While not formally one of the national political institutions, political parties today are nonetheless major players in both national and state politics. They have long provided what may be considered quasi-governmental services, including candidate recruitment, the operation of political campaigns, and the supervision of the voting process. As with the federal bureaucracy, political parties are important extra-constitutional political institutions that have been essentially grafted onto our separation of powers system. The ambiguity surrounding the proper institutional role that parties should conceptually play in American politics has posed vexing problems for the courts in balancing party independence with government supervision. In order to ascertain the role that political parties should play within our political system, it is useful to see them as informal parts of the larger system of separation of powers. If parties are seen as part of this larger system, then it follows that they are entitled to a certain amount of judicial protection to ensure their integrity and independence. Under this interpretation, the courts should bear some responsibility for preserving the separateness of political parties in the same way as the judiciary ensures that the powers of the formal branches of the government do not unduly infringe upon one another. If parties are seen as performing some governmental functions, then it follows that they should be entitled to some independence in the conduct of these functions. If parties are to check government power, then some of their activities must lie beyond direct government control.

—Robert C. Wington, "American Political Parties Under the First Amendment," 1999

What is unique about political parties compared to special interest groups that reinforces the author's argument that they deserve special protection from the courts? (4 points)

They support candidates running for office.

They function as informal auxiliary members of the federal bureaucracy.

They seek to participate in government through elections.

They seek to play an advisory role, controlling government through recommendations and information.


Members of a third political party hope to influence as many voters as possible to turn out on the upcoming election day to vote for their candidates. Statewide election issues they hope to encourage their party members to support include reducing gun regulations. Supporting national candidates who favor fewer business regulations and lower taxes are also reasons the local party is encouraging its members to vote on Election Day.

Which method would be most effective in accomplishing this goal in the time leading up to the election? (4 points)

Holding a local rally for party candidates to share political messages

Microtargeting like-minded voters via electronic campaign robocalls

Door-to-door distribution of candidates' flyers advertising local endorsements

Encouraging local residents to display lawn signs promoting party candidates


The ... President of the United States cannot stand above the battle engaging in vague little sermons on brotherhood. The immense moral authority of the White House must be used to offer leadership and inspiration to those of every race and section who recognize their responsibilities. And the immense legal authority of the White House must be used to direct implementation of all Constitutional rights, protection of the right to vote, fulfillment of the requirement of school desegregation, and an end to discrimination in the government's own midst—in public contracts, in employment and in all Federal housing.

—John F. Kennedy, speech to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), 1960

Which kind of special interest leverage did the NAACP have in this situation to persuade Kennedy to support them? (4 points)

Sway over voters

Corporate endorsement

Power over the judiciary

Backing of congressional representatives


Which of the following is the most common electoral strategy employed by interest groups? (4 points)

The sponsorship of ballot initiatives at the state level

Giving financial support to political parties or to candidates

Investing resources in lobbying

Developing their own campaigns to promote issues


Also known as the fourth estate, what direct influence does the news media have on public policy makers? (4 points)

They encourage policy advocates to influence policy.

They serve as gatekeepers of the information used to create policy.

They create reality by deciding how news items are presented.

They present unbiased information framed to elicit action.

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