absolute monarch: a hereditary leader who has all the power to make decisions.
adjournment: suspension of a meeting.
allegiance: the loyalty a person gives to their country.
amendment: a change to a legal document or constitution.
appellate courts: a court that ensures a trial process occurred correctly.
appropriation: an amount of money assigned to a specific use.
attorney general: the top legal officer for a government in the US. There are attorneys general at both the state and federal levels.
authoritarian: a type of government in which government officials, not the people, have the power.
bands: smaller groupings of a tribal nation.
bicameral: having two separate branches.
Bill of Rights: the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution.
bills: proposed laws.
birthright citizenship: a rule that grants citizenship if one is born within the borders of a country.
budget: a plan for how to spend a sum of money.
capital gains: profits from an investment.
census: a count of people.
ceremonial monarch: a hereditary leader who serves as an important symbol for a nation but has no real political power.
charter: a plan for government at the municipal level.
citizen: a person who has the rights and responsibilities of membership in a country.
city council: a group of individuals elected from different parts of a town or city who work together to create policies for the whole municipality.
city manager: a person who manages a city or town government on a day-to-day basis.
common good: the idea that governments can try to make decisions that help most of the people.
Congress: the title of the legislative body of the United States’ federal government.
constituent: the people within a voting district an elected official represents in a government body.
constitution: the basic rules of a government.
Constitution: the written instrument that describes the function of the government in the United States.
constitutional monarch: a hereditary leader whose power is limited by a set of rules.
corporate tax: a tax placed on a type of business known as a corporation.
corrupt: using one’s official power to enrich oneself or one’s allies.
county: a subdivision of state government that has a set of responsibilities for a smaller geographic region.
county seat: the place in the county where the government offices are located.
defendant: the person in a court proceeding who is accused of wrongdoing.
delegates: a person who represents a larger group of people.
dictatorship: rule by a group of people selected by one person with all the power.
direct democracy: a kind of democracy in which all the citizens of a place participate in the day-to-day operations of government.
disenfranchise: to take away the right to vote.
Electoral College: the constitutional body that contains the delegates who elect the president of the United States every four years.
enact: to make a law active.
equality: the idea that people deserve the same treatment and rights.
eviction: a legal proceeding that results in the forced removal of someone from a living space, usually for inability to pay rent.
executive: the branch of government that enforces the law.
expenditure: money spent for a specific purpose.
fee: a sum of money charged for a government service.
felony: a category of crime that requires a year or longer incarceration as punishment.
fine: a sum of money charged for a violation of a law or code.
government: the people who make decisions and set rules for a group of people.
impeach: a process to remove an individual from a government office.
incarceration: serving a sentence in jail or prison.
income tax: a tax placed on the money a person earns.
injury: a harm suffered by the action or inaction or another.
judicial: the branch of government that reviews laws and manages complaints between individuals and groups.
judicial review: the ability of the US Supreme Court to determine the constitutionality of a law or policy.
jurisdiction: the area over which a government official may act.
jury: a group of people called to determine the outcome of a court case.
lawsuits: a claim brought to a court against another person, group, or government.
legislative: the branch of government that creates laws.
liberty: freedom to act without restraint.
lieutenant governor: the second-highest executive official who can assume the office of governor if the governor is removed, resigns, or dies.
limited government: the idea that government should have only specific areas in which it can act.
litigate: taking a matter to court.
majority: the greater number.
Marbury v. Madison: the US Supreme Court case that established the principle of judicial review.
mayor: the elected leader of a town or city.
Medicaid: a government-run health program for some Americans with low income.
Medicare: a government-run health program for elderly Americans.
minority: the smaller number.
misdemeanor: a category of crime that requires one year or less imprisonment.
monarchy: a system of government that is built around a hereditary ruler.
natural rights: the rights a person has simply by reason of being a human.
naturalize: the process of gaining citizenship in a country.
Oath of Allegiance: an oath in which a citizen states their loyalty to a country.
oligarchy: a system of government where a small group runs the government.
ordinances: rules of a municipality that are enforced with fines and incarceration.
pardons: being allowed to avoid the consequences of a criminal conviction.
parliament: a type of legislative body.
parliamentary democracy: a kind of democracy in which the executive is chosen from the legislative body.
participatory democracy: a kind of democracy in which citizens do more than occasionally vote.
payroll tax: taxes an employer takes out of a person’s earned wages.
plutocracy: a system of government that is run by, and serves, the wealthy.
preamble: the beginning of a legal document.
presidential democracy: a kind of democracy in which citizens elect the president and their legislative body separately.
prohibit: to forbid by law.
prohibition: the period in American history in which the sale and distribution of alcohol was illegal.
property tax: tax paid on property owned.
prosecutor: an official that represents the government in criminal cases.
quasi: being partly or almost.
ratify: to give consent to make something valid.
redistricting: the process of shifting districts to represent changes in population.
refund: to return or give back.
republic: a kind of democracy that uses elected representatives to make decisions.
revenue: a government’s annual income.
rights: something a person should have access to because they are human.
rule of law: the idea that governments should follow clear, known rules for decision making.
rural: the countryside.
sales tax: a tax placed on a purchase.
secretary: the leader of a department of the US federal government, serving in the president’s cabinet.
separation of power: the placement of different kinds of authority across branches of government so that one branch does not get too much power.
Social Security Administration: the agency in charge of managing payments to the elderly, individuals with disabilities, and the unemployed.
sovereignty: the right to make decisions for a group or place.
special session: an official meeting outside of the standard meeting times of a legislature.
stratocracy: a system of government in which the military runs the government.
suffrage: the right to vote.
Supremacy Clause: the section in the US Constitution that states that the federal government has supremacy over the states.
tax: the money people pay to governments.
theocracy: a system of government in which a religious group controls the government.
treaties: agreements between two sovereign groups.
urban: a city or town.
verdict: the decision of a court.
veto: the blocking of legislation by the executive branch.
ward: an individual who has had a guardian appointed to make decisions for them.
warrant: an order for arrest.