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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

House vs. Senate

Eagle Hour Survey

5th Hour Survey

The United States has a bicameral, or two-chambered, Congress. As part of the Great Compromise, it consists of both a House of Representatives and a Senate. Today we will be looking at the specifics of each chamber and how they are different.

First, click on the link and make a copy for yourself. Next, watch the videos and use the links below to learn about the House and Senate and their differences. Record the differences on the chart, focusing on the last five (powers/duties). Think about how certain characteristics (size of body, term of office, etc) impact the atmosphere, duties, and characteristics of each chamber.

Schmoop.com: pages on the House and the Senate

Boundless: Differences Between House and Senate

Diffen.com: House and Senate

Key Differences

How Representative is Congress?

Congress, consisting of both the House and the Senate, was created to be the branch that best represents the people. But, is it truly representative of the people?

Use the following resources to determine if you think the 115th Congress is a good representation of our population. Write a 1-2 paragraph explanation on your thoughts on whether or not Congress is representative of the people.

CRS Profile of the 114th Congress

Washington Post Analysis of 115th Demographics

Pew Research Center: 115th Congress

Descriptive Representation vs. Substantive Representation

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Fake News and Bias in the Media

HW due Friday: Read How Social Media is Ruining Politics

  Pizzagate--Fake News Explained

Is there a bias in the media? If so, to what degree? How does it impact our perception of the government?

Please read the following articles:

How biased are the media, really?

What are some of the possible explanations for the increased claims of media bias?

Terrorists? Freedom fighters? Oregon standoff poses quandary for media

What term should the media use when describing the situation in Oregon? How does that compare to recent actions in Ferguson or the shootings in California? How does the media's use of certain terms shape our perception?

Is the Media Biased Towards Clinton or Trump?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Regulation of the Media

HW due Thursday: Read pg. 174-188 in Janda and take the reading quiz.

Despite the First Amendment and the freedom of the press, there are still limitations on the media. Today, we will examine some of those regulations and government control of the media.

Additional videos:

This TED Talk focuses on whistleblowers and the the threat of government prosecution and investigation:

Crash Course review of freedom of the press:

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Roles of the Media

HW due Wednesday: Read 167-174 in Janda and complete the reading quiz.


What are the three major roles of the media? Which role is the most important?

Explain the following terms:
  • Gatekeeper
  • Scorekeeper
  • Watchdog
Using a news website like the Washington Post or NY Times, find an example of each of the roles.

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Development of Mass Media

Mass Media Identification Terms

HW due Tuesday: Read 158-166 in Janda and take the reading quiz.
Other reading assignments/quizzes for this unit:

Today, we begin our unit on mass media, another linkage institution, connecting the people and the government together. This unit, although brief, will focus on the development of mass media (comparing media today to its early days), the roles of the media, government regulation of the media, and the effect of media on politics and government, including any possible bias.

The main focus for today is the development of mass media over time. How has media changed over the last 200 years?


Some supplementary articles:

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Federalism in Focus: The Legalization of Marijuana and the CSA

Federalism Quiz Today!

Medicinal marijuana is now legal in nearly two dozen states, and several states have even legalized it for recreational purposes. These states are in direct conflict with the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) which classifies marijuana as a Class 1 drug. How can states legalize marijuana while it remains prohibited at the federal level? Is this a violation of the supremacy clause? How does the 10th Amendment play into this debate?

Read the US Government's memo to the states on federal enforcement of marijuana laws.

  • What is the message that the federal government is giving to the states?
  • How could that change with another president?
Read this editorial on the legalization of marijuana and the conflict with federal law.
  • Should states be able to pick and choose what federal laws they will choose to follow?
  • How does the Court's decision in Printz v. US relate to states' enforcement of federal law?
If states are able to legalize marijuana, what are the problems posed by prohibition at the federal level?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Supreme Court & Federalism

HW due Thursday: Read 113-123 and take the reading quiz

Federalism Quiz on Friday!

The Supreme Court has decided many cases dealing with issues of federalism. Today we will look at several of these cases and see how the Court's ruling impacted state-national relations.

Please use this form to read about the Court cases and fill out this chart to record your findings.

Other resources:

US v. Lopez (PBS Landmark Cases)

US v. Lopez (Bill of Rights Institute)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


HW due Thursday: Read 113-123 and complete the reading quiz.

Federalism Quiz on Friday

The devolution revolution (sometimes referred to as Nixon's New Federalism) is characterized by power shifting from the national government back to the states. Since FDR's New Deal, power has gradually concentrated with the federal government. Starting with Nixon in the 1970s, continuing with Reagan in the 1980s, and culminating with President Clinton, a Republican-led Congress, and a more conservative court in the 1990s, devolution has increased state power in some respects while limiting the power of the national government.

Several examples of New Federalism/devolution include:

  • Revenue sharing (1970s-1986)
  • Increase in use of block grants
  • Major Court decisions (i.e. US v. Lopez, 1995)
Not everyone supports the devolution movement though. In The Devil in Devolution, John Donahue raises several serious criticisms about the effectiveness of allowing states the power and discretion to make public policy. Here are several discussion questions from the article:


  1. What is devolution?  Do you think Donahue supports devolution or not?  Explain your answer.

  1. What is the “Problem of the Commons”?

  1. How do each of the following illustrate the problems of devolution?

  • Presidential primaries
  • Divorce and same –sex marriage
  • Environmental legislation
  • Legalized gambling

  1. How would defenders of states’ rights refute Donahue’s arguments?

  1. What are the negative consequences of regulating and legislating at the national level in such a diverse country?

Democracy in Action Video: Section 3-Welfare Reform (start at 17:00)

Friday, January 13, 2017

Federalist 39 & McCulloch v. Maryland

HW for Tuesday: Read Devil in Devolution by Donahue and be prepared to discuss in class these questions.

The central debate between Federalists and Anti-Federalists was where power was going to be located. Anti-Federalists were convinced that power would be consolidated into a national government, while Federalists insisted that power would be shared between the two levels. In Federalist 39, Madison clarifies the republican nature of the newly proposed government and how it exemplifies shared powers.

  1. How does Madison define a republic?
  1. What arguments does he offer for the republican character of the Constitution? Provide three specific examples to illustrate the republican principles of the Constitution.
  1. How does Madison respond to the claim that the Constitution created a national rather than a federal (what we consider confederal) form of government? What different aspects of the Constitution does he consider in responding to that claim?
  1. What historical events or trends have changed the balance of power between the states and the federal government?

  1. What are the two central questions raised by this case?
  1. How does the Court answer these two questions?  What rationale (constitutional clauses) does the Court use to explain its decision?
  1. Compare the Court’s reasoning with the concerns raised by Brutus regarding the power of the government.
  1. How would our nation be different today if the Court had decided differently?

A few more resources on McCulloch v. Maryland:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fiscal or Regulatory Federalism

HW for Thursday: Read 102-113 in Janda and complete the reading quiz.

One relationship that has dramatically changed over the past century is the redistribution of money from the federal government to the states. Typically, this transfer of money is through either the use of block grants or categorical grants. Today, we will take a look at the differences between the two and the impact on federal control and regulations.

CBO Report on Federal Grants to States

Friday, January 6, 2017

Dual Federalism & Cooperative Federalism

HW Reminder: Read 92-102 and take the reading quiz.

Federalism can take many different forms. Dual federalism and cooperative federalism are historically the two main descriptors of how federalism has worked in the United States.

Read this page on dual and cooperative federalism and this one on the differences between dual and cooperative federalism to get a better understanding of the differences between the two. As you read, take notes (using a double-column chart) about the significant points and differences between the two.

Key questions:

1. How would you define dual federalism? When did it dominate American politics?
2. How would you define cooperative federalism? When did it dominate American politics?
3. How does the layer cake/marble cake metaphor apply to these two forms of federalism?
4. What features of the Constitution are relevant in the debate between dual and cooperative federalism?
5. What caused the shift in the 1930s from dual to cooperative federalism?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


Federalism: Day 1

HW for Friday: Read 92-102 and take the reading quiz. All reading quizzes will be disabled the day of the chapter quiz. Any quizzes not completed at that time will be entered as a zero.

Federalism Unit and Identification Terms

Check for understanding: Analyze each scenario and determine which power (Expressed/Delegated, Implied, Inherent, Concurrent, or Reserved) is being used.

__________________ 1. A worker pays federal and state income taxes.

__________________ 2. The United States declares war on Japan.

__________________ 3. A lawyer who wants to practice in Texas must first pass the state's bar exam.

__________________ 4. Toys containing lead are banned from the United States.

__________________ 5. Racial segregation in hotels and restaurants is prohibited by the federal government.

__________________ 6. President Obama gives the State of the Union address.

__________________ 7. Missouri decided to set aside 500 acres for a new wildlife reservation.

__________________ 8. Hawaii became a state in 1959.

__________________ 9. A person must be at least 18 to marry without parental consent in Illinois.

__________________ 10. After Hurricane Katrina, the US and Louisiana issue bonds to help pay for the rebuilding of New Orleans.