Political Science Discussion Week 3

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Topic-Week3Discussion-OurConstitution.pdf

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This is a graded discussion: 25 points possible due Sep 21 at 1:59am

Week 3 Discussion: Our Cons!tu!on 6 6

Required Resources Read/review the following resources for this activity:

Initial Post Instructions Why is our Constitution vague? What are the pros and cons of having a constitution that is written vaguely? Pick a "vague' portion of the US Constitution. Has this vagueness in terminology been problematic or helpful? Provide historical examples. Use evidence (cite sources) to support your response from assigned readings or online lessons, and at least one outside scholarly source.

Follow-Up Post Instructions Respond to at least two peers or one peer and the instructor. Further the dialogue by providing more information and clarification. Minimum of 1 scholarly source which can include your textbook or assigned readings or may be from your additional scholarly research.

Writing Requirements

Grading This activity will be graded using the Discussion Grading Rubric. Please review the following link:

Course Outcomes (CO): 2, 3

Due Date for Initial Post: By 11:59 p.m. MT on Wednesday Due Date for Follow-Up Posts: By 11:59 p.m. MT on Sunday

Textbook: Chapters 4, 5 Lesson Minimum of 1 scholarly source (in addition to the textbook)

Minimum of 3 posts (1 initial & 2 follow-up) Minimum of 2 sources cited (assigned readings/online lessons and an outside scholarly source) APA format for in-text citations and list of references

Link (webpage): Discussion Guidelines

9/15/20, 12:47 AM Page 1 of 7

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(https://chamberlain.instructure.com/courses/68288/users/72720)Samuel Angus (Instructor) Aug 19, 2020

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Class,

Our Constitution is "relatively short and vague," (Whitman, 79) but not every constitution is short or vague. The South African Constitution (https://www.gov.za/documents/constitution/constitution-republic-south-africa-1996-1) is neither. The same goes for the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of 1982 (https://laws- lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/page-15.html) .

The South African Constitution is longer than ours. Part of the reason for this is the way it approaches rights. How does it approach rights? How is this different than the way our Constitution approaches rights? What explains these differences? Is this Constitution not only longer than ours but better too, because of how it handles rights?

The most important difference between the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms differs from the American Constitution might not be how it handles rights, but how it has empowered its courts. The argument (https://www.pri.org/stories/2012-04-18/canadas-charter-better-us- constitution) has been made that this actually makes Canada's Charter better than our Bill of Rights. Is there a difference in the way the two documents empower the courts, and is the Canadian approach better?

Sam

(https://chamberlain.instructure.com/courses/68288/users/72720)Samuel Angus (Instructor) Yesterday

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9/15/20, 12:47 AM Page 2 of 7

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Aristotle and Democracy Class,

What did Aristotle think about democracy, and why?

Sam

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Nikki Lagua (h!ps://chamberlain.instructure.com/courses/68288/users/125151) Yesterday

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Hi Professor,

Aristotle was a prominent Greek philosopher in Ancient Greece. The definition of democracy in that era was defined as "rule by the people". Any citizen back then was able to take part in politics, debate, and vote. Aristotle was a bit skeptical and pessimistic towards the idea of people engaging in politics. He thought that some people were inadequate to think optimally when it came to politics and that they could easily be persuaded by a leader which, at worst, could result in tyranny. He suggested that there should be a mix of democracy and aristocracy where philosophers such as himself should hold some power. He thought of this because there should be qualified thinkers for deliberation.

If you compare that to today, the public is in charge of educating themselves to decide what the government can do, otherwise they would just be handing out full power to the government just as Aristotle feared.

Reference

Aristotle’s Political Theory (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). (2017, November 7). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-politics/

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9/15/20, 12:47 AM Page 3 of 7

Angela Walker (h!ps://chamberlain.instructure.com/courses/68288/users/169532) Yesterday

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Why is the Constitution "vague"? The constitution was intentionally vague to allow for it to be changed or amended as needed to remain current with the times (Cobb, 2020). The authors of the constitution were able to do just that; as evidenced, it has only changed or amended seventeen times since the document was written (Cobb, 2020).

Authors of the constitution did address the process by which the constitution could be amended, and they also set up a system of checks and balances. However, vagueness allows for sometimes very different interpretations, and when written initially, it addressed free men only. That meant that slaves, women, and Native Americans were omitted.

States were able to set the laws that would allow or not allow persons to vote. It was not until 1870 that the fifteenth amendment was adopted, which allowed men to vote regardless of their race or color("Constitutional Change | American Government," 2020). Finally, in 1920, the nineteenth amendment was adopted, which gave women the right to vote("Constitutional Change | American Government," 2020). Passing these two amendments took the power of the states away to decide who could or could not vote.

Reference

Cobb, W. (2020). Political Science Today. SAGE Publications Ltd.

Constitutional Change | American Government. Courses.lumenlearning.com. (2020). Retrieved 13 September 2020, from https://courses.lumenlearning.com/amgovernment/chapter/constitutional- change/.

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Emily Fox (h!ps://chamberlain.instructure.com/courses/68288/users/148024) Yesterday

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9/15/20, 12:47 AM Page 4 of 7

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A lot of the Constitution was left vague intentionally but some of it was probably unintentional given the time it was written. "The Constitution left many aspects of our governance and our rights intentionally vague, partially because it would have been impossible for the Framers to predict the evolution of society." (“Constitutional Check-Up”) The gray areas of the Constitution leave much room for debate and in our current political climate, that is often.

Familiarizing yourself with the Constitution is important to knowing where you stand in this country. The 1st amendment is one of the most vaguely written pieces of the Constitution. It states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." (“The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription”) This is particularly vague and citizens today use it as such.

Freedom of speech can turn into hate speech and freedom of the press can turn into lies and deceit. On the other hand, the more specific the constitution is, the less room there is for interpretation. The textbook uses "cruel and unusual" in the 8th Amendment and an example. What does this mean? It can be interpreted several different ways depending on who is reading it. (Cobb, 2020, 80)

Cobb, W. (2020). Political Science Today. SAGE Publications Ltd.

“The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription.” National Archives, 24 Sept. 2018, www.archives.gov/founding-docs/constitution-transcript. Accessed 14 Sept. 2020.

“Constitutional Check-Up.” Www.Montpelier.Org, www.montpelier.org/learn/montpelier-guide-to- the-constitution#:~:text=The%20Constitution%20left%20many%20aspects. Accessed 15 Sept. 2020.

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Kylie King (h!ps://chamberlain.instructure.com/courses/68288/users/169214) Yesterday

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9/15/20, 12:47 AM Page 5 of 7

Class and Professor,

From my understanding, the reason the Constitution is vague is so we can interpret it how we want. The textbook goes on to describe the pros and cons of a vague constitution. A pro, presented by Cobb is “On the other hand, if the constitution is designed to last for longer than a generation, constitution writers must consider how their country is likely to change” (Cobb, 2019). We can infer that a pro to the Constitution’s vagueness is due to the everchanging society we live in. We are always evolving, so our Constitution’s vagueness is still applicable to the world we live in today. Author Radim Bělohrad, goes on to further this topic when he states, “we are in principle incapable of knowing where the seams in nature lie, but that these seams do exist and, as a result, all of the sentences of our language are true or false; we just cannot determine which is the case (Bělohrad, 2019). In my mind, he is talking about how we speak concerning what we don’t know, and for Cobb’s view, what we don’t know involves how much change goes on throughout time. As far as cons go, an idea that came up was deterred to the rights of people in America. In the textbook, that particular thought was stated that “some of the Framers were afraid that by listing out the specific rights that individuals had, later generations would believe that those were the only rights that citizens had—something which they did not intend” (Cobb, 2019). With that being said, it seems that the Constitution was meant for us to live structured, have a fair government, and a lifestyle suitable for every American’s needs. Vagueness in the Constitution begins early. The First Amendment is a great example of the start of vagueness in the Constitution. According to The First Amendment Encyclopedia, the first sign of vagueness is “a law is unconstitutionally vague when people ‘of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning.’ Whether or not the law regulates free speech if it is unduly vague it raises serious problems under the due process guarantee, which applies to the federal government by virtue of the Fifth Amendment and to state governments through the Fourteenth Amendment (Dynia, 2009). The language used makes the government guess what is considered “constitutional” and what is considered “unlawful”. The language overall causes problematic issues with due process as stated above by Dynia. A prime example of this is actually under the photograph to this link ( https://www.mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/1027/vagueness (https://www.mtsu.edu/first- amendment/article/1027/vagueness) ). We are told we have a freedom of speech, but here is a woman by the name Susanne Williams, who thought she had that right and was jailed for being involved with an anti-war demonstration. Was is really freedom of speech then?

Bělohrad, R. (2019). Constitution, Vague Objects, and Persistence. Retrieved September 14, 2020, from https://hrcak.srce.hr/file/329197 (https://hrcak.srce.hr/file/329197)

Cobb, W. W. (2019). VitalSource Bookshelf Online. Retrieved September 06, 2020, from https://online.vitalsource.com/ (https://online.vitalsource.com/)

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Dynia, P. (2009). Dynia, P. (2009). Vagueness. Retrieved September 15, 2020, from https://www.mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/1027/vagueness (https://www.mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/1027/vagueness)

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