Great question; I am glad you asked.
As previously stated, I am super passionate about this unit. So, let's peel those beautiful crimson drapes back and get into it.
In looking at the creation of the courts, I draw two distinct parallels. The courts are OOAK (one of a kind) and not so much.
Why the courts are OOAK:
Why not so much:
I then get into the distinction between Title III and Title I courts, as well as courts of original jurisdiction and appellate jurisdiction.
Primarily, Article III courts are those that created in Article III of the Constitution, naturally. They tend to have a generic docket that hears all court cases under federal jurisdiction. There is one court created by the Constitution (the Supreme Court), as well as one class of jurists (Supreme Court Judges). The rest of the courts are created under statute (most notably the Judiciary Act of 1789)
Article I courts are created by Congress under Constitutional authority, specifically Article I Section 8 Clause 9. There are several types of courts who are crafted pursuant to the powers in the Article I: tax courts, regulation of territories and DC, and military courts. (And to make it even more complex, consider the over 4,000 executive adjudicators who work in varying degrees of independence, though never full independence, from the executive. The Supreme Court can and does review their decisions, as in the case NLRB v Canning.)
Here is a great resource for use to explain this...
From this point, we discuss the lovely world of judicial activism vs judicial restraint. I don't belabor the various subgroupings like textualists, originalists, etc... we just get a general understanding of reading into a decision with the desire to write rulings that either live within the text of the Constitution or broadly interpret the Constitution.
I have a worksheet that covers this in a nutshell, and even has a great video link from Annenberg that pairs Justice Scalia up with Justice Breyer in a head to head debate over the merits of each interpretation. (Up on TPT).
For an even MORE in-depth review of the various philosophies, try the first chapter in Scalia Dissents. It is succinct and has an appropriate treatment for the content. And, it is pretty humorous. Actually, the whole book is hilarious, but that is for another day.
This is, and probably always will be, my favorite unit in all of government.
And my first observations on the court are borrowed ones.
When you ask Americans to rank the three branches of the government, the Supreme Court usually ranks number one in the hearts of mice and men. This is followed by the President and Congress. Right now it is in that order.
(As of today, SCOTUS ranks around 48%, POTUS is coming in strong at 44%, and Congress is bringing up the rear at a dismissal 13%.)
REALLY!?! While I love the SCOTUS, I find this stat to be incredible for TWO reasons...
1.) The SCOTUS is the least democratic of the three branches. Those guys and gals in black are there because of some President's nomination... and Congressional approval. And once they are in, they are in for a term of "good behavior." Whatever that means. (Means they have to generally exercise ethical conduct. Folks have been impeached for alcoholism in the past in the judicial branch... and some other unsavory activities.) And if they are impeached, remember... that is 2/3s of both chamber doing their thing. You better have broad, bipartisan support. I view this as meaning that the justices do not have to fear being impeached for political reasons, especially if they are accused of being overtly political in their decisions.
Um, ahem. That is the way it is supposed to be. But we'll get back to that in a few.
Think about it like this, too. Eisenhower is famously cited as saying that Earl Warren was the biggest mistake of his presidency... not for Warren's role in advancing civil rights, but for Warren's track record on criminal law. (And that quote... it's apocryphal... but he probably said something pretty darn similar to that.)
2.) The SCOTUS, in trying to interpret laws, has a strong track record of ruling on the behalf of the minority. Think about it... at least in recent years, we have seen legislation undone by the Courts despite strong, popular support... things like:
They have to rule for the minority. That is the peculiar function that the courts were crafted to accomplish. While there is little in the Constitution about courts, aside from establishing jurisdiction, the Supreme Courts, terms for judges, and allowing Congress authority to craft an efficient legal system... The fact that these folks have "life" terms that are isolated from politics gives them the ability to make calls that are politically unpopular with the majority.
And while the courts have assumed the right of Judicial Review courtesy of the Marshall court, it is not explicitly stated in the Constitution. This implied has become one of the largest swords the courts wield, and is firmly established in American jurisprudence.
The amazingly beautiful thing about this branch's personality is pretty much exactly how Madison intended it. Madison and the other founding fathers constructed a branch that was unique in human history. An independent branch with powers separate from the others (unlike the Crown's courts in England, or the non-permanent courts under the Articles)... in which the court was there to judge actions against natural rights and precedent. The fact that Marshall enabled a check that actually erased illegal actions is truly another completion of this power.
So, as we continue through the court units we begin and end our reflections here.
Oh, lovgubbers. It has been quite a while since my last post... and so much has happened.
My radio silence is due to my yearly diversion into my own version of March Madness... Research papers. I finished grading my 125 10-page papers in less than two weeks, and then needed a BREAK.
But learning and teaching continued despite this interlude...
And while I was grading, I was also teaching Monetary and Fiscal Policy.
So, I primarily rounded this up digitally. I used a blendspace activity for both lessons. While this is repetitive in terms of presentation, which I really don't like to do, this unit is constantly in flux. Having the ability to change my presentation each year as necessary is really helpful, and blendspace is super easy to share.
Here is my fiscal policy blendspace:
(I really like the first video; it is a great hook. The concluding video is for kids who are not in class the day I show the full length movie. IOUSA is going on 8 years old; it is really informative and shocking to see how off the figures they site are!)
And here is my monetary policy unit. It is an adaptation of a couple of lessons created by the fed reserve, and is really helpful. Additionally, I do have my kids listen to the interview of Neil Irwin... it is great to put some of this information in context.
Man, alive are taxes confusing.
I decided this year in looking at what I have done in years past that there has to be a better way to present this information to students so that I have lecture notes and video and infographics all tied up in one nice neat bow.
Added bonus, when I am done, I get to throw a cute quiz in there as exit questions.
Added bonus bonus, I can even put my notes into the margins of the presentation so kids and folks can see 'em.
Now, when I roll in tomorrow morning, I hook up the computer to the overhead, grab my lecture notes, and click away.
I love technology, don't you? Feel free to use mine, or play on Blendspace all your own. It's sweet.
It is late spring, and it's time to transition my students' excellent writing skills to shorter formats. In my neck of the woods, 120 or so seniors are wrapping up their major public policy project, which requires authentic, accurate research; selectivity and exercise of logic; and superior writing skills. In 10 pages.
They are, believe it or not, rising to the occasion. I am proud of their hard work. But we have much shorter essays to write for the APGOPO exam. I am starting them off easier with a format most are familiar with... a DBQ. ('Cause APGOPO has FRQs... get 'em straight, people!)
I turn to my friends at the DBQ Project for a ready to go, easy to administer and amend mini-DBQ on the Federal Budget.
It is a beautiful intro into the budgetary process, and offers some fantastic connections to the Constitution, as well as initiating thought about how to actually trim that federal budget.
("Let's nix NASA!" say students.
"But wait, if it weren't for NASA's push for miniaturization of computer components to lighten payloads and spend less money on rocket fuel, we wouldn't have our smart phones!
"Oh. Well, let's stop paying the national debt!"
"And default? Good luck securing that federal loan next year... or ever again!"
"Oh. How about Veteran's Benefits."
"So, we're going to leave all those service men and women with PTSD, amputations, severe brain trauma, and paralysis under/unemployed without adequate medical care?"
"Oh. This isn't fair!")
Anyways, this really is a great review of writing for brevity as well as an intro to the budgetary process. I highly recommend it, and the kids enjoyed everything (but the writing.)
When snow and ice limits class time, I have to get creative.
The bureaucracy is normally two to three class periods, at least.
This year I decided to make this unit something that is a bit more portable. So, I created a bureaucracy activity that can be done in the classroom or at home. Here is how we do it in two parts.
Part One: Cookie Activity
I buy myself some THIN MINTS from my daughter's troop and get ready to cut. them. up.
The purpose of this activity is to show students the differences between the private sector and public sector.
Before we start, the classroom is divided in half. One half is the private sector, and the other is the public sector. Public sector kids get an index card. If I have a class of 30, and 15 are public, then: 6 get a #1; 5 get a #3; 3 get a #5; and 1 get a #7.
Here, in the nation's capitol, we're snoozing away under snow and ice.
For the eighth time. I think. I've honestly lost count.
It's all good. I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, so I have mad snow skills. Just thought they wouldn't do me much good in VA.
Well, time and technology has allowed for improvements in education, so I am doing my second snow-E day with my students. We've got tests to prep for, no time to delay.
I am about three class periods into my President unit, and thought it about time to sit down and give my recap on what good works we have been doin'.
In order to do this unit justice, I really want to think at the beginning and again at the end... what makes a great President?
"I do not believe," said Wilson, "that any man can lead who does not act . . . under the impulse of a profound sympathy with those whom he leads -- a sympathy which is insight -- an insight which is of the heart rather than of the intellect.
While ole man winter wages a war outside, it's that time of year where we can all retire to our couches, grab a mug of cocoa while a fire rages in the fire place... and snuggle up to the POTUS.
So, this is my next unit. Pretty nice, huh? Fortuitous timing?
Well, my poor kiddies have to finish their semester exams first. THEN we tackle the big man.
So, in the WEEK they have off coming up, maybe I will give them some things to think about.
1: Al Jazeera America is asking folks to tweet pics of themselves with their wishes for the POTUS in his next year. #DearPOTUS.
2: The White House is inviting folks to watch the enhanced live stream on FB, YouTube, or Google+. There will be a SOTU chat afterwards with some members of Obama's Executive Office of the President. Follow with #SOTUChat.
3. The White House offers us an inside glimpse of prepping for the SOTU. You can either go #InsideSOTU on Tumblr or follow their progress on Storify or their devoted SOTU page on Whitehouse.gov.
So, what do we do with this?
What will you do? I couldn't decide on just one, so I made an assignment with all six.. In a rush? Have $2 to spare? You can get a copy, too!!!
Power, leverage, and influence have come in all different forms through our nation's history.
Many political junkies have chronicled this push and pull of power between the Congress and President as the 'law of ebb and flow.' Primarily during moments of national crisis (war, recession, etc.) have created stronger POTUSes. However, there have been equally great Congresses.
Honestly, I cannot tell where we are right now. I would think that we are in neither. We don't have a 'czar' Speaker... Boehner is struggling to keep his party together. The 'young guns,' McCarthy, Ryan, and Cantor, are fighting to control the House. And to dismantle the direction Obama wants to take.
So, it is an interesting time indeed.
I like to compare and contrast how members of Congress get things done. How the top does it; what it is like at the bottom of the pile. So, I show two movies.
First up is Cliffhanger. While some people criticize PBS for painting Boehner in a sympathetic or inept light, you still get a feel for the way things are done on either end of Pennsylvania Avenue.
Follow that up with Mr. Cao Goes to Washington. As a freshman member, he represents a traditionally black district in the heart of New Orleans... and struggles to be true to his district and to the party's needs.
Between the two movies, you get some great questions about how each side gets leverage... like freshman are better working en masse, using grassroots pressure... while the party elite rely on campaign donations, sweetheart legislation, and handing out high ranking political positions.
I want to start by thanking Mr. Snowden and Mr. Greenwald for their uncompromising dedication to giving the NSA violations air time and transparency. I wanted to share some of the most important things I have learned from this book bef...
tagged: nerdcation and to-read
tagged: nerdcation and to-read
tagged: nerdcation and to-read
by Bill Bishop
tagged: nerdcation and to-read
I lovgov. LOVE IT! I love teaching government, learning about it, debating, discussing, asking questions about government. And not the standard boiler plate questions, but the hard ones that are NOT in the books.