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Stars and Stripes, Justice Dept. Washington, D.C.  Photo © 2007 Scott Hanley

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The College American Government Reader

An advantage of the internet is the ability to provide a free reader for American Government students. This reader is comprised of items specially written for it, writings in the public domain, links to external sources, and items originally published elsewhere whose authors have graciously allowed us to republish their work. This Reader is still in development, and we welcome recommendations. If you have the qualifications and would like to contribute an essay for the reader, check our Contributors page for more information.

1. Introduction to Political Science and American Government

1.1 20th Century Democide, R. J. Rummel

1.2 “Is the United States of America a Republic or a Democracy?” Eugene Volokh

1.3 “How Stable Are Democracies? Warning Signs Are Flashing Red”, Amanda Taub

1.4 “20 of America's top political scientists gathered to discuss our democracy. They're Scared.”  (Pdf), Sean Illing


2. Civil Liberties

2.1 New York Times v. United States (concurring opinion), Justice Hugo Black

2.2 “The State of the First Amendment” First Amendment Center

2.3 “Actually, Hate Speech is Protected Speech,” Ken White

2.4 ”Warrants: Bulwark of Liberty or Paper Shield?” Ken White

2.5 “The Fourth Amendment, The Exclusionary Rule, and Illegal Government Searches”, Damon Root

2.6 “The Kaley Forfeiture Decision: What It Looks Like When The Feds Make Their Ham Sandwich” Ken White

2.7 “Taken” (civil forfeiture)

2.8 Letters from and to the Danbury Baptists, Thomas Jefferson

2.9 “Americans Have Never Agreed on What Religious Freedom Means,” Tisa Wenger


3. Congress

3.1 The History of the Filibuster, Senate testimony, Sarah Binder

3.2 Case Study: How a Bill Does not Become a Law–Asian Carp and the Closure of the Chicago Area Waterway, James Hanley

3.3 The American Budget Process, Lynzi Miller and James Hanley

3.4 Article II and Associated Amendments of the U.S. Constitution


4. The Executive Branch: The Presidency and the Federal Agencies

4.1 The (Relatively) Unchecked Growth of Executive Power, James Hanley

4.2 “The Bureaucracy: How Is it Structured?”, Lumen Learning


5. The Judicial Branch:

7.1 About the Supreme Court


6. Elections

6.1 Who Votes, Who Doesn’t, and Why (pdf), Pew Research Center

6.2 Why Do Those Pollsters Keep Telling Us What To Think?, James Hanley

6.3 How to Better Communicate Election Forecasts - In One simple Chart, Justin H. Gross

6.4 The Real Story of 2016, Nate Silver

6.5 Liberals and Conservatives Have One Thing in Common: Zero Interest in Opposing Views

6.6 Psychology’s Treachorous Trio: Confirmation Bias, Cognitive Dissonance, and Motivated Reasoning

6.7 How Politics Makes Us Stupid

6.8 Democrats Are Wrong about Republicans. Republicans are Wrong about Democrats.


7. Parties and Ideology

7.2 “The ‘Righteous Mind’ - Understanding Liberals and Conservatives” (pdf), R.B.A. DiMuccio


8. The Federal Budget

8.1 “Understanding the Federal Budget” (pdf), J.F.K. Presidential Library

8.2 “U.S. Federal Budget Breakdown,” Kimberly Amadeo