Glossary A-D





The legal prohibition and ending of slavery, especially of slavery in the United States.


The doctrine or practice of vigorous action or involvement as a means of achieving political or other goals, sometimes by demonstrations or protests.


An especially active, vigorous advocate of a cause, especially a political cause.


A person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person or cause.


The science, art, or occupation concerned with cultivating land, raising crops, and feeding, breeding, and raising livestock; farming.


An improvement, a correction, a revision, or a formal statement of such a revision.

Amicus curiae

A person not party to the litigation, who volunteers or is invited by the court to give advice upon some matter pending before it. Also called friend of the court.


From Latin, before (the) war. Belonging to the period prior to the American Civil War.


To apply for review of a case or particular issue to a higher tribunal.


Determined by whim or caprice


1. A course of reasoning aimed at demonstrating the truth or falsehood of something.
2. A fact or statement offered as proof or evidence.


The killing suddenly or secretly, especially of a politically prominent person; premeditated and treacherous murder.


One legally appointed or retained to act for another, especially an attorney at law.

Bill of Rights

A formal statement of the fundamental rights of the people of the United States incorporated in the United States Constitution as Amendments 1–10, and in all state constitutions.

Boll Weevil

A small grayish long-snouted beetle of Mexico and the southern United States, with destructive larvae that damage cotton bolls (rounded seed pod).


To abstain from using, buying, or dealing with intent to express protest or to coerce.


The document containing all facts and points of law pertinent to a specific case, filed by an attorney before arguing the case in court.


In a court of law, an action or suit or just grounds for action. The facts or evidence offered in support of a claim.

Civil Disobedience

The refusal to obey certain laws or governmental demands for the purpose of influencing legislation or government policy, characterized by the employment of such nonviolent techniques as boycotting, picketing, or nonpayment of taxes.

Cold War

1. Intense economic, political, military, and ideological rivalry between nations, short of military conflict; sustained hostile political policies and an atmosphere of strain between opposed countries.
2. A rivalry after World War II between the Soviet Union and its satellites and the democratic countries of the Western world under the leadership of the United States.


A European inhabitant of one of the European colonies in North America, before the formation of the United States government.


A system of social organization in which all economic and social activity is controlled by a totalitarian state dominated by a single and self-perpetuating political party.


The presentation by the plaintiff in a civil action, setting forth the claim on which relief is sought.


1. An act or process of complying with a demand or recommendation
2. Observance of official requirements

Concentration Camp

A guarded compound for the detention or imprisonment of aliens, members of ethnic minorities, or political opponents, especially any of the camps established by the Nazis prior to and during World War II for the confinement and persecution of people for their religion, sexual orientation, or political beliefs.


An official assembly for the administration of justice: a unit of the judicial branch of government


A statement or system of beliefs, principles, or opinions.


1. All courses of study offered by an educational institution.
2. A regular or particular course of study in a school or college.


To lower in character, quality, or value.


The party against whom a criminal or civil action is brought.


1. Government exercised either directly by the people or through elected representatives.
2. The principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community.


1. To refuse to recognize or acknowledge.
2. To refuse to grant: withhold.


One who wields power oppressively.


The deprivation of a right of citizenship, especially of the right to vote.


Treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit.


1. Difference of opinion, especially: a judge's disagreement with the decision of the majority.
2. To withhold assent or approval.


1. A principle or body of principles presented by a specific field, system, or organization for acceptance or belief.
2. A rule or principle of law, especially when established by precedent. Example: “separate but equal,” the doctrine derived from the Plessy v. Ferguson case.


1. Exercising the most control or influence.
2. Most prominent in position or prevalence.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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