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Proposed syllabus for spring 2016

Proposed POL 66 syllabus by clicking here 

Final Review Check in

Final Review Check in

My take-away from our last meeting is the desire and imagined result we all share of “equality” (as freedom from domination, political and legal (Allen, 2014, p.200-01)) and that can be best realized through material goods and economic security.  The bulk of the discussion centered around income inequality, a prominent theme in political debates surrounding November’s Presidential election. I think the best example involved how our classmates would use $10,000 per month. Starting a new business or paying down debt and bills are ways to attain economic freedom. Many scholars have written that countries or governments tend not to be democratic until they are economically secure. I wonder how our economic insecurity informs our desire for equality and our imagination of what actual economic equality would look like?

You will want to think about your final exam essay question in these terms. So what does that look like for your study preparations? I want to provide an example practice exam in this worksheet and provide the structure for your five paragraph essay response essay answer. Remember, the exam is open universe so take some time to organize your notes for the most important themes in the book and the most discussed terms and concepts in class. One of the questions will involve something a classmate said in class. You should keep in mind that this is almost always the most effective way of learning: hearing what others think and distinguishing why you agree, disagree, or have an entirely different point of view in an articulate way. This is also an essential learning outcome in most university classes.

Checklist for final assessments: 

  1. Everyone must type or write a law of their choice and bring this as your exam entrance ticket. It does not matter how long or short the law is.
  1. If you elect to base your final grade strictly based on your final exam performance, your grade will simply be based on the number correct out of 10.  The first questions are worth one point each and sum to 7. The remaining three points are for the essay response: 1 for unsatisfactory, 2 for satisfactory, and 3 for outstanding.
  1. If you wish to complete the online assignments these will be considered for extra credit or a boost in your overall grade.
  1. Finally, you may complete a short reflection essay (1-3 pages); Extra credit Reflection essay: How will you remember equality and how will you use identity, agency and advocacy to practice your constitutional rights and responsibilities? in the future

Practice Exam

Name:

Multiple Choice  – Please circle the answer you believe to be the most correct response as it relates to the question prompt.

  1. When Allen writes, “from my students, I also had much to learn, as teachers often do,” she was describing:
  1. the relationship between student and teacher as a patriarchal oppression.
  2. the relationship between life-long learners trying to make meaning of events and phenomena as they apply to our political and social arrangements.
  3. the relationship between professor and student as pre-arranged common knowledge that comes with a set of expectations and demeanor not considered in the learning environment.
  4. there is no meaning in her use of the example, it is just to sell books.
  • A logical continuation of thought following, “they restored to me my patrimony as well as their own, and ours” is:
    1. we have no obligation to history.
    2. there are many who lack the equality of material possessions which makes the concept disagreeable.
    3. we now have to decide whether to continue to pledge our lives to one another in the same spirit as the revolution of 1776.
    4. there are no possible logical continuations.
  • Possible Question Type: A law can be unconstitutional and yet legal because:
    1. for example, in Griswold v. Connecticut a male majority passed a law that had a detrimental effect to the liberty of women.
    2. although the law will later be deemed unconstitutional it has not yet been considered as a case or controversy at the Supreme Court of the United States.
    3. Federalism and separation of powers forbid the Supreme Court from ruling laws passed by Congress or state legislatures as invalid.
    4. ex post facto, stare decisis, and emptor caveat.

Fill in the Blank and True or False 

1. During one class discussion, a classmate identified a material problem with economic equality when ________________________________________________________________.

2. According to Allen, page 130, what does, “to which the laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitle them” mean when constrained to the actual behavior and decisions humans make in order to form political and social governing systems?

  1. True or False: a majority of the current members of the U.S. Supreme Court interpret the Constitution by examining the literal text within common meaning and considering the original intent of the framers of the constitution and not by applying the words of the Constitution to today’s political and social challenges as if the words were alive today and not based on history.

2. True or False: Thomas Jefferson was the sole author and creator of the Declaration of Independence, the legal precedent to the US Constitution.

Example Essay Question and Fact Pattern: 

Prompt:

Justice Breyer writes that a statutory interpretative approach that focuses on the

consequences of the decision seeks to “identify a critical value and consider how that

value applies in modern day America.” Looking at the statute below, read the story and

answer the following question using this interpretive approach: How will your interpretation of the 14th Amendment identify a critical value and how does that value apply in modern American society using the following case file?

Arizona “immigration” law, S.B. 1070.

For any lawful contact made by a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of this state or a law enforcement official or a law enforcement agency of a county, city, town or other political subdivision of this state where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States, a reasonable attempt shall be made, when practicable, to determine the immigration status of the person… A person is presumed to not be an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States if the person provides to the law enforcement officer or agency any of the following:

1. A valid Arizona driver license.

2. A valid Arizona non operating identification license.

3. A valid tribal enrollment card or other form of tribal identification.

4. If the entity requires proof of legal presence in the United States before issuance, any valid United States federal, state or local government issued identification.

Juan Ramirez (through his family lawyer) has brought a claim against the State

of Arizona claiming that he was unconstitutionally held when he was detained as an

unlawful alien and held for 6 weeks in a detention camp. The facility is located in

Mexico, owned by a private company located out of Brazil, and rented by the State of

Arizona, five feet from the United States Border. Ramirez was later released when

Arizona officials realized he had a valid California driverʼs license but had not renewed

the license since moving to Arizona 6 months earlier. Ramirez was arrested and

detained by a junior cadet in a local traffic cop training program outside of his

apartment. Ramirez has brought a claim under Section 1 of the 14th Amendment:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor hall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Ramirez argues that the following words are unclear and that they deprive any

person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law: “lawful contact,” “law

enforcement official,”unlawfully present,” and “alien.” He argues that the Arizona law is clearly unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment.

Ramirez was born in Mexico City, lived in California for three months, and is married to an 18 year old woman named Luisa who was born at a U.S. Army hospital in Peru and they have lived in California for the last 2 years.

Structure of your essay response: 

Paragraph 1.   What is one critical value of American modern society in this case?

Paragraph 2. What constitutional precedent that you can cite to provides evidence of your identified critical value as a historical American value?

Paragraph 3. How would Allen describe the tension between freedom (liberty) and equality (security) in this case?

Paragraph 4. Is the Arizona law constitutional, in your opinion?

Paragraph 5.  How does your interpretation of the statute differ from one of the members of the current or previous US Supreme Court?

Class summary

Yesterday, we had a probing and intensive discussion about the effects of inequality, particularly on children. We also learned that a case like Brown v. Board of Education can, as one fellow student observed, “change the course of history.” We understand now that the 9 members of the Supreme Court seek to balance the interests of governments against other governments (federal, state, executive, legislative) but also seek to balance the interests of citizens against the government and other citizens. The holding in the case overturned two previous cases establishing that separate is never equal and through the 14th amendment citizenship is defined as being born in the US or naturalized, entitling all to the priveleges and responsibilities of being a co-equal citizen. This also means that each citizen must be equally protected and discrimination against a particular group, religion, or individual is a violation of the 14th amendment.

We also made some progress into better understanding Danielle Allen’s argument that freedom of inequality, which seems to be dominant in our business, pop culture, and news media, will always continue to increase inequality, if we let it. But as the Declaration of Independence argues throughout a freedom of equality or the equality of freedom always allows for security and prosperity for the entire group. As we continue to examine the contradictions between what was written and how we behave today we must begin by looking at our own individual views toward the constitution and toward what expectations we have of others and ourselves as we live, work, and pursue our goals with and sometimes in opposition to others.

We have practiced a multiple choice, short answer, fill in the blanks, and true/false sections of our final exam. We agreed that marking the book would be helpful and using post its would make it easier to access the book during the open book exam. We also talked about writing out practice essays for both the 5 paragraph essay prompt next week as practice for the actual essay question on the final exam. To show comprehension we agreed that the metaphor of fixing a car made sense, to understand something you must know how to fix it, not just point out the parts of the car. To this end, we will be moving toward the analyzing portion of this class and will be looking into what a citizen or other person can do to defend themselves with the law against a governmental unconstitutional action and what it looks like.

We used a very effective example of what it feels like when one part of society separates itself from the others. Although it may be true or even feel like we are climbing a hill to reach an equal chance to gain property, pursue happiness, and live free we understand that for some, like Thurgood Marshall this took over 30 years. But we also remember that many all over the country are making smaller sacrifices and working together toward a realization of all “are created equal” under the “laws of nature and nature’s God.”

President Abraham Lincoln, Commander in Chief during the Civil War, said: “it is the eternal struggle between two principles, right and wrong, throughout the world. It is the same spirit that says ‘you toil and work and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.’ No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation, and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle; As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.”

Yesterday, we had a probing and intensive discussion about the effects of inequality, particularly on children. We also learned that a case like Brown v. Board of Education can, as one fellow student observed, “change the course of history.” We understand now that the 9 members of the Supreme Court seek to balance the interests of governments against other governments (federal, state, executive, legislative) but also seek to balance the interests of citizens against the government and other citizens. The holding in the case overturned two previous cases establishing that separate is never equal and through the 14th amendment citizenship is defined as being born in the US or naturalized, entitling all to the priveleges and responsibilities of being a co-equal citizen. This also means that each citizen must be equally protected and discrimination against a particular group, religion, or individual is a violation of the 14th amendment.

We also made some progress into better understanding Danielle Allen’s argument that freedom of inequality, which seems to be dominant in our business, pop culture, and news media, will always continue to increase inequality, if we let it. But as the Declaration of Independence argues throughout a freedom of equality or the equality of freedom always allows for security and prosperity for the entire group. As we continue to examine the contradictions between what was written and how we behave today we must begin by looking at our own individual views toward the constitution and toward what expectations we have of others and ourselves as we live, work, and pursue our goals with and sometimes in opposition to others.

We have practiced a multiple choice, short answer, fill in the blanks, and true/false sections of our final exam. We agreed that marking the book would be helpful and using post its would make it easier to access the book during the open book exam. We also talked about writing out practice essays for both the 5 paragraph essay prompt next week as practice for the actual essay question on the final exam. To show comprehension we agreed that the metaphor of fixing a car made sense, to understand something you must know how to fix it, not just point out the parts of the car. To this end, we will be moving toward the analyzing portion of this class and will be looking into what a citizen or other person can do to defend themselves with the law against a governmental unconstitutional action and what it looks like.

We used a very effective example of what it feels like when one part of society separates itself from the others. Although it may be true or even feel like we are climbing a hill to reach an equal chance to gain property, pursue happiness, and live free we understand that for some, like Thurgood Marshall this took over 30 years. But we also remember that many all over the country are making smaller sacrifices and working together toward a realization of all “are created equal” under the “laws of nature and nature’s God.”

President Abraham Lincoln, Commander in Chief during the Civil War, said: “it is the eternal struggle between two principles, right and wrong, throughout the world. It is the same spirit that says ‘you toil and work and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.’ No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation, and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle; As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.”

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