Ap Gov Chapter 3 Vocab

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A way of organizing a nation so that two or more levels of government have formal authority over the same land and people, system of shared power between units of government

Unitary Governments

A way of organizing a nation so that all power resides in the central government

Intergovernmental Relations

The workings of the federal system- the entire set of interactions among national, state, and local governments.

Supremacy Clause

Article VI of the Constitution, which makes the Constitution, national laws, and treaties supreme over state laws when the national government is acting within its constitutional limits.

Tenth Amendment

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

McCulloch v. Maryland

A 1819 Supreme Court decision that established the supremacy of the national government over state governments. In deciding this case, Chief Justice John Marshall and his colleagues held that Congress had certain implied powers in addition to the enumerated powers found in the Constitution

Enumerated Powers

Powers of the federal government that are specifically addressed in the Constitution; for Congress, these powers are listed in Article I, Section 8, and include the power to coin money, regulate its value, and impose taxes.

Implied Powers

Powers of the federal government that go beyond those enumerated in the Constitution. Implied powers are derived from the elastic or necessary and proper clause.

Gibbons v. Ogden

1824 Landmark decision in which the Supreme Court held that the power to regulate interstate commerce, granted to Congress by the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution, encompassed the power to regulate navigation

Full Faith and Credit Clause

Clause in the Constitution (Article 4, Section 1) requiring each state to recognize the civil judgments rendered by the courts of the other states and to accept their public records and acts as valid.


A legal process whereby an alleged criminal offender is surrendered by the officials of one state to officials of the state in which the crime is alleged to have been committed.

Elastic Clause

Article I, Section 8, Clause 18 of the Constitution; one of the powers of Congress that allows them to make any laws that are necessary and proper for carrying out their other powers. Also called the "Necessary and Proper Clause"

Privileges and Immunities clause

Guarantees that the rights of a citizen in one state will be respected by other states.

Dual federalism

A political arrangement in which power is divided between the federal and state governments in clearly defined terms, with state governments exercising those powers accorded to them without interference from the federal government

Cooperative Federalism

A system of government in which powers and policy assignments are shared between states and the national government.


The transfer or delegation of power to a lower level, especially by central government to local or regional administration.

Fiscal Federalism

The pattern of spending, taxing, and providing grants in the federal system; it is the cornerstone of the national government’s relations with state and local governments.

Categorical Grants

Federal grants that can be used only for specific purposes or "categories," of state and local spending. They come with strings attached, such as nondiscrimination provisions.

Project Grants

Categorical grant programs in which states submit proposals for projects to the federal government and the national government chooses which to fund on a competitive basis.

Formula Grants

Congress appropriates funds for a specific purpose. These funds are allocated by formula and are subject to detailed federal conditions, often on a matching basis; that is, the local government receiving the federal funds must put up some of its own money.

Block Grants

Federal money given to states with only general guidelines for its use. The states have the authority to decide how the money will be spent.

Commerce Clause

The clause in the Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 1) that gives Congress the power to regulate all business activities that cross state lines or affect more than one state or other nations.

Concurrent Powers

Powers of government exercised independently by both the federal and state governments, such as the power to tax.

Confederal System

A system consisting of a league of independent states, each having essentially sovereign powers. The central government created by such a league has only limited powers over the states.

Creeping Categorization

Block grants become more restricted by rules due to conditions added later by Congress; the tendency for grants to acquire mandates where none had existed previously. Block grants becoming more categorical

Cross-cutting Requirements

A condition on one federal grant that is extended to all activities supported by federal funds

Cross-over Sanctions

Using federal dollars in one program to influence state and local policy in another, such as when funds are withheld for highway construction unless states raise the drinking age to 21 or establish highway beautification programs.

Delegated Powers

Powers specifically given to the federal government by the US Constitution, for example, the authority to print money.

Devolution Revolution

The effort to reduce the size & power of the federal government by returning (devolving) power to the states. Associated with economic conservatives, President Reagan & the Tea Party.

Eminent domain

Power of a government to take private property for public use; the U.S. Constitution gives national and state governments this power and requires them to provide just compensation for property so taken.

Grants-in-aid System

The national government provides millions of dollars for federal grants to states

Kelo vs New London

New London used its eminent domain authority to seize private property to sell to private developers. City said developing the land would create jobs and increase tax revenues. Kelo among others sued, arguing that taking private property to sell to private developers was not public use. Supreme Court ruled in favor of New London Connecticut. 2005

Loose Construction

Believers in loose construction favor a system where anything not specifically prohibited by the constitution should be allowed.


The authority to carry out a policy or course of action, regarded as given by the electorate to a candidate or party that is victorious in an election.

National Supremacy

The clause in United States Constitution’s Article VI, stating that all laws made furthering the Constitution and all treaties made under the authority of the United States are the "supreme law of the land."

Necessary and Proper Clause

Clause of the Constitution, which gives Congress the authority to pass all laws "necessary and proper" to carry out enumerated powers specified in the Constitution; also called the Elastic Clause.

General Welfare Clause

Authorizes congress to provide for the common defense of the country and for the common good


A state’s refusal to recognize an act of Congress that it considers unconstitutional

Regulated Federalism

A form of federalism in which Congress imposes legislation on state and localities, requiring them to meet national standards before administering grants

Reserved Powers

Powers not specifically granted to the national government or denied to the states. Reserved powers are held by the states through the Tenth Amendment.

Revenue Sharing

The distribution of a portion of federal tax revenues to state and local governments.

State Compact/Contract

States work together to solve problems that cross state lines

Strict Construction

Strict Constructionists believe that anything not expressly allowed in the Constitution should not be allowed.

Unfunded Mandates

Actions imposed by the federal or state government on lower levels of government which are not accompanied by the money needed to fund the action required.

United States v. Lopez

Student brought a gun to school, and the opposition tried to add to the charges with the violations of the Commerce Clause. Supreme Court ruled that the Commerce Clause of the Constitution does not give Congress the power to prohibit mere possession of a gun near a school, because gun possession by itself is not an economic activity that affects interstate commerce even indirectly. 1995

United States v. Morrison

Invalidated the section of the VAWA of 1994 that gave victims of gender-motivated violence the right to sue their attackers in federal court, although program funding remains unaffected. Supreme Court held that Congress lacked authority, under either the Commerce Clause or the Fourteenth Amendment, to enact this section.

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