Please choose one of the following topics for your Writing Assignment 2 essay.
1. After reading Chapter 4, “Civil Liberties,” in its entirety, focus specifically on the discussion of “the Bill of Rights: Origins and Evolution.” The Bill of Rights was written to secure our civil liberties with respect to the actions of the national government. With passage of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, and subsequent judicial interpretation of its language, many of the protections in the Bill of Rights have been extended to protect individuals from state action (a process referred to as “incorporation”). Thus, just as the national government may not deprive us of our liberties without due process, the Fourteenth Amendment provides us with the same due process protection of our liberties from state government action. For over a century, and on a case-by-case, right-by-right, basis, the Court has been “incorporating” rights from the Bill of Rights into the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Include the following:
Provide an understanding of the origins of the Bill of Rights.
Explain the Court’s original ruling of nationalization of the Bill of Rights, as expressed in Barron v. Baltimore (1833).
Define incorporation theory.
Describe the Court’s implementation of incorporation (nationalization) of the Bill of Rights.
Provide your perspective on incorporation; do you believe the Court has made the rights decision by interpreting the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to limit state action with regard to individual liberties that are expressed in the Bill of Rights?
2. In Chapter 5, “Civil Rights, Equality and Social Movements,” the authors define civil rights as, “those positive rights, whether political, social, or economic, conferred by the government on individuals or groups.” As such, they are rights that are conferred upon us based on legislative action (i.e., the right to marry, the right to vote, the right to drive, etc.). The Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause requires each state to not “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Thus, there is some restriction on a state when it provides civil rights, to do so in an equal manner. After reading Chapter 5 in its entirety, focus specifically on the discussion regarding, “The Women’s Movement and Gender Equality.” Include the following:
Provide an understanding of the Court’s initial opinion as to whether the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause required states to apply the law equally, without regard to gender. Use Muller v. Oregon (1908), Goesaert v. Cleary (1948), and Hoyt v. Florida (1961).
Beginning with Reed v. Reed (1971), explain the shift in the Court’s opinion with regard to the Fourteenth Amendment’s application to laws that discriminated based on gender.
Understanding the difference between the formal amendment process and the informal amendment process, explain how the Court’s decisions relating to gender equality, beginning in the 1970’s, may have achieved results similar to the goals of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Explain whether you believe that passage of the Equal Rights Amendment would have provided additional, or different, protection from laws that discriminate based on gender.
3. After reading Chapter 10, “Public Opinion,” study the material related to political socialization (in the section, “How Does Public Opinion Form”?). Complete the following assignment:
Explain “political socialization” and “agents of political socialization.”
Describe your personal political socialization. Briefly discuss your current political values, beliefs, and opinions, and explain how (through political socialization) you have acquired these opinions.
Discuss which/how social agents played a role in your political socialization and, as a result, how your current political opinions have become informed.
4. In Chapter 11, “Interest Groups,” the authors discuss, “Iron Triangles, Issue Networks, and the Influence of Groups.” Complete the following assignment:
Define the “iron triangle” of policy making.
Explain what constitutes the three groups involved in the iron triangle, and describe the role of each group.
Identify a policy issue, other than one explained in the chapter, and list the groups that would fall within the iron triangle for that policy issue.
Explain whether you believe the close working relationship between the three groups is beneficial or damaging to the policy making process.
5. In Chapter 13, “Political Parties and Voting,” the authors discuss the expansion of voting rights in the United States, in the section, “Toward Universal Suffrage.” If we understand voting rights as the result of states’ determining eligibility requirements and registration procedures, then expansion of suffrage (the right to vote) must be understood in terms of changes in eligibility requirements and changes in registration procedures. Complete the following assignment:
Define the terms, “franchise” and “suffrage.”
Describe the three amendments to the U.S. Constitution (15th, 19th, and 26th) that prohibited states from denying individuals the right to vote based on specific criteria. Explain how these amendments expanded suffrage.
Detail state actions (policies, such as poll taxes and literacy tests), subsequent to passage of the 15th Amendment, to reduce the ability to vote of African Americans. Explain how these laws affected suffrage.
Describe actions at the national level (such as, passage of the 24th Amendment, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the National Voter Registration Act of 1993). Explain how these national actions affected suffrage.