American Government Writing Assignment

American Government Writing Assignment

American Government Writing Assignment


The assignment is to make recommendations to the President of the United States (POTUS) on what he should do about the vacancy on the Supreme Court. The president has already put forth a nomination; the U.S. Senate leadership has “advised” him they will not have hearings to give their “consent” to this nomination. After re-reading what the U.S. Constitution has to say about this process and understanding how the federal court system works, research the current nominee (Merrick Garland), and research the political issues involved:

Voting rights (heard Dec. 8): The court is considering changing the way state and municipal voting districts are drawn by allowing them to be based on the number of eligible voters, rather than total population.

Affirmative action, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (heard Dec. 9): In a crucial test of university admissions programs that take race into consideration, the court’s conservatives appeared ready in December to cut back on affirmative action. At the least, it seemed the University of Texas-Austin’s program would be affected.

Labor unions (heard Jan. 11): This is the case that conservatives seemed most assured of winning, until now. During oral argument, the conservatives sharply criticized the current system in which public employees in 23 states and the District of Columbia must pay for the cost of collective bargaining, even if they disagree with union demands.

With Kennedy leading the way, the court appeared likely to strike down that requirement, which would reverse the lower court and deal a major blow to the financial clout of public employee unions such as the California Teachers Association. Now, a tie vote looms which would uphold the system.

Abortion, Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole (to be heard March 2): Abortion clinics in Texas are challenging a state law, upheld in lower courts, that imposes tough new restrictions on doctors and facilities. The case has shaped up to be the biggest one affecting reproductive rights since 1992.

Now, however, it appears that if supporters of abortion rights don’t win outright with the support of Kennedy or another conservative justice, a 4-4 tie upholding the Texas law would not set a new national precedent for federal courts to follow.

Contraception, Zubik vs. Burwell (to be heard March 23): Religious non-profits such as charities, schools and hospitals are seeking an exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that employers pay for contraceptives as part of standard health insurance plans. They stood a good chance of winning with Scalia on the bench.

Now, the most likely outcome is a 4-4 tie that would leave the so-called “contraceptive mandate” in place for those non-profits.

Immigration, United States vs. Texas (to be heard in April): President Obama already had a decent chance of reversing an appeals court ruling and winning about six months to begin implementing his immigration plan, which would shield more than 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. But that was by no means a sure thing.

Without Scalia, the president still needs the vote of at least one conservative justice to win the case. A 4-4 tie would preserve the lower court’s decision against the program, but without setting a national precedent.

Make recommendations on what you think the President should do next.

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