Text of the AP Government Unit I Review

What philosophe argued in favor of a three branch government?


Who was the first to introduce the idea of natural rights that should be protected?

John Locke

What document defined the first gov’t of the U.S.?

Articles of Confederation

What were three key weaknesses of this document?

no executive, no power to tax, coin money, regulate trade, pay for a military

Identify three of the men who stood out as early leaders of the Constitutional Convention.

George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Wilson, James Madison

Which section of the Constitution establishes its purpose?  Who did it say the Constitution would serve?

The Preamble, the people

How many articles does the Constitution have?  What do the first three cover?

7, the 3 major branches

What is the “supremacy clause”?

Makes it clear that the Constitution is the supreme law of the land

What is the last section of the Constitution made up of?  Why is this so important?

Amendments, which allow the Constitution to be changed – makes it a flexible “living” document

The Constitution is based on rule of the people, also known as ______.

Popular sovereignty

What is the name for a system in which power is divided between national and state governments?


Why did the founders choose a federalist approach?

Even though the weak union of the A of C failed, they still feared putting too much power in the hands of the central gov’t

What is the primary purpose of separation of powers?

Limit overall power of central gov’t by dividing powers between branches

What is judicial review?  What case established it?

The power of the courts to declare laws invalid if they violate the Constitution,  Marbury v. Madison

Define the concept of limited gov’t.

The Constitution limits gov’t by specifically listing the powers it does and does not have

Which branch did the founders believe would be the most powerful?  Why did they fear its power?

Congress, bad experiences with Parliament

In what list are most of the specific powers of Congress found?  What two areas do most of these relate to?

The enumerated powers, finance and defense

What gives Congress the power to make all laws “necessary and proper”?

Elastic clause

What was the key outcome of McCulloch v. Maryland?

Broad interpretation of the elastic clause

What gov’t role was a part time job for much of the first 100 years of our history?  When did Congress first start meeting in continuous session?

Working in congress, mid 20th century

How many bills are introduced in Congress each year?

About 10,000

Which branch was expected to execute acts of Congress and protect against mass movements to redistribute wealth?

The Executive branch

What are three specific powers given to the President?

Commander in Chief, appoints cabinet members, grant pardons, make treaties appoints judges and ambassadors, etc.

Why was Washington so careful about the discharge of his duties?

Fearful of setting precedents, which is how most presidential powers have been established

In what way do we have a “dual court” system in the U.S.?

We have both Federal and State courts, each of whom has different jurisdictions

What is the only way to overrule the Supreme Court on a constitutional issue?

Amend the Constitution

Which branch most often takes exception to the growing power of the President?


Who has the power to create new courts?  Do they use this power often?

Congress, no

Who must the Supreme Court count on to make sure that its decisions are adequately enforced?

Executive Branch

Which early plan became the basis for the new constitution?  Who was its primary author?

The Virginia Plan, James Madison

Which plan was devised to represent the needs of the small states? How?

The New Jersey Plan, equal number of reps for each state

Why did the New Jersey Plan want to keep the unicameral legislature?

Because it made representation equal for all states, regardless of size

After the New Jersey Plan was rejected, what question deadlocked the Convention?

Whether representation should be equal for all states or determined by population

What was the name of the compromise that resolved this issue?  What did it do?

Connecticut Compromise, provided for 2 houses - the House (by population) & the Senate (equal for all states)

What issue was resolved by the 3/5 Compromise?  How did it resolve the issue?

How to count slaves in a state’s population, 1 slave = 3/5 of a free man (for both representation and taxes)

What 2 groups quickly formed during the debate over ratification

Federalists (for the Cons.) and Anti Federalists (against the Cons.)

Identify two reasons the Anti-Federalists opposed the new Constitutions.

Drafted in secret, the convention had overstepped it’s bounds, main reason: had no Bill of Rights

What famous Patriot was opposed to the Constitution because it lacked a bill of rights?  What was his argument?

Patrick Henry, if people are not explicitly given rights the government will take them away

Why did the federalists argue that a Bill of Rights was unnecessary?

because most of the states already had them in their constitutions

What did the federalists promise in order to move the Constitution toward ratification?

that a Bill of Rights would be the first order of business for the new gov’t

What did John Jay and Alexander Hamilton do to try and assure ratification in New York?

They wrote The Federalist Papers, arguing for the ratification of the Constitution

Who served as the first President and Vice President of the United States?

George Washington and John Adams

Which branch did the framers intend to have the most power?

The legislative branch (Congress)

How many sessions is each term of congress divided into?  How long does a modern session last?

2, January to November

What is the age requirement for serving in the House?  The citizenship requirement?

25 years of age, 7 years a citizen

How many representatives currently serve in the House?  How are these reps divided between the states?

435, by population

Who has the power to cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate?

The Vice President

How long is the term of office in the house?

2 years

What organization determines the population of each state?  How often is this done?

The Census Bureau, every ten years

Who is in charge of redistricting a state after the census?

The legislature of each state

Identify the two main ways that state legislatures have traditionally abused this power.

creating districts of unequal population and gerrymandering

What is gerrymandering?

it’s when districts are drawn to benefit a specific political party

What did the “one person-one vote” decision require?

that all districts contain approximately 600,000 people, assuring equal power for each vote

What is the age requirement to be a senator?  The citizenship requirement?

30 years of age, 9 years a citizen

How long is the term of office for a senator?  What portion of the senate is up for reelection every two years?

6 years, 1/3 is up for reelection

What is censure?

a formal vote that disapproves of a member’s behavior

Describe the average member of congress in terms of age, ethnicity, profession and gender.

over 50, white, lawyer and male

What percentage of incumbents won reelection between 1945-1990?


Identify two reasons why incumbents are generally more successful.

money from PACs, gerrymandering, voter recognition, franking privileges

When did the tide begin to turn against incumbents?

the “Voter Revolution” of 1994

Identify the three House leaders chosen by the majority party.

Speaker, majority leader, majority whip

What are two of the main powers of the Speaker?

assigning bills to committees, presiding over House debates, playing a key role in the calendaring of bills

What do the party leader and whip do, respectively?

leader sets the agenda and priorities, whip maintains party discipline

What is the primary role of congressional committees?

to closely evaluate proposed bills, hold hearings on them, and decide whether they go on to the full house or senate

Which committee controls the proceedings of the house and gives final consent to the calendar?

the Rules Committee

Who appoints Justices & Ambassadors?  Who approves them?

President, Senate

Who has the power to negotiate treaties and enforce the laws?


Who has the power to declares laws/acts unconstitutional?

Judicial Branch/Supreme Court

Who has the power to tax, regulate trade and coin money?


Who is commander in Chief of the armed forces and also in charge of federal departments (Defense, Treasury, State, etc.)

the President

Who has the power to declare war, raise an army, and approve treaties?


What branch has used many precedents over time to add to its powers?

executive branch

What are two ways the President can try to influence Congress?

veto, call special session, make State of the Union Address

What are two powers Congress has over the President?

approve treaties, cabinet officials, & judges, veto override, control the budget

What percentage of bills actually become laws?

roughly 5%