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Statutory law
Laws passed by legislatures take precedence over common law
Common law
Developed in 13th century through decisions of judges who applied their notions of justice to specific cases only applied by the courts when no statutory provisions are relevant or when statutory law must be interpreted covers both criminal and civil laws - most of common laws of crimes...
Judicial Federalism
Refers to state court's exercise of their authority to interpret their own constitutions to guarantee protections to individual rights beyond those protected by the US constitution
Webster v. Reproduction Health Serrvices, 1989
Florida Supreme Court decided that the state constitutional guarantee of the right of privacy struck down laws restricting abortion US Supreme Court upheld similar laws in Webster v. Reproduction Health Services
San Antonio ISD v. Rodriguez, 1973
Texas Supreme Court held that the state's constitutional guarantee of equality in public education required the system of local school finance to be replaced with statewide financing that equalized educational spending US Supreme Court said that the Constitution did not include a right ...
Bowers v. Hardwick, 1986
New York and Pennsylvania Supreme Court were first to strike down state sodomy laws under privacy provisions of state constitution US Supreme Court upheld Georgia's sodomy statue in Bowers v. Hardwick
Harris v. McRae, 1980
California's Supreme Court ruled that states pay for abortions of poor women US Supreme Court ruled that there was no requirement that states fund abortions in Harris v. McRae
Barnes v. Glen Theatre, Inc., 1991
Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that nude dancing is a protected form of free expression US Supreme Court ruled it is not protected in the First Amendment in Barnes v. Glen Theatre, Inc.
Terry Schiavo Case (right-to-die)
Involved all 3 branches of the government at both the state and local government levels key events of this case illustrate the interaction of lower state courts, the state supreme court, the state legislature, the governor, the federal district and appeals courts and the US Supreme Cour...
Defense of Marriage Act, 1996
Marriage is between a man and a woman and "no state...shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other state respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage" circumvented the Full Faith and Credit Cla...
Loving v. Virginia, 1967
Landmark civil rights case in which the US Supreme Court, by 9-0 vote, declared Virginia's anti-mescegenation statute, the "Recial Integrity Act of 1924", unconstitutional, thereby overturning Pace v. Alabama, 1883 ended all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the US
Goodridge v. Department of Public Health
Massachusetts' Supreme Court said that civil marriage can't be limited to different-sex couples The Massachusetts Senate's proposal to fence gay couples out of equality with a separate "civil union" status, while continuing the ban on marriage, fell within the US Constitution of the "se...
Lewis and Winslow v. Harris
Court said that gay couples can have the rights of married people, but they do not have a basic right to get married
Re Marriage Cases
California Supreme Court case with the dual holding that "statutes that treat persons differently because of their sexual orientation should be subjected to strict scrutiny" and the existing "California legislative and initiative measures limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples violat...
Varnum v. Brien
Iowa Supreme Court held that the Iowa statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution
14th Amendment Definition
Declares that all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and the State wherein they reside No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the Uni...
14th Amendment Historical Context
14th Amendment set up for the original purpose of achieving the full measure of citizenship and equality for African Americans Republicans had set this up to carry out a revolution in the southern society southern states were forced to, under military occupation, ratify the 13th, 14th, ...
14th Amendment Historical Context Cont.
In 1877 Reconstruction was abandoned and the push to equalize African Americans died out and White Supremacy in the Southern region took over The Policy of "separate but equal" became the new meaning for the 14th Amendment This remained until the Court's interpretation of the 1954 Equal...
Plessey v. Ferguson
Separate but equal - segregated facilities were lawful as long as the facilities were equal extended to cover many areas of public life ex: restaurants, theaters, restrooms, and public schools
Brown v. Board of Education, 1954
Reversed "separate but equal" now unconstitutional to have separate facilities based on race ended legal discrimination
States Requiring Segration laws in 1954
17 - Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North & South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia
Roe v. Wade, 1973
Supreme Court declared that the constitutional guarantee of "liberty" in the 5th and 14th Amendments included a woman's decision to bear or not to bear children the word "person" did not include the unborn child states could not place any restrictions of abortion in the first three mont...
Roe v. Wade Cont.
Between the 3rd and 6th months, state could set standards of prcedures in order to protect the health of the mother but could not prohibit abortions only in the final three months could a state prohibit or regulate abortion to protect the unborn
Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, 1989
Supreme Court upheld a Missouri law sharply restricting abortions right to abortion was not overturned, but narrowed in application Missouri could not deny public funds for abortions that were not necessary for the life of the woman and could not deny the use of public facilities or pub...
Webster v. Reproductive Health Services Cont.
The Court upheld the requirement for a test of "viability" after 20 weeks and a prohibition of an abortion of a viable fetus except to save a woman's life
Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 1992
Supreme Court upheld all of Pennsylvania's restrictions except spousal notification Significance: Justice O'Connor established a new standard for constitutionally evaluating state restrictions: They must not impose an "undue burden" on women seeking abortions or place "substantial obsta...
Stenberg v. Carhart, 2000
Nebraskan laws prohibiting "partial-birth abortions" were unconstitutional and were considered an "undue burden" on a woman's right to choose whether or not to have an abortion
Gonzales v. Carhart, 2007
Supreme Courts decision upheld the federal ban and held that it did not impose an undue burden on the due process right of women to obtain an abortion
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
1. Disabled cannot be denied employment or promotion if, with "reasonable accommodation," they can perform the duties of the job 2. The disabled cannot be denied access to government programs or benefits. New buses, taxis, and trains must be accessible to disabled persons, including tho...
ADA Cont.
3. The disabled must enjoy "full and equal" access to hotels, restaurants, stores, schools, parks and museums, auditoriums and the like." To achieve equal access, owners of existing facilities must alter them "to the maximum extent feasible"
Texas Court System Structure: Trial Courts (lowest level)
1. justices of the peace 2. municipal courts 3. county courts 4. district courts 5. special purpose courts such as probate, juvenile, domestic relations
Texas Court System Structure: Appellate Courts
14 intermediate courts
Texas Court System Structure: Supreme Courts (2)
1. civil courts (Supreme Court) 2. criminal cases (Court of Criminal Appeals)
Methods of Judicial Selection
1. Partisan Election 2. Nonpartisan Election 3. Appointment by Governor 4. Legislative Election 5. Appointment-Retention Plan
Judicial "activism"
The making of new laws through judicial interpretation of laws and constitutions
Judicial "restraint"
Self-imposed limits on courts to defer to legislative intent or to previous court decisions
Liberal state supreme courts
Hawaii, Rhode Island, Maryland, Massachusetts
Conservative state supreme courts
Arizona, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Iowa, Texas
United States v. Miller, 1939
Court considered the constitutionality of the federal National Firearms Act of 1934 which prohibited the transportation of sawed-off shotguns decided that this had no "relationshp to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia" this impied that the right to bear arms refe...
District of Columbia v. Heller, 2008
Landmark legal case in which the Supreme Court held that 2nd Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm for private use first Supreme Court case in US history to directly address whether the right to keep and bear arms is a right of individuals or a collective right t...
Furman v. Georgia, 1972
Supreme Court ruled that capital punishment as it was then imposed violated the 8th and 14th amendment prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment and due process of law
Highest Per Pupil Spending
Lowest Per Pupil Spending
IN, MS, OK, AR, AZ, UT Texas is 41st
San Antonio School District v. Rodriguez, 1973
Supreme Court ruled that disparities in financial resources between school districts in a state, and resulting in inequalities in educational spending per pupil across a state, do not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment
Edgewood v. Kirby
Ruled that the system of school finance in the state of texas was unconstitutional property taxes were consolidated into county education districts, and each district collects property taxes to be used for school operations and distributed to the school districts in their jurisdiction o...
Interpretations of "No Establishment" clause
1. it does not prevent government from aiding religious schools or encouraging religious beliefs in the public schools, so long as it does not discriminate against any particular religion 2. it creates a "wall of separation" between church and state in America, preventing the governme...
Lemon v. Kurtzman, 1971: Lemon test
Lemon test is a 3 part test for determining whether a particular state law constitutes 'establishment' of religion and thus violates the 1st amendment To be constitutional, a law affecting religious activity: 1. must have a secular purpose 2. As its primary effect, must neither adva...
Popular Participation
Individuals can participate in politics in many ways; run for office, be active in parties & campaigns, make campaign contributions, wear buttons or bumper stickers, write or call a public official, belong to an organization, talk politics to others, be non-participants, & vote
Sustained Participation
Voting consistently in election after election for state and local offices as well as congress and the president
Help America Vote Act (HAVA)
Mandated that states reform their election systems established the Federal Assistance Commission to aid states with election issues such as counting ballots and recounts
National Voter Registration Act
Mandates that states offer people the opportunity to register when they apply for a driver's license or apply for welfare services
Voting Accessibility
Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act (VAEHA)
States are responsible for ensuring that polling places for federal elections must be accessible to elderly voters and voters with disablities
Direct Democracy
Citizens are allowed to participate in local politics by using 3 tools of direct democracy: 1. Recall - citizens can remove an elected official before his/her term is completed 2. Referendum - gives voters the final say about the disposition of some issue or proposal put on the ballot b...
Major provision 15th Amendment
Right of the citizens of the US to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude
Major provision of 19th Amendment
Women's rights were constitutionally guaranteed
Major provision of 24th Amendment
Poll taxes became unconstitutional as a requirement for voting in national elections
Major provision of 26th Amendment
Allows 18-year-olds the right to vote
Civil Rights Act 1964
Made it unlawful for registrars to apply unequal standards in the registration procedures or to reject applications because of immaterial errors this was created to stop disenfranchisement of the blacks
Interest groups vs. political parties: differences
Interest groups seek to influence specific policies of government - not to achieve control over government as a whole 1. political parties concentrate on winning public office in elections and are somewhat less concerned with policy questions 2. interest groups give influential supp...
Interest groups vs. political parties cont.
3. the basic function of political parties is to organize a majority of persons forthe purpose of governing. interest groups give political expression to the interests of minority groups 4. interest groups arise when individuals with a common interest decide that by banding together t...
views of lobbying
Narrow view (general public view): lobbyists buy votes on issues from elected officials through wining and dining complex view: lobbyists often play a critical role in providing elected officials with information that they could not possibly gather on their own
Functions and tactics of interest groups
Testifying at legislative committee hearings, contacting legislators directly, helping to draft legislation, bill monitoring, lobbying, schmoozing, media campaigns and public relations
Take snapshots of voters by looking at their age, race/ethnicity, gender, education, income, religious affiliation, and ideology main purpose is to see who identifies themselves with which political party
Academics and Scholars
Analyze the links between voter attributes, party identification and voting patterns primary goal is to determine if there have been any seismic shifts in the composition of political parties in the nation at large and in specific states and localities
Party Activists & Professional Campaign Consultants
Focus more on trying to understand why one party's candidates won and another's lost analyze and compare the effectiveness of state and local party organizations
Characteristics of the Responsible Party Model
1. Develop & clarify alternative policy positions for the voters 2. Educate the people about the issues and simplify choices for them 3. Recruit candidates for public office who agreed with the parties' policy positions 4. Organize and direct their candidates campaigns to win offi...
Candidate Centered elections
1. rise of primary elections - parties cannot control who the party's nominee shall be 2. decline of party identification - party loyalties have been declining over the years 3. more focus on the candidates, less on his or her party affiliation 4. influence of the mass media, part...
Machine Politics
Tightly disciplined party organizations, held together and motivated by a desire for tangible benefits rather than by principle or ideology and ran by professional politicians big in the early 1800s; got votes and controlled elections by trading off services and handing out petty favors...
Decline of Machine Politics
1. decline in European immigration 2. federal social welfare programs 3. rising levels of prosperity 4. spreading of middle-class values 5. new avenues of upward social moblity 6. structural reforms such as nonpartisanship 7. rise of self-financed candidates 8. emergence o...
Richard J. Daley & Richard M. Daley
Richard J. - last of big city bosses; when he died, so did machine politics Richard M. (son) - won election by projecting image of reform rather than as a machine candidate
Safe Democratic & Safe Republican states
Safe Democratic - WA, OR, CA, MN, IL, NY, VT, MA, CT, ME, MD, DE, RI Safe Republican - TX, NV, AZ, UT, ID, MT, WY, ND, SD, NE, KS, OK, AR, LA, MS, AL, GA, TN, KY, IN, WV, VA, NC, SC Competitive States - NM, CO, IA, MO, WI, MI, OH, PA, NH, NJ, FL
Sources of campaign funds
Candidate, friends, PACs
Formal qualifications for Texas legislators
Age, citizenship, state residency, district residency, qualified voter status House member must be a US citizen, a registered voter, 21+ years, have state residence for 2 years & district residence for 1 year State Senator must be 26+ years, district resident for 1 year, state residence...
Informal qualifications for Texas legislators
Income, education, occupation, ethnicity, and gender
Arguments for & against term limits
For: those who have held office for many years become isolated from the lives and concerns of the average citizens. limits would force them to live under the laws they have passed during their term in office against: term limits would increase competition in electoral system by creating...
Typical governor background
Most have been songs of families of great wealth, majority have been lawyers, median age is 47, mostly white males, usually have considerable experience in public affairs 1/2 of all governors have previously served in the legislature
Gubernatorial elections
Competition usually strong, increasingly Republican-dominated
Baker v. Carr, 1962
There was a complaint of urban residents in Tennessee where the largest district in the lower house was 23 times larger than the smallest district Supreme Court decided such inequalities in state apportionment laws dened voters "equal protection of the laws" guaranteed by 14th Amendment...
Baker v. Carr cont.
Supreme Court required that both houses be apportioned on basis of population also required population equality in congressional districting by state legislatures
Reynolds v. Sims, 1964
Before this case, disparities existed between state senates far greater than disparities in the U.S. Senate Urban & suburban counties were often drastically underrepresented Supreme Court ruled that state legislature districts had to be roughly equal in population (this was based on the...
Impact of reapportionment revolution on state legislatures
Significantly increased representation afforded urban interests in state legislatures brought younger, better-educated, more prestigiously-employed people into state legislatures also brought many inexperienced people into state legislative politics
Distinction between effects vs. intent test for racial discrimination in electoral arrangements
Intent test invalidates laws or practices only if it is designed to discriminate effects test invalidates laws or practices that adversely affect racial minorities regardless of the original intent
Thornburg v. Gingles
Supreme Court interpreted the Voting Rights Amendments of 1982 to require state legislatures to draw election district boundary lines in a way that guarantees that minorities can elect minority representatives to governing bodies burden of proof was shifted from minorities to show that ...
Shaw v. Reno, 1993
Ruling was significant in the area of redistricting and racial gerrymandering Court ruled that redistricting based on race must be held to a standard of strict scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause while bodies doing redistricting must be conscious of race o the extent that they mu...
Shaw v. Hunt, 1996
Court confronted the threshold question of "standing" & held that some of the appellants lacked proper standing to challenge the redistricting plan Only those voters who resided in a congressional districted alleged to have been created by racial gerrymandering had proper standing to ch...
Shaw v. Hunt cont.
The Court applied "strict scrutiny" to the fact that the district was unusually shaped and the claims that the districts were primarily designed to create black voting majorities Court concluded that the redstricting plan indeed violated the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause

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