Choose exactly four of the following questions, and answer each chosen item with a paragraph that addresses the question directly and explains the subject meaningfully. Keep in mind that when you mention any term or concept that is not common knowledge, you must explain what it means. You are free to look up information from anywhere you choose, but each answer must be your own original way of explaining the subject, and your answer cannot closely match any other student’s original way of explaining the subject. Read all questions very carefully.
1. In the years from 1781 through 1787, what system had been in effect to bind the thirteen newly independent states together? What powers did the Congress have under that system, and what were the perceived weaknesses that led to the calling of the Philadelphia convention of 1787, where the Constitution was written?
2. What is the connection between the study of federalism and the study of the powers of Congress, and in this regard, what is meant by saying that this is a government of enumerated powers? Give an example of a Supreme Court case that illustrates this concept, with a summary of the outcome and the reasoning behind it.
3. When a state law has the effect of interfering with the practices of a religious community, and when such a law is challenged before the Supreme Court, what constitutional rule does the Supreme Court usually apply to decide the case? In your answer, give an example of a case that was in this category, and explain the reasoning that the Court used in order to decide either for or against the religious group that was involved
4. Based on case law involving the First Amendment, if a racist group holds a rally in the midst of a community that is hostile to its views, under what conditions would that group’s speech be protected as free speech, and under what conditions (in terms of the actions of the group itself) would the group’s speech not be protected?
5. In the 1960s, in order to strike down a state law that interfered with the use of birth control devices, the Supreme Court creatively crafted a doctrine weaving together the implications of multiple clauses in the Bill of Rights. In the 1970s, the Court applied that doctrine in issuing a much more controversial ruling. What was the doctrine and the reasoning behind it, and what was the controversial ruling of the 1970s?
6. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 both involve federal regulation of the behavior of private businesses. On what constitutional basis did Congress claim the power to issue such laws, and how did the changing attitude of the Supreme Court affect Congress’s ability to do so? (Note: This question involves a very specific constitutional principle, not just a general philosophy of what the laws should be.)
7. The school desegregation case of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and the gay marriage case of Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) both involve a similar constitutional question, and they also both involve the concept of federalism. Summarize the outcome and the constitutional reasoning in each of these cases, and state why such cases are relevant to the study of federalism.