Glossary: The Texas State Constitution and Federalism

bill of attainder: a legislative action declaring someone guilty without a trial; prohibited under the Constitution

bill of rights: (sometimes called a declaration of rights or a charter of rights) a list of the most important rights to the citizens. The purpose is to protect those rights against infringement from public officials and private citizens.

coercive federalism: federal policies that force states to change their policies to achieve national goals

comity: the legal principle that political entities (such as states, nations, or courts from different jurisdictions) will mutually recognize each other’s legislative, executive, and judicial acts. The underlying notion is that different jurisdictions will reciprocate each other’s judgments out of deference, mutuality, and respect.

concurrent powers: shared state and federal powers that range from taxing, borrowing, and making and enforcing laws to establishing court systems

Confederacy: The Confederate States of America, those southern states that seceded from the United States in late 1860 and 1861 and argued that the power of the states was more important the power of the central government

constituent: a person living in the district from which an official is elected

constitution: the legal structure of a government which establishes its power and authority, as well as the limits on that power

cooperative federalism: a type of federalism existing since the New Deal era in which grants-in-aid have been used to encourage states and localities (without commanding them) to pursue nationally defined goals; also known as "intergovernmental cooperation"

devolution: a process in which powers from the central government in a unitary system are delegated to subnational units

dual federalism: the system of government that prevailed in the U.S. from 1789 to 1937, during which most fundamental governmental powers were strictly separated between the federal and state governments

elastic clause: the last clause of Article I, Section 8, which enables the national government “to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying” out all its constitutional responsibilities

ex post facto law: a law that criminalizes an act retroactively; prohibited under the Constitution

federalism: an institutional arrangement that creates two relatively autonomous levels of government, each possessing the capacity to act directly on the people with authority granted by the national constitution.

full faith and credit: clause found in Article IV, Section 1, of the Constitution, this clause requires states to accept court decisions, public acts, and contracts of other states; also referred to as the comity provision

line-item veto: In United States government, the line-item veto, or partial veto, is the power of executive authority to nullify or cancel specific provisions of a bill, usually a budget appropriations bill, without vetoing the entire legislative package.

poll tax: a state tax imposed on voters as a prerequisite for voting; poll taxes were determined unconstitutional in national elections by the Twenty-Fourth Amendment, and in state elections by the Supreme Court in 1966

privileges and immunities clause: found in Article IV, Section 2, of the Constitution, this clause prohibits states from discriminating against out-of- staters by denying such guarantees as access to courts, legal protection, and property and travel rights

separation of powers: the division of governmental power among several institutions that must cooperate in decision making.

states: governments at the subnational level

suffrage: term referring to the right to vote

unitary system: a centralized system of government in which the subnational government is dependent on the central government, where substantial authority is concentrated

writ of habeas corpus: a petition that enables someone in custody to petition a judge to determine whether that person’s detention is legal

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