The basis of American Law and Political processes comes from the United States Constitution. Any study of the American identity and process demands that students study the US Constitution and explore how it has been and continues to be used to create and modify the law of the land.
The following resources and information, including an example of one of the main assessments of the class bellow, are meant to help students prepare for success in the unit’s studies:
The Constitution and The Bill of Rights
Lobbyists and policy making:
Lobbyists, Top spenders, lobbying article, lobbying articles on Washington Post,
top Democratic contributors, top Republican contributors
Guantanamo Bay issues:
Amnesty International, HRW, NPR report, GlobalSecurity.org, Rumsfeld’s statements, Court case
Interview with Supreme Court Justice Breyer about the topic of “Active Liberty”
Supreme Court Justice Breyer talks about his ideas regarding the role of a Justice in the Supreme Court, and the role of Democracy within the Court.
NPR Report on Supreme Court case of punitive damages against the tobacco industry
Should the tobacco industry be responsible for incredibly high punitive damages? Are the tobacco companies the victims of lack of due process in civil court?
NPR report on disclosing private phone call information of politicians
A phone conversation between two powerful politicians is recorded secretly and then the information is made public. What should happen?
Constitutional Development Final Assessment
A. Rights of the Accused
Burden of proof Due process
Court appointed attorney Habeus Corpus
Fair trial Circumstantial evidence
Bill of Rights
How essential do you consider the laws that protect the accused to be in a democratic society? Explain your ideas thoroughly. Feel free to use the vocabulary above to explain. You must also use an issue or case to explain your reasoning.
Cases/ideas you could choose from:
Hamui Family (Case from the video: Unconstitutional)
Town Meeting with many opposing views on current War on Terror (Exploring the Price of Security )
Guantanamo detainees (Boumediene vs. Bush) (Taking Sides: Guantanamo Detainees Rights )
Phillip Morris vs. Williams
In preparation to answer this question you must first ask yourself:
a. What are the rights of the accused?
b. What is the essence of a Democracy?
c. Can a Democracy exist without giving the accused due process?
Literal approach Active liberty
Interpretative approach Brown vs. Board
Government coercion Affirmative Action
Modern Liberty Free Speech Zones
District of Columbia vs. Heller Military Commissions Act 2006
Which approach to interpreting the Constitution do you consider to be most appropriate when thinking about protecting the ideals of our Constitution? Why? In answering this question, use a specific example/case to support your position.
In preparation for this question you should do the following:
a. Select the case/law you will focus on
b. Define and understand your selection and the issues related to it (pro/con)
c. Understand / decide what Amendments or parts of the Constitution are in question
d. Decide whether you think the law is/is not Constitutional
e. Understand how you plan to argue in support of your decision on (d).
C. Balance of Power
Legislative Branch Cabinet
Executive Branch Bill
Judicial Branch lobbying
Pick a topic from the list below and discuss how the different branches of government and outside forces exhibit a balance of power, or lack thereof, as related to the issue.
Minimum wage Guantanamo Bay detainees “No Child Left Behind” policy
Campaign Financing Abortion Affirmative action
Outsourcing USA Patriot Act Oil drilling in or around protected land
DNA Mapping GM foods Gun Control
Universal Health Care
In preparation for the question you should do the following:
a. Define the topic and understand it as fully as possible
b. Define the debate: What are the problems/benefits of the law (bill)
c. Make a list of those groups/individuals you think would support/attack the law (bill) & why
d. Make a mind-map that allows you to “see” how all the parties can influence the Government’s
decision and how each branch of government can affect the other in order to reach a decision on
To prepare for this question, we will work in class to understand the issues of balance of power in groups. Each group will prepare a presentation and will present on their topic to the class.
A. Groups will read the link(s) bellow for further understanding of the issue assigned.
B. Group will participate in writing in their notebook a summary of the topic and the main issues behind the debate or conflict. The point here is to write as many pro/con issues so that further research is facilitated.
C. Group will divide the work of further research into the group members, and each member will conduct further research to enrich the understanding of the whole group regarding the issues, those who support each side, and why they support it.
D. Group will meet and come up with a written list of the different people/organizations (PACs, NGOs, NPOs, Corporations, etc) that might support each side and why.
Day 2: Groups will prepare a presentation with a brain map and explanations regarding what group/organizations support what side of their issue and will present to the class.
Group #1 will examine the issue of drilling for oil: Oil Drilling in Alaska Oil Drilling in Utah Frontline Documentary
Group #2 will examine the issue of Campaign financing issues Campaign Financing Interview with an expert
Group #3 will examine the issue of Outsourcing jobs: Outsourcing related suit Outsourcing of technology jobs
Group #4 will examine the issue of genetically modified foods: Genetically modified food article Article #2 (very good to learn about groups pro/con)
Group #5 will examine the issue of DNA patenting: DNA Mapping article Ownership of body parts article
Group #6 will examine the issue of Gun control: Gun control link 1 Gun Control link 2
Group #7 will examine the issue of Universal healthcare: Universal Health care link Frontline Documentary Debate