1. B The term limited government refers to the concept of defining government powers by means of a constitution. A constitution specifies what the government is allowed to do, and also what it may not do. In setting distinct limits on government power, the Framers of the U.S. Constitution hoped to prevent the government from achieving the same level of power as had the British monarchy.
(A) Direct democracy refers to a form of democratic government in which all citizens vote on all issues. The Constitution established a representative democracy, in which citizens vote for representatives who, in turn, act on their behalf and assume the nation’s legislative and executive duties.
(C) The abolition of slavery did not occur until 1865 with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. The Framers of the Constitution did not seriously consider abolition.
(D) As ratified in 1788, the Constitution did not yet have a Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791; only then did the Constitution reflect a concern for protecting the rights of the accused.
(E) Compared with the Articles of Confederation (which it replaced), the Constitution weakened the power of the states relative to the power of the federal government. Under the Articles, the states were mostly autonomous and exerted great control over the national government. The Constitution shifted the balance toward the federal government.
2. C The Federalist Papers is the collective name given to a group of essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay in support of ratification of the Constitution. The essays were published anonymously in newspapers in New York and Virginia, two states in which ratification was both critical and uncertain.
(A) The Federalist Party did not have a platform. Party platforms are the product of political conventions, which did not become a part of American politics until after the demise of the Federalist Party.
(B) This answer describes Common Sense by Thomas Paine and The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved by James Otis, among other documents.
(D) The relationship described in this answer is defined by the U.S. Constitution.
(E) The postwar South was governed under the Military Reconstruction Act of 1867.
3. A Judicial activism refers to the actions of a court that frequently strikes down or alters the acts of the executive and/or legislative branches. Activist judiciaries are also willing to overturn previous rulings. Judicial activism expands the court’s impact on public policy.
(B) Due process refers to those rules that protect individuals from unfair treatment by the government. The due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the states from depriving citizens of life, liberty, or property without a fair and impartial hearing. The clause was intended to protect the rights of newly freed slaves in the post-Civil War South.
(C) Judicial restraint is the opposite of judicial activism. The term refers to judicial action that demonstrates an unwillingness to break with precedent or to overturn legislative and executive acts.
(D) An ex post facto law allows governments to prosecute citizens for acts that were legal at the time they occurred, but were later deemed illegal. Ex post facto laws are prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.
(E) Judicial review is the Supreme Court’s power to overturn a law on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. Judicial review is not mentioned in the Constitution. The practice was established by Chief Justice John Marshall in the 1803 decision Marbury v. Madison.
4. A A writ of certiorari is a document issued by the Supreme Court that requests all the records pertaining to a case. When the Court issues a writ of certiorari, it indicates that the Court will consider the case. A writ of certiorari is issued when four of the nine justices agree to hear a case.
(B) The Supreme Court meets on Wednesdays and Fridays to vote on cases they have heard during the week. Afterward, one justice is chosen to write the majority opinion. Justices are given the chance to change their vote and to offer alternate concurring opinions (if they side with the majority but feel the majority opinion is either incomplete or incorrect) or dissenting opinions (if they disagree with the majority vote). Only when this process is complete does the Court hand down its final decision.
(C) When the Supreme Court decides not to hear a case, it simply rejects the appeal and the lower court decision stands. No writ is necessary.
(D) The Supreme Court meets 36 weeks a year, from the first week of October until June. It recesses occasionally to discuss cases and write decisions. No writ is necessary for a recess.
(E) The Supreme Court issues no official warning when it plans to overturn a previous ruling. When the Court agrees to hear a case concerning a subject on which it has already ruled, however, the possibility is great that the Court is considering altering at least part of its previous opinion.
5. D Be careful because this is an “EXCEPT” question. All of the statements about congressional powers are true except for choice (D). When it comes to control of the bureaucracy, Congress has more power than the president. For example, Congress has the power to affirm or reject presidential appointments, abolish agencies, determine the funding an agency receives, and change agency jurisdiction if unsatisfied with policy implementation.
6. E In 1954, the Supreme Court heard the anti-segregation case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, a lawsuit brought on behalf of Linda Brown (a black school-age child) by the NAACP. Thurgood Marshall, who would later become a Supreme Court justice, argued the case for Brown. In its ruling, the Court overturned the “separate but equal” standard as it applied to education; “separate but equal” had been the law of the land since the Court had approved it in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). In a 9 to 0 decision, the court ruled that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”
(A) Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) found that defendants in state criminal trials are entitled to legal representation even if they cannot afford it. Gideon thus resulted in the creation of state-sponsored public defenders.
(B) Marbury v. Madison (1803) established the principle of judicial review.
(C) Engel v. Vitale (1962) determined that forced prayer in public schools violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
(D) Regents of University of California v. Bakke (1978) found that University of California’s racial quota system of admissions violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This ruling complicated the implementation of many affirmative action programs by rejecting the use of simple quota systems. However, the Court also ruled that University of California could consider race as one of many factors in determining admission policy.
7. C Upon quick scan of the graph, a simple deduction is that Congress is usually “flunking” in the eyes of the American people. There’s a burst in approval just after the attacks of September 11, 2001, but don’t be mislead by that answer choice—it is saying the opposite of what the graph is showing. Choice (C) is supported by the data, as a majority of Americans (that is, more than 50%) approved of Congress’s performance only from the late 1990s until about 2004; that’s less than 10 years, and the graph shows data for more than 30.
(A) This choice is incorrect because the approval rating of Congress was in the 20–40% range in the early 1990s and in the 30–50% range in the late 1990s.
(B) This option is incorrect because the approval rating of Congress was in the 25–35% range in the mid–1990s and between 35% and approximately 43% in the late 1980s.
(D) This choice is incorrect because approximately 85% of Americans approved of Congress’s performance immediately following September 11, 2001 and that choice says that Americans “disapproved” of Congress during that era.
(E) This is incorrect because the approval rating of Congress was less than 50% in 2000, rose to approximately 85%, then fell to below 30%; in no other period did the popularity of Congress see such dramatic changes.
8. B Ticket splitting has become a common phenomenon in the past 30 years. While Democrats enjoyed control over both houses of Congress in the decades following World War II, the years since the inauguration of Ronald Reagan have seen Congress split more often, more closely, and more contentiously than ever before due to the increase in ticket splitting.
(A) This answer choice accurately describes an action typically taken by presidential candidates. However, it does not define ticket splitting.
(C) This answer choice describes an action that few politicians would attempt and fewer would admit to trying. Although it mentions tickets, it has nothing to do with ticket splitting.
(D) This answer captures the basic idea of ticket splitting, which occurs when a voter does not adhere to the party line. However, it does not define the term ticket splitting as it is conventionally used.
(E) Congresspersons vote along party lines between 60% and 80% of the time (the number varies from Congress to Congress and from issue to issue). The action described in this answer choice, then, is exceptional behavior. However, it does not define the term ticket splitting as it is conventionally used.
9. D Because the membership of the House of Representatives is so large, the process by which bills are debated and amended must be limited (in the Senate, which is smaller, fewer rules govern this process). The task of setting these limits falls to the House Rules Committee. Because the Rules Committee controls the terms of debate and the scheduling of floor votes, it is considered among the most powerful House committees. The majority party dominates the Rules Committee. During the 105th Congress (in 1997), Republicans held nine seats on the committee, while Democrats held four (the number of Democrats and Republicans on any given committee is negotiated by the parties after each election. Generally, the majority party takes two-thirds of the seats on the most important committees to ensure the party’s dominance of those committees).
(A) The House Ethics Committee investigates ethics charges against House members.
(B) The Senate has the power to provide “advice and consent” to the president on judicial nominees. The House has no power in this area.
(C) There is no single committee that sets a limit for the number of House subcommittees. The number of subcommittees is limited by budget and staffing considerations.
(E) The House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight considers changes to federal election procedures.
10. B Parties in multiparty systems tend to be smaller and more closely identified with particular ideologies and political goals. Parties in a two-party system, on the other hand, present more general platforms in order to win a simple majority of the electorate.
(A) Influencing the outcome of elections is a primary goal of all political parties. American political parties are no exception.
(C) American political parties are extremely effective at raising money, and American elections are the costliest in the world.
(D) In a multiparty system, each party more closely mirrors the ideology and political goals of its members. The United States’ two parties reflect only a narrow range of political perspectives, and many Americans’ political views fall outside that range.
(E) American political parties rarely focus on a single goal or issue because doing so may alienate potential supporters. American political parties are organized around very general beliefs. The Democrats tend to believe that government intervention can be effective and so have a greater inclination toward regulation of businesses and social issues. Republicans tend to distrust government intervention and, in most instances, oppose government regulation. There are a few hot-button issues (abortion rights, gun rights) that cause some contradictions in these political party belief systems.
11. E When government officials resign from office, many remain in Washington to work as consultants. Such individuals can use the contacts they made while in government to influence public policy. Often they work as or with lobbyists. The term influence peddling is used to describe their actions when they exploit friendships with current government officials to achieve a political goal.
(A) Influence peddling refers specifically to actions that directly affect government policy.
(B) Although a former president may be trying to influence a current president, the action described does not define the term influence peddling as it is conventionally used.
(C) Influence peddling refers specifically to the actions of lobbyists. Therefore, this answer is incorrect.
(D) See the explanation for (C).
12. A Political action committees (PACs) are organizations created for the purpose of raising political funds and distributing them to candidates.
(B) The primary purpose of PACs is to raise funds for electoral campaigns. The action described in this answer choice is performed both by political parties and by state and local governments.
(C) The vast majority of PAC contributions go to incumbents. The goal of PACs is to endorse the election of those who represent their points of view. They do not try to defeat all incumbents per se, but rather those who are their political opponents.
(D) The primary purpose of PACs is to raise funds for electoral campaigns. Although many PACs are affiliated with the types of public interest groups that organize protests, this is not something that PACs themselves generally do.
(E) See the explanation for (B).
13. B Network news programs tend to favor information that changes regularly and can be communicated quickly. Public opinion poll results fit both of these criteria. In contrast, candidates’ positions on issues are often complex and difficult to capture in sound bites or TV-friendly phrases and clips. Furthermore, they rarely change. Therefore, news programs may report such information once during an election, but they will not report it repeatedly as they do poll results. As a result, the network news audience is most likely to be aware of where candidates stand in the current polls.
(A) The stances of special interest groups on positions is usually stable, so network news will usually report on the position once, then not again, since “no change” is not usually considered newsworthy. Contrast this with the low stability of public opinion toward candidates.
(C) Candidates’ positions on international issues tend to be stable and considered newsworthy one time only (except when a candidate switches).
(D) Candidates’ positions on domestic issues tend to be stable and considered newsworthy one time only (except when a candidate switches).
(E) Candidates’ voting records are stable and considered newsworthy one time only (except when a new vote is newsworthy or a switch from past votes).
14. D This is a simple memorization question. As the question stem says, most people think about only freedoms of speech and religion when speaking of the First Amendment, but it will benefit you on the exam to be familiar with the lesser-discussed facets of each Amendment. The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law…abridging…the right of the people…to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
(A) This choice probably looks familiar because it’s in the Fifth Amendment.
(B) Same here—Fifth Amendment.
(C) This choice is the Eighth Amendment.
(E) This one is the Fourth Amendment. Accordingly, they can all be eliminated. Be sure to reread those Amendments regularly!
15. E While the right to privacy is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, in Griswold v. Connecticut the Warren Court ruled that the Bill of Rights contained an implied right to privacy. In the case of Roe v. Wade, the Court established national abortion guidelines by extending the inferred right of privacy from Griswold v. Connecticut.
(A) You can eliminate this choice because Near v. Minnesota and New York Times v. Sullivan focused on freedom of the press, not privacy.
(B) You can cross off this choice because the cases of Texas v. Johnson and Morse v. Frederick were rulings regarding freedom of speech.
(C) Throw out this choice because cases Thornhill v. Alabama and Cox v. New Hampshire were related to the freedom of assembly and association.
(D) The cases of Epperson v. Arkansas and Lemon v. Kurtzman were related to freedom of religion, so you can eliminate (D) also.
16. D Federalism is a system under which the federal government shares power with the states. The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution reserves to the states all powers not granted the national government by the Constitution. Therefore, it is instrumental in defining the relationship between the two levels of government, which is the essence of federalism.
(A) The system of checks and balances among the three branches of the federal government concerns the national government only. Because federalism involves the relationship between the states and the federal government, this cannot be the correct answer.
(B) International treaties are the sole responsibility of the federal government, and do not relate to the states in any way.
(C) Washington, D.C., does have special constitutional status as the nation’s capital. The federal government plays a role in governing the city, and the city is not represented in Congress. However, Washington’s constitutional status has little influence on American federalism.
(E) The president’s power to grant reprieves and pardons is solely a function of the federal government. Because federalism involves the relationship between the states and the federal government, this cannot be the correct answer.
17. A Judicial review is the Supreme Court’s power to overturn laws on the basis of their constitutionality. Judicial review is not mentioned in the Constitution. The practice was established by Chief Justice John Marshall in the 1803 decision Marbury v. Madison.
(B) The census must be taken every ten years, according to Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution, which states the following:
“The actual Enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years.”
(C) The rules governing the impeachment of the president are contained in the body of the Constitution. To bring about an impeachment, the House of Representatives must vote to bring an impeachment trial (thus serving a role equivalent to that of a grand jury). The Senate serves as the trial jury, and the Supreme Court presides.
(D) Article II, Section 3, of the Constitution states that the president “shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union.”
(E) The Constitution states that federal judges “both of the supreme and inferior courts shall hold their offices during good behavior.” This means that judges are appointed for life and can be removed only for criminal or disgraceful behavior.
18. C Each state has its own set of laws, and violations of those laws are prosecuted in state courts. The federal government also has a set of laws, and violations of these are tried in federal courts. Occasionally, the two legal systems overlap. For example, the defendants in the Oklahoma City bombing trial destroyed a federal building and killed federal employees, all federal crimes. Clearly the bombing also violated state laws prohibiting murder, destruction of property, and reckless endangerment. When this happens, the federal and state governments negotiate to decide who will try the case.
State cases, however, may be appealed to federal courts on constitutional grounds. Thus, although the two court systems are generally autonomous, they are not completely independent of each other.
(A) Federal courts may overturn state court decisions, but only on the grounds that a defendant’s constitutional rights were violated. Federal courts may not rule on whether state courts have correctly applied state law (state Supreme Courts are the final arbiters of such cases).
(B) See the explanation for (C).
(D) This is an incorrect statement. Federal courts are not solely appeals courts.
(E) See the explanation for (C).
19. C The Constitution specifically delegates to the president the power to veto laws. It does not mention the power to veto parts of laws. The Supreme Court declared the line-item veto unconstitutional in Clinton v. New York on the grounds that the Constitution does not give the president the authority to cancel parts of taxing and spending bills because this would give the president too much legislative influence.
(A) The line-item veto gave legislative powers to the president, not executive powers to the legislature.
(B) The bureaucracy has no role in the line-item veto. The bureaucracy is responsible for carrying out the laws enacted by Congress and signed by the president. If the president’s line-item veto power had been upheld, the bureaucracy would have had to implement the law as passed.
(D) The line-item veto did not involve the states.
(E) Judicial review is performed by the Supreme Court, not the Senate. If the Senate objects to a House bill, it merely votes against the bill.
20. A The president may, “on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper.” Otherwise, the president’s powers to influence legislation are primarily political. As the most prominent political figure in the United States, the president can strongly influence public sentiment on legislation.
(B) The president may not introduce bills to the floor of Congress. He or she may recommend bills to Congress, but Congress is under no obligation to consider those bills.
(C) The president has no power to address Congress, except when he or she delivers his or her State of the Union address. Of course, the president does not need to speak on the floor of Congress to influence congressional votes, because his or her position on most bills is a matter of public record. As the leader of his or her party, the president also exerts some influence over the way congresspersons of his or her party vote.
(D) The president may not vote on congressional acts. He or she has a much greater power, however: the power to reject congressional legislation through a veto. The vice president votes in case of a tied vote in the Senate.
(E) The president has no power to disband congressional committees. Under extraordinary circumstances he or she may adjourn the entirety of Congress, but he or she has no special power to dissolve a committee. If the president did, he or she could stop any congressional investigation of his or her administration by dissolving the committee in charge of the investigation. That, needless to say, would run counter to the system of checks and balances.
21. B Access to the president is handled primarily by the chief of staff, who screens requests from other executive officers to meet with the president. The chief of staff is often the president’s closest confidant. He or she knows the president’s agenda and can help coordinate executive actions to best accomplish those goals. The close relationship between the two allows the chief of staff to filter reports and any requests headed for the president’s desk in an effort to keep the president from becoming overwhelmed. The chief of staff also mediates disputes among various cabinet offices.
(A) Vice presidents have as much or as little power as the president gives them. Former Vice President Al Gore was more active than most who preceded him. Other vice presidents have had very few official duties.
(C) The national security advisor is one of the president’s top foreign policy advisors. However, he or she does not control the president’s schedule.
(D) The chair of the Federal Reserve Board exerts tremendous influence over the American economy.
(E) The press secretary provides press releases and answers press queries on behalf of the president.
22. C Article II, section 2 of the Constitution says that two-thirds of the Senate must concur with a treaty, so choice (C) is correct.
(A) The president alone is responsible for deploying troops and forcing Congress into session.
(B) Congress is responsible for appropriations bills.
(D) See Choice A reasoning above.
(E) Vice presidents are chosen by delegates at the parties’ national conventions.
23. D Those most active in both the Republican and Democratic parties tend to be further from the political center than are average or rank-and-file party members. Because party activists control much of the nomination process and because they are more likely than others to vote in primary elections, successful presidential nominees tend to reflect the political agendas of these activists. This has been particularly true of the Republican Party in recent years; most candidates for the Republican presidential nomination focus great effort on winning support from the party’s small but powerful ultraconservative wing.
(A) The opposite is true. While conservative Republicans are generally more successful in the primaries, these same candidates have a more difficult time appealing to the moderate general electorate in November.
(B) Party members are expected to support their party’s presidential candidate. If (B) were true, no Republican could ever win the presidency, because most Democrats and moderate Republicans would vote Democratic. Such a sizable coalition would win every election.
(C) People join the political party that most closely reflects their political views. Most Republicans do care whether their presidential nominee shares their views, at least on a few issues they consider important.
(E) Rank-and-file members participate in the Republican nominating process by voting in primary elections.
24. A The large size of the House of Representatives means that more work can be done in committees than when all representatives are assembled on the floor.
(B) Confirmation powers are not relevant to committees, so eliminate this choice.
(C) In both the Senate and the House, members to committees are assigned by the majority party, so eliminate this choice.
(D) Committees in both the Senate and the House consist of members from both parties, although the majority party generally has more members.
(E) Finally, although choice (E) is true, it does not account for differences between the two chambers of Congress.
25. C America’s increased prominence in foreign affairs (I) has increased the power of the president. As chief of state, the president receives and negotiates with foreign leaders. Congress generally allows the president great leeway in handling foreign relations. Therefore, as America’s role in world affairs has increased, so too has the power of the presidency. Increased government responsibilities (III) are enforced and partly administered by the executive branch. As leader of the executive branch, the president has gained power as a result of this increased responsibility. Constant media exposure (IV) has given the American public greater awareness of each president since Franklin Roosevelt. The president is now better known and more widely heard than at any time in the past. This allows the president to influence voters in a way that no president before 1932 possibly could.
(A) This answer is partly correct. However, statements III and IV are also true.
(B) This answer is partly correct. However, statement III is also true.
(D) Statement II is incorrect. Public confidence in the government has been in decline since the 1960s. The Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal, the Iran-Contra affair, and the government shutdown of 1993 are just a few of the events that have resulted in increased public cynicism toward the government.
(E) Statements III and IV are true, but so is statement I, which is not included in this answer choice. Also, statement II is incorrect (see explanation for (D)).
26. E The House and the Senate must pass the same version of a bill before the president may consider it. Often, the two houses pass different versions of the same bill. They then meet in a conference committee to draft a compromise bill, which then returns to each house to be voted on again. Bills drafted by conference committees usually bypass the committee stage and are immediately scheduled for a floor vote in each house.
(A) The president may not sign a bill until an identical version of it has been passed by both the House and the Senate.
(B) Before a bill such as the one described returns to each house, the two houses meet to try to draft a compromise bill. Bills drafted by conference committees usually bypass the committee stage and are immediately scheduled for a floor vote in each house.
(C) See the explanation for (E).
(D) See the explanation for (E).
27. E Note that this is another “EXCEPT” question, so don’t let the phrasing trick you. Only (E) is false because there is a strong correlation between higher education and a tendency to vote. Therefore, individuals with postgraduate degrees are more likely to vote than individuals with only undergraduate degrees, so (E) is the right answer.
(A) This choice is incorrect because it’s true—people are less likely to vote if they believe one candidate is too far ahead of the others.
(B) This choice is also true, as white-collar workers do vote more often than blue-collar workers, but people who belong to unions are very likely to vote.
(C) A strong party affiliation makes one more likely to vote.
(D) Minorities, except those with high incomes, vote less often than whites, so this option is also true.
28. A Married, white males have preferred the Republican candidate for president in every election since 1972.
(B) While the voting habits of white females overall can vary, unmarried white females have favored the Democratic candidate in every presidential election since 1992 (Clinton, Gore, Kerry, and Obama).
(C) Since Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency, African Americans have overwhelmingly identified as Democrats in a trend that continues to the present. Barack Obama won a whopping 96% and 93% of the African American vote in 2008 and 2012, respectively.
(D) The majority of youths voted for candidates Jimmy Carter (1976), Bill Clinton (1996), and Barack Obama (2008 and 2012).
(E) Individuals earning below poverty-level wages tend to favor social programs for low-income individuals (Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act are examples) promoted and supported by Democratic candidates more than Republican candidates.
29. D The Fourteenth Amendment states that
“No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The amendment proved ineffective, however, in preventing racial discrimination and segregation. Civil rights advocates had to struggle for almost 100 more years before the government banned all discrimination based on race, religion, gender, or national origin with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Civil Rights Act gave the government the power to enforce desegregation by cutting off federal funding to discriminatory programs. It also allowed the Justice Department to file desegregation suits.
(A) The presidential veto is a presidential action while the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevents discrimination against citizens.
(B) The system of checks and balances ensures that none of the three government branches get too powerful. This system was unaffected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
(C) This answer choice is the opposite: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 empowered the federal government over state government.
(E) The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 was designed to restrict some of the rights granted to unions by the Wagner Act of 1935. It prohibited closed shops (which required union membership as a prerequisite to hiring), restricted labor’s right to strike, prohibited the use of union funds for political purposes, and gave the government broad power to intervene in strikes.
30. C Among the powers granted Congress by the Constitution is the right to pass laws “necessary and proper” to the performance of its duties. This section of the Constitution is called the elastic clause because it allows Congress to stretch its powers beyond those that are specifically granted it (called enumerated powers) by the Constitution. When Congress passed a national speed limit law in 1974, it invoked the elastic clause by citing its enumerated power to regulate interstate trade.
(A) The elastic clause pertains to Congress, not to the Supreme Court.
(B) This answer describes a common event, but it does not illustrate the elastic clause as described in the explanation for (C).
(D) Raising taxes is among Congress’s enumerated powers. Therefore, the action described in answer (D) does not illustrate the elastic clause as described above in the explanation for (C).
(E) The elastic clause pertains to Congress, not to state executives such as governors.
31. B In “Federalist No. 10,” James Madison warns of the dangers of political factions. He also acknowledges that political factions are inevitable. He concludes that American federalism, as embodied in the U.S. Constitution, checks the dangers of factions through the separation of powers, making it difficult for a faction to control the entire governing process. According to Madison, so many different regional and economic agendas are represented in federal and state government that it would be impossible for any single group to gain undue control or disrupt the entire system.
(A) The Federalist Papers take a negative view of political factions and would not have approved of any political system that encouraged their growth.
(C) According to The Federalist Papers, Republican federalism limits the influence of political factions on all levels of the government.
(D) In “Federalist No. 10,” Madison acknowledged that political factions form whenever people disagree and whenever individuals put their personal welfare above the best interests of the state. Political factions, he concluded, are inevitable in any system so long as humans remain human.
(E) The Federalist Papers were written in defense of the U.S. Constitution, which does not ban political factions.
32. E Each of the answer choices correctly identifies a weakness of the Articles of Confederation. However, neither the Articles nor the original Constitution had a universal suffrage clause. Under both, blacks and women were among those who had no right to vote, and states could add further restrictions on the right to vote. Many states allowed only property owners to vote, for example.
(A) Under the Articles of Confederation the national government was entirely dependent on the states to enforce national law, as it had no executive powers of its own. The Constitution rectified this problem by establishing the executive branch of government.
(B) Under the Articles of Confederation state governments held the power to impose trade tariffs. The Constitution grants this power to Congress.
(C) Under the Articles of Confederation the national government had no authority to regulate interstate trade. The Constitution grants this power to Congress.
(D) Under the Articles of Confederation the national government was dependent on the states to provide soldiers for national defense. This system proved unreliable at best. The Constitution grants Congress the power to raise an army.
33. A The Constitution is not precise in explaining how the president and Congress are to share power. As a result this relationship is dynamic, relying partially on the political popularity of the two institutions. When a president is popular—as Franklin Roosevelt was when he first took office—he can parlay that popularity into political clout and may dominate national policy decision making. When a president is unpopular—as Truman was in the year preceding his reelection—then Congress gains the upper hand and can largely determine national policy on its own.
(B) Congress’s power to determine national policy relies on the relative political strength of Congress and the president. Since the ratification of the Constitution, Congress has seen its powers grow and shrink in conjunction with its political fortunes.
(C) Congress’s power is in fact expanded by the elastic clause, which grants Congress the right to pass laws “necessary and proper” to the performance of its duties. Congress regularly uses the elastic clause to broaden its scope of influence.
(D) During times of war, the president grows more powerful relative to Congress. Congress is hesitant to challenge the president in wartime, as most congresspersons believe that the country must remain unified during emergencies.
(E) Congress exerts little control over the judicial branch. It can pass laws, such as sentencing guidelines, that limit judicial action. The Senate confirms federal judicial appointments and so influences the judiciary in that way. By and large, however, the judiciary is independent of congressional influence.
34. C The president appoints cabinet leaders and can appoint whomever he or she chooses without regard for their political party membership, so (C) is the correct answer.
(A) Although the leaders are appointed, the departments are established by Congress.
(B) Despite this connection, cabinet departments often have goals that differ from those of the president.
(D) There are 15 cabinet departments and numerous other sub-agencies or independent agencies with cabinet-rank status.
(E) This choice is true—the president appoints cabinet members and controls that.
35. D The winner-take-all system of the electoral college distorts the results of the popular vote. In 1992, Ross Perot received 19% of the popular vote but 0 electoral votes. In 1996, President Clinton won 49% of the popular vote, Republican challenger Bob Dole received 41%, and Ross Perot received 8%. In the electoral college, however, Clinton won 70%, Dole 30%, and Perot 0%. The discrepancy was also apparent in 2000.
The election of 2000 was one of the closest in American history. It was unusual because the winner of the popular vote lost the election in the electoral college. A difference of 400 to 500 popular votes in Florida would have given the election to Gore because he would have received all of Florida’s electoral votes. As it turned out, Bush won the presidency by the minimum number of electoral votes possible, with Gore winning the national popular vote.
(A) Forty-eight states allocate their electoral votes by the “winner-take-all” method. The two exceptions are Maine and Nebraska, which give two electoral votes to the candidate who wins a plurality of the statewide vote, and one vote to the winner of each of the state’s congressional districts. In 1996, Maine had four electoral votes, Nebraska had five.
(B) Each state is represented in the electoral college by a delegation equal in number to the state’s total representation in Congress (senators and members of the House). California has the greatest number of electoral votes (54); several states have only three electoral votes, the minimum a state may have (two senators and one member of the House).
(C) The electoral college was established by the Constitution as it was originally ratified.
(E) Senators and representatives are prohibited from the electoral college by the Constitution. Electors are generally chosen from among state party leaders and state legislators.
36. C Even in 2010, a reactionary and anti-incumbent election, 85% of Republican incumbents and 70% of Democratic incumbents were still returned to office. In short, incumbents have a huge advantage over challengers, primarily because voters are better acquainted with incumbents.
(A) Winning reelection to the Senate is considered slightly more difficult than winning reelection to the House. Because the Senate is a smaller legislative body than the House, each seat in the Senate is relatively more powerful than a seat in the House. As a result, Senate races are more hotly contested than House races.
(B) No such spending limits exist in House campaigns. Incumbents usually outspend their challengers by considerable sums during election campaigns.
(D) Even in anti-incumbent election cycles, such as 1994 or 2010, an overwhelming majority of incumbents were returned to office by voters.
(E) Of 362 incumbents who ran for reelection in 1994, only 26 were unopposed. The great majority of incumbents face a challenger in the general election.
37. E Of the members of the 111th Congress, 225 (42%) earned a law degree prior to serving in office. This fact should come as no surprise, given that the business of Congress is to pass laws. And as prominent members of the community, lawyers often have the standing to run for and win elected office.
(A) In the same Congress, 38% of members were former businesspeople, but given the purpose of Congress, lawyers are a safer guess.
(B) Given the percentages of lawyers and business people, 80% in total, a professional athlete could be a legislator, but the majority are not.
(C) See the explanation for answer (B).
(D) See the explanation for answer (B).
38. B The House Ways and Means Committee controls tax and trade legislation. It is considered one of the most powerful committees in Congress.
(A) The Commerce Committee considers legislation on such topics as consumer affairs, medicine and medical research, energy, and national and international trade. It is a powerful committee and as such has some influence on tax policy, but not as much as the Ways and Means Committee, which considers all tax legislation before it reaches the floor of the House.
(C) The Education and the Workforce Committee considers legislation concerning national testing, public schools, and workplace issues.
(D) The Resources Committee considers legislation concerning the United States’ natural resources.
(E) The Judiciary Committee considers legislation covering numerous topics such as patents, crime, immigration policy, telecommunications regulations, and Constitutional amendments.
39. E The Pendleton Act of 1883 was passed in response to charges of patronage in the awarding of government jobs (the “spoils system”). The Pendleton Act created the Civil Service Commission to oversee examinations for potential government employees.
(A) The Truman Doctrine was a foreign policy of the United States at the outset of the Cold War. Its goal was to contain Soviet expansion.
(B) The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1961 increased the minimum wage to $1.15 per hour.
(C) The National Industrial Recovery Act was a New Deal program that sought to revitalize U.S. industry during the Depression.
(D) The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned discrimination in public places and gave the government the power to prosecute discriminatory institutions and businesses. It also allowed the government to cut off funding to segregationist and discriminatory programs.
40. A To maintain the “one person, one vote” principle of American government, Congress is required to redraw election districts every 10 years, in conjunction with the national census.
(B) Regardless of when congressional districts are redrawn, congressional incumbents are reelected at a rate of approximately 90% or more.
(C) Redistricting is a political battle in which the party in power attempts to draw districts in such a way as to increase their representation in Congress. Frequently, redistricting plans are challenged in court by the minority party.
(D) The Speaker of the House is chosen by the majority party in the House of Representatives.
(E) Redistricting can increase the number of female and minority congresspersons. In recent years, the courts have, on occasion, forced Congress to create minority districts and take other measures to increase minority representation. However, this has not historically been the purpose of redistricting. Congressional lines have been redrawn every ten years since the beginning of the republic, yet increased female and minority representation is a relatively recent phenomenon.
41. D The chart shows that between 66% and 78% of registered voters participate in presidential elections (1988, 1992, and 1996), but that only slightly more than half participate in midterm congressional elections (1986, 1990, and 1994).
(A) More than half of all eligible voters participated in the elections of 1988 and 1992. Furthermore, this chart provides information only for elections between the years 1986 and 1996. Therefore, any answer that draws a conclusion about elections in years before 1986, as answer (A) does, must be incorrect.
(B) The number of registered voters actually decreased between 1992 and 1994. Furthermore, this chart provides information only for elections between the years 1986 and 1996. Therefore, any answer that draws a conclusion about elections in years before 1986, as (B) does, must be incorrect.
(C) The chart provides no information about elections during the 1970s. Also, this answer assumes that voter satisfaction can be gauged by turnout rates, which is a disputable conclusion.
(E) Because this chart provides information only for elections between the years 1986 and 1996, answer (E), which requires you to draw a conclusion about all elections during the twentieth century, must be incorrect.
42. C Businesspeople and investors constitute a small but powerful segment of U.S. society. They are the majority of voters in only a very few, very wealthy voting districts.
(A) Lobbyists representing businesses and investors are typically better funded than those representing the interests of people with lower incomes.
(B) Business lobbies, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are among the most enduring in Washington. Over their many decades in the capitol, these groups have made and maintained relationships with many important policy makers.
(D) Because election campaigns are so expensive, candidates must solicit funds. People who donate generously gain the candidate’s friendship in return. Although legislators do not always follow their donors’ suggestions—indeed they cannot because they have many different donors with diverse goals and interests—they must pay close attention if they expect to receive contributions to their next campaign.
(E) The most effective lobbies in Washington are those campaigning for obscure changes to regulations and tax codes. Because these issues are not widely followed by the public, lobbyists who pursue such changes encounter less opposition.
43. A Of the five groups mentioned, white Southerners are easily the most conservative. In recent years this group’s traditional support for the Democratic Party has dwindled to the point that many southern congressional seats that had been held by Democrats since the end of Reconstruction are now held by Republicans. Many Southerners joined the Democratic coalition after the Civil War ended (the Republicans, remember, were the party of the abolition movement). This allegiance was strengthened during the New Deal, but has weakened since. A large segment of the white South adheres to conservative fundamentalist Christianity and is uncomfortable with the government activism and social programs associated with the Democratic Party.
(B) Labor unions are traditionally perceived as liberal, particularly concerning government regulation of the workplace.
(C) The majority of African Americans support some form of the liberal social programs that Democrats generally support and most Republicans oppose.
(D) Northern ethnic minorities are traditionally liberal on economic issues. Some, particularly those that are predominantly Catholic, can be conservative on social issues. However, they are generally more liberal in this regard than are white southern fundamentalists.
(E) Environmentalism is strongly associated with liberalism, as many of its goals involve government regulation of America’s natural resources.
44. D Younger voters are less likely to vote than older voters. Politically active voters, such as those in unions or those who are active in party politics, are more likely to vote; therefore, you may eliminate (A) and (C). Generally, voters with more education and higher incomes are more likely to vote, so eliminate choice (B), since professionals earn more money than those without professional degrees. Voters in swing states are more likely to vote because they are more likely to feel that their votes matter; therefore, eliminate (E).
45. B People usually join their parents’ political party. When their political beliefs change, they do so as a result of economic issues. Of all political issues, economic issues have the greatest impact on personal politics.
(A) As people grow older, the views of their peers more greatly influence their political beliefs. Young people generally have little interest in politics, and as a result peer influence on their political beliefs is minimal. In any case, the economy has a greater influence on individual political outlooks.
(C) Because people generally have the same religious beliefs as their parents, religion is extremely unlikely to cause them to choose a party different from the one their parents have chosen.
(D) Employers rarely pressure employees to alter their party allegiance. They are somewhat more likely to seek their support for individual candidates or referenda. By and large, employers do not attempt to influence their employees’ political beliefs.
(E) Most Americans do not follow issues in international politics closely, and these issues have little influence on the political beliefs of most.
46. E Of the many popular third parties in American history, only the Republican Party has progressed to the level of a major party. All others were absorbed by one or both of the major parties. The Populists, for example, campaigned for direct election of senators, a graduated income tax, and shorter workdays. Eventually both major parties took up these issues. As they did, the Populist coalition fell apart.
(A) There have been at least ten prominent third parties in American history. Of them, only the Republican Party went on to become a major party.
(B) A few third parties have had radical goals, but most radical parties never gain enough support to become “popular third-party movements.” Some third parties grow around the popularity of a single individual: Ross Perot, George Wallace, and Theodore Roosevelt are some examples. Others champion progressive goals that are later adopted by one or both of the major parties. Examples of these include the Free Soil Party and the Populist Party. Even some of the Socialist Party’s goals (especially those concerning workplace conditions) were later adopted by the Democratic Party.
(C) Some supporters of third parties become disenchanted when their candidates fail, but most rejoin the political mainstream.
(D) See the above explanation for question 45, (E).
47. E Because flag burning is usually done as an act of political protest, it is considered speech and is protected by the First Amendment. Due process, (A), has to do with your rights as a prisoner. Assembly, (B), has to do with the freedom to gather in public. The free exercise of religion, (C), is just that, and the American flag is a part of the separation of church and state. And unless your flag is first being confiscated and then burnt, (E) remains the best answer.
48. B In Miranda v. Arizona, the main question was whether the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination should be applied to state law. The court sided with Miranda and decided that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment did apply to the Fifth Amendment, and that his confession was inadmissible in court. The Court then ruled that the police must advise a suspect of his rights before questioning begins. These rights have come to be known as Miranda rights.
(A) An ex post facto law allows governments to prosecute citizens for acts that were legal at the time they occurred but that later became illegal. Ex post facto laws are prohibited by the U.S. Constitution. For more on the issues in the Miranda case, see the explanation for answer (B).
(C) Miranda v. Arizona did not involve cruel and unusual punishment, so this choice is irrelevant.
(D) This case did not involve slavery in any way, so the Thirteenth Amendment is irrelevant here.
(E) The states are required by the Constitution to accept the court judgments, licenses, contracts, and other civil acts of all the other states. This obligation is contained in the “full faith and credit” clause.
49. C In 1833, the Supreme Court ruled that the Bill of Rights applied to the federal government only and not to state governments. Since the early part of the twentieth century, however, the Supreme Court has used the “due process” and “equal protection” clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to extend some of the Bill of Rights protections, but has done so on a case-by-case basis. This process of incorporating some of the Bill of Rights protections to state law is called selective incorporation.
(A) See the explanation for (C).
(B) Voting rights have been extended to minorities and women by amendments to the Constitution and by various congressional civil rights acts.
(D) In the early 1970s, the Supreme Court upheld busing children to schools other than the ones closest to their homes to hasten integration. However, that is not what is meant by “selective incorporation.” For a definition of this term, see the explanation for (C).
(E) See the explanation for (C).
50. D According to the Congressional Budget Office, Social Security alone made up 24% of federal spending in 2014. Other entitlement programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP, added significantly to that percentage, making entitlement programs the “largest slice of the pie,” in terms of federal dollars.
(A) In 2014, the defense department took 17% of all federal spending.
(B) The Department of Energy is just a small slice of the 17% of federal money put toward non-defense discretionary spending.
(C) Interest on the national debt made up 6% of all federal spending in 2014.
(E) The Internal Revenue Service, part of the Department of Treasury, has the responsibility to collect U.S. taxes and is just a small slice of the 17% of federal money put toward non-defense discretionary spending.
51. A The majority party in each house controls all of that house’s committees. The committee chair is always a member of the majority party.
(B) The number of Republicans and Democrats sitting on each committee is determined by negotiation, but the majority party always dominates the most important committees (usually by a two-to-one majority).
(C) Congress takes committee recommendations into consideration, but it does not follow all (or even most) of those recommendations.
(D) See the explanation for (B). Also, Congress takes committee recommendations into consideration, but it does not follow all (or even most) of those recommendations. Thus, statement III is also incorrect.
(E) Statement I is correct, but statements II and IV are incorrect. When a committee vote results in a tie, the result simply remains a tie vote.
52. C The Gramm-Rudman Acts were intended to reduce budget deficits. Their best-known provision, in favor of automatic across-the-board budget cuts, was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Although the laws failed to substantially reduce the federal deficit, they did heighten public awareness of the deficit issue.
For this type of detail question, you really need to know what the Gramm-Rudman Acts were; the other choices are wrong because they don’t deal with budget deficits.
53. E Iron triangles are sometimes referred to as subgovernments. They are formed by the close working relationship among various interest groups, congressional committees, and executive agencies that enforce federal regulations. Working together, these groups can exert a powerful collective influence over legislation and law enforcement.
For this detail question, (A), (B), (C), and (D) are all wrong because they do not accurately describe the iron triangle.
54. B A sound bite refers to a brief remark, extracted from a longer piece of audio, that summarizes a politician’s comments, views, or beliefs. Accordingly, (B) is the correct answer. “Horse race” politics occurs when the press is more concerned about who is up or down in the polls than with reporting information on the candidates’ positions and qualifications. Eliminate (A). Sound bites can be negative or positive, so neither (C) nor (D) is necessarily correct. Choice (E) does not reflect a reason that sound bites are used; polling data shows who the public believes won or lost.
55. C In the 1965 Supreme Court case of Griswold v. Connecticut, the Court ruled that the Bill of Rights contained an implied right to privacy. The Court ruled that the combination of the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments added up to a guarantee of privacy. The Griswold case concerned a state law banning the use of contraception. The Court decision overturned that law.
(A) The right to privacy is guaranteed by the federal government. States must comply with this protection under the Fourteenth Amendment.
(B) The right to privacy is implied by the Constitution; it is never directly stated. For more information, see the explanation for (C).
(D) Common law consists of the entire body of previous judicial decisions. It originated in medieval England and persists to this day, underlying much of American statute law (laws passed by legislatures). Common law does not guarantee the right to privacy.
(E) See the explanation for (C).
56. C The chart shows little difference between the presidential votes of men and women in both the 1972 and the 1976 elections. Starting with the 1980 election, however, a clear gender gap can be seen, with women consistently giving greater support to the Democratic candidate than the men do.
(A) The chart shows that, had only men voted, Ronald Reagan would have won the 1980 election by a greater margin than he actually did.
(B) The chart shows that from 1980 forward a smaller percentage of women than men voted for the Republican presidential candidate.
(D) Because the chart illustrates only the percentage of votes from each gender, it is impossible to draw a conclusion about the number of votes that the candidates received from men and women.
(E) Because the chart depicts election results only from 1972 to 1996, it is impossible to draw a conclusion concerning every presidential election in history.
57. D The graph shows that the South experienced the greatest increase in Medicare funding from 2000–2012, having increased by $6.6 million over the 12-year period. Eliminate (A) because the West did not experience a continual increase in funding; funding declined from 2004 to 2008. Choice (B) can be eliminated because the South received the most Medicare funding in 2012. Eliminate (C) because, in 2008, the North received approximately one and a half times the amount of Medicare funding as the Northeast. Finally, eliminate (E) because the Midwest and the East did not receive the same amount of Medicare funding in 2004.
58. C The right to pardon is extended to both presidents and governors and is the full release from legal punishment. Presidents and governors can also issue reprieves, but a reprieve is merely a postponement of legal punishment.
(A) As mentioned in the explanation for (C), pardons last forever.
(B) As mentioned in (C), pardons are permanent whereas reprieves are postponements, which makes this an opposite answer.
(D) Presidents have the ability to issue pardons.
(E) Presidents have the ability to issue reprieves.
59. B Programs designed to rectify social inequality based on past racial and gender discrimination are called affirmative action programs. Most such programs create special hiring and educational opportunities for women and racial minorities.
(A) The New Federalism was the name of Ronald Reagan’s attempted reorganization of the federal government. Its goal was to shift governmental power from the national government to the states. The plan failed. States feared that the New Federalism would result in higher state budgets, resulting in unpopular tax increases.
(C) Social Security benefits are payments made to the elderly, disabled, and other entitled beneficiaries from a government trust fund. The source of the fund is a tax (called FICA) collected on payrolls and individual paychecks.
(D) A bill of attainder is a legislative act that applies to an individual or easily identified group in such a way as to constitute punishment. (For example, if the legislature passed a law that prevents John Smith from driving because John Smith is a political agitator.) Bills of attainder are unconstitutional.
(E) Gerrymandering refers to the process of dividing a geographical area into political divisions in such a way as to achieve an unlawful or ulterior goal. (For example, redrawing voting districts so that minority voters are split into different districts and their power consequently diluted.)
60. C The exclusionary rule holds that evidence obtained in unwarranted searches must be excluded from trial. It also requires the government to have just cause to search private property and to demonstrate that cause before a judge. The rule was established by the Supreme Court decision Mapp v. Ohio. The case involved Dollree Mapp, who had been convicted in Ohio for possession of obscene materials. Her original conviction was based on evidence found by police who were looking for evidence of illegal gambling. The police had not obtained a search warrant to search for either evidence of gambling or pornography, so the search was illegal.
(A) The Supreme Court decision Plessy v. Ferguson established the principle of “separate but equal,” which was later overturned in Brown v. Board of Education.
(B) Because this involves excluding people, it is a tempting answer choice. However, this is not the meaning of the term exclusionary rule.
(D) Interstate commerce is controlled by the federal government under provisions of the Constitution. For an explanation of the exclusionary rule, see the explanation for (C).
(E) See the explanation for (C).