PARTICIPATION                  CITIZENSHIP

Malcolm Gladwell has written, "Success is a function of persistence and doggedness and the willingness to work hard for twenty-two minutes to make sense of something that most people would give up on after thirty seconds."  Practice here and now.

CONCEPT APPLICATION

 

…The decline of party organizations has continued over the past 40 or so years. The party’s control over presidential nominations has disappeared almost entirely; witness Trump himself not a Republican until quite recently, winning the GOP nomination in 2016, and Sanders, who does not think of himself as a Democrat, capturing more than 40 percent of Democratic votes that year.  Moreover, the McCain-Feingold Act, by outlawing unlimited soft money donations, greatly hampered the ability of state parties to manage and fund campaigns on the ground and gave an opening to super PACs, which are totally independent of the parties.

 

The party has regained some power in Congress, though.  Starting in the 1970s, the independence of committee chairman in the House was curbed and more power was given to the party caucus, and thus the party leadership.  Committee chairman who consistently buck the party can be ousted.  Similarly, members who regularly misbehave can be removed from key committees, while good partisans can be promoted to the most important spots, where the major deals on crucial legislation get made.  The leadership architecture in the House, with its network of whip positions, is an attractive opportunity for many members, offering an inducement for them to follow the party program.  All in all, members have a strong incentive to play the inside game in the House of Representatives: Follow the basic guidelines of the party, and in due course you will be rewarded with a share of political or policymaking power…

 

Source: “American Hangover: The death of parties, the distortion of democracy – and how to fix it,” Jay Cost, Washington Examiner, March 26, 2019.

 

After reading the scenario, respond to A, B, and C below:

 

  1. Describe a cause for the weakening of political parties, as described in the scenario, as seen in contemporary American government.

  2. In the context of the scenario, explain how the response in part A is affected by new media.

  3. In the context of the scenario, explain how the U.S. Supreme Court could reverse the trend toward weak political parties.
     

QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS

Use the information graphic to answer the questions.

 

  1. Identify the current maximum amount an individual donor can contribute to a candidate in any 2019-2020 election cycle.

  2. Describe a similarity or difference between contribution limits in federal elections, as illustrated in the information graphic, and draw a conclusion about that similarity or difference.

  3. Explain how contribution limits in federal elections, as shown in the information graphic, has impacted the modern campaign.

 

 

SCOTUS COMPARISON

 

“In this case, we review a judgment from a three-judge District Court which sustained an equal protection challenge to Indiana's 1981 state apportionment on the basis that the law unconstitutionally diluted the votes of Indiana Democrats. Although we find such political gerrymandering to be justiciable, we conclude that the District Court applied an insufficiently demanding standard in finding unconstitutional vote dilution. Consequently, we reverse…

 

The issue here is, of course, different from that adjudicated in Reynolds. It does not concern districts of unequal size. Not only does everyone have the right to vote and to have his vote counted, but each elector may vote for and be represented by the same number of lawmakers. Rather, the claim is that each political group in a State should have the same chance to elect representatives of its choice as any other political group. Nevertheless, the issue is one of representation, and we decline to hold that such claims are never justiciable…

 

These decisions support a conclusion that this case is justiciable. As Gaffney demonstrates, that the claim is submitted by a political group, rather than a racial group, does not distinguish it in terms of justiciability. That the characteristics of the complaining group are not immutable, or that the group has not been subject to the same historical stigma, may be relevant to the manner in which the case is adjudicated, but these differences do not justify a refusal to entertain such a case.

 

Having determined that the political gerrymandering claim in this case is justiciable, we turn to the question whether the District Court erred in holding that the appellees had alleged and proved a violation of the Equal Protection Clause…

 

We decline to overturn the District Court's finding of discriminatory intent as clearly erroneous.”

Source: Davis v. Bandemer 1986

 

Based on the information above, respond to the following questions.

 

  1. Identify a common constitutional principle used to make a ruling in both Baker v. Carr (1961) and Davis v. Bandemer (1986).

  2. Based on the constitutional principle identified in part A, explain why the facts of Baker v. Carr (1961) led to a different holding as the holding in Davis v. Bandemer (1986).

  3. Describe an action that the Congress could take to respond to the Davis v. Bandemer (1986) decision if it was deemed disagreeable.

 

 

ARGUMENTATION ESSAY

 

Alexander Hamilton called the judicial branch “the least dangerous branch.”  Assess Hamilton’s claim in light of contemporary politics: Is the judicial branch our least dangerous branch?

 

In your essay, you must:

  • Articulate a defensible claim or thesis that responds to the prompt and establishes a line of reasoning.

  • Support your claim with at least TWO pieces of accurate and relevant information.  At least ONE piece of evidence must be from one of the following foundational documents – U.S. Constitution, Federalist 78, Federalist 70.

  • Use a second piece of evidence from another foundational document from the list or from your study of the electoral process

  • Use reasoning to explain why your evidence supports your claim/thesis

  • Respond to an opposing or alternative perspective using refutation, concession, or rebuttal

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