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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer

Next week we will conducting a mock Supreme Court using the case Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, a dispute centered over the use of government funds and a grant for playground surface material for a church-run daycare. The constitutional question involves the Establishment Clause, the Free Exercise Clause, and the Equal Protection Clause. You will have the rest of the week to prepare for oral arguments on Monday (petitioner) and Tuesday (respondent).



Attorney/Justice assignments can be found here.

Resources for the case can be found here:

SCOTUSblog: Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer (most comprehensive site)

Oyez: Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer

Street Law: Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer


Tasks for Attorneys:
Preparation for oral arguments (15pts)
  • Each attorney team must read their respective brief and conduct thorough research on the assigned case and prepare a summary. Basically a brief of the brief. This summary shall consist of the following points:
  • The facts of the case→who is involved? what happened?  when?  where?  
  • The constitutional question:  what is the real issue of the case?
  • A brief summary of related cases (at least three other cases) and legal arguments

Amicus Curiae (10pts)
  • The attorney team should read at least one amicus curiae brief for your side.
  • Summarize the brief including who filed the brief, arguments presented to the court, and an analysis of their submittal of an amicus curiae brief (1-2 pages).
Oral Arguments (10pts)

  • Each attorney must present oral arguments to the court.  The team of lawyers needs to decide how they want to divide up the responsibility (opening statement, closing statement, handling different legal arguments/questions, etc).



Tasks for the Justices:
Preparation for the oral arguments (15pts)
  • Each student pair will review the case and cases that are similar or that can be used as precedents.  A thorough knowledge of the factors involved in the case will help you in your ruling.
  • Find and research a minimum of two cases that are relevant to this case. You will find the names of these cases cited in the briefs for each side. Summarize those cases, including how your justice ruled (if applicable).  Each summary should be approximately 1 page long (Summary of the case, question presented, decision and rationale, 15pts)

Oral Arguments (10pts)

  • Each Justice pair should prepare a typed list of questions to be asked during the arguments.  These questions should be related to the constitutional questions involved in the case.  Five questions directed at the petitioners and five questions directed at the respondents should be prepared. At least one question should be asked from this set of questions during each day of oral arguments. (10pts)

The Opinion (10pts)

  • Students (Justices) will listen to the arguments made by each side and will have the opportunity to question the attorneys.
  • Each Justice (not pair) will have to write an opinion immediately after final arguments (1-2 paragraphs, due when you come to class on Wednesday)
  • On Wednesday, Justices will have a conference and discuss their initial opinions and take a vote on the case. Using the individual opinions, collectively write a majority and dissenting opinion (1-2 pages)


Schedule for Thursday (Yearbook Signing)




Friday, May 5, 2017

Post AP Exam Plans

Whew. The AP exam is now officially over and hopefully a sense of relief is beginning. Unfortunately, we're not quite done yet.

First, please take a few minutes and fill out this brief survey. This feedback helps me tailor my instruction and provide guidance for future students in the class.

For the next two days, you will have class time to read the Missouri Constitution packet and answer the 50 questions over Missouri government. We will go over the questions on Monday or Tuesday. We will plan on testing Tuesday or Wednesday. You must pass the Missouri government section in order to graduate, but the questions come directly from the packet. Since final exams do not begin until the following week, we will conduct a mock Supreme Court case.

The Supreme Court case we will be simulating is Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer.  This case, heard last month by the Court, centers on whether or not the denial of a grant for a playground made out of recycled tires at a church daycare violated the Equal Protection Clause and the Free Exercise Clause.

Indicate your preference (attorney/justice) by clicking on the appropriate hour.

1st hour
3rd hour
4th hour
5th hour
6th hour
7th hour. 

 Here's an overview of the case and the Supreme Court's hearing:







 You may also turn in your textbooks if you have not already.






Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Public Policy: Policy Making & Domestic Policy

AP Exam Tomorrow! Be there by 7:45am

Good luck! Show what you know!

Public policy is action (and sometimes inaction) taken by the government, both state and federal, to address various issues or problems. Action is usually taken by either the legislative or executive branch, but sometimes the judicial branch also helps make public policy.

Typically, public policy is divided into two main types: domestic and foreign. Domestic policy covers more internal matters like economic policy, education, and the environment. Foreign policy focuses on our relations with other countries and non-state actors and includes military action, global trade, and diplomacy.

Today we will be looking at policy formation and domestic policy issues.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Civil Rights and Legislation

EU 2.C: The 14th Amendment’s “equal protection clause” has often been used to support the advancement of equality
LO 2.C.1: Explain how constitutional provisions have supported and motivated social movements and policy responses. 
EK 2.C.1.a:The application and interpretation of the following Supreme Court rulings and legislative policies illustrate how constitutional provisions can motivate policy responses:
  • ▶  The Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • ▶  Title IX of the Civil Rights Act Amendments (1972)
  • ▶  The Voting Rights Act of 1965
  • ▶  Brown v. Board of Education (I) (1954), which declared that race-based school segregation violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause
  • ▶  Brown v. Board of Education (II) (1955), which held that school districts and federal district courts must implement the court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education (I) (1954) “with all deliberate speed” 
In addition to finding remedy in the courts, civil rights legislation has also helped promote equality. Today, we will examine several of the more important acts and look at the impact they have had.

Perhaps the most significant piece of civil rights legislation passed by Congress is the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Read this CNN article on the 50th anniversary of the bill's passage.




Major Provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act:

1.Banned discrimination in places of public accommodation based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

2. Banned discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

3. Tied federal funding for public schools to compliance with Brown v. Board.

4. Created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to help investigate and file lawsuits based on discrimination.

5. Banned federal funds to any government assisted program that discriminates.


Heart of Atlanta Motel v. US, 1964: upholds Congress's ability to prohibit discrimination based on the interstate commerce clause.


As important and comprehensive as the 1964 Civil Rights Act was, it did not go far enough to protect voting rights for African Americans. This was remedied a year later with passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Major Provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act:
1. Prohibits any form of literacy tests.

2. Allows federal examiners (government officials) to help with voter registration and monitor elections

3. A "pre-clearance" from the Justice Department on any changes that might discriminate against voters (weakened in Shelby County v. Holder, 2013)


Was the 1965 Voting Rights Act successful?






In Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court limited Section V of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.





What impact did the 1964 CRA and 1965 VRA have on political parties?

Do current proposals requiring photo identification for voting limit voting rights?


Other important pieces of legislation:

Title IX of the Educational Act of 1972: prohibits any form of sexual discrimination or sexual harassment in education; most common controversy involves athletics and gender equity

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990: modeled after the 1964 CRA, the ADA prohibits discrimination based on mental or physical disabilities and promotes equality of opportunity. Criticized as an unfunded mandate and a source of excessive litigation.

Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) of 1996: prohibits federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages performed at the state level; struck down in US v. Windsor, 2013.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Civil Rights & the Courts


EU 2.C: The 14th Amendment’s “equal protection clause” has often been used to support the advancement of equality
LO 2.C.1: Explain how constitutional provisions have supported and motivated social movements and policy responses. 


LO 2.C.2: Explain how the Court has at times allowed the restriction of the civil rights of minority groups and at other times has protected those rights. 

EK 2.C.2.b:The Supreme Court has upheld the rights of the majority in cases that limit interdistrict school busing and those that prohibit majority–minority districting.
EK 2.C.2.c:The debate on affrmative action includes justices who insist that the Constitution is colorblind and those who maintain that it forbids only racial classifications designed
to harm minorities, not help them. 
EK 2.C.2.a: Decisions affecting the rights of minority groups demonstrating that minority rights have been restricted at times and protected at other times include:
  • ▶  Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which upheld “separate but equal” racial segregation by the states
  • ▶  Brown v. Board of Education (I) (1954), which declared that race-based school segregation violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause
  • ▶  Brown v. Board of Education (II) (1955), which held that school districts and federal district courts must implement the court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education (I) (1954) “with all deliberate speed”
EK 2.C.1.a:The application and interpretation of the following Supreme Court rulings and legislative policies illustrate how constitutional provisions can motivate policy responses:
  • ▶  The Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • ▶  Title IX of the Civil Rights
    Act Amendments (1972)
  • ▶  The Voting Rights Act of 1965
  • ▶  Brown v. Board of Education (I) (1954), which declared that race-based school segregation violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause
  • ▶  Brown v. Board of Education (II) (1955), which held that school districts and federal district courts must implement the court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education (I) (1954) “with all deliberate speed” 
Review:

  • What is the difference between civil liberties and civil rights?
  • What is incorporation? How does it work?
  • What is the difference between the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause? Provide an example of each.
  • What is meant by the "clear and present danger" doctrine?
  • What is the significance of Mapp v. Ohio?
  • What two court cases helped incorporate provisions of the 5th & 6th Amendments?
  • How does the right to privacy illustrate judicial activism?



The courts have played a vital role in the promotion of civil rights, especially in the latter 20th century and 21st century. Interest groups, like the NAACP, have successfully litigated in support of civil rights with landmark decisions like Brown v. Board of Education. The Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause ("no state shall deny to any person under its jurisdiction equal protection under the law") is most commonly used as the legal justification for these civil rights cases.

 

Important Civil Rights Cases:

Plessy v. Ferguson

Brown v. Board of Education, 1954

Brown v. Board of Education II, 1955

Heart of Atlanta Motel v. US, 1964

Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg, 1971

Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 1978

US v. Windsor, 2013

Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015







Friday, April 28, 2017

Rights of the Accused: 4th, 5th, 6th, & 8th Amendments & The Right to Privacy

EU 2.A: Provisions of the Bill of Rights are continually being interpreted to balance the power of government and the civil liberties of individuals.

LO 2.A.2: Explain how the Supreme Court has attempted to balance claims of individual freedom with laws and enforcement procedures that promote public order and safety.
EK 2.A.2.a:The Miranda rule involves the interpretation and application of accused persons’ due process rights as protected by the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, yet the Court has sanctioned a “public safety” exception that allows unwarned interrogation to stand as direct evidence in court.
EK 2.A.2.c: Court decisions defining cruel and unusual punishment involve interpretation of the Eighth Amendment and its application to state death penalty statutes. 
EK 2.A.2.b: Pretrial rights of the accused and the prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures are intended to ensure that citizen liberties are not eclipsed by the need for social order and security, including:
  • ▶  the right to legal counsel, speedy and public trial, and an impartial jury
  • ▶  protection against warrantless searches of cell phone data
  • ▶  limitations placed on bulk collection of telecommunication metadata (Patriot and USA Freedom Acts)
The 4th Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure by the government. Generally speaking, police must have a warrant to search your home or property based on probable cause. Like the rest of the Bill of Rights, this is not absolute.

Mapp v. Ohio, 1961: Famous Warren Court decision that incorporated the Exclusionary Rule--evidence gained through an illegal search cannot be used against the person.

Exceptions to the Exclusionary Rule:

  • Exigent factors (i.e. destruction of evidence)
  • Items found in "plain view"
  • During an arrest
  • Automobiles?
  • Garbage?
  • Cell phones?
New Jersey v. TLO, 1985: Are students protected from searches at school? How intrusive can a search be? Could a student be stripped- searched? 

Can schools require the drug testing of students





HipHughes & the Fourth Amendment/Exclusionary Rule





The 5th and 6th Amendments both contain many provisions designed to protect those accused by the government of criminal activity. These amendments and the Court's interpretation of these rights, has often led to controversial decisions that have expanded the constitutional protection of those accused at the expense of limiting law enforcement. Many of these decisions occurred in the 1950s and 1960s during the Warren Court era.

Fifth Amendment Provisions:

Double Jeopardy: may not be tried twice for the same crime (if found not guilty)

Self-incrimination: cannot be compelled to be a witness against oneself

Miranda v. Arizona, 1966: Police must inform you of your constitutional rights





Sixth Amendment Provisions:

  • Right to a speedy & public trial
  • Right to know charges against you
  • Right to confront witnesses/call witnesses
  • Right to counsel (attorney)


Gideon v. Wainwright, 1963: Incorporates the sixth amendment's right to an attorney for all criminal cases to the states.

This video does a great job explaining Gideon's case.



Eight Amendment Provisions:

  • No cruel & unusual punishment
  • No excessive fines or bail
Most relevant issues involve use of the death penalty.

Furman v. Georgia, 1972: Death penalty was being unfairly applied (too random/arbitrary); puts a temporary moratorium on it

Gregg v. Georgia, 1976: reinstates the death penalty; provides more guidance to jurors

Other issues:
Death penalty for mentally challenged? Minors?





Review your civil liberties: Play the game Do I Have a Right  by iCivics. Pretend to be a lawyer and build up your law firm helping people with their complaints.




Right to Privacy

Does the right to privacy exist? What amendment guarantees your right to privacy?

There are several important cases related to the issue of privacy rights and individual liberties, the most important being Griswold v. Connecticut (1965). In this case, Estelle Griswold of Planned Parenthood was prosecuted for distributing birth control pills, prohibited by Connecticut law, even to married couples. Click on the above link to read about the case. What is meant by penumbra?

Griswold is considered a landmark decision by establishing a right to privacy. This serves as a springboard to other privacy cases, most notably the case Roe v. Wade (1973) and other court decisions involving abortion rights and attempts to limit and regulate abortions. Read this summary of Roe v. Wade. Why is Roe v. Wade so significant? What did it specifically do?

Roe v. Wade was just the beginning of legal challenges concerning abortion. Since 1973, states have repeatedly passed legislation to limit abortions. The Court has maintained the right to an abortion, but has gradually upheld state and federal restrictions during the last forty years. Some of the restrictions include:

Missouri has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, requiring a 72-hour waiting period. It is currently being challenged.

Texas abortion law heads to the Supreme Court:





Other Privacy Issues

Right to Marry: Loving v. Virginia, 1967

Right to Die: Cruzan v. Missouri Dept. of Health, 1990

Sexual Behavior: Lawrence v. Texas, 2003

How will the Lawrence v. Texas and Loving v. Virginia cases affect the Supreme Court's decision regarding same-sex marriage?


Thursday, April 27, 2017

1st Amendment: Speech, Press, Petition, & Assemble

HW due Thursday: Read 467-477 and take the reading quiz.


EU 2.A: Provisions of the Bill of Rights are continually being interpreted to balance the power of government and the civil liberties of individuals.
LO 2.A.1: Explain the extent to which the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the First and Second Amendments reflects a commitment
to individual liberty.
EK 2.A.1.b:The Supreme Court has held that symbolic speech is protected by the First Amendment, demonstrated by Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969), in which the court ruled that public school students could wear black armbands in school to protest the Vietnam War.
EK 2.A.1.c: In New York Times Co. v. United States (1971), the Supreme Court bolstered the freedom of the press, establishing a “heavy presumption against prior restraint” even in cases involving national security. 
EK 2.A.2.d: Efforts to balance social order and individual freedom are re ected in interpretations of the First Amendment that limit speech, including:
Time, place, and manner regulations
Defamatory, offensive, and obscene statements and gestures
That which creates a “clear and present danger” based on the ruling in Schenck v. United States (1919). 

In addition to protecting religious freedoms, the First Amendment also guarantees freedom of speech and the press, and the right to petition the government and the right to assemble. Again, these rights are not absolute as the government may place certain limits on these freedoms.






An interview with Mary Beth Tinker, the central figure in Tinker v. Des Moines.






Perhaps nowhere are the limits of the 1st Amendment tested more than the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) and their practice of protesting at funerals. Using the shield of the 1st Amendment's freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and the right to assemble, WBC has successfully deflected legal challenges and continues to spew their hate-filled message.







Do Students Still Have Free Speech in School?

A Free Speech and Student Rap Case Appealed to the Supreme Court