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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 (external link)

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”

1.4 “20 of America's top political scientists gathered to discuss our democracy. They're scared.”  (pdf)

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”  

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

2.7 “Taken” (civil forfeiture)


3. Congress

3.1 The History of the Filibuster, Senate testimony of Sarah A. Binder (external link)

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?” (external link)


5. The Judicial Branch:


6. Elections

6.1 Who Votes, Who Doesn’t, and Why (external link) (pdf)

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


7. Parties and Ideology

7.2 “The ‘Righteous Mind’ - Understanding Liberals and Conservatives” (external link) (pdf)


8. The Federal Budget

8.1 “Understanding the Federal Budget” (pdf)