The judicial branch is probably the most misunderstood of the three branches in our national government. Americans have a high standard of justice and when we feel justice is not served (perhaps like we may see in the George Zimmerman or Casey Anthony cases) we get angry and rail against the system. Our country has always had a passionate love-hate relationship with this branch. Many of the grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence concerned this branch:
He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.
He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states.
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:
For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:
In convincing the states to ratify the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton wrote the following about the judicial branch in The Federalist, #78:
"It proves incontestably, that the judiciary is beyond comparison the weakest of the three departments of power; that it can never attack with success either of the other two; and that all possible care is requisite to enable it to defend itself against their attacks. It equally proves, that though individual oppression may now and then proceed from the courts of justice, the general liberty of the people can never be endangered from that quarter."
I am not so sure Hamilton would agree after looking at the many controversial decisions from this year's session of the US Supreme Court! Our Court surely handed down some of its most contested rulings in nearly a decade. With a simple majority of five, the US Supreme Court can strike down any law, halt any action, or refuse to intervene to save a life. When you couple those powers with the fact that these members serve for life--THAT'S power! Click on the links below to look over the following case summaries from the session that just ended. Post your comments as to:
Whether or not you agree with these decisions & why or why not, and;
Whether or not we have concentrated too much power in the hands of too few.
Remember, you may not post more than one time per calender week (Sunday-Saturday). A two-point bonus will be awarded to those that post comments for all 5 blogs by July 31, 2015. All comments must be approved, thus there will be a delay in seeing your comment posted (I am not on the Internet at all times!) The last day to post a comment for this blog is August 23, 2015 at 11:59 p.m.
One topic this course emphasizes is that Congress is the "first branch of government." What that exactly means today is often up for interpretation. The Framers gave the Congress the power to tax, the power to make laws and the power to fund nation's programs-just to name a few. Most Americans, however, give the President the blame or credit--depending on their ideological point of view. Although Congress passed the healthcare law, the stimulus packages, TARP, and the deficit budgets that have led to our nearly $19 trillion debt, the American public calls these "Obamacare," the "Obama Recovery," or the "Obama Bailouts." I am certain James Madison would scratch his head at our misconceptions. He would not be surprised, though, at the lively two-party system that has emerged. I am certain he would point to these "factions" (as he called them in the Federalist #10) and be satisfied that there is a balance of power between the two. In the article below, politics are to blame for the ongoing immigration mess between our divided government. The Republican-controlled Congress wants to tackle the lack of border control; our Democratic President wants to reduce the long, complicated processes of citizenship and legal status. What to do? What kind of compromise will be hammered out, if any? Here is what I would like you to do this week:
Read the article below, then comment on what you think our course of action should be. Which side do you most agree with and why? What should we do about this tense issue of immigration?
Study the second link to public opinion polls on what a majority of Americans think. How do your views stack up? In your post, make it apparent to me that you have read the article and studied the trends.
Welcome to the AP Government Blog! The goal of my blog is to help my students develop a deeper understanding of the topics we will explore this year and to help you take that understanding to make real world connections. The first topic we will explore in August is power. All year we will explore the essential questions of Who governs? and To what ends?We will also explore the ideas of authority and legitimacy in obtaining power. So, how does one gain power over people? What or who gives them that power? How does that person get others to follow? When atrocities occur, when should the US and other countries intervene? If we do get involved to what extent and what costs? If we don't get involved, do we let other destructive regimes call the shots?
Before you begin, please sign in to the site in the upper right corner using your student id number and password. If you cannot get the site to log you in, PLEASE start your post with your name. Failure to do one of these two will get you no credit because I will have no way to know who posted the comment.
Analyze the article using the questions below so that I can tell you have read the article and have a thorough understanding of its content. How do you think someone like Kim Jong-un maintains power? Should the US be alarmed at the persistence of the Kim dynasty? What should our response to this regime be? Should the US do more to end the regime or mind our own business? Explain your opinion!
In your post, please relate the topic to the article's content. You may also respond to postings by fellow students. Please use proper rules of grammar and language. This blog is not a place to text message!
Some of you may have strong feelings concerning this article's topic...Please keep all responses appropriate! If you feel the need to attack, attack the position--NOT THE PERSON.
Remember, you may not post more than one comment a week (Sunday-Saturday)! This post will be available for comments through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, August 23, 2015.
John Dewey once said, "To reflect is to look back over what has been done so as to extract the net meanings which are the capital stock for intelligent dealing with further experiences." Another way of stating his meaning is reflection helps us learn from our experiences and grow in our decision-making. I had a great time in DC: the tours, the play, the pictures, the camaraderie will all be memories I will carry with me concerning the class of 2015 . This week's post is completely optional. I want to read it next year while I look at your pictures and DC board. Okay, before I get mushy, I want you to use this week's blog to tell me:
1. What was the best thing you did in DC? 2. What was one thing you learned or did in DC that brought government to life? 3. What can I do to make the trip even better for future groups? Now, be reasonable...you know I can't extend the trip!
This post will count as 5 points on your lowest test grade. I will keep this post up throughout the entire summer and maybe some of next year to motivate that group. Hopefully they will read last week's post first. I have had a great time with you all. I really have loved every minute of every bit of time I have spent with you. I expect BIG things from the class of 2015! Don't let me down.
Our year together is quickly winding down...I can't even say more than that without a sadness in my chest! The underclassmen have all registered for classes by now and summer work goes live on the social studies website in about a week. I know you are all smiling thinking about how you aren't going to miss that ONE BIT! Has this course been all you expected and hoped? Has it been harder or easier than you imagined? I want you to be frank in the advice you give to those that have signed up for this course next year. Let them know what they are in for--both the good and the bad. Now, maybe I should wait to blog on this topic after the AP exam, but I have found by then you are all just TOO HAPPY to be done and all I get is sunny little comments about my course. Those rose-colored comments are not reflective of the stress you have right now in the midst of finishing the course work and preparing for AP exams. So, here is what I would like you to do in your final post:
1. Explain to the rising seniors what is the most challenging aspect about AP Government.
2. Give your best advice for being successful in the course...what do they need to do or not do?
3. What should they look forward to about the course? What should they dread?
The last day to post a comment for full credit is 11:59 p.m. on Friday, May 8th.