Project #14361 - The American Constitution

Week 2 - Discussion 1


Your initial discussion thread is due on Day 3 (Thursday) and you have until Day 7 (Monday) to respond to your classmates. Your grade will reflect both the quality of your initial post and the depth of your responses. Reference the
Discussion Forum Grading Rubric for guidance on how your discussion will be evaluated.

Religious Liberty


Respond to this 3-part question in your initial post:

  1. Explain the Supreme Court's reasons, in Edwards v. Aguillard (the majority opinion by Justice Brennan), for holding that a law mandating the teaching of creationism in public schools violates the Constitution’s ban on “establishment of religion.”
  2. Explain the rationale of Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion.
  3. Which rationale, the majority or dissent, is more consistent with previous Supreme Court interpretations of the Establishment Clause (see Davis, 2008)? Fully explain the historical and constitutional basis for your position.

Week 2 - Discussion 2


Your initial discussion thread is due on Day 3 (Thursday) and you have until Day 7 (Monday) to respond to your classmates. Your grade will reflect both the quality of your initial post and the depth of your responses. Reference the
Discussion Forum Grading Rubric for guidance on how your discussion will be evaluated.

Freedom of Expression


In 2010 the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, held that certain government restrictions on corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections were unconstitutional (
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission). This controversial decision has been greeted with calls to overturn it by amending the Constitution. Respond to this 3-part question in your initial post:

  1. Explain the rationale of the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United (the majority opinion by Justice Kennedy).
  2. Explain the rationale of Justice Steven’s dissenting opinion.
  3. Evaluate both the majority and minority rationales. Explain and justify your evaluation by drawing on previous Supreme Court interpretations of the 1st Amendment.

 

Week 2 - Assignment

Teaching "Intelligent Design" in the Public Schools

Write your paper about a hypothetical proposal that is before the elected school board for the public schools in your city. The proposal stirs deep controversy in the community. Opponents claim that it would violate the Constitution’s prohibition against an “establishment of religion.” The proposed mandatory regulation states:

“The theory of ‘intelligent design’ shall be taught in the public schools of this city in all classes where the theory of evolution is taught. The theory of ‘intelligent design’ shall be taught as a possible scientific explanation for life, and other aspects of the universe, and as an alternative to the scientific explanation offered by the theory of evolution. For purposes of this regulation, ‘intelligent design’ is a theory that certain features of the universe and living things ‘are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection’ as claimed by the theory of evolution.” [See: IDEA Center. (2004).
Intelligent design theory in a nutshell. Retrieved from http://www.ideacenter.org/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/1136].

Write your paper from the perspective of a community member listed below. In other words, for this assignment, you will assume a role. Imagine yourself as one of the following people:

  1. The superintendent of the public schools in your community.
  2. The chair-person of the local elected school board.
  3. A little known candidate running for mayor, who is challenging the long-time, highly popular mayor.
  4. The president of the citywide Public School Parents Association.
  5. The pastor of a local mega-church who believes in the literal interpretation of the Bible, including every aspect of the creation story.
  6. A high school science teacher who is the elected president of the citywide teachers’ union.


Write your paper as if it will be read by a public audience who are likely to be interested in your views given your role in the community. With this in mind, write clearly and persuasively for that audience. You are not required to take a position that your audience agrees with; but you should write with the purpose of informing and persuading that audience. If you know someone who plays a role like this in your community, it might be interesting to discuss this assignment with that person.

Your paper must clearly state your position on the constitutionality of the proposed school regulation. Your paper should not address broader questions about the merits of the regulation; but it should focus on whether or not the regulation would violate the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. You must clearly explain and apply an interpretation of the Establishment Clause and justify your position using part of the rationale of at least one of the four different opinions authored by various Justices of the Supreme Court in the case of Edwards v. Aguillard (1987). However, the paper must be written in your own words without lengthy quotation from outside sources. Briefly quoting a few words for emphasis or special effect is acceptable. If you paraphrase the words or use ideas from any source, you must cite the source according to APA style.

The paper must be at least 800 words in length and formatted according to APA style. You must use at least three scholarly resources (including Edwards v. Aguillard and also one of the assigned scholarly articles) other than the textbook to support your claims and subclaims. Cite your resources in text and on the reference page. For information regarding APA samples and tutorials, visit the Ashford Writing Center, within the Learning Resources tab on the left navigation toolbar.




Week 3 - Discussion 1

Your initial discussion thread is due on Day 3 (Thursday) and you have until Day 7 (Monday) to respond to your classmates. Your grade will reflect both the quality of your initial post and the depth of your responses. Reference the
Discussion Forum Grading Rubric for guidance on how your discussion will be evaluated.

Equal Protection and Gender Discrimination


In recent years opportunities for women in the U.S. military have been expanding. But 200,000 jobs may remain closed to women for a variety of reasons. Recently two female Army Reserve officers sued the government for excluding them from formal “assignment” to specific Army combat units and other positions solely because of their gender (Sampson, 2012). They argue that being excluded from these “assignments” limits their opportunities for advancement in the Army and restricts their current and future earnings and their retirement benefits. They also argue that the Army’s practice of “attaching” them to such units (instead of formally “assigning” them which is barred under Army rules) actually exposes them to greater danger than male soldiers because women are excluded from combat-arms training for engaging hostile opponents.

Respond to this 3-part question in your initial post:

  1. Explain the Supreme Court's reasons in United States v. Virginia (the majority opinion by Justice Ginsberg) for holding that excluding women from VMI violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.
  2. Explain the rationale of Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion.
  3. Does the military’s exclusion of women from formal and active combat “assignments” on the basis of gender violate their Equal Protection rights? To decide this issue, apply the rationale of either Justice Ginsberg or Justice Scalia. Fully explain your reasons for your position in terms of a constitutional rationale.


Reference:
Sampson, Z. (2012, May 25).
2 female army officers sue to reverse combat ban. Associated Press. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/05/25/2-female-army-officers-sue-to-reverse-combat-ban/

 

 

Week 3 - Discussion 2


Your initial discussion thread is due on Day 3 (Thursday) and you have until Day 7 (Monday) to respond to your classmates. Your grade will reflect both the quality of your initial post and the depth of your responses. Reference the
Discussion Forum Grading Rubric for guidance on how your discussion will be evaluated.

Constitutional Issues Related to Same-gender Marriage


In 2012 the Armed Services Committee of the House of Representatives adopted, by a party-line vote, an amendment to the military defense budget for 2013 that would prohibit same-gender marriage ceremonies in base chapels serving members of the U.S. Armed Forces. If this amendment is enacted into law, it will change current Defense Department policy that allows use of chapels for religious marriage ceremonies on sexual-orientation neutral basis.

If by law the government denies a same-gender military couple permission to hold a religiously authorized marriage ceremony in a base chapel, would such denial violate the Constitution? Respond to this question in your initial post. Fully explain the constitutionally-based reasons for your position, considering both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses and the following cases:

  1. The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Loving v. Virginia (1967).
  2. The rationales of the Supreme Court's majority or dissenting opinions in Lawrence and Garner v. Texas.
  3. The rationales of the Court’s majority or dissenting opinions in United States v. Virginia (the VMI case).
  4. The rationales of various judicial opinions in recent federal court litigation about the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 outlawing same-gender marriage.


Avoid discussion of your personal opinions about same-gender marriage. Instead, focus on the constitutional issues that may be raised by the specific circumstances of the proposed law that would ban the use of military base chapels for such marriage ceremonies.

Your initial post should be at least 250 words in length. Support your claims with examples from the required material(s) and/or other scholarly resources, and properly cite any references. Respond to at least two of your classmates’ posts by Day 7 in at least 100 words. Respond to someone whose perspective on the constitutional issues related to same-gender marriage differs from yours in some way.

 

Week 3 - Assignment


Research Paper Draft

This is an opportunity to submit a draft or outline of the Research Paper for review and feedback from your instructor. Read the instructions for the Week Five Research Paper and create an outline for the structure of the paper. For information regarding writing an outline, reference to the Ashford Writing Center within the Learning Resources tab on the left navigation toolbar.

You must use at least five scholarly resources (including Supreme Court decisions) and at least two articles that can be found in the Ashford Online Library to support your claims and subclaims. Cite your resources in text and on the reference page. For information regarding APA samples and tutorials, visit the Ashford Writing Center, within the Learning Resources tab on the left navigation toolbar.



Week 4 - Discussion 1


Your initial discussion thread is due on Day 3 (Thursday) and you have until Day 7 (Monday) to respond to your classmates. Your grade will reflect both the quality of your initial post and the depth of your responses. Reference the
Discussion Forum Grading Rubric for guidance on how your discussion will be evaluated.

Suspicion-less Strip Searches


In 2012 the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, upheld the constitutionality of routine (without probable cause) strip searches of persons arrested and detained, even briefly, in a jail (
Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of the Country of Burlington). Respond to this 3-part question in your initial post:

  1. Explain the rationale of the Supreme Court's decision in Florence (the majority opinion by Justice Kennedy).
  2. Explain the rationale of Justice Breyer’s dissenting opinion.
  3. Evaluate both the majority and minority rationales. Explain and justify your evaluation by drawing on prior Supreme Court interpretations of the 4th Amendment’s prohibition of “unreasonable searches” from the required textbook.


Your initial post should be at least 250 words in length. Support your claims with examples from the required material(s) and/or other scholarly resources, and properly cite any references. Respond to at least two of your classmates’ posts by Day 7 in at least 100 words. Respond to someone whose perspective on “unreasonable searches” differs from yours in some way.

 

 

Week 4 - Discussion 2

Your initial discussion thread is due on Day 3 (Thursday) and you have until Day 7 (Monday) to respond to your classmates. Your grade will reflect both the quality of your initial post and the depth of your responses. Reference the
Discussion Forum Grading Rubric for guidance on how your discussion will be evaluated.

Cruel and Unusual Punishment


During the last decade, the Supreme Court has applied the 8th Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments against some of the harsher sentencing policies implemented by various states. Three cases dealing with juvenile offenders –
Roper v. Simmons (2005), Graham v. Florida (2010), and Miller v. Alabama (2012) – illustrate this moderating trend. An underlying rationale of these decisions – “disproportionality” – contrasts with rationales guiding the Court’s earlier (pre-2002) interpretations of the 8th Amendment (see Davis, 2008).

Respond to this 3-part question in your initial post:

  1. Explain the rationale which seems to guide the current Supreme Court majority’s approach to defining “cruel and unusual punishment.”
  2. Contrast this approach with an important rationale that seems to guide the pre-2002 Court.
  3. Evaluate both of these approaches. Explain and justify your evaluation by drawing on persuasive evidence apart from your own personal opinion (e.g., research findings from sociology or criminal justice).


Your initial post should be at least 250 words in length. Support your claims with examples from the required material(s) and/or other scholarly resources, and properly cite any references. Respond to at least two of your classmates’ posts by Day 7 in at least 100 words. Respond to someone whose perspective on “cruel and unusual punishment” differs from yours.

 

Week 5 - Discussion 1


Your initial discussion thread is due on Day 3 (Thursday) and you have until Day 7 (Monday) to respond to your classmates. Your grade will reflect both the quality of your initial post and the depth of your responses. Reference the Discussion Forum Grading Rubric for guidance on how your discussion will be evaluated.

Eminent Domain


In 2005 the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, upheld the constitutionality of a city taking private property, while paying the owner just compensation, and selling it to a private developer as part of a plan to stimulate the city's weak economy (Kelo v. City of New London). Respond to this 3-part question in your initial post:

  1. Explain the rationale of the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo (the majority opinion by Justice Stevens).
  2. Explain the rationale of Justice O’Connor’s dissenting opinion.
  3. Evaluate both the majority and minority rationales. Explain and justify your evaluation. Include consideration of these factors:
    • The Supreme Court’s traditional approach to the “public use” requirement for takings
    • The relative competence of the Supreme Court vs. local governments to determine what is a “public use” to justify the taking of private property.


Your initial post should be at least 250 words in length. Support your claims with examples from the required material(s) and/or other scholarly resources, and properly cite any references. Respond to at least two of your classmates’ posts by Day 7 in at least 100 words. Respond to someone whose perspective on the “public use” requirement differs from yours.

 

Week 5 - Discussion 2

Your initial discussion thread is due on Day 3 (Thursday) and you have until Day 7 (Monday) to respond to your classmates. Your grade will reflect both the quality of your initial post and the depth of your responses. Reference the
Discussion Forum Grading Rubric for guidance on how your discussion will be evaluated.

 

Right to Bear Arms


In 2010 the Supreme Court’s novel and controversial interpretation of the 2nd Amendment greatly limited government’s power to restrict gun possession. The case 
McDonald v. Chicago sparked widespread debate across the political and legal community, some of which is expressed in the assigned articles you read for this discussion.  Read the summary of McDonald v. Chicago, then choose and read two articles pertaining to the McDonald v Chicago case from the Recommended Resources for POL303 PDF file.

Write a detailed critique of these articles. Respond to this 3-part question in your initial post:

  1. Explain the articles' positions and arguments.
  2. Identify and analyze a strength and a weakness in the authors' analyses or conclusions (from your perspective). Explain your reasons for viewing each point as either a strength or a weakness.
  3. Describe how the articles affect your evaluation of the Court’s decision in McDonald v. Chicago and explain why.

Your initial post should be at least 250 words in length. Support your claims with examples from the required material(s) and/or other scholarly resources, and properly cite any references. Respond to at least two of your classmates’ posts by Day 7 in at least 100 words. Respond to someone whose perspective on “the right to bear arms” differs from yours.

 

Week 5 - Research Paper


Research Paper

In this essay you will research a case that is actively pending before the Supreme Court of the United States (not yet decided by the Court when you submit your essay at the end of Week Five). It must be a case that raises significant issues involving the interpretation of the Constitution. The thesis of your essay will be a statement of the decision, regarding these issues, which the Court should make, according to your research and analysis of the constitutional principles, Court precedents, facts of the case, and other relevant information.

Step One: Identify a Pending Case
First, you must identify a pending constitutional case that you will research. Here are some suggested search strategies:

  1. Go to http://www.oyez.org and click on “Cases” (at the top-center) to display a list of cases before the Court during its current term. It will show the date on which the case was or is scheduled to be argued before the Court.  Only consider cases that have not yet been argued or were argued very recently; so the Court is unlikely to issue its decision before you submit your essay. Click on the name of a case in this list to display the legal “questions” in each case. Look for “questions” that pose constitutional issues; and from these select a case that presents issues that you would want to research.
  2. Go to http://www.scotusblog.com/ and click on “Merits Cases” (at the top-left side) to display a list of recent terms and select the most recent term (e.g., “October Term 2012). That displays a list of cases before the Court during its current term. It will show the date on which the case was or is scheduled to be argued before the Court.  Only consider cases that have not yet been argued or were argued very recently; so the Court is unlikely to issue its decision before you submit your essay. This list also summarizes the issues in each case so that you can identify those with constitutional issues. Click on the name of a case to view more information about it, including links to various resources which may directly support your research.
  3. Google the phrase “pending cases before the US supreme court.” Explore the links that Google offers. If you discover a constitutional case that you want to research, use Oyez or SCOTUSBlog (above) to verify that the case will still be pending when you submit your essay in Week Five.


Step Two: Instructor Approval
Next, your instructor may want you to identify your case, the date it will be (or was) argued, and the constitutional issues posed. Follow your instructor’s directions in this regard. Or, be proactive and forward your case information in Week One or Week Two.

Step Three: Begin Your Research
Now, you should be ready to research your case (remember the valuable resources that may be available in SCOTUSBlog). Start by reviewing the relevant chapter(s) in the textbook. Also, do some serious searching for scholarly articles in the Ashford Online Library.

Step Four: Begin Writing Your Paper
Your paper must clearly state your position on the constitutional issues posed in the case. Your paper should not address broader questions about the merits of the case or your personal opinions about extraneous matters; but it should focus on whether or not the state or federal rules, regulations, or laws at issue would violate a specific provision(s) of the Constitution. You must clearly explain and logically apply a plausible interpretation of the constitutional provision(s) and justify your position using rationales from other relevant and identified Supreme Court decisions. Make clear whether you are relying on rationales used by the Court’s majority view or by a dissenting view; and if you rely on a dissent, your analysis should persuasively justify why this rationale should displace the prevailing majority rationale. Where appropriate, you may also incorporate support from scholarship in the disciplines of history, social science, biology, ethics, criminal justice studies, and public policy; but, such perspectives may be introduced only as they are directly relevant to interpreting the constitutional provision(s) at issue in the case.

Writing the Research Paper
The Research Paper:

  1. Must be eight to ten double-spaced pages in length, and formatted according to APA style as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center.
  2. Must include a title page with the following:
    1. Title of paper
    2. Student’s name
    3. Course name and number
    4. Instructor’s name
    5. Date submitted
  3. Must begin with an introductory paragraph that has a succinct thesis statement.
  4. Must address the topic of the paper with critical thought.
  5. Must end with a conclusion that reaffirms your thesis.
  6. Must use at least five scholarly resources, including two Supreme Court decisions, and a minimum of two scholarly articles from the Ashford Online Library for a total of seven resources.
  7. Must document all sources in APA style, as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center.
  8. Must include a separate reference page, formatted according to APA style as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center.



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Due By (Pacific Time) 10/14/2013 01:00 pm
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