American Constitution, Federalism, Civil Rights and Liberties Questions
Please respond to five of the following six short response questions posted below. Your answers should be short, focused, and complete, ranging from two to three paragraphs. Please make sure to answer each specific part of every question. Successful answers will reflect your own thinking and understanding of the material. These answers will provide details and context that support your arguments and explain your position to the readers. You may also want to provide real world examples taken from the readings, lectures, group discussions, or your own independent thinking. Only the first five responses you enter will be graded (there is no benefit to answering all 6 questions).
Finally, each question is broken up into parts. Please be sure to address every part of the question!
For example, in your answer on collective action you may find it useful to talk about specific examples of collective action problems that governments solve. In your response to the questions on federalism you may wish to identify and discuss historical examples of conflict or cooperation between the national and state governments. These illustrations can be from the course materials or your own ideas. Providing this context and being able to apply the material to YOUR OWN understanding of politics really shows us that you have mastered the material.
A core theme of this class is that constitutions create rules and powers that enable governments to solve problems of collective action. A) How do constitutions (and political institutions and rules) help resolve common collective action problems? B) What important tradeoffs must the architects of constitutions consider when they think about how they will empower government to solve problems of collective action? C) Why can governmental efforts to resolve problems of collective action be controversial? [As you answer this question please feel free to draw on examples from the Articles of Confederation, the US Constitution, or your own understanding of the course material]
- A) How did the failures of the Articles of Confederation influence the design of the Constitution of the United States of America? B) How did the need to forge a compromise between large states and small states influence the design of the Constitution? C) How (if at all) has this compromise shaped the way the United States government functions today? 4) Based on this analysis, how (if at all) would you reform the Constitution today?
- A) What are some benefits of having a federal system? B) What are some drawbacks? (In addition to the logical arguments, provide an example of federalism being beneficial, and an example of it being problematic). C) Drawing on these arguments, do you think a stronger national government would be better or worse for the USA? (Be clear about what you mean by “better” or “worse” and why).
Baron v Baltimore established a concept ofdual citizenship. A) How did this view of dual citizenship shape civil liberties/civil rights protections for early citizens of state governments? B) Why and how did so many of the civil liberties protections come to be nationalized or incorporated? C) What are the benefits and drawbacks of incorporating civil liberties protections to extend to citizens of United States regardless of their state of residence?
- A) What were the goals of Jim Crow laws? B) How were these largely remedied in the 1960s, and what are the Constitutional justifications for these remedies? (Make sure and note the difference between de facto and de jure segregation in considering the effectiveness of these remedies.) C) In 2021, many states have introduced legislation making it harder for many Americans to vote. Should we be concerned about a return of Jim Crow voting restrictions? Why or why not? D) Should the federal government again take a more active role in regulating state elections? Why or why not?
One of the core themes of American politics is enduring struggle of minority groups to secure equal protection of the civil rights and civil liberties under law. A) What role has the federal system played in making it difficult for various minority groups to enjoy the full privileges and protections of citizenship under law? B) How and why have civil rights eventually extended? (Make sure and note the role the federal government, social movements, and individual state governments have played in doing so. C) What do the ongoing protests over civil rights and civil liberties issues (Black Lives Matter, Abortion Access, Covid-19 vaccine and masking mandates) tell us about the struggle for civil rights and civil liberties in contemporary American politics?