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TEXAS STATE / Political Science / POSI 2310 / What are the characteristics of the legislature?

What are the characteristics of the legislature?

What are the characteristics of the legislature?


School: Texas State University
Department: Political Science
Course: Principles of American Government
Professor: Sherri morra
Term: Fall 2017
Tags: American Government, Government, texas state, and Political Science 2310
Cost: 50
Name: POSI 2310 Exam 2 Study Guide Sherri Mora
Description: Study guide pertaining to second exam for Principles of American Government (Political Science 2310) taught by Professor Sherri Mora
Uploaded: 10/14/2017
6 Pages 150 Views 3 Unlocks

Political Science Study Guide for First Exam

What are the characteristics of the legislature?

Professor: Sherri Mora

Checks and Balances

Checks and balances refers to the counterbalancing influences each branch of the  Federal government can apply to one another to maintain the balance of powers and  keep the other branches from exceeding constitutional limits. This was born from  separation of powers.

∙ The Executive branch can check the legislative branch

∙ The Legislative branch can check the Executive branch

∙ The Judicial branch can check the Legislative branch

Which body is most representative?  

The legislative branch. The House of Representatives is the most democratic of the  two bodies of Congress.

What about demographics?  

Who holds the power in house and senate?

The senate is mostly made up of older, wealthy, well-educated, white men.

Legislative elections

House of Representatives: Elected every 2 years in even numbered years. Senate: 1/3rd of the senate is up for re-election every two years, but all senators serve a 6-year term.

Reapportionment and redistricting (define, how often)

Reapportionment is the redistribution of House seats based on population shifts. It  occurs every 10 years, consistently with the United States Census.

Redistricting is congressional districts being redrawn every 10 years, also in line with  the U.S. census.

Powers of Legislature

Enumerated powers are expressed in Article 1 of the constitution.

Implied powers are derived from the “necessary and proper” clause in Article 1 that  grants Congress to pass laws it deems necessary to carry out its duties.

How many people does each legislator represent?

Who holds the power in House and Senate?  

In the House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House is the most powerful. In the Senate the Majority leader holds the most power. If you want to learn more check out Phylum cnidaria contains how many species?

Impact of elastic clause

This is the “necessary and proper clause”. The impact of this clause is that it grants  broad powers to the Legislative branch.  

Characteristics of Legislature  

Limited government, separated branches, checks and balances, federalism.

How many people does each legislator represent?  

Around 667,000

Log rolling (defined)  

The reciprocal process of trading votes on bills between legislators

Pork barrel (defined)  

Pork Barrel legislation is when special projects are funded to advantage a member’s  home district. Don't forget about the age old question of When 25.8 g h2 reacts with 25.8 g o2, 18.5 g of h2o was collected. what is the percent yield for the reaction?

Functions of Congress  

Congress enacts the laws. The house has unique powers to originate tax bills and  bring impeachment charges. The senate has unique powers to ratify treaties, and try  impeachment charges. Congress also holds the power to establish courts. Don't forget about the age old question of It refers to the degree of "emotional stability." what is it?

Incumbent advantage  

An incumbent is a person who already holds the office for which they are running.  They hold an enormous advantage because of ranking, connections, and media.  About 95% of incumbents get reelected.

How a bill becomes law  

1. Introduced to the House of Representatives and assigned a number 2. Assigned to standing committee

3. Referred to subcommittee and reviewed We also discuss several other topics like How did a conflict between ah and serbia become a world war?

4. Hearings are held, revisions are made to the legislation If you want to learn more check out What is the meaning of the battle of adwa 1896?

5. Returns to full committee, if approved it goes to the House calendar (where  many die)

6. To reach house floor it must receive a rule from the Rules Committee 7. House and Senate approval

8. Goes to Oval Office, where the President has the option to veto, pass, or ignore  the bill (if ignored it will become a law in 10 days)

Standing Committees

There are Standing Committees in both the House of Representatives and the Senate  and they are gathered around specific areas (i.e. Agriculture, Finance, Veteran’s  Affairs). The committee system in Congress encourages member specialization in  different sectors. Most of the work done in Congress occurs in committees. If you want to learn more check out What is intercultural communication?

Joint Committees (defined)  

A committee made up of members from both the House and the Senate

Line of succession for President (1st, 2nd, and 3rd)  

1. Vice President

2. Speaker of the House

3. President Pro Tempore of the Senate

Congressional leadership (roles and who)  

House of Representatives:

∙ Speaker of the House (Paul Ryan)- assigns bills and members to committees,  schedules votes

∙ Majority Leader (Kevin McCarthy) – Assist the speaker

∙ Majority whip (Steve Scalise) – keep everyone on the same page and urge  members to vote

∙ Minority Leader ( Nancy Pelosi – guide members of minority party (Democrats)  and keep them in line with party positions


∙ President of the Senate (Also the Vice President, Mike Pence)

∙ President Pro Tem (most powerful position in the Senate, Orrin Hatch) ∙ Majority Leader (Mitch McConnel) – above

∙ Minority Leader (Dick Durbin) – above  

Vote required to pass law; override presidential veto

1. Vote required to pass legislation: simple majority in both the House and the  Senate

2. To override presidential veto: 2/3rds in both the House and the Senate

Executive agreements (defined, and for how long)  

Executive agreements are agreements between heads of state. They are similar to  treaties but they do not require senate ratification. They are in force for the term of  the executives that negotiate them.

Executive departments  

The administrative arms of the Presidents, also called his Cabinet. There are 15  executive departments.

Constitutional powers of the President (roles and what happens)  ∙ Chief Administrator: Implement policy, supervise the Executive branch, appoint  and remove executive officials, prepare executive budge

∙ Chief Legislator: initiate policy, veto legislation, convene a special session of  Congress

∙ Chief Diplomat: make treaties, exercise the power of diplomatic recognition,  make executive agreements

∙ Chief of State: represent the nation, grant reprieves and pardons, appoint  federal Court and Supreme Court judges

∙ Commander-in-Chief: Command U.S. Armed Forces, appoint military officers;  DUE TO WAR POWERS RESOLUTION he must also: obtain congressional approval prior to committing U.S. troops to a combat zone, notify Congress within 48  hours of committing U.S. troops to a combat zone, and withdraw troops within  60 days unless Congress votes to declare war

Congressional powers granted to President  

Are called statutory power; stated above with roles

Presidential expansion of government  

Examples include Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, which grew the U.S. government  immensely.

Impeachment process – 2 parts

The 2-part process that comes with impeaching a president. Part 1: bringing the  charges; Part 2: charging the president.

Which branch can establish federal courts?  


Initial conception of the Judicial Branch  

Originally the Judicial Branch was going to be weak with little power.

Marbury v. Madison  

Supreme court case that established judicial review.

Courts of Appeal  

One of the tiers of federal courts, hears only appeals

Stare Decisis (defined)  

Means “to stand by things decided” In the Supreme Court it means to let a decision  stand. It is the basis for precedent upon which future cases are decided. 

Highest form of law  

The U.S. Constitution

What are statutes and who writes them?  

They are laws and are written by Congress

What are courts of last resort?  

The Supreme Court since it is the highest court within the hierarchy of courts.

Type of court system in the US  

Dual court system, referring to the separate Federal and State court systems.

3-tier federal court  

U.S. district courts

∙ 94 courts

∙ 600 judges

Courts of Appeal

∙ 12 courts

∙ 200 judges

Supreme Court

∙ Only 1

∙ 9 judges

Ideological position of Supreme Court  

Slightly conservative

Whose decisions have the force of law?  

Supreme Court Justice’s decisions and the highest state court justices.

Supreme Court – How many justices and what are they called?  9 Justices:

1 Chief Justice and 9 Associate Justices

Presidential appointments (Obama & Trump)  

Obama: Kagan and Sotomayor

Trump: Gorsuch

Rule of Four  

When 4 judges decide that they want to hear a case, the Supreme Court will usually  hear the case.

How are federal court judges selected?  

Appointed by the president

Activist v. Restraint  

Two “ruling methods” or ideologies in the Supreme Court

Activist: View the constitutional as a living document that is interpreted differently in  different times. They shape the Constitution to fit current needs and vigorously review the actions of other branches.

Restraint: strictly constitutional, very interested in the original intent of the founding  fathers


Customs and norms of committees:  

∙ Specialization (committee members seek to be placed in certain committees based on policy interests, media attention, and relative importance)

∙ Reciprocity (Agreeing to support someone else’s bill so they will support yours)

Relating to the Legislative Branch: 

Constituents refers to people who live in certain districts and are represented by a  legislator.  

Gerrymandering is the process of redrawing congressional districts for the purpose of  political gain.

The House of Representatives consists of 435 members and terms last 2 years, but they  have no term limit.

The senate consists of 100 members, each have terms lasting 6 years.

Relating to the Judicial Branch: 

Appellate: review of a lower court’s decision

The court system is bifurcated:

Criminal law: involving criminal law

Civil law: involving disputes that arise between people

Appellate jurisdiction: the power of a court to review decisions and change outcomes of  lower courts, these courts only must hear appeals at their own will. 

Marbury v. Madison: established the concept of Judicial review

McCullough v. Maryland: established precedent that national law supersedes state law

Articles establishing which branch:

Legislative – Article 1

Executive – Article 2

Judicial – Article 3

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