Text of the AP Government Unit III Review


What was the Bill of Rights originally intended for?

To protect citizens against the actions of the federal government

Identify three key types of federal officials that are appointed by the President.

SC Justices, ambassadors, cabinet members

How likely is the Supreme Court to hear a case that is being appealed from a lower court?

Not very likely, the SC only hears roughly 1% of all appealed cases

What SC decision established a precedent for judicial review?

Marbury v. Madison

What is original jurisdiction?  Appellate jurisdiction?

original means that you’re the first court to hear the case, appellate means that you’ll hear the case if it is appealed

Who has the ultimate appellate jurisdiction?

the Supreme Court

What case made segregation legal in the U.S.?  what case reversed it in 1954?

Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown vs. the Board

Who has the power to declare laws/acts unconstitutional?

Judicial Branch/Supreme Court

The five basic provisions of the first amendment are:

Freedom of Religion, Assembly, Press, Petition & Speech


What did the 14th Amendment do?

guaranteed citizenship rights to all citizens

Who sets the # of justices on the Supreme Court? How many justices are there? How long can each justice serve?

Congress, 9, life

What did New Jersey v. TLO say about search and seizure in schools?

schools can search you for a lesser reason than the police can

What is the current decision on mandatory school prayer?

it’s illegal

When can religious practices be limited?

when they violate criminal laws

What is the current precedent decision regarding abortion?  What does it say?

Roe v. Wade, states can’t outlaw abortion

What is defamatory speech?  Is it protected by the 1st amendment?

speech that damages another person’s good name or character, no

What is the most common way for interest groups to lobby the courts?

Amicus curiae briefs

What SC decision made segregation legal?  Based on what doctrine?

Plessy v. Ferguson; separate but equal

What is the significance of stare decisis?

Means “let the decision stand” & forms basis for why courts will honor precedents (and will be reluctant to overturn them)

What is the usual method used when someone is appealing a case to the SC? How often are these granted by the SC?

petition for a writ of certiorari (has to be accepted by 4 justices); less than 5% of the time

What is the most current SC interpretation of the death penalty?

It is legal, and not cruel and unusual punishment (not all states use it)

What law was designed to specifically enforce the intent of the 15th Amendment?  What has been its legacy?

Voting Rights Act of 1965; greatly increased voters from all ethnic minority groups

SC nominations must be approved by a ______ of the _____.

majority, Senate

Federal judges serve life terms, what is the only way they can be removed from office against their will?

impeachment and conviction by Congress

During what war did the SC strongly limit freedom of speech?

World War I

What is the only circumstance in which the U.S. government is allowed to censor the press?

when national security is in danger

What is an line item veto?

the power to veto just one part of a piece of legislation

What are three of the traditional ways candidates have sought election?

caucus, nominating convention, primary, petition

What is a nominating convention?

an official public meeting of party delegates

In regards to the Bill of Rights, the “wall of separation” refers to

The separation between church and state

What law, passed under the Johnson administration, set out to guarantee the provisions of the 15th Amendment?

Voting Rights Act of 1965, which solidified the right to vote regardless of race

What Warren Court decision basically required law enforcement officials to inform suspects of their rights as the accused?

Miranda v. Arizona, 1966

What kinds of things do Presidents review when choosing federal judges (especially SC justices)?

Past political activities and their experiences on the bench (their judicial record)

The Roe v. Wade decision that essentially legalizes abortion is based on what?

The right to privacy implied in the Bill of Rights

What is the most commonly used method of selecting candidates (or delegates to nominate candidates)?

direct primary

What amendment was passed after the Civil War to guarantee the rights of former slaves?  What SC decision was it responding to?

14th Amendment; Dred Scott decision

How are candidates chosen in a direct primary?

all party members vote to decide which candidate they want

What groups have been more actively included as convention delegates since the 1970’s?

women, minorities, and young people

What is proportional representation?

a candidate gets the number of delegates equal to the proportion of votes they received

What are two common criticisms of the primary system?

too long and costly and too focused on image

Why is winning the early primaries a huge advantage?

you get most of the media attention

What is a regional primary?

when several states agree to hold primaries on the same day

What is the purpose of the party platform?

lays down the specific ideas and beliefs of the party

What is an initiative?

when state voters vote directly on a constitutional amendment

What is the local unit of party organization? Who is its leader?

precinct, precinct captain

Who runs the party in each state?  Who leads this group?

the party central committee, state chairperson

Identify at least three major political party functions.

recruiting candidates, educating the public, running the gov’t, dispensing patronage

What happens to the campaign staffers of winning candidates?

They go on to work in the winner’s administration

Name two ways third parties impact American politics.

Force issues on to national agenda, decide elections by taking votes from major party candidates, provide safety valve for discontent

Why is it so difficult for third parties to make an impact on American politics?

Winner take all nature of our system makes it difficult to gain a foothold (win a seat in Congress or electoral votes)

What kind of person was eligible to vote when the United States was founded?

Property holding white men

Identify two measures used to keep blacks from voting even after the 15th Amendment was passed.

Poll taxes, literacy tests, grandfather clauses

When were these measures finally abolished?

1960’s during the Civil Rights Movement

What amendment guaranteed the vote for women?  When was it passed?

19th, 1920 (after WWI)

What amendment changed the voting age from 21 to 18?  What election did it first impact?

26th Amendment, 1972

Identify three things from a voter’s background that tend to influence their vote.

Age, religion, education, race or ethnicity

What is the term for someone who always votes the party line?

A strong party voter

Identify two reasons why some people do not vote.

Don’t meet requirements, lack of faith in gov’t, mobile society keeps them from registering

What significance did Barron v. Baltimore have?

It indicated that the first ten amendments did not apply to state governments (upheld throughout 1800s)

What did incorporation (based on 14th amendment) do to the Bill of Rights?

Extended Bill of Rights to protect individuals from all levels of government (federal, state, local)

What clause of the 14th Amendment was used to incorporate the Bill of Rights?  Has incorporation been selective or total?

Due Process clause

Selective (not all aspects of B of R are incorporated)

What is nationalization?

It means that citizens who believe that a state or local authority has denied them their basic rights and may take their case to federal court.

What are the two clauses of the 1st Amendment regarding religion?

The establishment (no laws regarding the establishment of religion) and free exercise (no interference with practice) clauses

Which legal philosophy advocates interpretation based on a reasonable application of the text of the law?


Which legal philosophy/practice allows judges to imply broad powers and make major societal changes from the bench?  What is the opposite of this?

Judicial Activism, Judicial Restraint

How does a loose constructionist view the powers of the government?  What is the opposing view?

Government has more powers than those specifically listed ion Constitution; strict view believes gov’t is limited to what’s specifically listed

Which members of our society traditionally have the most access to political power?  What does this do to their rate of political participation?

Socioeconomic elite, they have a high rate of participation

What are three traditional criticisms of polls?

Bandwagon effect, makes politicians leaders rather than followers, can impact outcome of elections through “missed calls”

Identify three forms of conventional political participation.

Voting, letter writing, caucusing, filing suit

What is the usual topic for cases regarding the establishment clause?

Religion and education

What are two parts of the Lemon Test on state aid to parochial schools?

aid must have a clear secular purpose, must neither advance nor inhibit religion, must avoid excessive entanglement with religion

What was the key outcome of the Engel v. Vitale decision?

Schools could not encourage prayer, even if the prayer was nondenominational

How have many states allowed for the possibility of prayer at schools without running afoul of the Supreme Court?

“Moment of Silence” Laws

What law allows for student religious groups to hold meetings and functions at public schools?

Equal Access Act (1984 – ruled constitutional by SC in 1990)

How has the court ruled on the banning of teaching evolution?

Not OK to ban it (Epperson v. Arkansas) also can’t require teaching of Biblical creation

How has the court ruled on religious practices that violate laws related to public safety and morality?

Court upholds these laws (on cases like polygamy, drug use, etc.)

How has the court ruled on compulsory patriotism in regards to religion?

people cannot be compelled to participate in patriotic acts that violate their religious beliefs

What are the two general categories of speech, according to the SC?

Pure speech (actual spoken words) & symbolic speech (burning draft cards, wearing arm bands in protest, etc.)

What are two of the major guidelines the SC uses in freedom of speech cases?

clear and present danger test, bad tendency doctrine, and preferred position doctrine

What did the SC rule in Schenck v. the U.S.?

Not OK for Schenck to encourage draftees to obstruct the war effort during WWI (in violation of clear and present danger test)

How did Gitlow v. New York clarify the bad tendency doctrine?

Speech can be restricted even if it had only a tendency to lead to illegal action

How has the SC ruled on various sedition laws over time?

At first you could be convicted for advocating action against government, over time definition has narrowed

What is defamatory speech?  Is it protected?

Speech that damages a person’s good name or reputation - can be spoken (slander) or printed (libel); not protected

How much control do school officials have over their students’ right to free speech?  Identify one case that deals with this.

School officials have a great deal of control over student speech; Tinker v. Des Moines, Bethel School District v. Fraiser, Hazelwood SD v. Kuhlmeier

What is the name for censorship of information before it is published?  When is this allowed in the U.S.?

prior restraint, only allowed when national security is threatened

What important prior restraint decision came out of the Pentagon papers?  What was the outcome?

New York Times v. United States; Times was allowed to print Pentagon papers

What are two steps judges can take to try and assure that a free press doesn’t infringe on the right to a fair trial?

change venue for trial, limit number of reporters, sequestering jury, isolating witnesses and jury members

Under what circumstances can a judge ban the press from a pretrial hearing?

when the suppression of evidence is being discussed

According to the SC, do reporters have the right to refuse to reveal sources or evidence?

They do not, but the SC allows for special exemptions for this from Congress or the states (30 states have shield laws that protect reporters)

Has the SC allowed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to censor the press?

no, but they can require certain standards for certain types of broadcasting

Are email and the internet more or less restricted than broadcast media?  Why?

less, because they are viewed as print media and accorded the same freedoms as newspapers & magazines

The right to parade and demonstrate in public is protected by which freedom?  What do local governments usually require for these activities?

Assembly; a permit

Why are demonstrations subject to greater gov’t regulation than other forms of speech?

Potential for conflict between demonstrators & others; or interference with others trying to use public streets/spaces

Does the right to Assembly allow a group to convert private property to its own use?  Around what kind of facility has this been an issue in recent years?

 No, it does not; private abortion clinics being picketed by pro-life protestors

What is the heckler’s veto?  What 1977 incident in Skokie, IL, clearly demonstrated this?

When public opinion against an unpopular group keeps it from demonstrating, the Nazis wanted to march in Skokie – a largely Jewish suburb of Chicago

What did Feiner v. New York give the police the right to do?

Disperse a group of demonstrators in the interest of keeping the peace

How has the court handled the issue of labor picketing?

It is allowed, but can be more tightly regulated because it has consequences greater than other forms of free speech

How does the clear and present doctrine apply to freedom of association?

Government can prevent people from forming/joining groups deemed to be subversive

What is “Horse-Race Journalism”?

When the media cover campaigns by emphasizing the relative standings of the candidates in the polls, rather than the issues they discuss

What is the primary role of lobbyists?

They try to win support for their positions on issues by providing information on technical issues

What percentage of cases requested for review by the Supreme Court are actually ruled on  by the Court?

Less than five percent

What organizations help businesses, labor groups, and other interests raise money to support candidates?

Political Action Committees (PACs)

What did the Supreme Court establish in McCulloch v. Maryland?

States cannot interfere with or tax the legitimate activities of the federal government

Public monies are used to fund which type of national election?

Presidential elections

Identify three major precedents established by the Warren Court.

End to school segregation, greater protections for those accused of crimes, end malapportionment of districts (one person one vote), extend 1st amendment rights

Identify two key legal developments under the Burger Court.

School busing decisions, US v. Nixon, Roe v. Wade

Are courts democratic institutions?  How can public influence courts?

No, but interest groups try to influence decisions and politicians run based on kind of judges they will appoint

How can the President and Congress work around particularly onerous court decisions?

Seeking to amend the constitution (e.g. 16th Amendment)

What are the three major linkage institutions?  Why are they called linkage institutions?

Press, Parties, Interest Groups

They link the public to the political process

What is the “30 Second Presidency”?

Name for the new, media driven way presidents communicate (ads, sound bites, media events, etc.)

Name two events that made the relationship and the President more contentious.

Watergate, Iran Contra, Lewinsky Scandal

What is a “trial balloon”?

When an idea or proposal is leaked as a way to measure public reaction

How has increased media attention on personal traits impacted the political process?

Draws attention away from discussion on policy positions and key issues

Why is it significant that we have a for-profit media in the U.S.?

Because the content covered is driven by the need to generate ad revenue, and takes attention away from what might be more important