In order to facilitate your best work, you will be able to choose to write on one of two topics. Please note that this assignment requires you to write an ANATYTICAL essay, which is neither a formal research paper nor a creative writing exercise. The expectation that you will think critically about the readings (text book and supplementary readings) AND utilize lecture material and discussion to develop a thesis based on your views of the facts and perspectives presented and discussed in THIS class. Although you are free to incorporate readings, ideas and insights from other classes, your paper must be based on your own understanding of lecture and reading material from Political Science 125.
Paper topic 1: Discuss how and why civil liberties came to be considered fundamental rights in the United States as well as the specific tensions that have existed (and continue to exist) between the government’s role in trying to protect individual civil liberties and protecting interests related to the public good more generally. In your answer, please distinguish civil liberties from civil rights. Also, plan to cover the relevance of federalism as well as the selective incorporation of the Bill of Rights. Also, be sure to talk about specific amendments to the U.S. Constitution, including the first, fifth and fourteenth amendments, as they relate to freedom of expression, due process, and the criminal justice system.
Paper topic 2: Given the highly restrictive nature of the American political system early on, struggles to expand political and civil rights in the United States of America have been critical to fostering greater inclusion and equity. In your essay discuss how and why the civil and political rights of a large portion of Americans were restricted during the late 19th and early 20th centuries as well as how both the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965) helped to promote greater inclusion and equity. In your answer, discuss at least one Supreme Court case that was decisive in undermining civil rights and one that was decisive in helping to support civil rights. Also, plan to draw on extended examples that illustrate how federalism is relevant to the civil rights (protections or lack of protections) of two or more of the following racial/ethnic/gender groups (i.e. African Americans, Asian Americans, American Indians, Mexican-Americans/Latinos, Muslim Americans, and/or Women).
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