Tuesday, December 15, 2009

DBQ Questions

Document A
Brutus' main argument against the ratification of the Constitution and the proposed court system is the unchecked power of the judges and the judiciary branch. He says that it is an amount of power never seen in the judiciary before.

Document B
Hamilton calls the judiciary branch the "least dangerous" because it has the least ability to do harm to or to even annoy the other branches. The judiciary lacks force and will. It can only pass judgments and it even needs help from the executive branch for the enforcement of its judgments.

Document C
No law can be valid if is contradicts the Constitution. This gives complete freedom for laws as long as they are constitutional.

Document D
Hamilton asserts that the judges have the authority to judge the constitutionality of federal laws because they are the ones who hold the Constitution to be fundamental law and it is their job to interpret it.

Document E
Hamilton denies that the Constitution gives power to interpret the Constitution to the Supreme Court because no where in the Constitution does it specifically give that power to any body of government. Hamilton also states that the Constitution should be the standard by which laws are determined even though there isn't a designated body to judge the Constitutionality of the laws.

Document F
The Supreme Court has the power to, in all cases, rule on issues of law and equity, the laws of the United States, and the treaties made within the regulations that Congress sets.

Document G
This document supports Hamilton's argument because it recognizes that the judges are subject to the laws of the land and of the Constitution. Under those restrictions, they do not have many powers and are therefore the least dangerous branch.

Document H
Section 13 gives the court power to call forth anyone in the United States, even people holding office, before the court under a writ of mandamus.

Document I
Thomas Jefferson asserts that the sovereign states that created have the power to nullify any laws that contradict the Constitution.

Document J
This ruling says that the judicial branch has the responsibility to interpret the Constitution because it is thier job to judge what the law is. Because laws created by the legislature must adhere to the principles of the Constitution, the judicial branch must interpret the Constitution in order to determine the validity of the laws created by the legislature. Marshall identifies the "very essence of judicial duty" to be the job of deterimining, on a case by case basis, whether the law or the Constitution should determine the rules of the case.

Document K
Jefferson's reaction to the decision of Marbury vs. Madison was that the judicial branch was created to be equal to the other branches so that there would be checks and balances. They are an equal branch except for their ability to perscribe the rules for the governing of the counrty and the other branches. They are able to mold these rules to fit their fancy for the Constitution is "a mere thing of wax" which can be interpretted and twisted any number of ways. This opinion is drastically different from that of Hamilton's in Document B because Jefferson believes that the judiciary have the power to dictate how the country functions whereas Hamilton believes that it is the least dangerous branch of government without the will or power to affect laws or policies.

Should the Supreme Court Have the power to overturn unconstitutional federal laws?
The Supreme Court should have the power to overturn unconstitutional federal laws. The court is the interpretted of the Constitution in cases broght forth between different levels of government. If it doesn't have the power to exert its Constitutional-interpretting skills upon the creation of laws, no other branch or body of the government will. While it is the court's primary duty to uphold the Constitution, the legislative branch simply acts in what it feels is in the best interests of the country, without the hinderance of consideration for how their actions adhere to the Constitution. A separate body, the judicial branch, must check that the federal laws are in-line with the most basic principles and document of the United States.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Responses from Class

1. Video about Haymarket Riots

The right to assembly implies the right to strike. People are allowed to come together to talk or plan about whatever they want. They are also allowed to come together, acting upon that plan, to protest or to strike. The only time when these rights would be taken away is in the face of clear and present danger. It is the government's job to balance the peoples' right to free speech and assembly with the needs of the community.

2. Women's Rights

Is voting the basis of citizenship? Did suffrage make women equal?

Voting is the basis of citizenship because it is the privilege of citizens that makes them part of the democracy. Involvement in democracy is involvement in the government, and being able to be involved in the government makes you a citizen. Women may have gained equally in the eyes of the government, but they still were not seen as equal to their fellow citizens. Employers were still paying them less and husbands still felt superior, making them unwilling to stay home and take on house-making roles typically occupied by women.

The equal rights amendment was never ratified. Should it be? Should we have an amendment protecting women if there's one protecting African Americans?

A specific amendment protecting women's rights shouldn't be necessary; Americans should just know that all people (no matter of race or gender) are created equal. Seeing that wages are still not the same and that "glass ceilings" still exist, an amendment defending women's rights against other Americans might be necessary. I don't have any personal experience with this issue, so I'm not sure.

3. "I Have a Dream" Speech

Obviously a really great speech. It is interesting that Martin Luther King is speaking to two entities, only one of which is present: He is addressing the people gathered before him, seeking racial equality, but also the government or the nation, whom he urges to realize the fact that they owe rights to the African American population and the fact that his followers will not be satisfied or quieted if the government tries to silence and ignore them. Martin Luther King is speaking to the people who already believe in his cause. He is not speaking to convince anyone else, but only to strengthen his supporters in the resolve to pursue the dream of racial justice.

4. Huey Newton

Huey Newton is less idealistic and admits the more evil tendencies of Americans. He believes in confronting the issue and addressing the very true but embarassing, hidden, stereotypical thoughts that everyone has. We cannot end prejudice unless everyone admits that they are prejudiced.

5. H. Rap Brown

He is less cooperative. He identifies the problem to be the rest of the country. He is good at humorously comparing his followers' situations to common, simple situations that help people to realize the injustices directed at them.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Observations from Class

1. What is the worth of a human being?

While we would hope that a human life is the most sacred thing on Earth, it sometimes seems like risking multiple peoples' lives is not worth the possibility of saving one. In the movie, "Black Hawk Down," 19 soldiers ended up losing their lives in a series of attempts to rescue possible survivors from a crashed helicopter. They were following their motto, "no man left behind," but in the effort to save pilots who were only possibly alive, many other soldiers were killed, humiliated by the natives, and one was kidnapped. In that circumstance at least, it would seem as though the possibility of saving one life was not worth risking all of the those other people. While even I normally always say that a human life is worth almost anything, we should all be honest about reality.

2. What are some minority groups?

Asian-American 2%, disabled Americans 5%, gay Americans 5%, African Americans 15%, American Indians 2%, Hispanic Americans 20%

* I couldn't find a good graph to include

3. How does America determine a person's worth?

Most people would like to think that "all men are created equal" in America, and that is how it would be in the ideal situation, but all people are not treated equally in reality. The country generally judges and values people based on wealth, status, and race or gender. You are worth more to society if you are a big businessman rather than a "lowly" factory worker. And the happiness and preservation of rich, influential people is worth more to the government than a low-income worker who might be part of a minority group. These actions are simply products of the government acting in its own self-interest. Morals and gaining supporters are the only reasons why the government would act in the interest of minority groups, but money, influence, and power are very enticing reasons for the government to act in the interest of large corporations and influential people.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Points of Interest in the News

Articles from the Washington Post

1. I was reading the travel section, and I found an article about planning a trip to Ireland. I know this is not technically news, but I've always wanted to go to Ireland, and it was reassuring to know how easy it is to plan a trip and how nice of a country it is to visit.

2. I read an opinion article entitled "This Will Not End Well." It was about Obama's plan in Afghanistan. Although I am not very familiar with the premise of this war, it was interesting to be reminded that many presidents, like Obama, do not meet their deadline for pulling out of country. The writer was obviously biased against our president, but it was interesting to hear how much evidence there is to suggest that Obama is not capable of following through on his promises. (Please note: these are not my opinions. In fact, I don't really have any opinions on this topic. This is just a response to a very opinionated article.)

3. "Fashion Advice That's Worth Taking Personally" is a lightly amusing, yet pointless article about the necessity of getting an unrelated, critical person to assess your style honestly, rather than your mother. I thought the topic was common knowledge, but I thought that the title may have been clever. I'm not sure if it was purposeful that the author chose the word "personally" to title an article about finding someone who is not invested in you personally, but I got a chuckle out of it. Also, they mention my favorite brand: J. Crew!!

4. I just found an article about a soldier who became a specialist in the Army Reserve. I'm not exactly sure what that is, but guess where he went to college. Washington and Lee!! Go Generals!!

5. "A Plowman Dressed as a Prince" is, believe it or not, an article written about a car. "Please welcome the 2010 Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography, arguably the most extravagant, most luxurious, most leather-bound, fine-wood-paneled, amenity-laden sport-utility vehicle ever made, which is why it's also one of the dumbest." This is an entertaining, well-written article about the absurdity of luxury vehicles whose purpose was originally to be able to go off-road. I was intrigued that Land Rovers were originally used as transportation vehicles in war, but were turned into luxury vehicles because there was money to be made off a market of extravagant, rich people. I just liked this article because it was different and because it featured a new character on the news scene: a car.