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Constitutional Law Research

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Constitutional Law Research Paper

Warm Up Activity: Check any of the following statements that strike you as something you strongly agree with or disagree with. It may lead you to a research topic!

* There are nasty criminals out there who commit horrific crimes; such people who are convicted in a court of law should be executed. Or… The death penalty should finally be put to death by the Supreme Court. * Though I’m patriotic and love the pledge, it’s simply unconstitutional and needs to be removed from schools. * Abortion is wrong; it shouldn’t be legal. Or… The right of a woman to control her own body is a private matter. * Too many guns out there… we have to start doing something about it! Or…The 2nd Amendment is pretty darn clear… * The government needs DNA records of all people born in the US, or entering into the US; hospitals should simply take a DNA swab of all infants born… * Digital Privacy doesn’t exist, nor should it. The government needs to be able to search anyone’s computer or device any time, no questions asked! * People ought to be able to marry whomever they want to marry… * Bring Back Corporal Punishment in Schools! Teachers ought to be able to whack kids who deserve it! (Corporal punishment IS indeed legal… no kidding.) * Animals have rights, too, you know! And so does Mother Nature! * I should be able to get all the music I want on line for free; who cares about private property when it comes to music- and movies, for that matter. * The heck with Whales, Save the Internet! Save Net Neutrality! Keep the giant corporations from controlling the speed of and access to internet content. * Hate Crimes, though I might support the idea behind them, are really unconstitutional because they criminalize thought, not just action. You can put someone in jail for hurting another person, but you can’t jail someone just because he hates- that’s a violation of the First Amendment! * Race should never be a factor in being admitted to college. It’s illegal for colleges to consider an applicant’s race because it discriminatory and creates unequal classes of people. * Money is speech. People and corporations that have a lot of money should not be limited by law in how they spend that money, including donating to political campaigns. * Religious freedom is under attack; Native Americans can’t use peyote in the practice of their religion and private business owners can’t refuse to serve people who offend their religious beliefs. We need to Restore Religious Freedom in this Country! * It’s sad in our country that some schools are poor while other schools, like Cohasset, are not. The only way to create equality is to for the government to fund all schools equally.

Constitutional Law Position Paper
Objective: You will choose a constitutional issue in our country today, take a constitutional position on it, and write a 4-6 page paper analyzing where the issue stands today, and how the issue should be constitutionally resolved.

Use this as a TEMPLATE and as a RUBRIC.


1. State the constitutional issue. 2. Take a position (that you will support in your paper). 3. Express the relevance or importance of the constitutional issue (that will be analyzed in the paragraphs and pages that follow).


4. Introduce major precedents (and events) that provide the foundation for understanding the constitutional question(s) that shape the issue today.

a. Discussion of major precedent(s) will include the briefest of facts, the constitutional question(s) with which the Supreme Court Justices struggled, the majority opinion, and any dissent relevant to the thesis.


5. The paper will identify the “landscape” of lower court decisions “popping up” today that are shaping YOUR THESIS and the constitutional issue presently before the Court, or likely to reach the Court in the near future.

6. The paper will examine the current landscape in terms of the balance the Court will be asked to address- or is being asked to address.

b. Remember, the balance is weighing the interests of the individual against the interests of government (the compelling interests of the government) or society. c. Remember, this balance is based on our understanding of the Constitution!


7. The paper will end with a clear conclusion to the thesis that has been presented to the reader and analyzed throughout the paper. The author will take a clear position regarding how this issue must be constitutionally resolved.

Format: * “Normal” Page Layout in WORD (1” margins) * 1.5 spacing; set line spacing options to “0” for “before” and “after” * 12pt font * Cover Page (excluded in the 4-5 page requirement) * MLA Works Cited Page (excluded in the 4-5 page requirement) * Parenthetical, or in-text citations must match entries listed on the Works Cited page

Due Dates- USE for email submissions. I will NOT be checking gmail for assignments 1. Week 1, Developing Your Sources: You will send me a WORD document with your Name, Period, Topic, Constitutional Question, and a List of Websites (active links, or hyperlinks) you are going to be using for your research. Each source requires a 1-2 sentence description of what is found at this source and its usefulness to you. 2. Week 2, Developing Your Thesis: You will send me the same WORD document, but you will now INSERT a thesis paragraph ABOVE your list of Websites. 3. Week 3, Drafting Your Paper: You will ADD a draft BELOW your thesis paragraph. Your draft MUST BE a minimum of 2.5 pages long; grade is PASS-FAIL for Week 3. Next, turn on “TRACK CHANGES.” 4. Week 4, Approaching Final Draft. You MUST hand in a draft that has been written with “TRACK CHANGES” turned on so that I can readily SEE differences between Week 3 and Week 4. By week 4, you must have 4 pages written. 5. Week 5, Final Paper Due. Final Paper MUST BE printed and hand-delivered to the IN-BOX in the classroom. NO e-submissions.

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