Practice Questions Review for AP Exam
The franking privilege is best described as • A request by the president for a senator’s approval of a judicial appointment • The ability of the Federal Reserve Board or the Treasury to print money • The ability of members of Congress to mail information to constituents at a public expense • A request by bureaucratic agencies seeking presidential approval of standard operating procedures • The ability of a senator to kill a bill through prolonged debate
The franking privilege provides a tremendous incumbency advantage for members of Congress during election years. Representatives & senators send out mailers to constituents to inform them of their activities. Interestingly, these publications are prepared, published, and mailed at taxpayer expense. Response A refers to senatorial courtesy, which only applies to judicial appointments of lower courts. Response B is false because the Federal Reserve Board regulates interest rates charged among banks and does not have the authority to print money. Response D is false because standard operating procedures do not require presidential approval and are unrelated to the franking privilege. Response E describes a fillibuster.
Which of the following offices requires Senate approval? • White House Chief of Staff • CIA Director • Secretary of Homeland Security • Attorney General • I only • I, II, and III only • I, III, and IV only • II, III, IV only • I, II, III, IV
Institutions of National Government: Relationships among institutions The offices of Central Intelligence Agency Director and the president’s cabinet (which includes the offices of Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security) require Senate approval and are subjected to congressional oversight. The White house staff (which includes the president’s chief of staff, press secretary, and political advisors) can be hired and fired without Senate approval.
The incorporation doctrine involves which of the following? • Applying the Bill of Rights to the states • How the executive branch enforces a policy • Creating a new constitutional protection, such as privacy, that is an implied liberty • The ability of citizens to file a lawsuit against the government in federal courts • The ability of businesses to file for patent protection w/ the executive branch
Response B is incorrect because incorporation is a doctrine established by the courts, not the president. Response C is incorrect because the right to privacy is an implied right that Justice William O. Douglas inferred from the 19th Amendment, not from the incorporation doctrine, even though incorporation was used to apply the right to privacy to the states. Response D is incorrect because citizens are not guaranteed the right to file suit against the federal government based on the concept of sovereign immunity. Response E does not involve Supreme Court interpretation of the Constitution, and is therefore irrelevant to the legal doctrine of incorporation. The Incorporation doctrine was first articulated and utilized by the Supreme Court in Gitlow v. New York (1925) when the justices determined that the 1st Amendment right to free speech is a fundamental liberty that cannot be violated by state governments through their interpretation of the 14th Amendment’s due process clause. In Palko v. Connecticut (1935) the S.C. expanded and applied civil liberty protections to state governments when it espoused the idea of selective incorporation, which encouraged lawsuits to be filed that would gradually apply most (but not all) of the Bill of rights to the states.
All of the following are features of the federal government EXCEPT • Separation of powers • Checks and balances • Unitary system • Popular sovereignty • Limited majority rule * Limited majority rule is a major component of the Madisonian model in which the national government is kept far from the masses through indirect elections. Also, the Constitution protects minority rights, which limits majority rule.
The Supreme Court will most likely issue a writ of certiorari to • Require a lower court to retry a case • Explain its ruling in a decision • Overturn a previous precedent • Require a government official to act on an order issued by the Court • Clarify an issue in which there is disagreement among the lower courts * Certiorari literally means to make something more certain. When lower courts issue contradictory decisions in similarly situated cases, the Supreme Court may issue a writ of certiorari to clarify how the lower courts should decide the case in the future.
Congress used its commerce power to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to • End discrimination in private as well as public institutions • Ensure that it would not be challenged in the courts • Counter the growing power of the executive branch • Implement affirmative action policies in places of public accommodation • Appease white Southerners who were against the legislation
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was intended to end discrimination in places of accommodation, which includes hotels and restaurants, based on Congress’s ability to regulate interstate commerce. Response A is correct because the act allowed the federal government to regulate private businesses, including many that continued to discriminate against blacks as well as public institutions. Response B is incorrect because motel and restaurant owners challenged the act in the courts. Response C is incorrect because the act actually strengthened the power of the executive branch by allowing it to enforce more federal laws. Response D is incorrect because affirmative action was not developed until after the law was implemented. Response E is incorrect because white Southerners were not pleased, let alone appeased, by this law.
Which of the following socioeconomic classes most likely vote Republican? • Manual laborers and factory workers • Professionals and business owners • Intellectuals and women • Union members and women • Contract laborers and immigrant citizens * The Republican Party traditionally garners support from professional groups w/ high incomes, such as Doctors & business administrators, as well as business owners. The remaining responses are incorrect because they describe typical supporters of the Democratic Party.
Which of the following statements about the relationship between Congress and the Supreme Court is valid? • A decision can be overturned by a 2/3 vote of both houses. • Nominations by the Supreme Court must be approved by Congress. • A constitutional amendment is the only way Congress can overturn a Supreme Court decision. • Congress can expand the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court through legislation. • Congress can impeach a Supreme Court justice. * This question is essentially asking about the system of checks and balances. Congress’ authority to impeach and remove from office certainly extends to Supreme Court justices. On the other hand, the only way the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, which Article III outlines, could be changed is through a Constitutional Amendment.
A constitutional responsibility given to the vice-president is • Representing the president at official functions • Serving as leader of president’s party in the Senate • Recommending appointments to the cabinet • Presiding over the Senate • Heading special executive committees created by the president *The only power granted to the V.P. in the Constitution is to serve as President of the Senate, and to vote on matters if the Senate is tied. Although the V.P. is certainly an important figure in the party, the party leader in the Senate will either be the Majority Leader or the Minority Leader, depending on whether the president’s party is in control.
All of the following are weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation EXCEPT • Congress did not have the power to control interstate and foreign trade. • Congress had the power to make laws. • It was difficult to amend the Articles of Confederation. • There was no independent judiciary • Few limits were imposed on the Executive. * The power to make laws remained in the hands of Congress under the Articles, but it was the only branch of the national government. Neither a separate national court system nor any executive authority was in place. It was obviously difficult to amend the Articles since all 13 states had to agree to any change.
The arguments used by the Antifederalists against ratification of the Constitution included • The Constitution gave too much power to the federal government. • The Constitution did not protect individual liberties. • The Constitution protected the interests of small farmers against the country’s wealthy elite. • The Constitution took too many rights away from the states. • I only • I and II only • I,II,III only • I,II,IV only • II and III only If anything, the Antifederalists believed that the Constitution reflected the interests of wealthy merchants, rich planters, and the professional classes. The other 3 choices were essential elements of the Antifederalist critique of the Constitution.
The authority that Congress has under the “necessary and proper clause” is called • Implied powers • Enumerated powers • Reserved powers • Elastic powers • Categorical powers * This question focuses on the terminology used by political scientists to describe the Constitution. You should know immediately that “elastic powers” and “categorical powers” have no meaning. “Reserved powers” refer to the 10th Amendment, and are powers effectively in the hands of the states. “Enumerated powers’ are those powers specifically granted to Congress in Article I, section 8. The powers that flow to the federal government or Congress under the “necessary and proper clause” are “implied powers.”
Limiting members of Congress to a specific number of terms can only be imposed by • A decision of the Supreme Court • Laws enacted in all 50 states • An executive order of the president • A constitutional amendment • Legislation passed by a 2/3 vote of both houses * In U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton (1995), the Supreme Court ruled that state laws could not impose term limits on members of Congress. The Court reasoned that term limits added another qualification to serve in either the House or Senate, and therefore required a constitutional amendment.
All of the following statements about the amendment process are true EXCEPT • Amendments are proposed by a vote of 2/3 of the state legislatures. • Conventions in ¾ of the states can ratify an amendment. • A national convention can propose an amendment. • Amendments are proposed through a 2/3 vote of both houses of Congress. • Ratification requires approval of ¾ of the state legislatures. * The states do not have a direct role in proposing amendments. 2/3 of the state legislatures may call for a national convention for that purpose, but it is the convention that actually proposes the amendments (answer C).
The Supremacy clause in the Constitution states that • Congress is the most important branch of government • The Constitution, federal laws, and treaties are the supreme law of the land • The federal government has more power than the states • The armed forces are under the control of civilian authority • The president has supreme power as Commander-in-Chief * While it is true that the armed forces are under civilian control and a case could be made that Congress is the most important branch of government, neither of these choices relate to the supremacy clause. True statements are not necessarily correct answers. The supremacy clause just refers to defining the “supreme law of the land,” which state courts are obliged to respect.
Evidence that the framers of the Constitution may have distrusted the common people is • Senate approval of presidential appointments • Money bills are introduced in the House of Reps. • The method by which the president is elected • The age and citizenship requirements for the Senate • The apportionment of seats in the House of Reps.
The Virginia and New Jersey plans both provided for • A bicameral legislature • Separation of powers • A strong executive • Equal representation of states • Slavery * Although the details certainly differed significantly, both the Virginia and New Jersey Plans envisioned a government that included a legislative, executive, and judicial branch. The N.J. Plan retained the unicameral Congress of the Articles and equal representation of the states; in the Virginia Plan the executive was selected by the legislature, and the N.J. Plan proposed a multi-person executive. The idea that slaves were 3/5 of a person is implied in the N.J. Plan, but slavery is not alluded to in the Virginia Plan.
Which of the following best describes the purpose of shield laws? • To protect prosecutors from libel suits • To protect journalists from disclosing their sources • To protect state governments from national government incursions • To protect legislators from defamation suits • To protect the public welfare from national security threats * Many states have passed shield laws to protect journalists from state courts. Journalists fear that if these laws did not exist, it would be difficult to find sources willing to disclose government corruption or cover ups. The remaining responses are false & not relevant to the purpose of shield laws.
The belief that a person’s vote is important & can significantly influence public policy is known as • Pocketbook voting • Representative government • Political participation • Political efficacy • Political polling
Trial balloons refer to • Impromptu presidential news conferences • The media’s tendency to define news as information that is entertaining to the average viewer • Information leaked to the media to see what the political reaction will be • Media experiments w/ different types of news coverage to evaluate public reaction • Staged events that promote a candidate’s image * A trial balloon is an attempt by the executive branch to determine how the public will respond to a policy proposal or action. D is not correct because trial balloons are not used by the media to test public reaction.
Which of the following are forms of political participation? • Campaigning for a candidate • Contacting government agencies on behalf of congressional constituents • Calling members of Congress to influence their votes on a policy • Filing a lawsuit to stop development of a rural area • I only • I,II, and III only • I,III, and IV only • III and IV only • II,III, and IV only C is correct because options I,III, & IV are all methods of participation in politics. Option II describes casework, which is an action taken by congressional representatives to help constituents. Options I & III are clearly ways of citizen participation in politics. Option IV @ first might not seem like a method of participation, but interest groups such as environmentalists use litigation to influence public policy. Notice C is the only response that excludes option II but includes options I and III.
Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected w/ the constitutional right of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuse of government. But what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. (Federalist 51) Which of the following fundamental principles does this statement best reflect? • Federalism • Preservation of property • Representative government • Separation of powers • Rousseau’s view of human nature
The quotation from Federalist Paper 51 explains why the framers created a system of checks & balances, also known as separation of powers. The framers believed in Hobbes’ view of human nature, that humans are self-interested & primarily devoted to self-preservation & acquiring power. Thus the framers realized that “ambition must be made to counteract ambition,” which describes the need for checks & balances that exists in a system of separation of powers. Response E is incorrect because Jean-Jacques Rousseau believed that humans are basically good, but become corrupted by civilization. Response B was a major concern of the framers, but that is not addressed in this passage, & neither is the issue of federalism, option A. Also, this passage does not address how a representative government would be an effective government, making C incorrect. In fact, Madison discussed the benefits of a representative government in Federalist Paper 10 as a way to prevent the abuse of factions.
Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected w/ the constitutional right of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuse of government. But what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. (Federalist 51) Which of the following aspects of the Constitution does this statement attempt to justify? • The establishment of the electoral college • The federal control of public education • The wall of separation between church & state • The strong economic powers of the national government • The division of the legislative branch into 2 chambers
The main focus of Federalist Paper 51 is the concern that the legislative branch would be the most powerful branch in the national government. Madison attempted to ally these fears by emphasizing that the other institutions in the national government would check the power of the legislative branch. Furthermore, Madison argued, the Constitution weakens the legislative branch by dividing it into two chambers, thus response E is correct. Responses A and D are both major components of the Constitution, but are not relevant to the quotation. Response B was not even a concern because public education existed in few places when the Constitution was drafted. Finally, response D refers to a statement that Thomas Jefferson made in an attempt to fortify the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of religion.
The fact that executive orders have been used at an increasing rate indicates which of the following? • Executive orders speed up the process by which Congress passes legislation • The executive branch continues to keep national security information secret from Congress and the courts. • The power of the president is growing • Executive orders are a tactic used by the executive branch to challenge legislation the president opposes. • The president is using the power of persuasion to maintain party discipline.
An executive order is a tactic that the president can use if the legislation is not supportive of a presidential policy goal. Executive orders are similar to decrees, except they cannot violate the Constitution or any standing federal laws. Since World War II, presidents have issued some controversial executive orders that have enhanced the power of the presidency, especially during times of crisis. Response A is wrong because it incorrectly states that Congress utilizes executive orders. Response B is incorrect because the president has used the power of executive privilege, not executive order, to keep national security information secret from the other branches. Response D is incorrect because executive orders cannot violate laws passed by Congress. Response E is incorrect because executive orders have been used to assert executive control over the entire bureaucracy, not just a single political party.
The most recent change to the Constitution, the 27 Amendment • Guarantees equal rights for women • Requires the national government to pass a balanced budget • Provides an outline for the procedure of congressional pay raises • Expands the right to vote to those who are 18-21 years old • Prohibits women from fighting in combat
Block grants give states more control over how federal money will be spent. The Temporary Assistance of Needy Families (TANF) legislation, which overhauled federal welfare, is an example of a block grant in which states determine how best to administer welfare with some federal restrictions. Response A is incorrect because categorical grants come w/ very strict spending guidelines from the federal government. In fact, 80-90% of all federal grants are categorical grants. Response B and E are examples of categorical grants, thus they have strict federal guidelines on how the money will be spent. Response C is incorrect because states are required to adhere to strict spending guidelines in order to receive federal money for federal matching grant programs. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a good example of a matching grant in which states must pay for half the costs of the program in order to receive federal funds. Which type of government funding allows states the most discretion? • Categorical grants • Grants-in-aid • Matching grants • Block grants • Project grants
The Supreme Court declared the legislative veto unconstitutional because • It violates the presentment clause and the concept of separation of powers • It would give the president too much power • The Constitution does not specify that vetoes can be overridden by a two-thirds vote • Congress must present information to the courts if there is a challenge to its use of the legislative veto • The Constitution does not give the president the power to veto a portion of a bill * The legislative veto was struck down in INS v. Chadha (1983) because it was in violation of the presentment clause. The clause says that any legislation proposed by Congress must be presented to the president for executive action. A legislative veto permitted Congress to override executive actions w/ a simple majority vote in both or one chamber of Congress.
When judges use rulings from previous cases, they are basing their decisions on • Remand • Amicus curiae • Stare decisis • Certiorari • Mandamus *Stare decisis literally means “let the decision stand.” Thus, the court utililzes stare decisis when it establishes a new precedent for the federal courts. However, the Supreme Court often relies on previous precedents (cases that established star decisis) in justifying its decisions.
Most congressional work takes place in which of the following committees? • Joint • Conference • Standing • Rules • Select Most work takes place in standing committees, which are permanent committees that are present in every session of Congress. Representatives perform the important power of legislative oversight by holding hearings and using their power of subpoena to require government officials to testify before them. Also, these committees decide what happens to most bills proposed in Congress.
Miranda v. Arizona and Gideon v. Wainwright are similar in that they both • Reinforced a person’s right to counsel • Applied the exclusionary rule to questionable police tactics • Established protection against self-incrimination in state courts • Resulted in convictions of the accused • Were under funded mandates
Both the Miranda and Gideon decisions involved state actions that violated the 14th Amendment’s due process clause. While Miranda established that suspects under custodial interrogation must be informed of 5th and 6th Amendment protections against self-incrimination as well as their right to a court appointed attorney, Gideon proclaimed that suspects have a right to a court-appointed attorney during trial. Thus, response A is correct because both cases involve a person’s right to counsel. Response B is incorrect because Gideon does not involve the exclusionary rule; neither does it involve self-incrimination, as stated in C. Response D is incorrect because Gideon’s retrial led to an acquittal. Finally, response E is incorrect because the Gideon decision was an unfunded mandate and, while the Miranda decision stipulated that suspects must be informed of their right to a court-appointed attorney, it did not require states to fund those attorneys.