Key Concepts for pols 205 Politics, Power and Our Constitution

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Key Concepts for POLS 205
Politics, Power and Our Constitution




Resolving Conflicts

Providing Public Services

Setting Goals for Public Policies

Preserving Culture

What IS the Nature of Man?
A representative democracy in the form of a Democratic Republic

Direct Democracy

Representative Democracy


Federal system

Unitary Nation State

Core American Beliefs:



Individual liberty

Private property


Nationalism and exceptionalism
“Worst form of Government, except for all the others”
The Constitution

Articles of Confederacy

The “Constitutional” Convention

Seven Original Articles

Ten Amendments form the Bill of Rights

The remaining Seventeen Amendments

Efficiency vs. Liberty and Equality

About Limiting Government

Four Constitutional Principles

Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances


Judicial Review

A Limited Government with a Living Document

Four Constitutional Principles

Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances

Three Branches of Government

Three Legged Stool

Checks and Balances


The Cup and the Saucer

If Angels Governed Angels


Federalist and Anti-federalists

The Federalist dessert tray

Imperium in Imperio


Connecticut Compromise

House Members apportioned by Population, two Senators per state

3/5th compromise


Reserved Powers


Fiscal Federalism

Case study – I can’t drive 55

Judicial Review

Three Types of Law



Judge Made, Common Law, Case Law,


Stare Decisis


Judicial Restraint, Judicial Activism

Arbiter or Advocate

Justice John Marshall

“Marshall has made his decision…”

Dred Scott and the double edged sword of judicial activism

Strict Construction and Originalists

A Limited Government with a Living Document

Blue print for the protection of Liberty

Limited Government: Oh, no you can’t!

Constitutions are inherently conservative

The Constitution needed more (BOR=Anti-federalists’ compromise)

The Bill of Rights

Ways we change the constitution: amendment, judicial interpretation, legislation, custom

The direct method: The amendatory process


2/3 of Congress and 3/4 of state legislatures

21st and state conventions

27th from 1791 to 1992

Why it lives: Brief, kinda vague and flexible


Marbury V. Madison (1803)

McCullough vs. Maryland (1819)

Gibbons vs. Ogden (1824)

Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857)

Presidential Power and Politics:

Article II

Between the Georges

Who are these men?

Overall trend line: expansion of presidential power

Lincoln, Eisenhower and Buchanan style presidents

Rules and Roles and Hats

Expansive power

The Imperial Presidency

Constitutional Provisions

Article II – The Executive Branch


Thirty-five years of age

Fourteen years a resident

A natural-born citizen

Constitutional Powers:

The Pardon Power

The Power to Propose

The Power to Veto (Article I, Section 7 (3))

The “Take Care” Clause (Article II, Section 3)

The Appointment Power

Treaty Making and Foreign Affairs

Commander in Chief

Inherent and Expressed Powers (“Take Care Clause”)

Other Powers:

Persuasion and the Bully Pulpit

Often Cited as Most Significant Power of Presidency

Prestige of Office

Personal Popularity

Party Leadership

Powers Delegated by Congress

Presidential Hats

Looking for Moses

Perceived vs. Actual powers


Presidential Moses

Chief of State

Chief Diplomat

Chief Legislator

Chief Executive

Commander in Chief

Party Leader

Democratic Priest-King

Persuader in Chief

The Executive Office of the Presidency

Created by Roosevelt in 1935

EOP Big Three: White House Staff, Office of Management and Budget, National Security Council

Webmasters and Gatekeepers

The Cabinet Agencies

Originally: War, Treasury, State and Attorney General

Now: 15 Agency Heads and the Vice-President, plus whoever the President accords Cabinet level status

Executive agencies

Governmental Corporations

Regulatory Commissions

The Creation of the Department of Homeland Security

The Vice President

A Pitcher of Warm Spit

More recent levels of involvement

The First Lady

An incredible gamut of experiences and roles
The Bureaucracy

Private Sector

Public Sector

Civil Service



The Pendleton act of 1883

Pyramids and Paper

Bureaucracy – NOT just government!

The Classic Bureaucratic Shape

Max Weber’s Bureaucratic Ideal

Bureaucratic Characteristics

An internal division of labor

Specialization of work performed

A vertical hierarchy or chain of command

Well designed routines for carrying out operating tasks

Reliance on precedents in resolving problems and a clear set of rules

Spheres and Cycles

Wilson’s Politics/ Administration Dichotomy

Separate Spheres; Very little overlap

The Continuing Policy Cycle

Policy Development, Program Operation, Evaluation and Feedback

Presidential Power vs. the “Entrenched” Bureaucracy

Delegated Authority

Agency Rulemaking and Adjudication

Infiltrating the Iron Triangle

The Legislative Branch

Article I

Legislative Powers:

Makes legislation

Appropriates funds to carry out laws

May declare war

Proposes amendments to Constitution

Impeaches the President

Regulates conduct of legislators

Approves Appointments

Ratifies treaties

Title, Qualifications and Terms:


Representative or Congressman or Congresswoman

25 years old

Citizen for 7 years

Resident of their state

2 year terms


30 years old

Citizen for 9 years

“Resident” of their state

6 year terms

Representative or Statesman? The Delegate/Trustee Question


The Cup and the Saucer

Differences between the Two Houses

Leadership and Organization

How a Bill becomes a LAW

20,000 bills filed


Where the Work is Done

Big Three House:

Rules, Ways and Means, Appropriations

Big Three Senate:

Appropriations, Finance, Foreign Relations

The Floor


Senate Only

Rule 22


Committee Staff and Personal Staff

35,000 staff people!

organize hearings, negotiate… research… speak with voters, and promote legislation

Elected staff:


Sergeant at Arms


Executive/Legislative Tension

Party Leadership



Majority and Minority Party

Congressional Powers:



Authority AND Cash




Advise and Consent (Art. II, Sec. 2 (2))

Confirms (or rejects) Nominees

Ratifies (or rejects) Treaties

Part of Checks and Balances

Oversight and Investigation


House Prosecutes, Senate Hears the Case

Jackson and Clinton

Nixon Resigned before Impeachment

War Powers


District lines

States draw House Districts

Mal-apportionment and Re-apportionment


Baker vs. Carr

The Power of Incumbency

Case Study: Campaign Finance Reform
The Judicial Branch:

Article III

Three Types of Law



Judge Made, Common Law, Case Law,

Federal Courts:

Supreme Court

District Court of Appeals

Federal Circuit Courts

Relative Caseloads:

694 District Court Judges dispose of approximately 260,000 cases annually

179 Court of Appeals Judges dispose of 55,000 approximately cases annually

9 Supreme Court Justices hear about 100 cases each Session
The Supremes Song (To the Tune of Jesus Loves Me. Thanks to Dr. Jack Shock)





Roberts; he’s the chief


Souter (spelled ou)


Thomas, that’s our crew!

Supreme Court Justices, (x3), they wear black robes for YOU!
Supreme History:

John Marshall

“found the Constitution paper and made it power” (Garfield)

Marshall Cases:

Dred Scott 1857

Overturns an Act of Congress and sets the stage for WAR

Roosevelt and the Court Packing Plan 1937-38

Writ of Certiorari

Federal Cases:

Federal Question

US Constitution

Civil rights


Federal law

Diversity of Citizenship

Parties of a lawsuit are from different states

US citizen and a foreign entity (Rare)
Decisions: Affirm, Reverse, Remand

Opinions: Unanimous, Majority, Concurring, Dissenting, Per Curium


Term begins the “First Monday in October”

Generally done by June or early July

8,000 petitions filed per term

(plus 1,200 other applications)

About 100 cases actually heard each session


Litmus test


Senatorial Courtesy

Top Supreme Court Cases:

Marshall Court:

Marbury v. Madison 1803

McCulloch v. Maryland 1819

Gibbons v. Ogden 1824

Dred Scott v. Sanford 1857

Plessy v. Ferguson 1896

Warren Court:

Mapp v. Ohio 1961

Baker v. Carr 1962

Brown v. Board of Education 1954

Gideon v. Wainwright 1964

Miranda v. Arizona 1966

Burger Court:

Roe v. Wade 1973

Nixon v. US 1974

UC v. Bakke 1978

Rehnquist Court:

Bush V. Gore
Judicial Activism

Role of Judge:

Arbiter or Advocate

Role of Judiciary

Activism or Restraint

Unconstitutional or Overturned

Federal Laws Overturned

About 200

Judicial Rulings NOT held to as Precedent

140 cases since 1810

State Laws Overturned

More than 1100

Article 6 was directed at assuring that STATES didn’t do anything that conflicted with the supreme national law.
Limits on the Court:

No initiative

The Court must wait for someone with standing to bring suit

No Army

How exactly does the Court ENFORCE its decisions?

They won’t do Political Questions

(really, they won’t, honest, hardly ever…)
Checks and Balances:



Judicial Structure, Number of Judges (152 new judgeships in 1979)

Really specific legislation – no room for interpretation

Constitutional Amendments (11,13,14,16,26)

Restricting Jurisdiction
True Constitutional Questions are rare.
Sources of Strength:

Enormous Prestige

More than half have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the Court.

The “guardians of the Constitution”

Our Fragmented Constitutional Structure

Creates the need for an umpire

A HUGE Constituency – Lawyers

Washington Lawyers: 1972 – 11,000; 1994 – 63,000

Democracy :
Voting and the Constitution:

Original Provisions


What’s NOT there:


Campaign Finance

The Role of the Media (except that it shall be freely exercised)
Democratic Weirdness:

The Party System

Political Parties

Interest Groups

The Primary System





What may kill the political party

The Electoral College

You are actually voting for an elector, NOT a Presidential Candidate

Each State gets electoral votes equal to the number of Senators (2) plus its number of House members (proportionate to the population).

Courtesy of the 23rd Amendment, DC gets 3 electors

Every state except Maine and Nebraska has a “winner take all” system.

There are 538 electors; you need 270 to win



Political Socialization

Family, Education, Religion, General Demographics

A new source for news

Who does vote, who don’t


Lies, dang lies, statistics…

A “Good Poll”:

Random Sample

Representative Sample

Unbiased Questions

Unbiased Methodology


“Dewey Defeats Truman”: The poll was a week old!

Reagan’ s November Surprise: Lots of Un-decideds!

Reflective of Reality
A good sample:

Randomness and Representativeness

Good Methodology

Margin of Error, Confidence Level, Sample Size

Likely Voters and Undecideds

Push Polls

Election Reforms

Progressive Reforms

Motor Voter

Help America Vote Act (HAVA)

Voting Troubles



Voting Trends:

Vote by Mail

Early Voting


Increased Participation?

Campaign Finance


Leadership Fund PACs

McCain Feingold

Soft Money

Hard Money

Under Pressure: Lobbyists, Interest Groups and The Media



Lobbying Techniques

Direct and indirect Lobbying

Grass Roots efforts

Lobbyist Registration

The Iron Triangle

Lobbyists, Congressional Committees and Bureaucratic Personnel

The Revolving Door Syndrome

Interest Groups and PACs:

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–59)

A nation of “joiners”

Forming Associations

Interest Groups

Link citizens to government by organizing citizens with similar viewpoints on a specific policy area and presenting these views to government official (not necessarily elected)

Money is the Mother’s Milk of Politics, thus…

Political Action Committees

Organizations set up by private groups to influence the political process by raising funds from their members

The Law of Unintended Consequences

70’s reform yields an explosion of PACs

Types of PACs

Leadership PACs

The New Kid: 527’s

An organization that is created to receive and disburse funds to influence or attempt to influence the nomination, election, appointment or defeat of candidates for public office. 

What Kind of Bridge?

The Media:

4th Estate?

4th Branch of Government?

The Marketplace of Ideas

The Media Menu

News Reports




The Role of the Press



Watch Dog

Problems With the Press:


If it bleeds, it leads; if it burns, it turns heads


What’s News, What Isn’t

Agenda Setting

Surreptitious bias

Everyone has a point of view

I’d rather listen to someone who recognizes that they have a bias. Unfortunately, that’s rare.


Re-defining “Normal”


Most of the profits in the media industry come from: Advertising

60% of Presidential campaign funds are spent on advertising

30 Seconds of Superbowl airtime is just under $2 million bucks!

Interbreeding: Infotainment and Product Placement
Press Secretary
Recent Trends

Paperless Magazines; Online subscriptions

Embedded Reporters


Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

Protecting Us From Our Government and From Each Other

The Worth of One Individual Soul
Civil Liberties

Protect people from government (and by extension, the will of the “mob” or majority)

A positive obligation of government; things it must provide; or

Restraining the government’s actions against individuals

Also expressed in terms of “rights”: right to assemble, right to trial by jury, right to counsel

Civil Rights

Protect people from people

Guards groups against discrimination by other groups or individuals or corporations

Rooted in the 14th amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.
Original Constitutional Rights:

Habeas Corpus

No Bill of Attainder

No Ex-Post Facto

The Bill of Rights: On September 25, 1789, Congress transmitted to the state legislatures twelve proposed amendments, two of which, having to do with Congressional representation and Congressional pay, were not adopted. The remaining ten amendments became the Bill of Rights.
First Amendment:

Freedom of Religion

“Separation” of Church and State

Not an explicit Constitutional concept

Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists

Freedom of Expression

Free Speech

Free Press

Freedom of Assembly

Balancing liberty and protection

Freedom to Petition for Redress

Second Amendment: The Right to Bear Arms


Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms

Freedom of speech and expression

Freedom of every person to Worship God in his own way

Freedom from want

Freedom from fear

Civil Liberties and Criminal Justice – The Rights of the Accused

Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments


Search and Seizure


Stop and Frisk

Plain Sight


Grand Jury Indictment Required: Must have sufficient evidence to warrant a trial

No Double Jeopardy (but related offences, different levels of government, and civil cases are OK)

No Self Incrimination

“Due Process” guaranteed

No “Taking” of Private Property for Public Purposes (without just compensation)

Eminent domain

The “Right to Remain Silent”

Miranda vs. Arizona (1966)

Self incrimination

Due Process of Law


Speedy, public trial

Impartial Jury

Informed of the nature of the charges against you

Confront witnesses; compel witnesses

Assistance of Counsel

1790 Federal Crimes Act provided counsel for capital crimes

Gideon vs. Wainwright (1963)

14th amendment’s equal protection guarantee extended this right to state court cases



Cruel and Unusual

Excessive Bail
Expanding on the Bill of Rights:


Strange Math: 14 X 2 + 57 years + 5 = 10 (or more!)

The Doctrine of Incorporation

Partial Incorporation

Does the Bill of Rights apply to the states?


The “Right to Privacy” is not an explicit constitutional term; it is “inferred”

Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)

More strange math: Justice Douglas: 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 9th creates penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that give them life and substance.”

Ever expanding!
Civil Rights:

Protecting Ourselves from… Ourselves

Civil Rights Cases:

Plessy vs. Ferguson (1896)

Upheld the 1890 Louisiana statute called the "Separate Car Act", which stated "that all railway companies carrying passengers in their coaches in this state, shall provide equal but separate accommodations for the white, and colored races…
Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954)

"We conclude that the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." —Chief Justice Earl Warren

Civil Rights Legislation and Amendments:

Civil Rights Act of 1964

Based on the Commerce Clause

Aimed to eliminate discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion

Amendment 24 (1964)

No poll taxes

Voting Rights Act of 1965

No literacy tests, no “grandfather clauses”

Civil Rights Act of 1968

Forbade discrimination in housing

The Equal Rights For Women

19th Amendment (1920) Votes for Women

1923 Equal Rights Amendment proposed

1963 Pay Equity Law

1964 Title VII of the Civil Rights Act aims to eliminate gender discrimination

1972 – Title IX of Education Act prohibits sex discrimination – funding for women’s sports

1973 Congress approves Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) for submission for ratification

(The ERA is never ratified, despite an extension of time. However, “incorporation” of equal rights under the 14th amendment now make the ERA seem less necessary.)

Elitism, Egalitarianism, and Pluralism:

Caste or Class Elitism: Born Better

Modern Elitism: Some people are better than others, either by birth, by choice, by effort, or by nature.


Colonial Egalitarianism: Self evident: All men are created equal…

White, land owning males

We have an equal say, and as Christians, equal value, but not necessarily equal gifts or skills

A more modern interpretation: Everyone is, can be, or should be equal.


A GROUP theory of democracy.

Society contains many conflicting groups with access to government officials, and these groups compete with one another to influence policy decisions.

The compromises that result become public policy.

Key Concepts of Pluralism:

Fragmentation of Power

Opposing pressures: Duke-ing it out in the marketplace of ideas


Horse-trading: Groups must bargain with each other to obtain their goals


Accommodation: Half a loaf IS better…


Agreement: majority acceptance of foundational values and specific policy choices
Elite Theory

Society is dominated by unified and non-representative leaders, called the power elite.

Elites secure the important decision making positions while encouraging powerlessness below.

Society is held together, not by widespread agreement, but by force and control… the only consensus that exists

American Elitism

We all have the potential to become elites


Conspiracy Theories

A compromise or two:

Plural Elitism

The Wrought Iron Fence

National Elites and Local Pluralists

Central Question:

What is the nature of man?

What you believe informs how you create a government.

What you believe informs how you view government!

What do you believe?

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