US Public Law And Government at Universität Münster | Flashcards & Summaries

US Public Law and Government at Universität Münster

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State governments

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Articles of Confederation and Constitution

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US Congress

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The Presidency

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The Electoral College

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US federal government

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Two-party-system

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the 2+4+6 cycle

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US federal courts

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The federal constitution

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Bill of Rights


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Reservations

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Exemplary flashcards for US Public Law and Government at the Universität Münster on StudySmarter:

US Public Law and Government

State governments

  • Each state has own gov structures
  • Legislatives have different names (e. g. in Massachusetts --> General Court)

US Public Law and Government

Articles of Confederation and Constitution

  • Declaration of independence and articles of confederation considered US 13 sovereign countries
  • Constitutional convention in Philly, summer 1787
  • Concerns: AoC too weak, too decentralized
  • New Constitution required 9 states to ratify, whereas AoC required all 13 to ratify an amendment of the Articles

US Public Law and Government

US Congress

  • Senate: 2 senators per state --> 100 in total
  • House: 435 congresspeople divided among whole population
  • Territories have non-voting reps in House, no representation in Senate
  • District participates in presidential election
  • NatAms have full voting rights in their states

US Public Law and Government

The Presidency

Executive is elected independently from legislative --> executive may not always have congressional majority support


US Public Law and Government

The Electoral College

  • Votes are allocated to states according to number of representatives in both houses of Congress --> 538 members
  • DC gets votes according to number if they had proper representation --> 3
  • Almost all states (except NE and ME) allocate their votes in winner-takes-all-system
  • Snake chart: shows state(s) most likely to decide election
  • Faithless electors: in some states illegal (but not criminalized), in others completely legal

US Public Law and Government

US federal government

  • Many kinds of gov decisions require cooperation from two or all three branches of gov
  • E. g. appointing federal officials
  • Lawmaking:
    1. Pass a statute: both houses of congress, prez must sign; veto needs to be overwritten (two-thirds)
    2. --> you need all three branches or a big majority in houses

US Public Law and Government

Two-party-system

  • All federal elections are first-past-the -post --> no proportional representation
  • Small parties usually have little or no federal representation --> two-party system is natural
  • Duverger’s law: first-past-the-post electoral rules favor two-party system

US Public Law and Government

the 2+4+6 cycle

  • Whole house every two years
  • Prez every four years w/ two-term-limit à always congressional election in middle of prez. Term (mid-term election)
  • --> One-third of senate every two years, one term lasts six years
  • --> Hard to take control of whole government
  • Intentional design to check power of federal gov
  • Unusual for one party to control all three branches
    1. Sometimes, voters aim for this result: split-ticket voting --> vote for different parties in different branches (rarer today)
    2. Sometimes, it happens bc country is close to evenly split --> then branches will shift back and forth --> statistically unlikely to win all 3

US Public Law and Government

US federal courts

  • Supreme Court: 
    1. constitutionally required
    2. citations contain “US”
    3. court decides itself which cases it hears à grant writ of certiorari
      • less than 2 % of appeals are granted --> 100-150 cases/year
      • SCOTUS more likely to hear case if two CoA disagree
    4. Is court of general jurisdiction --> final appeal court on all federal legal issues
    5. Constitutional review is decentralized
      • All fed. courts have jurisdiction to hear const. cases --> start in District court
  • Circuit Courts of Appeals: 
    1. cited as “F2d” or “F.3d”
    2. most federal cases decided here
  • District Courts: cited as “FSupp”
  • Constitutional Protections, Art. III
    1. Only SC constitutionally required, other courts est. by statute
    2. No term limits
    3. Art. III s. 2 only refers to cases or controversies à no abstract constitutional review in advance
  • Every state has independent judicial system
    1. State courts enforce state law, federal courts enforce federal law
    2. Unless no federal question, state courts decide issue finally
    3. Fed. courts also have “diversity jurisdiction”: mixed issues, parties and issues not from same state
  • If case in state court raises a federal question
    1. It can be transferred (“removed”) to fed. court à doesn’t have to
    2. Or it can be appealed on that basis, from decision of the highest state court, to SCOTUS (if cert granted)
  • State judges
    1. Not same as Art III judges --> appointed under state rules
    2. Most state judges face at least one election
      • Most commonly conf. election after first term
      • Few states: regular repeated partisan elections

US Public Law and Government

The federal constitution

  • Art I: Legislature
  • Art II: Executive
  • Art III: Judiciary
  • Art IV: federal issue on interstate and federal relations
  • Article V: Amendment process
    1. 2/3 of both houses of congress to propose + ¾ of states to ratify
    2. Or: 2/3 of state legislatures to propose (Convention) + support of ¾ of states to ratify
    3. Weakness
      • High threshold for amendment
      • Strongly state-protecting
      • Congress cant amend on its own
      • Only 27 amendments, 17 since 1791
  • Art VI: Supremacy of con. Law and Oath
  • Art VII: Ratification
  • Rights:
    1. Few rights in main text: Prohibitions of Bills of Attainder or Impairment of Obligation of Contracts (Art I s 9, 10), Citizen Privilege (Art IV s 2)

US Public Law and Government

Bill of Rights


  1. First ten amendments, ratified 1791
  2. 1st: free speech, assembly, federal neutrality on religious matters
  3. 2nd: right to bear arms and establish militias
  4. 3rd: right not to have to quarter soldiers in your house
  5. 4th: protection against searches etc.
  6. 5th-8th: criminal protections
  7. 9th: enumeration clause
  8. 10th: reservation of powers to the states or the people

US Public Law and Government

Reservations

sovereign entities, but subject to federal law --> domestic dependent nations

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