AP Gov Final Essays

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Thomas Jefferson wrote: “The Constitution belongs to the living and not to the dead.” Explain what Jefferson means in this quote and provide two examples to better illustrate what he is saying.
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Thomas Jefferson means that the Constitution would have to change over time to remain relevant and useful to succeeding generations. It is a living document. The 13th (abolishment of slavery and 19th (women’s suffrage) amendments can be used as examples of this because the amendments added on to the bill of rights within the constitution prove that what the framers initially wrote down would need to be changed throughout the years and they were aware of it. The 13th and 19th amendments would have been crazy proposals at the time of the creation of the constitution, however, over time, in order to keep the constitution relevant and holding power, the amendments were needed in order the change the constitution. This makes the constitution a living document.
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Identify three rights granted to accused persons in the Bill of Rights and explain why such rights are considered necessary.
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– speedy and public trial by jury – no excessive bail/ cruel and unusual punishment – due process of law (government has to follow rules and established procedures in everything it does) Many of the rights enumerated in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were designed to ensure that people accused of crimes would have a fair opportunity to respond, and that the government had to bear the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. We as a democratic society have to balance the needs of law enforcement and the fundamental rights of its citizens.
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Explain the difference between an originalist judge and an activist judge. Give a specific example.
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An originalist is a person who believes that the meaning of the constitution does not change or evolve over time, but rather that the meaning of the text is both fixed and knowable. An originalist believes that the fixed meaning of the text should be the sole guide for a judge when applying or interpreting a constitutional provision. (strict) An activist judge rules based on his or her own personal belief system, rather than according to the law. They allow their personal views about public policy, among other factors, to guide their decisions. Activist judges do not hesitate to go beyond their traditional role as interpreters of the Constitution and laws given to them by others in order to assume a role as independent policy makers. (loose)
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Briefly explain the types of speech that are NOT protected under the First Amendment?
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– Obscenity MILLER TEST (In order to declare material obscene, a court must determine: * Whether “the average person, applying contemporary community standards”, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, * Whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable state law, * Whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.) – Fighting words (“those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.”) – Defamation (slander) – Child pornography (“harmful to minors”, has to do with the Miller test) – Perjury (the offense of willfully telling an untruth in a court after having taken an oath or affirmation) – Blackmail (another form of extortion whereby criminals obtains money from victims by threatening to expose private or embarrassing conduct) – Incitement to imminent lawless action (you cant provoke lawless actions) – True threats (cannot threaten someone) – Solicitations to commit crime (commanding, encouraging or requesting another person to engage in specific conduct which would constitute such crime or an attempt to commit such crime or which would establish his complicity in its commission or attempted commission)
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What is the necessary and proper clause? Why is it sometimes referred to as the elastic clause?
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The necessary and proper clause gives Congress the power “to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution”. The ‘necessary and proper’ clause allows the government to stretch beyond its literal description; that’s why the clause is often nicknamed the elastic clause, since its flexibility allows the government to change (and grow) over time.
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Briefly describe and state the historical importance of the McCulloch v. Maryland decision.
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Congress established the Second National Bank to help control the amount of unregulated currency issued by state banks. Many states questioned the constitutionality of the national bank. The Supreme Court decided that the chartering of a bank was an implied power of the Constitution, under the “elastic clause”. This case presented a major issue that challenged the Constitution: Does the Federal Government hold sovereign power over states? Does the Constitution give Congress power to create a bank? And could individual states ban or tax the bank? The court decided that the Federal Government had the right and power to set up a Federal bank and that states did not have the power to tax the Federal Government.
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Describe the strengths and weaknesses of the national government under the Articles of Confederation.
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STRENGTHS: 1 To declare war and make peace. 2 To coin and borrow money 3 To detail with foreign countries and sign treaties 4 To operate post offices WEAKNESSES: 1 The national government could not force the states to obey its laws. 2 It did not have the power to tax 3 It did not have the power to enforce laws 4 Congress lacked strong and steady leadership 5 There was no national army or navy 6 There was no system of national courts 7 Each state could issue its own paper money 8 Each state could put tariffs on trade between states. (A tariff is a tax on goods coming in from another state or country.)
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Define government. What are the major functions performed by all governments?
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the political direction and control exercised over the actions of the members, citizens, or inhabitants of communities, societies, and states; direction of the affairs of a state, community, etc.; political administration. – Maintain order – Protect Society – Provide public services – Regulate the economy
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Identify four checks that Congress has in relation to the Executive.
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– Congress can over-ride veto – Congress has power to declare war – Senate must ratify treaties – Power to Pardon

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