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Interest Groups in the United States


Brown v. Board of Education

1954 U.S. Supreme Court case that determined separate but equal public schools actually were not equal and that racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that declared unconstitutional the part of a campaign law that limited the amount corporations and labor unions could spend to promote the election of particular candidates for federal office because those limits violated the right to free speech

direct lobbying

lobbying that involves direct contact with legislators or staff of a regulatory agency


theory of government that posits that policy is set by just a few powerful individuals or groups who have the wealth or influence to exercise undue influence on policy makers

free rider

someone who benefits from the actions of others without contributing or paying for membership

indirect lobbying

lobbying that raises support at the grassroots level

interest group

association of individuals or organizations that tries to influence public policy

iron triangle

policy-making relationship of congressional committees, the bureaucracy, and interest groups


individual who formally registers as an agent of a corporation or interest group and who will attempt to influence governmental policy


theory of government that power in a democracy should be distributed and shared among a variety of groups

political action committee (PAC)

organization established by an interest group to raise money for and provide financial support to political candidates or parties

regulatory capture

situation where a regulatory agency becomes controlled by, or at least dominated by, the people or industries it is supposed to be regulating rather than working in the public interest

social movement

type of group action undertaken to assert rights, protest social or political conditions, or advocate change