parties created conflicts that undermined consensus.
2) Small and narrow interests could use parties to impose their will on society.
3) Parties stifled independent thought and behavior.

James Madison feared parties like interest groups b/c both pursued selfish interests.
(Very important to remember the ‘factions’ in Federalist #10). John Adams thought the
formation of parties was one of the greatest political evils. In a bit of irony, by creating
popular elections in the Constitution, the Founders created parties, the very factions which
were deemed undesirable yet necessary in a democracy.

The importance of parties has grown and waned. In late 1800s, party was very
important, but now its importance has declined. At times, one party dominates. And then,
another emerges as the stable “rock of the nation.” The transition from one stable party
system to another is called a realignment. There have been several in our history.

A. Early 1800s
Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist supported strong, central government. Thomas
Jefferson feared this. He mounted campaign and gathered support of able leaders. Jefferson
won in 1800. By his 2d term, 90% of Congressmen identified as either Federalists or
Jeffersonians.

B. Election of 1828
Jeffersonians split into factions; one of which was the Democratic party. Andrew
Jackson rode the Democratic party to White House in 1828. Jackson encouraged common
people’s participation. Thus, Jacksonian Democrats demonstrated the first real use of a
mass-population based party.

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C. Civil War Era
The Whigs had developed to oppose the Democrats. The Whigs splintered over
slavery. By 1860, a new party, the Republicans emerged. They represented abolitionist
concerns and nominated Lincoln. Northern Democrats who opposed slavery joined the
Republicans. This created a new majority party. After the Civil War, the Republicans
usually won the presidency and controlled Congress. This represents a major realignment.

D. Populist Movement
In the election of 1896, the Progressives pushed an agenda to benefit the commoners.
Such items as voter registration and secret ballot, and the direct primary were enacted.
These items weakened political parties.

E. The Depression and FDR


In 1920s, the Republicans ignored immigrants. Big Mistake!! After the Depression
hit in 1929, these immigrants joined the Democratic Party to elect FDR in 1932. In addition,
poor whites that had suffered great economic stress under Republican laissez-faire policies
vowed to never again vote for the Republicans. They became known as “Yellow Dog
Democrats.” (Rather vote for a stray dog than a Republican.) Thus, another big realignment.
And, with the support of “yellow dogs,” an enduring one for the Democrats.

F. The Reagan Revolution


It is apparent that the South has undergone a realignment toward the Republican
party since the 1994 “Republican Revolution” led by Newt Gingrich. The reason for this,
perhaps, has its roots in the dissatisfaction with Democratic leadership in the ‘70s under
Carter (stagflation in economy; Iranian hostages abroad; Soviet threat) which allowed
Ronald Reagan in 1980 to bring the “silent majority” of conservatives into the Republican
fold. There is some evidence to support such a claim.
For example, no Democrat running for President has carried the South since Jimmy
Carter in ’76. Also, many states in South are trending toward voting Republican even in
local elections. Texas, for instance, since 1998 has elected Republicans to EVERY statewide
elected office. Local office-holders have switched in a wave to the Republican party. This
was also enhanced by the use of straight-party voting (vote at top of ballot for all members
of particular party without actually reading the ballot). Due to the rise of straight-party
Republican voting, however, the Republican party came to have many liberals in its midst.
The “Republicans in Name Only” or R.I.N.O.s, simply switched party affiliation to continue
to get elected to office. In recent years, movements such as the “Tea Party” Republicans
have sought to defeat R.I.N.O.s and restore conservatism to the GOP. They were successful,
for example, in defeating sitting Republican House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, in his 2014
GOP primary.
Some were predicting a broader realignment in the nation toward the GOP. While
there was a national upswell toward the GOP in 2002 which seemed to indicate such a
realignment might be underway, the aftermath of the Iraq War in 2003 would delay, if not
destroy, any hope of a GOP realignment in the nation. As such, we continue to have

23
“Divided Government” (Democrats control some aspect of federal branch, while
Republicans control some other) at the national level. As a result, there appears to be lots
of ticket-splitting today. Voters are trying to find the “best candidate” regardless of party.
This is reflected in the polls that show the largest number of voters describing themselves
as “moderates” or “Independents”. The restless nature of our politics are easily depicted in
the erratic shifts in power in recent elections. While George W. Bush won re-election in
2004, the Democrats would win the House in 2006 (based on W.M.D. Iraq fiasco). And,
while Obama would unite the federal government in Democrat hands in 2009, it was short-
lived as the GOP won the House back in 2010. Likewise, while Obama would win re-
election in 2012, the GOP would win an historic mid-term in 2014 by taking control of the
Senate. Party loyalty is declining and putting moderate Independents in the driver’s seat.
A national realignment toward either major political party does not seem likely under such
circumstances.

G. Independents and Third Parties?


Republicans got smart in 1952 and nominated a war hero, Eisenhower. Although
Democrats won in 1960 with Kennedy, the civil rights issue and Vietnam divided the party.
Today, we have lots of ticket splitting where people vote for different parties
depending on the office, etc. Most evident at national level. For long time (since 1968),
Republican in White House, Democrats in Congress.

Also, people have begun to choose not to identify with a party, instead identifying
themselves as Independents (39% in 2012). This trend is really evident from 1980s to
present. These independent voters have led some to believe that the U.S. is ready to support
a third party.

Third-parties” are not, however, really successful. Had a few in history: 1) Know-
Nothings in 1856 who ran opposing immigrants; 2) Prohibition Party and 3) Ross Perot’s
Reform Party. Generally though, the system is stacked against them.
Several factors prevent 3rd party political success, including:
a) Winner-take-all electoral college system (even if get lots of votes, if do not get a
Majority, you get NOTHING! Even in ’92 when Perot got 19% of popular vote, he
got ZIP as far as electoral votes.)
b) The major parties tend to take care most ideological perspectives. Thus, liberals
go Dem., conservatives go Rep. Also, the major parties moderate enough to
attract most voters in the General election. This leaves little room for a third party
platform. As such, most 3rd party platforms are a bit extreme. For example,
Nader’s Green Party advocated a “living” minimum wage of about $10.00/hour,
not to mention some of their environmental policies. Also, some 3 rd parties are
simply aligned on a single issue such as “marijuana legalization”. Such
“extreme” platform ideas limit the 3rd party appeal for a number of voters.
c) Because of inability to attract a wide spectrum of voters, 3 rd parties often lack
enough cash to promote an effective nationwide campaign. Thus, a big part of

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Nader’s 2000 campaign was to get 5% of the national vote so he could get federal
funding. He only got 3%!
c) The electoral system preserves the major parties by making it difficult for
third-parties to nominate their candidates and get them listed on the ballot.
d) Single-member districts (only 1 person elected from a District, therefore 3rd
party guy never wins); and
Each of these tend to favor the major parties who have a real chance of winning.

H. 3rd Parties as Spoilers


While 3rd party candidates are largely locked out of any chance of winning the
election, that is not to say that they don’t matter. In both the 1992 and 2000 elections, the
role of the 3rd party as spoiler was prominent.
In 1992, Ross Perot formed the Reform Party to “give our government back to the
People!” His folksy wit and seemingly straight-forward approach to solving America’s
problems was refreshing in light of the “double-speak” from many modern candidates. By
pushing issues like the balancing of our federal budget , Perot managed to draw many
dissatisfied conservatives away from George Bush. A full 19% of electorate voted for a big-
eared Texan. Thus, while Clinton only won 42% of popular vote, he was able to win the
Presidency. Many are convinced that if Perot had not entered the race, Bush could have
managed a slim victory in 1992.
In 2000, the spoiler attacked the Democrats. Ralph Nader and his Green Party
consistently dogged Al Gore. While the Republicans painted Gore as an extremist “tree-
hugging fool who would get rid of the combustion engine,” Nader told liberal voters in a
loud voice that Gore was not doing enough. By pushing for broad environmental policies
and decent wages for working Americans, Nader appealed to many idealistic liberals. In
the end, Nader garnered over 98,000 votes in Florida. Bush won the official count by 537
votes!
The end result of these 3rd party campaigns was not just to cost the Democrats or
Republicans the election (which they most surely did), but it also caused the major political
parties to reassess their views and become more responsive to the electorate. That is a good
thing!

I. Do They All Look Alike?

In the end, because of the pluralistic society in which we live, there is needed a broad
consensus. Because of this need, the parties look very much alike. Both tend to be moderate.
(36% of voters in 1990 identified themselves as moderates, while only 15% said conservative
and 11% liberal.)

Overall, while party loyalty may be declining, party unity is on the rise. Generally,
the parties have become more ideologically homogenous (i.e. most Republicans consider
themselves conservatives with agenda to minimize gov’t intervention in everyone’s lives
and institutionalize some morals “religious right”. Democrats have tended to become the

25
party of civil rights and protecting basic governmental services such as Medicare and
Medicaid for the poor.) Thus, while the parties do represent some very different basic
philosophies of government, the implementation of those policies has been moderated in
recent years so as to command the most “moderate” voters. This was evident in 2000 election
where Bush and Gore both put forth “Saving Social Security” as a part of their agenda, but the fine
details were different (e.g. Bush wanted to privatize 1% of Social Security withholding.)

4. ELECTIONS PROCESS

A. GENERAL NOMINATING FUNCTION

Political parties provide a mechanism to recruit and choose candidates, and then
gather support for them. The nominating process is the process of candidate selection.

Nomination, or the actual naming of those who will seek office can be done in a
number of different ways. It may be done by:
1) self-announcement;
*This is the oldest form of the nominating process in American politics. It is where a
person who wants to run for office simply announces that fact.
2) caucus;
*A caucus is a meeting of a group of like-minded people who meet to select the
candidates they will support in the upcoming election. (Origin of the word caucus may
come from early Boston meetings where the process took place in a room formerly used by
caulker’s in Boston’s shipyard. They used caulk to make ships watertight.) Originally, only
influential people did the selecting, but over time, the process opened to others and political
parties began to nominate candidates in caucuses. Ultimately, people began to condemn
the practice, however, because of its closed and unrepresentative nature due to so few
people actually participating. In 1820s, the caucus system began to be abolished for use in
nominating national candidates. Today, caucuses may be used to nominate local candidates
for office, but has been abandoned by many states for selecting state and national
candidates.

26
3) convention;
*As the caucuses were criticized and abandoned, conventions took their place. Since
1832, all major party presidential nominees have been selected by conventions.

How do Conventions Work to Select Candidates


1) Party members meet in a local caucus to select candidates for
local offices and to select delegates to county conventions.
2) Party members meet at county convention to select candidates
for county offices and to select delegates to state convention.
3) Delegates to state convention meet to select candidates for state
office (governor,etc.) and to select delegates to party’s national
convention.
4) Delegates to national convention meet to select presidential and
vice-presidential candidates.

In theory, the will of the rank and file members of a party will be passed up the chain.
In reality, this system was corrupted in the late 1800s when people played with the selection
of the local delegates thereby influencing the whole chain of selection. Thus, decisions often
made in “smoke-filled rooms.” In the wake of this scandal, direct primaries began to be
used for nominations at state level, but conventions are still use to select national candidates.
However, even the national nominating conventions are, in fact, driven by the primary
systems which a majority of states have adopted (or, the caucus system by the remainder of
states). As such, the winner of the primaries/caucuses is “rubber stamped” at the national
nominating convention.
4) direct primary; or
Today, all states use primary elections, sometimes in conjunction with caucuses or
conventions.
* A direct primary is an election held within the party to pick the party’s
candidates for the general election.

The primary comes in two forms:


a) closed primary wherein only declared party members may vote to
determine that party’s candidate (38 states, including Texas, and D.C.
use this format). The voter must declare their party affiliation either
via pre-registration or at the polling place; and
b) open primary wherein any qualified voter may vote. At the polling
place, the voter gets a ballot with everyone from the parties on it. At
that time, the voter selects one party and votes for their candidates.
(note that this allows “Primary Raiding” whereby Democrats can go
vote in the Republican primary for someone who polls say would have
difficulty beating the Democratic nominee. This happened when
Dems. turned out in 2000 Republican primary to vote for John McCain.

27
A very effective technique. It cost Bush $70 million to defeat McCain
for the nomination.)
5) petition.
*In this method, a person is nominated by petitions signed by a certain number of
qualified voters in the election district. This is usually the process for local elections, or used
at state level to nominate independent candidates. Usually, the higher the office, the greater
the number of signatures required. States sometimes make it purposefully difficult for
petition nominations.

B. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

1. Caucuses and Primaries

CAUCUSES
In 2012, 16 states selected candidates by caucuses (3 other states used some form of
caucus hybrid scheme). Caucuses are held in private homes, schools, and churches and all
who consider themselves party members can attend. The candidates receiving the most
votes win delegates to later county and state conventions. The number of delegates is
proportional to the vote that the candidate received at the caucuses (need at least 15%). The
Iowa Caucus is one of the first elections held in the selection of a party nominee.

PRIMARIES
Most states use presidential preference primaries. Thus, voters indicated their
preference for a presidential candidate, delegates committed to a candidate, or both.
“Beauty contests” b/c often meaningless in terms of winning delegates. The New
Hampshire Primary is the first primary to be held during the crucial race to be selected the
party nominee. The news media focus upon it and the Iowa Caucus heavily. The winners
of these get ‘bandwagon effect’ support which brings them big $ which can later be used to
advertise and volunteers to promote themselves. This causes a “snowball effect” which
allows a relatively unknown figure such as Bill Clinton to gain national exposure (came in
2nd in New Hampshire and claimed he was “the comeback kid”) and go on to win the
national nomination.
It is important to note that the Democratic and Republican Parties have
“SuperDelegates.” Rather than just finding out who the party nominee will be by
determining who wins the majority of Primary votes (i.e. gets majority of delegates), the
Parties have a certain percentage of delegates (~10%) that are called “Superdelegates.”
These delegates to the National Convention are automatically a part of the Convention and
have voting power to determine the nominee by virtue of having previously held some high
office in the Democratic party (e.g. former Democratic nominee for President; former
Democratic Congressman; former national office holder such as Democratic Sec. of State).
Thus, determining the Democratic nominee in a close race could actually turn on how these
unelected “Superdelegates” vote. For example, because many of the 2008 Convention
Superdelegates owed their prior governmental service to the Clintons, most Superdelegates

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pledged early on in 2008 to support Hillary Clinton. As the 2008 Primary season went on,
it appeared Obama was winning a majority of the Primary votes, and thus, he would get a
majority of the Primary delegates. BUT, when Hillary’s Primary delegates (you get the
percentage of delegates you won in the election) were combined with her Superdelegate
supporters, it was possible that Obama might win the Primary vote majority, but actually
lose the Democratic nomination to Hillary based on her Superdelegate support. This would
have been quite embarrassing for the Democrats to have a Bush/Gore 2000 situation on
their hands (Gore won popular vote, but lost to Bush in the Electoral College). Fortunately
for Democrats, the Superdelegates got on board with Obama (‘Bandwagon effect’ anyone?
) as those former Democratic officials contemplated getting a new government job if Obama
won as polls showed he could. In the aftermath of 2008 election, many Democrats raised as
fuss about the obvious elitism of Superdelegates, but the system was never changed.
Please note that the Primary season used to run from March to June. This 4 month
window allowed candidates enough time to benefit from the bandwagon effect with regard
to gaining money and volunteers. Over the past decade, the Primary season has shortened
as states move their primaries to earlier dates. States did this because by the time June came
around, there votes “didn’t matter.” The nominees had already accumulated enough votes
to win at the Convention. Thus, most states moved from June to March. Thus, the primary
season was condensed dramatically. In order for states like Iowa and New Hampshire to
maintain their “first” status, they moved their primary dates even earlier. Thus, in 2000, the
Primary elections started in last weeks of January! Still, the primary season is now
condensed to basically the months of February and March (about half of the states vote on
second Tuesday in March; Kansas which still holds its Primary election in June, actually
cancelled its Primary in 2000 to save money that would otherwise be “wasted” ).
In 2008, most large states will held their primaries in February, so it appeared that
the short primary season would get even shorter. This just makes the competition in the
Primary favorable toward the early, well-funded candidates. Also, by knowing the
Dem/GOP nominees early, the General election is just that much longer and more
expensive! Thus, in 2008, the parties began to encourage states to move their Primaries later
in the year. The penalty for non-compliance was reducing the states’ delegate strength at
the national conventions. Through a combination of states complying with this directive by
the national parties AND more competitive races for the nomination (e.g. Clinton v. Obama
in 2008; Romney v. Santorum in 2012), we are now seeing the nomination process run to
April/June, instead of usual February as had come to be expected.
The effect of moving the Primary season earlier in the year (as had been the norm
until 2012) has been twofold:
1) Because of the condensing of the modern Primary Season, candidates are now
unable to fully utilize bandwagon effect.
2) Campaigns are now much longer and main candidates must wage expensive
television battles for voters from January through November. This “year-long”
campaign causes election costs to skyrocket! Bush/Gore spent over $500 million
between them in 2000. Obama raised about $750 million in the 2008 Presidential
contest! Obama and Romney each raised $1 billion for the 2012 presidential race.

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Positives on Current Nomination System

1) Campaigning in small states at first allows candidates to come in contact with


voters on personal basis;
2) Candidates can test popularity without spending millions.
3) Gives little-known candidates a good method to try election.
4) Gets us away from “smoke-filled room”

2. Electoral College

We do not have popular elections in this country!! The Electoral College which is
made up of members selected by the party hierarchy of the main parties actually elect the
present by casting their votes in December after the November general election. (The slate
of electors getting to actually cast their vote is determined by the winner of the General
Election. As we saw in 2000, however, if the outcome of the election is uncertain, the State
may seek to reclaim its role.) With the exception of Maine and Nebraska which split their
electoral college votes (which as only happened once when in 2008 election, Nebraska split
between Obama/McCain) according to who wins in each congressional district, all of each
state’s votes go to the candidate winning the most votes in that state.
Winner-take-all feature of Electoral College gives advantage to large states and their
urban populations. The 11 largest states have a majority (270) of electoral votes and
candidates concentrate their efforts there.
If no majority in Electoral College, goes to House. This has not happened since 1824,
when John Quincy Adams was chosen.
Criticism of the Electoral College is that it makes it possible for someone who doesn’t
win popular vote to win presidency. This has happened four times: John Quincy Adams
(1824); Rutherford Hayes (1876); Benjamin Harrison (1888); and George W. Bush (2000).
Main support for keeping the electoral college is that it magnifies the winner’s
margin, thereby giving the President-elect a “Mandate” to govern.

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5. INTEREST GROUPS & POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEES (PACS)

Interest groups are a public or private organization, affiliation, or committee that has
as its goal the dissemination of its membership’s point of view.
Interest groups seem similar to political parties but differ in the following ways:
a) Interest groups seek to influence officeholders, instead of wanting to
become one.
b) Interest groups are responsible to a very narrow constituency.
c) Because interest groups’ major function is advocacy on specific policy
issues, they can attract members from a large geographic area.

The fear of interest groups goes back to the Founding Fathers when James Madison
referred to them in Federalist #10 as “factions”. One of the finest examples of such factions
was Shays’ Rebellion which led to legislative change in Massachusetts via “mob rule.”
Madison did not, however, believe that interest groups (or factions) should be eliminated
in a free democracy, but rather checks should be put in place to limit their influence (e.g.
separation of powers, checks and balances, representative democracy known as republic).

An interest groups’ goals are carried out by special interests in the form of lobbyists
and political action committees. A lobbyist is a person who uses their special knowledge
and expertise to advance the special interests cause and influence public policy in their
favor. The image of lobbyists have been tarnished in recent years by the revelation that
many governmental employees were engaging in a “revolving-door” politic of becoming
Representatives who write legislation and then going to work for special interests advising
them on how to work through loopholes while also using old connections to influence
future policy. Ultimately, however, lobbyists serve a pivotal role as an informer for our
Representatives and Senators by preparing reports and summaries of legislation and its
impact.

Political Action Committees (PACs) are the political arm of a special interest. These
PACs raise money from special interest constituents and make campaign contributions on
behalf of the special interest. Candidates for Congress rely on 3 sources of funding: 1) PACS;
2) individual donations and 3) donations from political parties.
Among the PACS, there are vast differences in fundraising activity. About 1/3 of the
4,700 PACS do not contribute to any candidate. Less than 10% of all PACS contribute 3/4
of the dollars. Thus, the number of key PACS is relatively small.

PAC FACTS
*PACS show a distinct preference for Republicans in the presidential races.
*They also give disproportionately to incumbents.
*Often give after the election is over to the winner to ingratiate themselves.
*Majority of PACS are business related therefore sympathetic to Republicans.

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*Women’s PACS, including Emily’s List, focus most of their money on non-
incumbents. Their goal is to get more women elected.
*PACS also target key members of congressional committees.
*One-half of the PAC funds raised are now raised in Washington.

6. CAMPAIGN FINANCE AND ITS REFORM

In order to limit influence of special interests and appearance of bribery of politicians,


Congress passed the Federal Elections Campaign Act. It limits contributions directly to
candidates by individuals to $1,000.00 and $5,000 for PACs. These funds donated to
candidates are called “hard money” and must be reported to the Federal Election
Commission (FEC) which polices campaign finance. This law also allowed presidential
candidates to obtain federal financing of their campaigns in exchange for limits on
fundraising/campaign spending. Thus, ~30 million pre-convention and ~60 million post-
convention.
However, funds given by special interests that do not go directly to candidates but
rather to the political parties or are spent for support of issues is not limited. This is known
as “soft money”. Because soft money can be used to conduct polls and pay for “issue ads”,
it has largely turned into a complete loophole to federal election law. As such, over $500
million was spent by the presidential candidates in 2000. Mostly fueled by special interests.
Also, the S. Ct. stated in Buckley v. Valeo (1976) that spending to benefit political
campaigns is protected symbolic speech, therefore candidates cannot be limited in the
amount of their own money they spend, nor could people be limited in making donations
to interest groups to support their pet issues. The Court did, however, uphold the main
limits on contributions to a candidate in an effort to stop appearance of bribery in elections.
In an effort to stop the “special interests” from controlling politics, some major
political figures have adopted Campaign Finance Reform as their personal mantra. One
such figure is maverick, Arizona Republican John McCain. The McCain-Feingold Bill was
introduced and passed in the Senate. While Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert
didn’t want to bring the companion bill to a vote in the House, he was forced to by
Democratic and public pressure. After passing both houses, President Bush signed the
landmark campaign finance reform legislation into law in 2002.
McCain-Feingold allows individuals to give up to $2,000 per candidate but limits
total contributions to all candidates/parties to $95,000.00 in any election cycle. The law does
allow candidates to receive up to $6,000 per donor if they are running against a wealthy
candidate who is self-financing his campaign. The real teeth of the law comes in the
restrictions on ‘soft money’. Contributions from the national parties are banned while local
parties can still raise up to $10,000 per donor for voter registration and party building
activities. This severely limits the effectiveness of the national party organization.
Furthermore, the law prohibits the use of corporate or union money to run political ads that
mention a federal candidate within 30 days of a Primary or 60 days of a General Election.
Republicans immediately filed suit alleging that the law restricts political free speech by
limiting amounts groups can spend to promote candidates. The Supreme Court ruled in

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McConnell v. FEC (2003) that these stunning limitation on “free speech” (limited giving to
political parties/bans on tv ads) were in-fact constitutional. This just goes to show how
deferential the Court will be toward Congress in its continuing battle to clean up politics.
This battle is ongoing. With the 2004 election, we saw the rise of Section 527 Organizations.
These groups are named after a section of the Tax Code that allows unlimited giving to
those advocating on political issues. As such, 527s have essentially re-opened the door to
“soft money”. Perhaps even more dangerous though because this glut of money is in hands
of special interests that is not controlled by parties or candidates. It got ugly in 2004 with
liberal groups like Moveon.org funding nasty ads about Bush, while conservative groups
like Swift Boat Veterans for Truth savaged Kerry. For the foreseeable future, 527s will rule
political campaigns.
OH, BOY! STOP THE PRESSES! The Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v.
Federal Election Commission (F.E.C.) (2010) that Corporations can essentially spend all the
money they want on independent ads. This basically reverses the ban on Corporations
trying to ‘buy elections.’
This case involved a film about Hillary Clinton that was produced by Citizens
United. They wanted to air the movie during the 2008 Democratic Primary season, but were
alleged to producing illegal ‘electioneering communication’ using corporate money.
Citizens United argued that the movie was a documentary and that corporations, despite
the ban announced in McConnell (2003), had a First Amendment right to produce such films
about highly controversial political candidates.
In a 5-4 decision (written by Justice Kennedy), the Supreme Court expressly
overturns the McConnell (2003) decision in so far as it upheld banning corporate
expenditures on ‘electioneering communication.’ Thus, what Wisconsin Right to Life (2007)
began, this case finishes by expressly stating that corporations have the same rights as
individuals to spend their own money to run independent ads supporting or opposing a
candidate As such, the flood gates of money from corporations to make “issue ads” or even
outright “electioneering communication” advocating for/against a candidate are wide open.

Election reform is DEAD!

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D. Institutions of National Government: Congress, Presidency,
Bureaucracy, and Federal Courts
Percentage of Exam: 35 - 45%

1. CONGRESS

a) CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR REPRESENTATIVES

i. 25 years old for House/30 years old for Senate


ii. Citizen 7 years for House/Citizen 9 years for Senate
iii. Members must reside in state in which elected (House members don’t
need to live in district)

b) “SOCIAL” REQUIREMENTS FOR REPRESENTATIVES

i. nearly all have college degrees(majority graduate degrees)


ii. well-off financially
(1/9 of Reps and 1/4 of Senators are millionaires)
iii. not blue-collar workers (most common occupation is lawyer; 40% in
House/60% in Senate)
iv. over 1/2 served in State Legislatures
v. predominately white, Anglo, and male

c) ADVANTAGES OF INCUMBENCY

i. CASEWORK-- answering questions and assisting with problems,


staffers help cut through red-tape for “home-folk”.
ii. PORK BARREL -- bring jobs and business to the constituents.
iii. FUNDRAISING -- ability to raise money from hundreds of Political
Action Committee (PAC) organizations.
iv. FRANKING -- Members of Congress are allowed to mail items for free.

d) PARTISANSHIP

40% - %60 of all votes in Congress are partisan votes (i.e. majority of one party is
against the other). Ideology is very important in Congress. In fact, party affiliation
is the best indicator of how a Congressman will vote. On the whole, Democrats tend
to vote for more liberal measures than do Republicans.

e) PASSING LEGISLATION

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Bills may be introduced in either the House or Senate (tax measures only in
the House!). Only members of Congress are allowed to introduce bills. Interest
groups must find a sponsor.
After being introduced, a bill is:
1) referred to a standing committee by the Speaker of House or Presiding
Officer of the Senate.
2) it is then assigned to a subcommittee, where if approved goes to full
Committee. (This is where most legislation dies!). The committees screen bills.
3) Once approved in Committee, the bill is place on one of five calendars.
Grouped by controversy, etc. The House Rules Committee sets terms of debate by
issuing rules thereon. (Members basically chosen by Speaker and approved by
leadership.) If they don’t issue a rule, the bill dies. This controls and expedites floor
action on bills.
The Senate is less formal and does not have a “formal” Rules
Committee. Things done by lots of unanimous votes, thus one Senator can kill
something. Amendments need not be germane to topic. Filibuster also used. Cloture
by 3/5 vote.
4) After debate, the bill is set for a vote.
5) If passed by both House and Senate after being ironed out in
Conference Committees, it goes to the President.
6) P can a) sign into law; b) veto and send back for potential override by
2/3 vote of both Houses (N.B. vetoes are rarely overridden! Congress is successful
only about 5% of the time); or c) ignore for 10 days and allow to become law without
signature unless Congress adjourns then it becomes “pocket veto”.

f) COMMITTEE CHAIRS AS GODS

After filing, bills are sent to committee where almost all of them die. This
reflects strong power of Committee Chairmen in:
i) calling hearings;
ii) setting meeting agendas; and
iii) controlling committee staff and budget.
You will recall how Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) who was the Chairman of the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee was able to single-handedly stop President
Clinton’s appointment of William Weld to be ambassador to Mexico, as well as hold
up the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and Kyoto Global Greenhouse Gases Treaty, and
delay payment of United Nations’ dues. A single Chairman can bring the whole
process to a halt, barring extraordinary action by the leadership or a Discharge
Petition which requires a majority of the bodies’ members to sign. This maneuver is
not often tried and is seldom successful.

Becoming Chairman of a Committee rests on:

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i) being a member of the Majority Party; and
ii) having the most Seniority on the particular Committee.

g) FEDERAL BUDGET

The Congress decides how to spend more than $1.7 trillion each year. For
years, the budget process was done piecemeal. Agencies would request funds from
multiple subcommittees to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Later,
all the appropriations were added up to produce a total budget. Because people
never knew what the bottom line was going to be, what Congress spent had little to
do with an overall assessment of how much it should spend. In large part, this is how
we came to almost expect deficit spending.
The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 was
designed to reform the Congressional budgetary process and force Congress to
consider the budget as a whole instead of piecemeal. This law established:
i) A fixed budget calendar so that budgets would be timely. Roughly, the
Congress receives the President’s budget outline in February and the final
budget should be completed by June with the federal government’s new fiscal
(i.e. monetary, budget timeframe) year to begin on October 1st.
ii) A budget committee in both houses of Congress which is charged with
recommending target budget figures. By April 15th, Congress is to agree on
the total size of the budget which will guide appropriations for the fiscal year.
iii) A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) was created to advise Congress on the
probable consequences of its budget decisions and forecast revenues. The
CBO also serves as a check and counterweight to the President’s Office of
Management and Budget (OMB) which provides the Pres. With budget data
and helps him prepare his annual budget which is presented in February
shortly after the January “State of the Union” address.

Essentially, the law made Congress organize itself into 13 Appropriations bills
which should be for each fiscal year. This was helpful in getting an estimate of
expected spending. But, the 1974 reforms have largely been ineffective in keeping
Congress’ appetite for spending in check. The budget deficits continued to rise
throughout the ‘70s and ‘80’s. During the ‘80s, however, budget reforms began to
get some teeth. The Gramm-Rudman-Hollings (yes, Phil Gramm, our Senator from
Texas) bill enacted in 1985 called for a balanced budget and specified maximum
allowable deficit spending levels. If Congress failed to meet a spending restriction,
automatic, across-the-board spending cuts, were to be implemented! This was an
emergency measure that began to focus Congress’ attention on the budget.
Gramm-Rudman was abandoned in 1990 in favor of limiting increases in
federal spending. Thus, in 1990s, discretionary spending was targeted. Any
expansion of spending had to be met with a compensating tax increase or cut to

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“entitlement” programs such as Welfare. By 1994, Republicans were really running
hard on high taxes and exploding budgets. Running on a “Contract with America”
that emphasized a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, the
Republicans promised to balance the budget within 7 years. After taking over the
House and Senate, the Republicans fell 1 vote short in the Senate from passing the
Amendment. Bowing to the public’s call (i.e. trouncing of Dems in ’94) for balanced
budgets and Republican pressure, President Clinton presented a balanced budget in
1997. It was the first balanced budget in a generation, but was largely accomplished
by exploding tax revenues from the greatest economic expansion in U.S. history.
With the recession and war on terrorism, it appears that deficit spending has
returned for the indefinite future.

h) OVERSIGHT FUNCTION

As a part of the checks and balances system, Congress is set up to serve an


oversight function. Basically, they are to watch the Executive branch mostly. Thus,
it is the responsibility of Congress to keep the President “honest”. In exercising
“oversight”, Congress has caught both Republican and Democratic Presidents doing
naughty things. For example, Richard Nixon was forced to resign from office rather
than be impeached and removed over the Watergate break-in and cover-up. (Please,
note that Nixon was never impeached! He resigned before the full House could vote
on the issue.) Likewise, President Clinton was forced to admit his perjury and
endure a Senate trial after being impeached by the House on issues of perjury and
obstruction of Justice stemming from the Monica Lewinsky affair. While these issues
are “high-profile,” it is the day-to-day oversight that earns Congress its money.
In watching the Executive branch, Congress must remain ever vigilant.
Democrats are steadily going after President Bush’s records regarding his
formulation of Energy Policy. This issue even caused Bush to invoke Executive
Privilege for the first time within his presidency. Sometimes, oversight is seen as
intrusion by the Executive. But, more commonly, oversight is seen in members of
the President’s Bureaucracy being called before Congressional Committees to
explain their actions. For instance, the Secretary of the Interior might be called to
explain how opening national forests to logging is helping save endangered species,
or the Director of the FBI might be called to explain how an extreme, anti-terrorism
law is necessary to keep our nation safe while eroding the liberty of American
citizens. Furthermore, the Director of the IRS might be called to explain why his
agency is “hassling” innocent taxpayers with cumbersome audits only to find that
they owe “pennies.” It is up to the Congress to make sure that the Executive and its
Bureaucracy stay in line with the will of the people.
If the President or any government official gets out of line, Congress can
always use impeachment. Impeachment usually simply means accusation of a “high
crime or misdemeanor”. After Watergate, the Courts pretty much let Congress
decide what is or is not a “crime or misdemeanor.” As such, the Lewinsky affair was

37
fair game. But, as our Founding Fathers knew of the ill-will in our hearts, they put
the bar very high. In order to remove an official from office, it takes a 2/3 vote of the
Senate.

Only 2 presidents have been impeached:


1) Andrew Johnson, after firing one of his Cabinet members in violation of a
Congressional Act that said he couldn’t fire his own Cabinet members. The
political tug-og-war ended with Johnson surviving removal by 1 vote!
2) Bill Clinton, after being accused of lying and attempting to cover-up his affair
with Monica Lewinsky. Senate vote not even close. A largely partisan vote with
many Senators viewing issue as a personal failure of character and not an offense
for which Clinton should be removed.

2. PRESIDENCY

Article II -- The Executive Branch

Section 1

Clause 1: Executive is one man President.


Vice Presidency is created.
4 year term of office.

*22d Amend.: P serves maximum two terms


P serves maximum 10 years

Clause 2: Electoral College picked by states (no Congressmen).


Each state gets # = to Senators + Representatives

*12th Amend.:Electors meet in their state (vote for P & V.P., but not same state).
Electors send ballots to Pres. of Senate.
Pres. of Senate opens before Senate and House.
(President)
High count of electors becomes P.
If not a majority, then House votes from top three choices.
Each state delegation in House gets one vote.
If no P chosen by 3/4, then V.P. acts as P.
(Vice President)
High count of electors becomes V.P.
If not a majority, then Senate votes from top two choices.
V.P. qualifications same as for P.

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Clause 4: Congress picks day electors chosen/day they vote

Clause 5: Only “natural-born citizen” eligible to be P.


Must be at least 35 to be P.
Must have lived in U.S. 14 years.

Clause 6: Congress decides who takes charge if P & V.P. gone.

*25th Amend.: §1 -- If P dies/resigns, V.P. becomes P.


§2 -- If V.P. gone, P nominates new V.P. (Congress confirms the choice)
§3 -- If P sends ltr. to Pres. pro tempore of Senate & Speaker of House,
V.P. takes over as P. P reverses with 2d letter.
§4 -- V.P. becomes P if V.P. and majority of Cabinet send letter to Pres.
pro tempore of Senate & Speaker of House. To become permanent, need
2/3 vote of both houses of Congress.

*20th Amend.:P’s term begins/ends on Jan. 20


Senators and Reps. term begins/ends on Jan. 3
Congress must meet at least once/year
If P-elect dies, V.P.-elect takes over.
If P-elect and V.P.-elect gone, Congress decides P.

Clause 7: P get paid no more/no less.

Clause 8: P’s Oath of Office.

Section 2

Clause 1: P is Commander of Military & Nat’l Guards.


P can get opinions from Cabinet.
P has pardon power (federal cases only).

Clause 2: P makes treaties with 2/3 advice/consent of Senate.


P appoints ambassadors, S.Ct. Justices, high officials.

Clause 3: P appoints Senator if Senate not in session.

Section 3

P is to give State of Union address to Congress.


P can call special sessions of Congress.
P meets foreign ambassadors.
P ensures laws executed, and commissions officers.

Section 4

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P, V.P. and other U.S. civil officers can be removed if impeached and convicted of treason,
bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

3. THE JUDICIARY (U.S. SUPREME COURT)

Article III of the Constitution states that the judicial power of the United States shall
be vested in one Supreme Court. It does not define what it is or how many members but
only defines its jurisdiction to hear appeals of cases or controversies (no “advisory”
opinions). The power of Judicial Review was first established under the leadership of John
Marshall in the famous case of Marbury vs. Madison.

The Court is made of up 9 members (Chief Justice John Roberts and 8 other so-called
Associate Justices, including 3 women: Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena
Kagan. Sandra Day O’Conner, appointed in 1981, was the first female on the Court.) This
number, however, is subject to change by Congress. In response to the Court’s repeated
striking down of New Deal issues, FDR attempted to get the Congress to go along with a
“Court-Packing” scheme to appoint additional FDR loyal members to the Court.
Ultimately, adding members wasn’t necessary as some hostile members resigned and other
Court members changed their positions in light of the threat of being “outnumbered.”

Justices for the Supreme Court serve for life. They are nominated by the President
and must be confirmed by a majority vote in the Senate. The relevant political
characteristics of a Court nominee are:

1) party identification (i.e. ideological slant as Conservative/Liberal; Republican


presidents nominate conservative, etc…)

2) issue/policy alignment (pro-life, etc.);

3) acceptability to Senate (record show not extremist or underqualified);

4) gender (push to replace O’Connor with another woman, thereby resulting in


failed nomination of Harriet Miers); and

5) race (fill Thurgood Marshall’s seat with another African-American man, thus
get Clarence Thomas).

While the President usually filters any potential nominee through the American Bar
Association (ABA), sometimes nominees make it out that are nonetheless controversial. In
those instances, the interest groups come alive in attempting to derail the nomination. They
do this by lobbying the President to appoint justices in line with the groups’ views and
lobbying influential Congressmen to approve or block potential nominees. Another way
interest groups get involved is early in the process by giving campaign contributions. They
later use this influence to ask for “friendly” nominees.

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Four examples of how Interest groups worked to block Court nominations are found
in:

i) Ginsburg – Once it was revealed that Ginsburg (a man, not to be


confused with Ruth Bader Ginsberg, no relation) had smoke marijuana,
the conservative community erupted. Reagan was forced to remove
his name even before it had been formally submitted to Senate.

ii) Robert Bork – Nominated by Reagan in 1987. During his confirmation


proceedings, Judge Bork was questioned extensively about his
previous writings on a variety of subjects including abortion. Over the
term, it became clear that he was too extreme for many members of the
Senate. His nomination failed 58 – 42.

iii) Clarence Thomas – Nominated by George Bush in 1991. While he was


nominated as an African American to replace the “black” seat on the
Court vacated by Thurgood Marshall, Thomas was conservative in
ideology. This caused many Democrats to oppose him, but more
importantly, he was also accused of sexual harassment by Anita Hill.
After a lengthy hearing, the Senate narrowly confirmed on a vote o 52
– 48.

iv) Harriet Miers -- Nominated by George W. Bush in 2005. Nominated


as a woman to fill vacant seat of first female Justice, Sandra Day
O’Connor. Had no judicial experience, therefore thought by Bush to be
‘safe’ nominee. Right wing conservatives remembered the last ‘safe
conservative’ nominee, David Souter (who later aligned with liberals!).
Thus, the right arose to demand Miers be withdrawn in favor of a ‘real’
conservative with a proven record. In time, Miers knew politics was
against her and she withdrew her name. Bush promptly named
Samuel Alito, a well-known conservative judge (voted to uphold
abortion restriction in Planned Parenthood v. Casey as a Circuit Judge).

Because the confirmation process has become so ideologically and politically


sensitive, some nominees have refused to reveal their judicial predispositions. This
occurred in the confirmation of David Souter who refused to say whether or not he would
move to uphold or strike down Roe v. Wade. Still, the issue of judicial philosophy is
important to Senators. Many oppose the appointment of a judge who will be a judicial
activist and merely use the Constitution as a “living document” and vehicle by which to
implement social policy that could not otherwise be implemented into law via the Congress.
Likewise, many are hesitant to confirm a so-called “strict-constructionist” (or, more
appropriately called “originalists”) who proclaims that the Constitution reflects the views
of our Founding Fathers and is not to be “improved” upon via judicial rulings. While they
proclaim that they are not going to be “Kings in Judicial Robes,” many Senators view them

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as trying to roll-back society to the “stone-age”. Senators seek to find out which philosophy
is represented and determine whether the person should be confirmed.

The political make-up of the Court is now generally conservative in its rulings. The
Court does not have to hear or accept for review any particular cases, but rather votes to
grant review. If four members of the Court agree to hear the case, a writ of certiorari will
be granted. This is known as the Rule of Four.

Writ of certiorari. At least four of nine justices must agree that the case should be put
onto the Court’s docket. (When cert. is denied, it means nothing. It is of no further legal
significance.)

The President and Special Interest groups may attempt to persuade the SCOTUS to
rule a certain way. Interest groups attempt to influence the outcome by filing Amicus
Curiae (“Friend of the Court”) briefs. These documents attempt to demonstrate specific
facts, policy issues, or legal arguments to give the Court justification to rule in their favor.
The President of the US tries to inform the Court of the desired outcome via argument made
by the President’s advocate before the Supreme Court. This person is known as the Solicitor
General.” In cases involving important US policy/law, the Solicitor General may seek to
intervene in the case so as to be able to argue the President’s position to guide the Court.
(Chief Justice John Roberts was an Asst. Solicitor General.)
Majority opinion which tells how the Court decided the case and upon which
grounds, or the Justice may write a dissenting opinion wherein he/she outlines their
reasons for not joining the majority. Finally, a Justice might write a concurring opinion
wherein they state that they agree with the outcome by the majority, but state different
reasons or perhaps to clarify a point not addressed in the majority opinion.

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4. THE BUREAUCRACY (FOURTH BRANCH OF GOV’T)

The federal bureaucracy employs over 3 million civilians (in over 800 occupations in
100 different agencies) and another 2 million military personnel. To some, it is the Fourth
branch of government.

Recall that since the bureaucracy is ostensibly under the President’s control, he can
tell them what to do within their job. This leads to the Presidential power of making
Executive Orders. These orders by the President have the full force and effect of law, but
can be issued by the President without the political wrangling that often accompanies policy
issues. Thus, President Truman integrated the armed service in 1948 via Executive Order.
This was years before the political partisans in Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
So, whey don’t President’s do everything by Executive Order? Well, the answer lies in the
fact that Executive Orders only apply to the bureaucratic operations within the Executive
branch. While this is a big part of our society, it does have practical limits.

The Bureaucracy’s job is to execute or enforce the policies made by Congress or the
President. People often gripe about how inefficient the bureaucracy is, but because they are
set up to promote the “public interest”, this may not be as efficient as some would like.
Thus, people point to “waste” in 1) inefficiency whereby more employees are hired to do a
job than is necessary or consultants are hired and 2) narrow-focus programs that tend to
serve only a few people (e.g. small post offices). While some of the criticism of the
bureaucracy is deserved, much is not due to its mission. Under the Freedom of Information
Act of 1966 (Amended 1974), people can request information from agencies that make up
the government bureaucracy. Although such laws were intended for the public to get in
touch with the government, very few members of the public actually take advantage of
them. (e.g. over 85% of FOIA requests to FDA were from companies that it regulates.) Thus,
the FOIA has been used as a tool by special interests to learn more about the function and
operation of the bureaucracy.

By and large, the bureaucracy grows because it can be a source of benefits. While the
public criticizes “big government,” it clamors for roads, airports, job training, consumer
protection and other benefits. Ultimately, every federal agency within the bureaucracy
exists because it is valuable to enough people with enough influence to sustain it. In
actuality though, even with the continued demand for services, growth in public
employment is not increasing at the federal level. The major growth in public employment
has been at the state and local levels. (only 14% of all governmental workers were federal
employees in 1994). This is not to say that the bureaucracy is stagnant! Although its size
has been relatively stable in recent years, its production of regulations has grown and is
expenditure of funds has doubled since 1961.

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There are four types of bureaucracy: 1) Departments; 2) Independent Agencies; 3)
Independent Regulatory Boards and Commissions; and 4) Governmental Corporations.

a) Departments
Fourteen departments (heads called “Secretaries” except for Justice who is called
“Attorney General”.) The Departments employ over 60% of all civilian workers within the
executive branch.

b) Independent Agencies

These agencies differ from departments in that they are smaller and their heads do
not sit in the cabinet. Some examples are N.A.S.A. and the General Services Administration.

c) Independent Regulatory Boards and Commissions

These groups regulate some aspect of the economy. They are usually headed
by 5 -10 presidential appointees although the Board and Commission members cannot be
removed if they are later disliked by the President. The appointees are also balanced by
political party. Some examples are the F.C.C., Securities and Exchange Commission and the
N.L.R.B. These regulatory agencies are “independent” because they are supposed to work
free of partisan influences and presidential control.

d) Governmental Corporations

Governmental corporations are supposed to provide services to the public


without seeking to make a profit. Some examples are the Postal Service and AMTRAK.
Their costs and incomes are not counted as expenditures and revenues in the annual budget.
Thus, they are an attractive device to spend without enlarging the budget. Their activities
are “off budget” which makes the budget deficit look smaller.

The Bureaucracy’s general purpose is to convert the laws passed by Congress into
rules that have an actual impact on people. We call this process policy implementation. It
has two components: 1) making the policies and 2) administering them.

a) Making Policy (i.e. how bureaucracy screws up your life!)

This function of the bureaucracy has grown in large part due to the large
number and technical nature of the problems facing society and also due to Congress’
inability to draft specific policy measures. Congress often enacts only general statements of
goals and leaves the details to bureaucrats. Thus, Congress gives federal agencies delegated
legislative authority, that is, the power to draft, as well as execute, specific policies. This

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agency-made policy is just as binding as acts of Congress because agencies make it on
Congress’ behalf.

One particular kind of policymaking is called regulation. These are acts of a


regulatory agency which establish guidelines or standards conferring benefits and imposing
restrictions on business conduct. (e.g. 41,000 regulations concerning the hamburger. Some
good such as meat health inspection while others useless such as pickle thickness.) It is
important to note that while agencies try to do what the public wants, they are more likely
to respond to those interests which are well-organized, well-funded and which closely
monitor its actions. As a result, agency-made policy is often less responsive to the general
public than to particular interests. Most regulations, however, are based on laws that direct
agencies to take certain actions to accomplish certain goals. (e.g. EPA set up to tell to reduce
pollution by businesses).

b) Administering Policy

Bureaucracy’s oldest job is to administer the law. To “administer” is to


execute, enforce, and apply the rules that have been made either by Congress or the
bureaucracy itself. When administering and enforcing the “law” as expressed in their
regulations, the bureaucracy causes considerable grief for many individuals and business
owners. For example, anti-discrimination laws found in the ADA (Americans with
Disabilities Act) cause business owners to have to build handicap-accessible doorways,
ramps, tables, booth, bathrooms, etc. Such renovations cost lots of money even if a disabled
person never visits your business. More expensive stuff like implementing the Clean Air
Act are more likely to provoke a response from the business community. In such an instance
where compliance with a regulation might cost $10 million, Exxon might hire lobbyists
(probably former Congressmen) to complain to Congress and seek redress and relief. (SEE
Section E: Iron Triangle) Ultimately, in return for campaign cash from the special interest
(Exxon or whoever), the Congressman will use his Committee to exercise “Oversight” of
the offending Bureaucracy. Basically, this causes headaches for the bureaucrat who ends
up pleading for continued funding for his agency, etc. This becomes so much of a “burden”
to avoid that bureaucrats learned early on not to “stir up” the special interest hornets nest
of lobbyists. Instead, bureaucrats consult with the industry to be affected before taking
regulatory action. In this way, the industry gets to help draft the regulation and will not
attack the agency bureaucrats. Of course, this allows Exxon to essentially say how much
“Clean Air” they will accept, which is not very good public policy. But, this is politics… By
consulting with the Special Interests, the Bureaucracy avoid conflict with Congress over
their budget. Special Interests are happy therefore they give big contributions to the
Congressman exercising Oversight over the Bureaucracy. One big happy family.

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c) Continuity in Government

The bureaucracy also serves to provide continuity in government. Although


the President may change, large portions of the bureaucracy within the Defense Department
etc. will largely stay the same under Civil Service laws.

E. Topic: Public Policy


Percentage of Exam: 5 - 15%

1. IRON TRIANGLES

The iron triangle of government is made up of the U.S. Congress, the federal
bureaucracy, and lobbyists representing special interest groups. These three groups work
together to form government legislation for the most part; it can be said that most federal
legislation is a product of the iron triangle. The ties linking these three groups are quite
strong; often former congress members or bureaucrats become lobbyists.

Though the power of the iron triangle originates in the tenets of factionalism, it can
take away from the democratic process. The pluralist view states that different interests
should be able to compete and compromise with each other to form government policy.
However, because lobbyists usually only represent the wealthy individuals and
corporations in the country, the rest of the public is to a disadvantage and has less influence
on policy. The iron triangle makes voters feel that they cannot make a difference in
government, increasing voter apathy and decreasing voter turnout. Unfortunately,
members of Congress and the bureaucracy can become more concerned with the concerns
of lobbyists representing special interests than with the concerns and welfare of the nation
as whole. (Remember how EPA begins to consult with Exxon on writing Clean Air
regulations, or FDA consulting pharmaceutical industry to determine whether drugs are
safe. Fox guarding hen house.)

2. PRESIDENT AND IRON TRIANGLES

The President can attempt to influence and control the bureaucracy via such
things as 1) budgeting whereby Bush cut IRS funding to target rich tax cheats, 2)
appointment of those sympathetic to his ideas, and 3) lobbying and using media to influence
agencies not under presidential control such as the Federal Reserve Board.

One limitation on the President’s ability to influence agency decisions is the


iron triangle relationships which often exist. These exist where there are strong
congressional and/or domestic groups pushing or supporting an agency decision. Thus,

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the President’s influence is greater with federal agencies such as the State Department
where there are fewer domestic influences and Congress generally defers to the President.

3. CONGRESS AND IRON TRIANGLES

Congress can create and reorganize agencies and tell them what to do and
how to do it. This is very powerful in controlling the bureaucracy. They also have the
power of congressional oversight of these agencies. (e.g. I.R.S. hearings). Iron triangles
often pose a problem in this area though as agencies ally themselves with certain
congressional committees and interest groups for mutual protection.

4. PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS

Individual bureaucrats who discover abuse can report it and be protected if


they are retaliated against for being a whistleblower.

F. Topic: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties


Percentage of Exam: 5 - 15%

1. IMPACT OF 14TH AMENDMENT

The 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause allowed the Supreme Court to make
most of the Bill of Rights applicable to the States (and the Court’s interpretation thereof
binding upon states, as well). This was an incredible extension of the power of the Court
and is known as the Selective Incorporation Doctrine. Not all of the Bill of Rights have been
incorporated to apply against the states. Those NOT incorporated as of less importance
than say, the freedom of speech. They include such things as the 3rd Amd. against
quartering troops, 5th Amd. right to grand jury indictment, etc. The most recent portion of
the Bill of Rights that has been incorporated into the “liberty” of the 14th Amendment which
demands states show “Due Process” before taking the right away is the 2nd Amendment
(McDonald v. Chicago, Illinois (2010).
As the Supreme Court continues to review cases and expound upon what 14th
Amendment “liberty” truly means, the controversy over the Court’s power will continue.
Another likely focus for this controversy will come in summer 2015 with a ruling by the
Court on the legality of same-sex marriage.

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2. TEN* SUPREME COURT CASES YOU NEED TO KNOW
*OK, there are more like thirty. Sue me.

*Marbury v. Madison (1803) -- established judicial review


*McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) -- explained Necessary & Proper Clause
(“Elastic Clause” giving Congress
“Implied Powers”)
*Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) -- expanded Congress’ Power under the
Commerce Clause to include matters “affecting
interstate commerce”, thereby allowing
regulation of intrastate activity.
*U.S. v. Lopez (1995) – activity must have ‘substantial impact’ on Commerce
in order to be regulated by Congress.
*U.S. v. Morrison (2000) – similar to Lopez (violence against women)
*Gonzales v. Raich (2005) – adopts Wickard (1942) expansive view of
Congress’ Commerce Clause power.
*Dred Scott (1857) -- slaves were property
*Plessy v. Ferguson(1896) -- allowed “Separate, but equal”
*Brown v. Board of Education (1954) -- Overruled Plessy
*Bakke v. Regents (1978) -- aff. action factor is ok, quotas are not
*Adarand v. Pena (1995) -- Aff. Action only remedial
*Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) – aff. Action ok to create ‘diversity’ but Court
intimates a 25 yr. limit on need for such
exceptions to 14th equality.
*Baker v. Carr (1962) -- established “one man, one vote”
*Mapp v. Ohio (1961)-- exclusionary rule
*Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) -- right to appointed attorney
*Miranda v. Arizona (1966) -- created Miranda warnings
*Terry v. Ohio (1968)-- created police power to ‘stop & frisk’
*Tinker v. Des Moine (1969) -- Armband symbolic speech
*Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971) -- separation of church & state
*Van Orden v. Perry (2005)/McCreary County v. ACLU (2005) – Ten
Commandments cases. Van Orden upheld
monument/McCreary struck down display b/c
motivated by religion.
*Employment Div. v. Smith (1990) – Free Exercise of Religion can be limited
by ‘content-neutral, generally applicable’ law.
Gives rise to R.F.R.A. struck down in Boerne
(1997).
*Furman v. Georgia (1972) – Death penalty can be ‘cruel’ if imposed without
guidance.

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*Gregg v. Georgia (1976) – Death penalty doesn’t inherently violate 8th Amd.
*Roper v. Simmons (2005) – Death penalty for under 18 yr. olds violates
society’s ‘evolving standard of decency’ so as to
violate 8th Amd.
*Roe v. Wade (1973) (Griswold v. Connecticut) -- right to privacy
*Webster v. Reproductive Health (1989) -- Limited Roe decision (can’t place
an “undue burden” on access to abortion)
*Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) – last case to uphold abortion right, but
allows broad state regulation.
*Lawrence v. Texas (2003) – gay sex is legal
*U.S. v. Nixon (1974) -- limited power of executive privilege
*Texas v. Johnson (1989) -- flag burning is expression
*Buckley v. Valeo (1976) – Contributions to political campaigns is protected
symbolic speech.
*Citizens United v. F.E.C. (2010) – overturned McCain-Feingold ban on using
Corporate $ for independent ads and limits on
how close to election they can be aired

If you read this packet 5 times and remember its contents,


you will get a 5 on the AP!
slackers only message – Please don’t make me look bad by doing only the Multiple Choice and leaving the Essays blank. You could B.S. your
way into a 3. At least try!! Please…..

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