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Flashcards in U.S. Law & Government Deck (51)
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Articles of Confederation

The Articles of Confederation was the first constitution implemented in the United States. It was ratified in 1781, but was quickly replaced in 1788 by the Constitution we know today.


United States Constitution

The Constitution is the document that declared the structure of the United States government and rights of its citizens. It was ratified in 1788.

True or false:

The United States is a democracy.


The United States is actually a democratic republic, not a democracy. The technical definition of a democracy is a form of government in which the people decide policy matters directly--through town hall meetings or by voting on ballot initiatives and referendums.

A democratic republic, on the other hand, is a system in which the people choose representatives who, in turn, make policy decisions on their behalf but the ultimate authority lies with the citizens. The Framers of the Constitution were actually fearful of pure democracy.


What is due process?

Due process requires that legal proceedings be fair and that one has notice and opportunity to be heard.

  • Due process is mentioned in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, which prohibit depriving a person of "life, liberty, or property without due process of law."



(in context of US government)

An amendment is a change to the United States Constitution. There are currently 27 amendments to the constitution.

What is addressed by the:

1st Amendment

The 1st Amendment entitles Americans to freedom of speech, religion, assembly, petition, and the press.


Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights is the name for first ten amendments to the United States Constitution.


Which independent government agency was formed in 1970 to promote better health and environmental protection?

Environmental Protection Agency


What two chambers make up the United States Congress?

Senate and House of Representatives


What Supreme Court case ruled racial segregation constitutional, and promoted the idea "separate but equal?"

Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

Obviously and thankfully, the world has progressed somewhat since 1896!


In the United States government's Executive Branch, what is the role of the Cabinet?

Cabinet members are responsible for leading various governmental departments and advising the president for questions related to these departments. They are appointed by the president and have received Senate approval (confirmation).


Powers that belong to both the state and federal governments are known as _____ _____.

concurrent powers

In several areas, state and federal governments have overlapping powers, which either can use. For instance, both the state and federal governments may tax their citizens.


What branch(es) of the United States government can declare war?

Only Congress can declare war.

The Constitution clearly grants only Congress the explicit right to "declare war."  However, this issue does frequently create major political debate, as another part of the Constitution also clearly names the President as the Commander in Chief of the armed forces. With this role, the President may defend the US or take military action without involving the Congress at times.


Which independent government agency is responsible for collecting intelligence about foreign countries and carrying out covert operations?

Central Intelligence Agency


Which independent government agency is in charge of national security and the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard)?

Department of Defense


Which independent government agency is responsible for international relations?

Department of State


Which independent government agency is responsible for the government's finances, issuing bonds whenever taxpayer funds are insufficient to cover public expenses?

Department of the Treasury


Which independent government agency investigates federal crimes and is in charge of counterintelligence?

Federal Bureau of Investigation


Which independent government agency regulates electronic communications among the United States and its territories?

Federal Communications Commission


Which independent government agency closely monitors international and federal communications and data, for the purpose of discovering threats to the U.S. or its citizens?

National Security Agency

What is addressed by the:

2nd Amendment

The 2nd Amendment gives Americans the right to bear arms.

What is addressed by the:

6th Amendment

The 6th Amendment entitles Americans to a trial by jury.

What is addressed by the:

13th Amendment

The 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the United States.

What is addressed by the:

15th Amendment

The 15th Amendment gave all male citizens, regardless of race or color, the right to vote.

What is addressed by the:

19th Amendment

The 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote.



Anarchy is the absence of any governmental authority.



Federalism is a form of government in which power is divided between a central political authority and its constituent political units.

The United States follows federalism, because power resides jointly in the federal government and in the government of the states.



An oligarchy is a type of government in which power is concentrated in the hands of only a few people. Aristocracy (rule by the elite) is a type of oligarchy.


How does a federal system of government differ from a confederate system?

In a federal system, individual states and the national government share ultimate authority: in some areas the federal government is supreme, while in others the state governments are supreme.

In a confederation, the state governments are considered supreme, except for those powers specifically delegated to the federal government.


delegated powers

Delegated powers are those powers specifically given to the national government.

Examples include the power to "fix the Standard of Weights and Measures," "establish Post Offices and Post Roads," and "regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes."

Non-delegated powers are those powers given to other organizations, such as the power to collect tax given to the Internal Revenue Service.