Students will write an essay, 500-750 words in length, on a topic selected from the list below. The purpose of the project is to give students an opportunity to discuss a key political science concept, and to show a basic understanding of academic research and reporting skills. The project consists of producing a 500-750 work essay on one of the provided topics (see below), as well as a works cited page for sources containing information used in the essay. The assignment is to be formatted according to the Modern Language Association (MLA) style. Students should research this style in order to properly format the assignment; papers not formatted properly will not receive a passing grade. Students MUST have a minimum of three research sources on their works cited page as well as at least one parenthetical notation per paragraph.

Students should use Courier or New Courier 12 point as the paper's font, double space the text, and create one inch margins on all four sides of the page. In addition, the assignment should be formatted according to MLA style for papers with no title page.


2. In Chapter 5, "Civil Rights, Equality and Social Movements," the authors define civil rights as, "those positive rights, whether political, social, or economic, conferred by the government on individuals or groups." As such, they are rights that are conferred upon us based on legislative action (i.e., the right to marry, the right to vote, the right to drive, etc.). The Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause requires each state to not "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Thus, there is some restriction on a state when it provides civil rights, to do so in an equal manner. After reading Chapter 5 in its entirety, focus specifically on the discussion regarding, "The Women's Movement and Gender Equality."  Include the following:

  • Provide an understanding of the Court's initial opinion as to whether the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause required states to apply the law equally, without regard to gender. Use Muller v. Oregon (1908), Goesaert v. Cleary (1948), and Hoyt v. Florida (1961).
  • Beginning with Reed v. Reed (1971), explain the shift in the Court's opinion with regard to the Fourteenth Amendment's application to laws that discriminated based on gender.
  • Understanding the difference between the formal amendment process and the informal amendment process, explain how the Court's decisions relating to gender equality, beginning in the 1970's, may have achieved results similar to the goals of the Equal Rights Amendment.
  • Explain whether you believe that passage of the Equal Rights Amendment would have provided additional, or different, protection from laws that discriminate based on gender.
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