POL 204 National Government

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Ashford 2: - Week 1 (Jun 11 - Jun 17)


 Week One Learning Outcomes

This week students will:

 

    1. Describe the influence of political ideologies on historical and contemporary debates about American politics and on public discourse about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

 

    1. Describe how the experience of early forms of American government led to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and influenced its deliberations.

 

    1. Assess both the theory and reality of separation of powers and checks and balances.

 

    1. Describe debates between Federalists and Anti-Federalists over the first ten amendments to the Constitution – the "Bill of Rights."

 

    1. Critique the relevancy and likelihood that proposed amendments will amend the Constitution.

 


 


Overview

 

 

 

Assignment

Due Date

Format

Grading Percent

Post Your Introduction

Day 1

Discussion

1

Discussion 1: Separation of Powers/Checks and Balances

Day 3
(1st post)

Discussion

5

Discussion 2: Amending the U.S. Constitution

Day 3
(1st post)

Discussion

5

Quiz: Week One Quiz

Day 6

Quiz

5

 

 

 


 


Note: The online classroom is designed to time students out after 90 minutes of inactivity. Because of this, we strongly suggest that you compose your work in a word processing program and copy and paste it into the discussion post when you are ready to submit it.

 


 


Introduction

 

Week One closely examines constitutional concepts related to separation of powers and the amendment process. The focus is on applying these concepts to issues being debated in contemporary policy arenas, e.g., policy “grid-lock” at the national level and using the amendment process to make significant policy-shifts, often in order to circumvent or overturn particular Supreme Court policies.

 

 

 


 


Resources
Tutorials for using the Ashford Library can be accessed by clicking “Getting Research Help” along the horizontal toolbar in the Ashford Library, then, clicking “Tutorials” in the bulleted list.

 

    1. To successfully complete this week’s assignments, read the following chapters from the text, American Government:

 

      • Chapter 1: American Politics and Founding Principles

 

      • Chapter 2: The U.S. Constitution

 

    1. Before participating in this week’s discussion, “Post Your Introduction,” take the following test available at the following website:

 

      • The Political Compass
        (Click on “Take the test” in the left navigation toolbar in the website and respond to the questionnaire.  This exercise reveals your personal political philosophy or ideology. Print your result for future use in this course.)

 

    1. Before participating in this week’s discussion “Separation of Powers/Checks and Balances,” review the assigned resources.

 

    1. Before participating in this week’s discussion “Amending the U.S. Constitution,” review the assigned resources.

 

 

 


 


Post Your Introduction
To post your introduction, go to this week's Post Your Introduction link in the left navigation.

 

First, visit The Political Compass.  Click on “Take the test” in the left navigation toolbar in the website and respond to the questionnaire to get information about your personal, political philosophy or ideology. Print your result for future reference in this course.  

Then, post your two-paragraph introduction. In the first paragraph, tell a little about your personal and professional interests. In the second paragraph, either describe your political philosophy, or describe what you believe to be the most serious problem facing American government today.

By Day 7, respond to at least three classmates’ introductions.

 

 

 


 


Discussions
To participate in the following discussions, go to this week's Discussion link in the left navigation.

 

    1. Separation of Powers/Checks and Balances
       
      For much of 2011 and 2012, public dissatisfaction with Congress rose to all time highs, with 70-80% expressing disapproval with how Congress does its job. Many commentators note that Americans are fed up with Washington "grid-lock" that makes government apparently unable to address important problems. Other observers believe that the national government is acting according to its design, based on separation of powers and checks and balances.

      Before writing your initial post, review the
      assigned resources.

      In your initial post of at least 200-250 words, analyze how the U.S. Constitution implements separation of powers and checks and balances. Briefly explain why the constitutional framers based the new government on these ideas. Evaluate how separation of powers and checks and balances are working out in practice, today, justifying your assessment with persuasive reasoning and examples.

      Fully respond to all parts of the question. Write in your own words. Support your position with APA citations to two or more of the assigned resources required for this discussion. Please be sure that you demonstrate understanding of these resources, integrate them into your argument, and cite them properly.

      By Day 7, respond to at least two of your classmates' initial posts. Your peer responses each must be at least 75 words. They must demonstrate critical thinking (e.g., ask a relevant question about your peer's post while explaining why your question is significant, or state a perspective that contrasts with your peer's while explaining or justifying your position).
       

 

    1. Amending the U.S. Constitution
       
      The formal process of amending the Constitution is cumbersome and slow.  While this fact explains why relatively few amendments have been adopted, it does not discourage advocates of constitutional change from proposing them. Four amendment proposals that have gained considerable attention are the Balanced Budget Amendment, the Birthright Citizenship Amendment, the Equal Rights Amendment, and the Overturn Citizens United Amendment. Select one of these proposals as the topic of your initial post and use the assigned resources to inform yourself about its purpose and the arguments of its supporters and critics.

      Before writing your initial post, review the
      assigned resources.

      In your initial post of at least 200-250 words, briefly summarize what the proposed amendment would do and the problem its proponents say it will solve. Explain the main pros and cons in the debate about the amendment. Evaluate the proposed amendment from two perspectives:

 

      • Your own political philosophy, values or ideology. (Justify your assessment by clearly explaining your political values and why they lead you to support or oppose the amendment.)

 

      • The likelihood that the proposed amendment will eventually be ratified to become part of the Constitution. (Justify your assessment by explaining how the proposal will or will not, in your judgment, survive the ratification process.)

 


Fully respond to all parts of the question. Write in your own words. Support your position with APA citations to two or more of the assigned resources required for this discussion. Please be sure that you demonstrate understanding of these resources, integrate them into your argument, and cite them properly.

By Day 7, respond to at least two of your classmates' initial posts. Your peer responses each must be at least 75 words. They must demonstrate critical thinking (e.g., ask a relevant question about your peer's post while explaining why your question is significant, or state a perspective that contrasts with your peer's while explaining or justifying your position).

 

 

 


 


Quiz
To complete the following quiz, go to this week's Quiz link in the left navigation.

 

Week One Quiz

This quiz consists of 10 questions. The amount of time the quiz will take to complete will vary by individual.

 

 

 


 

Ashford 3: - Week 2 (Jun 18 - Jun 24)

 




Week Two Learning Outcomes

This week students will:

 

    1. Attribute how the federal system’s constitutional framework leads to tension or conflict among national, state, and local levels of government.

 

    1. Describe how federalism has evolved, since the Great Depression, into the contemporary intergovernmental system in order to assess the system's capacity to solve important problems through effective policy.

 

    1. Define the explicit powers of Congress in order to analyze the effect of the necessary and proper clause on implied legislative power, including oversight of the executive branch.

 

    1. Analyze congressional organization and how it affects the legislative process.

 

    1. Explain how Congress performs its representative functions and how politics and elections influence the process of representation.

 

 

 


 


Overview

 

Assignment

Due Date

Format

Grading Percent

Discussion 1: Policy-making in the Federal System

Day 3
(1st post)

Discussion

5

Discussion 2: Meet Your Rep

Day 3
(1st post)

Discussion

5

Quiz: Week Two Quiz

Day 6

Quiz

5

Assignment:Short Essay – Policy-making in the Federal System

Day 7

Assignment

9

 

 

 


 


Introduction

 

Week Two closely examines concepts related to federalism and congressional representation. The focus is on applying these concepts to issues being debated in contemporary policy arenas, e.g., the effectiveness or legality of federal education policy and how a Congressperson’s role as a “representative” of his or her district may be distorted by a variety of factors, especially money, in politics.

 

 

 


 


Resources
Tutorials for using the Ashford Library can be accessed by clicking “Getting Research Help” along the horizontal toolbar in the Ashford Library, then, clicking “Tutorials” in the bulleted list.

 

    1. To successfully complete this week’s assignments, read the following chapters from the text, American Government:

 

      • Chapter 3: Federalism

 

      • Chapter 4: Congress and Policy Making

 

    1. Before participating in this week’s discussion “Policy-making in the Federal System,” review the assigned resources.

 

    1. Before participating in this week’s discussion “Meet Your Rep,” review the assigned resources.

 


 


Discussions
To participate in the following discussions, go to this week's Discussion link in the left navigation.

 

    1. Policy-making in the Federal System
       
      The U.S. government's expansive role in public policy is caught in a swirl of conflicting cross-currents. On the one hand, popular expectations about government's responsibility to solve problems often exceed the capacity of state and local authorities to respond effectively. On the other hand, policies developed at the national level may not sufficiently reflect the great diversity of interests across the U.S. to be effective at the local level. Moreover, the search for effective policy is further complicated by theoretical debates about the constitutional framework of federalism, e.g., what limits on national power can be derived from the Tenth Amendment?   


      A policy area in the middle of these cross-currents is elementary and secondary education – a subject traditionally under local control, with some oversight by the states. However, during the last four decades – especially since 2001 – the national government's role in education has grown significantly as a result of initiatives by Republican and Democratic administrations. Use the assigned resources to inform yourself about this role and the arguments of its supporters and critics.   

      Before writing your initial post, review the
      assigned resources.

      In your initial post of at least 200-250 words, briefly summarize the national government's education policies. Explain the main pros and cons in the debate about these policies. Evaluate them from two perspectives:

 

      • The policies’ effectiveness in improving the quality of U.S. elementary and secondary education. (Justify your assessment by clearly explaining your definition of "effectiveness" and how it should be measured or determined.)

 

      • Their consistency with the constitutional framework of federalism. (Justify your assessment by clearly explaining your interpretation of American federalism's constitutional framework and why federal education policies are or are not consistent with it.)

 


Fully respond to all parts of the question. Write in your own words. Support your position with APA citations to two or more of the assigned resources required for this discussion. Please be sure that you demonstrate understanding of these resources, integrate them into your argument, and cite them properly.

By Day 7, respond to at least two of your classmates' initial posts. Your peer responses each must be at least 75 words. They must demonstrate critical thinking (e.g., ask a relevant question about your peer's post while explaining why your question is significant, or state a perspective that contrasts with your peer's while explaining or justifying your position).

 

 

    1. Meet Your Rep
       
      The Constitution states, "The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States..." (Art. I, Sec. 2). Contrast this with the original constitutional language for the other house of Congress, "The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof for six Years..." (Art. I, Sec. 3). The phrase "chosen by the Legislature" was changed to "elected by the people" by the 17th Amendment, but not until 1912. In other words, from the beginning the House of Representatives was intended to be exactly what its name suggests –representative of the people. (Note that in 2010 the Tea Party, and some Republican politicians, called for repeal of the 17th Amendment, eliminating the popular vote for Senators. While most Republican politicians have backed away from that view, many Tea Party chapters continue to demand its repeal.)   


      Textbook models suggest how members of the House of Representatives may fulfill their constitutional duty to "represent" – the delegate model, the trustee model, the oversight model, and the service model. A weakness of these models is that they ignore the pervasive influence of interest groups, partisanship, and political money (campaign contributions) on the behavior of congressional reps. To what extent do these factors interfere with effective representation?

      Before writing your initial post, review the
      assigned resources.

      After researching your representative by using the assigned resources, identify one important issue directly related to your rep's committee or subcommittee work in Congress. Summarize your representative's position on this focus issue as described on his or her website or illustrated by legislation sponsored by your rep.  Be concrete and specific.  Avoid vague generalities like "my representative is for jobs" or "my Congressman is for national security."

      With respect to this focus issue, evaluate your representative's performance as a representative of the people in your legislative district. Justify your assessment from two perspectives:

 

      • How well does your rep’s position on that issue reflect your district's likely preferences or broad interests on the issue? Support your inferences about the district with fact-based evidence – not just your opinion about the district or your rep’s position on the focus issue. Demonstrate how your rep does or does not reflect his or her constituency on this issue. Consider your rep’s committee memberships and seniority.

 

      • Discuss fact-based evidence about how interest groups, political party loyalty, or campaign money may influence your representative. Can these influences weaken his or her effectiveness as a true "representative" of the district? Consider whether the district is considered a “safe” seat or a competitive district. Put on your critical thinking cap to respond to this aspect of the question.

 


Fully respond to all parts of the question. Write in your own words. Your initial must be at least 200-250 words. Support your position with APA citations to two or more of the assigned resources required for this discussion. Please be sure that you demonstrate understanding of these resources, integrate them into your argument, and cite them properly.   

By Day 7, respond to at least two of your classmates' initial posts. Your peer responses each must be at least 75 words. They must demonstrate critical thinking (e.g., ask a relevant question about your peer's post while explaining why your question is significant, or state a perspective that contrasts with your peer's while explaining or justifying your position).

 

 

 


 


Quiz
To complete the following quiz, go to this week's Quiz link in the left navigation.

 

Week Two Quiz

This quiz consists of 10 questions. The amount of time the quiz will take to complete will vary by individual.

 

 

 


 


Assignment

To complete the following assignment, go to this week's Assignment link in the left navigation.

 

Short Essay – Policy-making in the Federal System

The U.S. government's expansive role in public policy is caught in a swirl of conflicting cross-currents. On the one hand, popular expectations about government's responsibility to solve problems often exceed the capacity of state and local authorities to respond effectively. On the other hand, policies developed at the national level may not sufficiently reflect the great diversity of interests across the US to be effective at the local level. Moreover, the search for effective policy is further complicated by theoretical debates about the constitutional framework of federalism (e.g., what limits on national power can be derived from the 10th Amendment?).

Select a policy issue that is in the middle of these cross-currents between national, state, and local authority. It must be a policy area other than education (the focus of Discussion One in Week Two). Some examples include: federal health care policy (e.g., Obamacare, Medicaid–not Medicare); federal transportation policy (e.g., federal transportation subsidies); federal highway policy (e.g., federal rules about the minimum drinking age, speed limits, or safety); federal urban planning and renewal policy; federal poverty, welfare and unemployment policies; national security policies that intersect/conflict with local police power; and federal disaster planning and relief. These are only examples. The policy area that you select must have a significant federalism component that requires national, state, and local interaction. It should also involve issues with a strong potential for tension or conflict among different levels of government.

Research and write an essay on a specific policy in the area that you select. (Note: The word “policy” is used interchangeably with the word “program.”) Your essay must:

 

    1. Clearly identify a specific federal policy (the policy must raise issues of federalism because it requires national, state, and local interaction and invites tension across different levels of government), and summarize the elements of the policy, including the problem it is supposed to solve or improve.

 

    1. Summarize the history of the policy. In your summary, explain how the policy raises issues of federalism.

 

    1. Analyze the main pros and cons in debates about the policy.

 

    1. Evaluate the pros and cons from two perspectives:

 

      • The policy’s effectiveness. In your evaluation, clearly explain your definition of effectiveness and how it should be measured or determined.

 

      • The policy’s consistency with the constitutional framework of federalism. In your evaluation, clearly explain your interpretation of American federalism's constitutional framework and why the federal policy is or is not consistent with it.

 

Follow these requirements when writing the short essay:

 

    1. The body of the essay (excluding the title page and reference page) must be at least 750 words long.

 

    1. The essay must start with a short introductory paragraph which includes a clear thesis statement. The thesis statement must tell readers what the essay will demonstrate.

 

    1. The essay must end with a short paragraph which includes a conclusion. The conclusion and thesis must be consistent.

 

    1. The essay must logically develop the thesis in a way that leads to the conclusion, and must be supported by facts, fully explained concepts or assertions, and persuasive reasoning.

 

    1. The essay must address all subtopics outlined above. At least 20% of the essay must focus on subtopic six, listed above (your evaluation of the various pros and cons about the policy).

 

    1. Your essay must cite at least one academic article found in the Ashford Online Library and at least three other kinds of sources (e.g., Supreme Court opinions, magazine or newspaper articles, the course textbook, and reliable websites).

 

    1. Use your own words. While brief quotes from sources may be used, altogether the total amount of quoted text must be less than five percent of the body of your essay.

 

    1. When you use someone else's words, they must be enclosed in quotation marks followed by an APA in-text short citation (author, year, and page) to your source. The in-text citation must correspond to a full APA citation for the source on the reference page at the end of the essay.

 

    1. When you express someone else's ideas, arguments, or facts in your own words, your statement must be followed by an APA in-text short citation (author, year, and page) to your source. The in-text citation must correspond to a full APA citation for the source in the reference page.

 

    1. The form of the title page, the body pages, and the reference page must comply with APA style. Additionally, the title page must include the course number and name, the instructor's name, and the date submitted.

 

    1. The essay must use logical paragraph and sentence transitions, complete and clear sentences, and correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

 

For information regarding APA, including samples and tutorials, visit the Ashford Writing Center within the Learning Resources tab on the left navigation toolbar in your online course.

Carefully review the
Grading Rubric for the criteria that will be used to evaluate your assignment.

 


 

Ashford 4: - Week 3 (Jun 25 - Jul 01)

 



Week Three Learning Outcomes

This week students will:

 

    1. Summarize the development of the framework of presidential power over time in relation to domestic and foreign policy, considering historical circumstances, organizational factors, and personal leadership qualities of various presidents (e.g., presidential character).

 

    1. Assess the Electoral College process for electing presidents, taking account of its possible political effect on presidential leadership capacity in relation to contemporary domestic and foreign policy.

 

    1. Describe the history and evolution of the federal bureaucracy, including development of the civil service.

 

    1. Describe essential bureaucratic functions and types of agencies within the federal bureaucracy.

 

    1. Analyze relationships between politics and bureaucratic administration, including the role of accountability, interest groups, and public expectations.

 

 

 


 


Overview

 

Assignment

Due Date

Format

Grading Percent

Discussion 1: Presidential Leadership and the Electoral College

Day 3
(1st post)

Discussion

5

Discussion 2: Defense Spending and the Military-Industrial Complex

Day 3
(1st post)

Discussion

5

Quiz: Week Three Quiz

Day 6

Quiz

5

 

 

 


 


Introduction

 

Week Three closely examines concepts related to presidential leadership (particularly in relation to public expectations and a president’s political base) and the politics of the federal bureaucracy (particularly in relation to the “iron triangle” of connections between bureaucrats, interest groups, and Congress). The focus is on applying these concepts to issues being debated in contemporary policy arenas, e.g., the contemporary relevance of the Electoral College (whether it should abolished or neutralized) and the influence of the military-industrial complex on defense spending.

 

 

 


 


Resources
Tutorials for using the Ashford Library can be accessed by clicking “Getting Research Help” along the horizontal toolbar in the Ashford Library, then, clicking “Tutorials” in the bulleted list.

 

    1. To successfully complete this week’s assignments, read the following chapters from the text, American Government:

 

      • Chapter 5: The Presidency

 

      • Chapter 6: The Executive Branch

 

    1. Before participating in this week’s discussion “Presidential Leadership and the Electoral College,” review the assigned resources.

 

    1. Before participating in this week’s discussion “Defense Spending and the Military-Industrial Complex,” review the assigned resources.

 

 

 


 


Discussions
To participate in the following discussions, go to this week's Discussion link in the left navigation.

 

    1. Presidential Leadership and the Electoral College
       
      Americans expect their presidents to get things done, to solve problems, to govern effectively, and to be strong leaders. The framers of the Constitution did not envision such presidential leadership. A scholar of the presidency points out that Article II of the Constitution gives the president scant formal power to influence congressional policy-making (Simon, n.d.).  He also notes that the framers intentionally designed a process for selecting presidents that would minimize their political power – the Electoral College. They hoped this institution would insulate the chief executive from the public because they feared the power of presidents who might be elected by the people. Therefore, the Constitution provides that "Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress..." Having state legislatures "appoint" the Electors who select the chief executive would minimize the president's capacity to lead on the basis of his popular support. In a very real sense, the president would not be accountable to the people but rather to the state legislatures who appoint Electors. This procedure was also seen as a way to encourage the selection of statesmen with "characters preeminent for ability and virtue” rather than mere politicians with “talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity” (Hamilton, 1788).

      The practice of state legislatures appointing Electors continued for many years. Most American history texts do not report national presidential vote totals before 1824 because 25% of the states were still not holding presidential elections by that year. Even as late as 1876 the state of Colorado's legislature appointed Electors. As states moved away from legislative appointment to the current system of allowing a state's Electors to be chosen by a winner-take-all popular vote, the primary rationale for the Electoral College was forgotten in history. At the same time, public expectations of strong presidential leadership were rising.  

      This creates a problem well illustrated by the disputed election of 2000. George W. Bush was elected president with 271 electoral votes to Al Gore's 266 electoral votes. However, Gore amassed 543,895 popular votes more than Bush. Also, because some disputed votes in Florida made unclear which candidate should receive the state's electoral votes, the Florida Supreme Court ordered a full recount of the Florida vote. But the U.S. Supreme Court intervened and stopped the recount, thereby in effect awarding Florida's electoral votes to Bush. While arguments continue to this day about the legitimacy of the U.S. Supreme Court's intervention, the 2000 election illustrates a glaring weakness of the Electoral College system – selecting a president whose authority may be diminished by the dubious circumstances of his or her election. The election of 2000 also has fueled a long ongoing debate about whether the Electoral College should be abandoned in favor of method which insures that the candidate elected has the most popular votes. Would this outcome be more consistent with contemporary public expectations about the president's role as a national leader who can get things done?

      Before writing your initial post, review the
      assigned resources.

      In your initial post of at least 200-250 words, briefly summarize how the Electoral College works.  Explain some of the main pros and cons in the debate about whether to keep or abolish the current Electoral College process. Also explain one proposal to change how the system works without formally abolishing it. Evaluate the various arguments and the proposal. Include at least two perspectives in your assessment:

 

      • Your judgment about the relevance of the Electoral College's underlying rationale to contemporary America.

 

      • Your judgment about its impact on presidential leadership capacity.   

 


Fully respond to all parts of the question. Write in your own words. Support your position with APA citations to two or more of the assigned resources required for this discussion. Please be sure that you demonstrate understanding of these resources, integrate them into your argument, and cite them properly.

By Day 7, respond to at least two of your classmates' initial posts. Your peer responses each must be at least 75 words. They must demonstrate critical thinking (e.g., ask a relevant question about your peer's post while explaining why your question is significant, or state a perspective that contrasts with your peer's while explaining or justifying your position).
   
References:
Hamilton, A. (1788). The Federalist Papers, Number 68.
Simon, D. (n.d.). Public expectations of the president. Retrieved from faculty.smu.edu/dsimon/AMPres07Up/SimonExpectations.doc

 

 

    1. Defense Spending and the Military-Industrial Complex
       
      Levin-Waldman (2012, pp. 186-89) analyzes how "iron triangles" link Congress, the bureaucracy, and interest groups in self-serving relationships that influence policy in ways that are contrary to the public interest. In 1961, at the end of President Eisenhower's second term, he gave a farewell address to the nation in which he warned of the dangers of a "military-industrial complex." Many commentators today see the military-industrial complex as an example of an iron triangle that bloats the defense budget and distorts national priorities. Not everyone would accept this analysis, however, especially defense "hawks" in Congress, the military bureaucracies, and defense industries.  


      Before writing your initial post, review the
      assigned resources.

      In your initial post of at least 200-250 words, briefly explain the iron triangle model of policy-making involving Congress, the bureaucracy, and interest groups. Analyze information about relationships among Congress, the military bureaucracies, and defense industries. Draw your own conclusion, and support it with facts and with persuasive reasoning, about the impact of these relationships on defense spending. Evaluate the accuracy of the iron triangle model as a basis for understanding the process of making defense spending policy.

      Fully respond to all parts of the question. Write in your own words. Support your position with APA citations to two or more of the assigned resources required for this discussion. Please be sure that you demonstrate understanding of these resources, integrate them into your argument, and cite them properly.

      By Day 7, respond to at least two of your classmates' initial posts. Your peer responses each must be at least 75 words. They must demonstrate critical thinking (e.g., ask a relevant question about your peer's post while explaining why your question is significant, or state a perspective that contrasts with your peer's while explaining or justifying your position).

      Reference:
      Levin-Waldman. (2012). American national government. San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education Inc.

 

 

 


 


Quiz
To complete the following quiz, go to this week's Quiz link in the left navigation.

 

Week Three Quiz

This quiz consists of 10 questions. The amount of time the quiz will take to complete will vary by individual.

 

 


 

Ashford 5: - Week 4 (Jul 02 - Jul 08)

 



Week Four Learning Outcomes

This week students will:

 

    1. Contrast original and appellate jurisdiction within the federal court system.

 

    1. Explain the development of the Supreme Court's power of judicial review, how the Court shaped the federal system, and how ideology and philosophy influence the exercise of judicial review.

 

    1. Define the concepts of civil liberties and civil rights and their relevance to democratic government.

 

    1. Determine how important American civil liberties have developed over time.

 

    1. Summarize how important American civil rights have developed over time.

 

 

 


 


Overview

 

Assignment

Due Date

Format

Grading Percent

Discussion 1: The Supreme Court and Judicial Review

Day 3
(1st post)

Discussion

5

Discussion 2: Habeas Corpus and the War on Terror

Day 3
(1st post)

Discussion

5

Quiz: Week Four Quiz

Day 6

Quiz

5

 

 

 


 


Introduction

 

Week Four closely examines constitutional concepts related to judicial review and civil liberties. The focus is on applying these concepts to issues being debated in contemporary policy arenas, e.g., political and judicial rhetoric about the legitimacy of judicial review as it may be affected by ideologies that influence its exercise and the acrimonious debate about the habeas corpus rights of “enemy combatants” detained by the U.S. military indefinitely at the Guantanamo naval base in Cuba.
 

 


 


Resources
Tutorials for using the Ashford Library can be accessed by clicking “Getting Research Help” along the horizontal toolbar in the Ashford Library, then, clicking “Tutorials” in the bulleted list.

 

    1. To successfully complete this week’s assignments, read the following chapters from the text, American Government:

 

      • Chapter 7: The Judiciary

 

      • Chapter 8: Civil Liberties and Civil Rights

 

    1. Before participating in this week’s discussion “The Supreme Court and Judicial Review,” review the assigned resources.

 

    1. Before participating in this week’s discussion “Habeas Corpus and the War on Terror,” review the assigned resources.

 

 

 


 


Discussions
To participate in the following discussions, go to this week's Discussion link in the left navigation.

 

    1. The Supreme Court and Judicial Review
       
      In a recent lecture at Yale University, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer cautioned that while most citizens assume that judicial review is an enduring part of American government, judges should not take it for granted. He advises that if judges wish to preserve this undemocratic power they should follow a judicial philosophy that will "build confidence in the courts" (Breyer, 2011). Justice Breyer goes on to describe the kind of judicial philosophy he has in mind. However, some of his colleagues on the Supreme Court would reject his ideas about what philosophy should guide judges.

      The role of judicial philosophy (or ideology) in Supreme Court decision-making, especially in its exercise of judicial review to invalidate laws enacted by a democratically elected Congress or state legislature, has become a highly contentious issue both within the Court's deliberations and in the larger political environment. As the nation becomes more divided over programs and policies that inevitably seem to come before the Supreme Court, politicians and ordinary citizens are caught up in rhetoric about judicial activism or judicial restraint, often with little understanding of what these terms really mean.  

      Moreover, as public perceptions of the Supreme Court become more politicized, the legitimacy of its power becomes clouded. If the Court is perceived as just another political institution making political decisions, but a completely undemocratic institution because its judges are appointed and serve for life, questions arise about whether the Court's power of judicial review should be strictly limited or eliminated altogether. Justice Breyer's warning comes to mind as the percent of Americans approving of how the Supreme Court does its job slid from 61% in 2009 to 46% in 2011 (Gallup, 2012).

      Before writing your initial post, review the
      assigned resources.

      In your initial post of at least 200-250 words, respond to one of these questions:  

 

      • What judicial philosophy should guide the Supreme Court's exercise of judicial review?

 

      • Should the Supreme Court's power of judicial review be strictly limited by a constitutional amendment?

 


In answering either question, clearly state your position (thesis) at the beginning of your post. Define important terms and explain your position fully. Consider pro and con arguments on both sides of your position and respond to the con arguments. Justify your position with facts and persuasive reasoning.

Fully respond to all parts of the question. Write in your own words. Support your position with APA citations to two or more of the required resources required for this discussion. Please be sure that you demonstrate understanding of these resources, integrate them into your argument, and cite them properly.

By Day 7, respond to at least two of your classmates' initial posts. Your peer responses each must be at least 75 words. They must demonstrate critical thinking (e.g., ask a relevant question about your peer's post while explaining why your question is significant, or state a perspective that contrasts with your peer's while explaining or justifying your position).

References:
Breyer, S. (2011). No small wonder. Wilson Quarterly, 35(3), 60-61.
Gallup Inc. (2012).  Supreme Court. Retrieved from
http://www.gallup.com/poll/4732/Supreme-Court.aspx
 

 

    1. Habeas Corpus and the War on Terror
       
      Soon after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the Bush administration developed a plan for holding and interrogating prisoners captured during the conflict. They were sent to a prison inside a U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay on land leased from the government of Cuba. Since 2002, over 700 men have been detained at "GITMO." Most have been released without charges or turned over to other governments. In 2011, Congress specifically prohibited the expenditure of funds to transfer GITMO prisoners to detention facilities in the continental United States, making it virtually impossible to try them in civilian courts. As of April 2012, 169 remained in detention at GITMO (Sutton, 2012).   

      An assumption made by the Bush administration in selecting this location was that it was beyond the jurisdiction of U.S. courts. The administration wanted to avoid any judicial oversight of how it handled detainees, characterized as "enemy combatants." A possible legal challenge to indefinite detention with no formal charges or judicial proceedings might arise from the habeas corpus provision of the Constitution.

      Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution states, "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." Under this provision, persons detained by the government are entitled to a judicial hearing to determine if there is any legal basis for their detention. Some legal commentators refer to the right of habeas corpus as the "great writ of liberty" because it is a prisoner's ultimate recourse to an impartial judge to review the possibility that he is being held illegally by the executive (e.g., the police or the military). In nations that do not honor habeas corpus, people simply disappear into prisons without ever having their day in court.

      Several controversial Supreme Court cases have come out of GITMO. One fundamental question that has been debated, but not clearly resolved, is to what extent the war on terror justifies the President's indefinite detention of "enemy combatants" without the possibility of the minimal judicial review protected by habeas corpus? Another issue in the debate is to what extent Congress must clearly authorize the President to conduct extra-judicial detentions in order for them to be legal? In 2008, the Supreme Court’s decision in Boumediene v. Bush offered some answers to these questions. However, the deeply divided 5-4 Court and the likelihood of the protracted nature of the war on terror suggest that debate around these important questions will continue.

      Before writing your initial post, review the
      assigned resources.

      The purpose of this forum is for you to share and discuss with classmates your understanding of some of the academic literature about this subject in order to help you write the Final Paper in the course. Your initial post will have two parts. Fully respond to both parts of the question, and write in your own words.

 

      • In 150 to 200 words, summarize, in your own words, one of the academic articles required for this discussion (from the assigned resources). Select an article from the list that you think may be a source for your final essay. Read it carefully and try to understand the author's main points that may be relevant to your final essay. First, give the full APA citation for the article. Then, summarize the relevant main points and explain the author's reasoning as you understand it. At the end of your summary, ask one question about a specific point in the article that you do not understand and would like some help with (refer to a page number).  

 

      • In 50 to 75 words, state what you believe the thesis of your Final Paper will be. State the thesis as clearly and fully as you can. Draw upon what you have learned from all the required resources you reviewed for this discussion. While you can change your mind about your thesis when you actually write the Final Paper, use this discussion forum as a serious opportunity to try out a thesis and receive feedback from your peers.

 


By Day 7, respond to at least two of your classmates' initial posts. Your peer responses each must be at least 75 words. They must demonstrate critical thinking. Offer ideas about the question your peer asks in his or her initial post. Give your peers feedback about their proposed thesis.

Reference:
Sutton, J. (2012, April 19). Two Guantanamo Uighur  prisoners head to El Salvador. Chicago Tribune News.  Retrieved from
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-usa-guantanamo-salvadorbre83i1ha-20120419,0,1170410.story

 

 

 


 


Quiz
To complete the following quiz, go to this week's Quiz link in the left navigation.

 

Week Four Quiz

This quiz consists of 10 questions. The amount of time the quiz will take to complete will vary by individual.

 

 

 


 

Ashford 6: - Week 5 (Jul 09 - Jul 15)

 



Week Five Learning Outcomes

This week students will:

 

    1. Summarize the history of American parties and factors affecting their evolution into the contemporary two-party model.

 

    1. Explain how parties mobilize the electorate, choose candidates, propose party platforms, and organize government.

 

    1. Evaluate various perspectives (e.g., judicial, executive, and political) on the right of habeas corpus in the contemporary context of the U.S. War on Terror.

 

    1. Describe different types of elections and their relationship to public opinion, interest groups, and the media.

 

    1. Explain why people vote (or not) and relationships between voter participation and the democratic process.

 

 

 


 


Overview

 

Assignment

Due Date

Format

Grading Percent

Discussion 1: Party Platforms and Winning Elections

Day 3
(1st post)

Discussion

5

Discussion 2: Voting and Turnout

Day 3
(1st post)

Discussion

5

Assignment: Civil Liberties, Habeas Corpus, and the War on Terror

Day 7

Final Paper

20

 

 

 


 


Introduction

 

Week Five closely examines concepts related to the role of political parties in mobilizing the electorate and factors affecting citizen participation in the electoral process. The focus is on applying these concepts to issues being debated in contemporary policy arenas, e.g., the current partisan policy goals (i.e., platforms) as tools for political mobilization in a two-party system and the acrimonious debate about the fairness or legality of new state “voter ID” laws that some claim are poorly disguised ways of suppressing the election day turnout of certain classes of voters.

 

 

 


 


Resources
Tutorials for using the Ashford Library can be accessed by clicking “Getting Research Help” along the horizontal toolbar in the Ashford Library, then, clicking “Tutorials” in the bulleted list.

 

    1. To successfully complete this week’s assignments, read the following chapters from the text, American Government:

 

      • Chapter 9: Political Parties

 

      • Chapter 10: Elections and Public Opinion

 

    1. Before participating in this week’s discussion “Party Platforms and Winning Elections,” review the assigned resources.

 

    1. Before participating in this week’s discussion “Voting and Turnout,” review the assigned resources.

 

 

 


 


Discussions
To participate in the following discussions, go to this week's Discussion link in the left navigation.

 

    1. Party Platforms and Winning Elections
       
      Political parties mobilize voters to win elections and implement policy goals. Parties use their stated policy goals (i.e., their platforms) as a way to mobilize voter support. Generally, in order to be successful in a two-party system, parties must have policy goals across a broad range of issue areas to appeal to a broad range of voters.

      Before writing your initial post, review the
      assigned resources.

      For this discussion, you will identify one issue area that you want investigate. Use the assigned resources required for this discussion to gather information about the goals and proposals, in that issue area, of three political parties – the Democratic and Republican parties and a third party.

      In your initial post of at least 200-250 words, summarize each of the three parties’ policy goals in your issue area.  Compare and contrast the parties' goals in that area. Evaluate each party's goals from two perspectives:

 

      • Your own political philosophy, values or ideology.

 

      • How effective each party's goals are likely to be in mobilizing voters to support the party's candidates on the national level. In making your assessment from this perspective, consider what influence the factors which underlie the two-party system have on each party's ability to use its policy proposals to generate voter support.

 


Justify your conclusions with facts and persuasive reasoning.

Fully respond to all parts of the question. Write in your own words. Support your position with APA citations to two or more of the assigned resources required for this discussion. Please be sure that you demonstrate understanding of these resources, integrate them into your argument, and cite them properly.

By Day 7, respond to at least two of your classmates' initial posts. Your peer responses each must be at least 75 words. They must demonstrate critical thinking (e.g., ask a relevant question about your peer's post while explaining why your question is significant, or state a perspective that contrasts with your peer's while explaining or justifying your position).

 

    1. Voting and Turnout
       
      The U.S. has one of the lowest voter turnout rates among modern democratic political systems. One study ranks the U.S. 120th on a list of 169 nations compared on voter turnout (Pintor, Gratschew, & Sullivan, 2002). While during the last decade many initiatives have been undertaken to increase voter participation, concerns about the possibility of election fraud have also increased. Additionally, some political interests feel threatened by the increase in turnout among some traditionally low-turnout ethnic minorities.

      Several states have recently passed legislation imposing new registration and identification requirements. This has sparked debate about whether these are tactics intended to suppress turnout or to prevent fraud.

      Before writing your initial post, review the
      assigned resources.

      In your initial post of at least 200-250 words, summarize recent developments in several states enacting voter ID laws. Explain the pros and cons on both sides of the debate about these laws. Share your own experience with the relative difficulty or ease of voting in your locale. Draw your own conclusion about the debate over voter ID laws. Finally, share your perspective about whether voting in the U.S. should be made easier or harder. Justify your conclusions with facts and persuasive reasoning.

      Fully respond to all parts of the question. Write in your own words. Support your position with APA citations to two or more of the assigned resources required for this discussion. Please be sure that you demonstrate understanding of these resources, integrate them into your argument, and cite them properly.

      By Day 7, respond to at least two of your classmates' initial posts. Your peer responses each must be at least 75 words. They must demonstrate critical thinking (e.g., ask a relevant question about your peer's post while explaining why your question is significant, or state a perspective that contrasts with your peer's while explaining or justifying your position).

      Reference:
      Pintor, R., Gratschew, M., & Sullivan, K. (2002). Voter turnout rates from a comparative perspective. In R. Pintor & M. Gratschew (Eds.), Voter turnout since 1945: A global report. Stockholm, Sweden: The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. Retrieved from http://www.idea.int/publications/vt/upload/Voter%20turnout.pdf

 

 

 


 


Final Paper
To complete the following assignment, go to this week's Final Paper links in the left navigation.

 

Civil Liberties, Habeas Corpus, and the War on Terror

The final assignment for this course is a Final Paper. The purpose of the Final Paper is to give you an opportunity to apply much of what you have learned about American national government to an examination of civil liberties in the context of the war on terror. The Final Paper represents 20% of the overall course grade.

Soon after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the Bush administration developed a plan for holding and interrogating captured prisoners. They were sent to a prison inside a U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, on land leased from the government of Cuba. Since 2002, over 700 men have been detained at Gitmo. Most have been released without charges or turned over to other governments. In 2011, Congress specifically prohibited the expenditure of funds to transfer Gitmo prisoners to detention facilities in the continental United States, making it virtually impossible to try them in civilian courts. As of April 2012, 169 remained in detention at Gitmo (Sutton, 2012).

An assumption made by the Bush administration in selecting this location was that it was beyond the jurisdiction of U.S. courts. The administration wanted to avoid any judicial oversight of how it handled detainees, characterized as enemy combatants. A possible legal challenge to indefinite detention with no formal charges or judicial proceedings might arise from the habeas corpus provision of the Constitution.

Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution states, "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." Under this provision, persons detained by the government are entitled to a judicial hearing to determine if there is any legal basis for their detention. Some legal commentators refer to the right of habeas corpus as the "great writ of liberty" because it is a prisoner's ultimate recourse to an impartial judge who can review the possibility that he is being held illegally by the executive (e.g., the police or the military). In nations that do not honor habeas corpus, people simply disappear into prisons without ever having their day in court.

Several controversial Supreme Court cases have come out of Gitmo. One fundamental question that has been debated, but not clearly resolved, is to what extent the war on terror justifies the President's indefinite detention of enemy combatants without the possibility of the minimal judicial review protected by habeas corpus? Another issue in the debate is to what extent Congress must clearly authorize the President to conduct extra-judicial detentions in order for them to be legal? In 2008, the Supreme Court’s decision in Boumediene v. Bush offered some answers to these questions. However, the deeply divided 5-4 Court and the likelihood of the protracted nature of the war on terror suggest that debate around these important questions will continue. Writing the Final Paper in this course will prepare you to participate intelligently as a citizen in this ongoing debate.

Write an essay about the right of habeas corpus in the context of the war on terror. Your essay should address the following subtopics:

 

    1. Explain the historical evolution of habeas corpus, including its English and American traditions. The explanation of its evolution within the American tradition should include the general meaning of the right of habeas corpus in the U.S. Constitution and its relationship to the protection of other civil liberties.

 

    1. Provide examples from U.S. history of the suspension of habeas corpus and their applicability to the present.

 

    1. Analyze the relevance of habeas corpus to the contemporary U.S. situation during the war on terror, especially with respect to persons characterized by as enemy combatants or illegal combatants.

 

    1. Explain the U.S. Supreme Court's interpretation of the right of habeas corpus with respect to enemy combatants or illegal combatants (i.e., the views of the five justices making up the majority in Boumediene v. Bush as well as the views of the four dissenting justices).

 

    1. Evaluate a minimum of four perspectives on this topic expressed by justices of the Supreme Court, leaders in other branches of government, and commentators in both the academic and popular media. Your evaluation should consider perspectives on the following topics as they relate to habeas corpus:

 

      1. The role of the President as Commander-in-Chief.

 

      1. The role of Congress in determining when habeas corpus can be suspended.

 

      1. The role of the Supreme Court in protecting civil liberties, including the judicial philosophy which should guide the Court in this role, and

 

      1. In your evaluation, you should also include your personal philosophy, values, or ideology about the balance between civil liberties and national security in the context of an unending war on terror.

 

Follow these requirements when writing the Final Paper:

 

    1. The body of the paper (excluding the title page and reference page) must be at least 1,500 words long.

 

    1. The paper must start with a short introductory paragraph which includes a clear thesis statement. The thesis statement must tell readers what the essay will demonstrate.

 

    1. The paper must end with a short paragraph that states a conclusion. The conclusion and thesis must be consistent.

 

    1. The paper must logically develop the thesis in a way that leads to the conclusion, and that development must be supported by facts, fully explained concepts and assertions, and persuasive reasoning.

 

    1. The paper must address all subtopics outlined above. At least 20% of the essay must focus on subtopic six, listed above (your evaluation of perspectives on the topic).

 

    1. Your paper must cite at least three academic articles (excluding the course textbook) and at least four other kinds of sources (e.g., Supreme Court opinions, magazine or newspaper articles, the course textbook, and reliable websites or videos).

 

    1. Use your own words. While brief quotes from sources may be used, altogether the total amount of quoted text must be less than five percent of the body of your paper.

 

    1. When you use someone else's words, they must be enclosed in quotation marks followed by an APA in-text short citation (author, year, and page) to your source. The in-text citation must correspond to a full APA citation for the source on the reference page at the end of the essay.

 

    1. When you express in your own words someone else's ideas, arguments or facts, your statement must be followed by an APA in-text short citation (author, year, and page) to your source. The in-text citation must correspond to a full APA citation for the source in the reference page.

 

    1. The form of the title page, the body pages, and the reference page must comply with APA style. Additionally, the title page must include the course number and name, the instructor's name, and the date submitted.

 

    1. The paper must use logical paragraph and sentence transitions, complete and clear sentences, and correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

 

For this paper you need to do research in peer-reviewed journals or other sources that are considered to have reliable information. In addition to your required course text, you need at least seven scholarly sources, three of which must be peer-reviewed journal articles from the Ashford Online Library.

 

Academic research papers must meet university level standards of quality. What constitutes quality, academic research?

 

    • Primary sources written by experts in the field of study

 

    • Secondary sources supported by research in primary sources

 

    • Credible sources (experts in the area of study)

 

    • Relevant research (materials are pertinent to the area of study)

 

    • Peer-reviewed journal articles (journal articles reviewed by recognized experts in the relevant field of study).

 

    • Educational and government websites (those ending with a web URL suffix of .edu or .gov) may be appropriate in some cases but should be evaluated carefully.

 

Please visit the Academic Research section on your course homepage (accessible through the Student Responsibilities and Policies tab on the left navigation toolbar) to review what types of materials are not acceptable for academic, university level research.

The paper must be at least 1,500 words in length and formatted according to APA style. Cite your sources within the text of your paper and on the reference page. For information regarding APA, including samples and tutorials, visit the Ashford Writing Center within the Learning Resources tab on the left navigation toolbar.

Carefully review the
Grading Rubric for the criteria that will be used to evaluate your assignment.

 


 

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