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United States State
In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory where it shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders (such as paroled convicts and children of divorced spouses who share child custody). State governments in the U.S. are allocated power by the people (of each respective state) through their individual state constitutions. All are grounded in republican principles (this being required by the federal constitution), and each provides for a government, consisting of three branches, each with separate and i ...
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Commonwealth (U
A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good. Historically, it has been synonymous with " republic". The noun "commonwealth", meaning "public welfare, general good or advantage", dates from the 15th century. Originally a phrase (the common-wealth or the common wealth – echoed in the modern synonym "public wealth"), it comes from the old meaning of "wealth", which is "well-being", and is itself a loose translation of the Latin res publica (republic). The term literally meant "common well-being". In the 17th century, the definition of "commonwealth" expanded from its original sense of " public welfare" or "commonweal" to mean "a state in which the supreme power is vested in the people; a republic or democratic state". The term evolved to become a title to a number of political entities. Three countries – Australia, the Bahamas, and Dominica – have the official title "Commonwealth", as do four U.S. states and two U.S. t ...
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Federal Republic
A federal republic is a federation of states with a republican form of government. At its core, the literal meaning of the word republic when used to reference a form of government means: "a country that is governed by elected representatives and by an elected leader (such as a president) rather than by a monarch". In a federal republic, a division of powers exists between the federal government and the government of the individual subdivisions. While each federal republic manages this division of powers differently, common matters relating to security and defense, and monetary policy are usually handled at the federal level, while matters such as infrastructure maintenance and education policy are usually handled at the regional or local level. However, views differ on what issues should be a federal competence, and subdivisions usually have sovereignty in some matters where the federal government does not have jurisdiction. A federal republic is thus best defined in contrast ...
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Local Government In The United States
Local government in the United States refers to governmental jurisdictions below the level of the state. Most states and territories have at least two tiers of local government: counties and municipalities. Louisiana uses the term parish and Alaska uses the term borough for what the U.S. Census Bureau terms county equivalents in those states. Civil townships or towns are used as subdivisions of a county in 20 states, mostly in the Northeast and Midwest. Depending on the state, local governments may operate under their own charters or under general law, or a state may have a mix of chartered and general-law local governments. Generally, in a state having both chartered and general-law local governments, the chartered local governments have more local autonomy and home rule. Municipalities are typically subordinate to a county government, with some exceptions. Certain cities, for example, have consolidated with their county government as consolidated city-counties. In Virginia, ...
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Minnesota State Legislature
The Minnesota Legislature is the bicameral legislature of the U.S. state of Minnesota consisting of two houses: the Senate and the House of Representatives. Senators are elected from 67 single-member districts. In order to account for decennial redistricting, members run for one two-year term and two four-year terms each decade. They are elected for four-year terms in years ending in 2 and 6, and for two-year terms in years ending in 0. Representatives are elected for two-year terms from 134 single-member districts formed by dividing the 67 senate districts in half. Both houses of the Legislature meet between January and the first Monday following the third Saturday in May each year, not to exceed 120 legislative days per biennium. Floor sessions are held in the Minnesota State Capitol in Saint Paul. History Early on in the Minnesota's history, the Legislature had direct control over the city charters that set the groundwork for governments in municipalities across the s ...
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State Court (United States)
In the United States, a state court has jurisdiction over disputes with some connection to a U.S. state. State courts handle the vast majority of civil and criminal cases in the United States; the United States federal courts are far smaller in terms of both personnel and caseload, and handle different types of cases. Each state "is free to organize its courts as it sees fit," and consequently, "no two states have identical court structures." Generally, state courts are common law courts, and apply their respective state laws and procedures to decide cases. They are organized pursuant to and apply the law in accordance with their state's constitution, state statutes, and binding decisions of courts in their state court hierarchy. Where applicable, they also apply federal law. Generally, a single judicial officer, usually called a judge, exercises original jurisdiction by presiding over contested criminal or civil actions which culminate in trials, although most matters ...
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State Legislature (United States)
A state legislature in the United States is the legislative body of any of the 50 U.S. states. The formal name varies from state to state. In 27 states, the legislature is simply called the ''Legislature'' or the ''State Legislature'', while in 19 states the legislature is called the ''General Assembly''. In Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the legislature is called the ''General Court'', while North Dakota and Oregon designate the legislature the ''Legislative Assembly''. Composition Every state except Nebraska has a bicameral legislature, meaning that the legislature consists of two separate legislative chambers or houses. In each case the smaller chamber is called the Senate and is usually referred to as the upper house. This chamber typically, but not always, has the exclusive power to confirm appointments made by the governor and to try articles of impeachment. (In a few states, a separate Executive Council, composed of members elected from large districts, perform ...
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Governor (United States)
In the United States, a governor serves as the chief executive and commander-in-chief in each of the fifty states and in the five permanently inhabited territories, functioning as head of government therein. As such, governors are responsible for implementing state laws and overseeing the operation of the state executive branch. As state leaders, governors advance and pursue new and revised policies and programs using a variety of tools, among them executive orders, executive budgets, and legislative proposals and vetoes. Governors carry out their management and leadership responsibilities and objectives with the support and assistance of department and agency heads, many of whom they are empowered to appoint. A majority of governors have the authority to appoint state court judges as well, in most cases from a list of names submitted by a nominations committee. All but five states (Arizona, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Wyoming) have a lieutenant governor. The lieutena ...
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Separation Of Powers
Separation of powers refers to the division of a state's government into branches, each with separate, independent powers and responsibilities, so that the powers of one branch are not in conflict with those of the other branches. The typical division is into three branches: a legislature, an executive, and a judiciary, which is sometimes called the model. It can be contrasted with the fusion of powers in parliamentary and semi-presidential systems where there can be overlap in membership and functions between different branches, especially the executive and legislative, although in most non-authoritarian jurisdictions, the judiciary almost never overlaps with the other branches, whether powers in the jurisdiction are separated or fused. The intention behind a system of separated powers is to prevent the concentration of power by providing for checks and balances. The separation of powers model is often imprecisely and metonymically used interchangeably with the ' pri ...
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Constitution Of The United States
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It superseded the Articles of Confederation, the nation's first constitution, in 1789. Originally comprising seven articles, it delineates the national frame of government. Its first three articles embody the doctrine of the separation of powers, whereby the federal government is divided into three branches: the legislative, consisting of the bicameral Congress ( Article I); the executive, consisting of the president and subordinate officers ( Article II); and the judicial, consisting of the Supreme Court and other federal courts ( Article III). Article IV, Article V, and Article VI embody concepts of federalism, describing the rights and responsibilities of state governments, the states in relationship to the federal government, and the shared process of constitutional amendment. Article VII establishes the procedure subsequently used by the 13 states to ratify it. It ...
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Republicanism In The United States
The values, ideals and concept of republicanism have been discussed and celebrated throughout the history of the United States. As the United States has no formal hereditary ruling class, ''republicanism'' in this context does not refer to a political movement to abolish such a class, as it does in countries such as the UK, Australia, and Netherlands. Instead, it refers to the core values that citizenry in a republic have, or ought to have. Political scientists and historians have described these central values as ''liberty'' and '' inalienable individual rights''; recognizing the sovereignty of the people as the source of all authority in law; rejecting monarchy, aristocracy, and hereditary political power; virtue and faithfulness in the performance of civic duties; and vilification of corruption. These values are based on those of Ancient Greco-Roman, Renaissance, and English models and ideas. Articulated in the writings of the Founding Fathers (particularly Thomas Je ...
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State Constitution (United States)
In the United States, each state has its own written constitution. They are much longer than the United States Constitution, which only contains 4,543 words. State constitutions are all longer than 8,000 words because they are more detailed regarding the day-to-day relationships between government and the people. The shortest is the Constitution of Vermont, adopted in 1793 and currently 8,295 words long. The longest is Alabama's sixth and current constitution, ratified in 1901, about 345,000 words long. Both the federal and state constitutions are organic texts: they are the fundamental blueprints for the legal and political organizations of the United States and the states, respectively. The Bill of Rights provides that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The Guarantee Clause of Article 4 of the Constitution states that "The United States shall ...
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Child Custody
Child custody is a legal term regarding '' guardianship'' which is used to describe the legal and practical relationship between a parent or guardian and a child in that person's care. Child custody consists of ''legal custody'', which is the right to make decisions about the child, and ''physical custody'', which is the right and duty to house, provide and care for the child. Married parents normally have joint legal and physical custody of their children. Decisions about child custody typically arise in proceedings involving divorce, annulment, separation, adoption or parental death. In most jurisdictions child custody is determined in accordance with the best interests of the child standard. Following ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in most countries, terms such as parental responsibility, " residence" and "contact" (also known as "visitation", "conservatorship" or "parenting time" in the United States) have superseded the conc ...
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