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Done every ten years, when the census is taken, boundaries are redrawn to ensure equal population across each district.
Redrawing districts in such a fashion so that it gives the controlling state legislature the adavantage in future elections.
- Must reside in the district they present.
- Must be at least 25 years old.
- Must be a citizen of the state.
Smith vs. Allwright (1944)
The denying of African Americans the right to vote in a primary election was found to be a violation of the Fifteeenth Amendment.
Wesberry vs. Sanders (1963)
Ordered House districs to be near as equal as possible-enshrined the principle of "one man, one vote."
Buckley vs. Valeo (1976)
The court ruled that giving money to a political campaign was a form of free shpeech and threw out some stringent federal regulations on fund-raising and election spending.
Shaw vs. Reno (1993) and Miller vs. Johnson (1995)
- Race cannot be the sole or predominant factor in redrawing legislative district boundaries.
- Bizarrely shaped NC district 12 shaped to exclusively to isolate minorities was invalidated.
U.S. Term Limits vs. Tornton (1995)
States cannot set term limits on members of Congress.
Bush vs. Gore (2000)
Florida recount in the election of 2000 was ruled to be a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause.
Voting Rights Act of 1965
- Encouraged states to take measures to increase minority representation in Congress.
- Amended in 1982 to encourage states to create majority-minority districts.
Isolating minority voters into few districts.
Spreading minority voters across several districts as a minority.
Delegated Powers of Congress
- Borrowing Money
- Raising an army
- Creating and making rules for the federal courts.
- Establishing naturalization laws.
- Establishing post offices.
- Providing for a militia.
- Making any law deemed necessary and proper for carrying out these laws.
Powers Exclusive to the House
- Initiate tax laws.
- Initiate spending bills.
Powers Exclusive to the Senate.
- Amending revenue bills.
- Confirmation of presidential nominations.
- Confirmation of Cabinet nomees.
- Confirmation of all federal court members.
- Confirmation of ambassadorships to foreign countries.
- Ratify all treaties signed by the president.
House Ways and Means Committee
Oversees taxing and spending legislation.
Restrictions on Congress
- No bills of attainder (guilty without trial)
- No Ex post facto laws (retroactive laws)
- No titles of nobility.
- No Export Taxes
Non-Legislative Tasks of Congress
- Political Education of the Public
- Representing constituents within the government.
- Congressional power to review the work of the federal agencies.
- Acts as a check on the executive branch.
- May conduct investigations for charges of corruption and waste.
- Power to subpoena (legally compel) witnesses to appear and testify.
Committee hearings and floor debatesincrease public awareness of government and societal problems. Floor debates ofver gun control, tax cuts, Social Security reform, etc. help focus national attention on important issues.
Representation of Constituents in Government
- Members of Congress help their constituents with dealings in government.
- Some view themselves as delegates that should mirror the views of their home district.
- Others view their best judgment should be the final factor.
Sponsor of the Bill
- A member of Congress, the only type of person who may introduce a bill.
- May be acting on behalf of a member of executive branch, interest group.
- House committee responsible for determining how long a bill well be debated and, whether to allow an open or closed rule for amending the bill.
- Can kill a bill by delaying a vote or by making it easy for appopnents to add killer amendments.
- Can bring bills up for an immediate floor vote.
- Tactic used to delay a vote on a bill and tie up the work of the Senate, usually by a Senator making a speech that continues for hours on the Senate floor.
- Can only be ended by by a vote for cloture, which requires 60 votes.
- Pet projects that are added as amendments to a legislation.
- One of the reasons why incumbent reelection rates are so high.
Provisions within a legislation that appropriate money to a specific project.
- Since bills usually end up passing the House and Senate in different forms, a conference committe tries to negotiate a compromise bill.
- Formed from respective committees of each house of Congress that wrote the bill.
- Failure to pass a bill from a conference committee will kill a bill.
Presidential Actions on a Bill
- No action for 10 days while Congress is in session = bill passes without signature.
- No action if congressional session ends within those 10 days = pocket veto.
- Veto if congress is open for more than 10 days and president vetos.
Clinton vs. New York City
- Immediately after Congress gave the president the power of line-item veto, this judicial decision stripped it away.
- Based on the exclusivity of law-making powers to Congress.
- The majority party of each house holds all the committee chairs.
- The majority party will also hold a majority of the seats on each committee.
- Permanent, specialized committees.
- Ex. House Ways and Means Committee, Senate Judiciary Committtee, Senate Armed Services Committee.
- 20 standing committees in House, 17 in Senate.
- Made up members of both the House and the Senate,
- Normally used for communicating to the public or for investigations but generally do not send bills to the floor for votes.
- Temporary committees organized in each house for some special pupose.
- Usually carry out investigations for the purpose fo writing special legislation.
- Ex. House Watergate Committee, Senate Select Committee on Unfair Campaign Practices.
- Temporary and include members from the committees of the two houses who were responsible for writing a bill.
- These committees try to negotiate compromise bills, which are then submitted to the two houses for an up or down vote without amendments.
- Once a compromise bill has been negotiated, the conference committee disbands.
A parliamentary mechanism to force a bill out of the committee for a floor vote.
The act of a committee refusing to vote a bill out, hoping to keep it from being considered by the house, keeping it stuck.
- Speaker of the House: can direct floor debate, controls which bills go to which committees.
- Majority leader: keeps party members in line and helps determine party policy and the party's legislative agenda.
- Minority leader: keeps the minority party members in line and helps etermine the minority party's legislative agenda.
- Whips: help their respective party leaders keep members loyal to their party's legislative agenda.
- Vice President, who is rarely on the floor, and only votes to break a tie.
- Pro tempore, who is the presiding officer in the absence of the VP during Senate session. Usually given to the most senior member of the majority party.
- Majority leader, who has the real power in the Senate because of control over the legislative agenda and acts as a power broker and policy initiator.
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