500 words respond to the following

States v. Federal Authority and Power


Current debates about legalization of marijuana highlight some of the tensions between state and federal power and authority.  After reading these three cases, how do you make sense of the line between powers/authority properly exercised by the Federal government and that exercised by the States?   In other words, how are the Courts’ decisions in these three cases similar and/or different with respect to their reasoning?  As part of your answer, please indicate which clauses, articles, amendments of the US Constitution come into play.

500 words respond to the following

Voting: Separation of Powers, Balances and Checks


The debates over voting rights and procedures highlight the impact of the separation of powers provisions of the U.S. Constitution and the intention of providing checks and balances between the various branches of our government.   For this discussion, please read the Shelby County and Brnovich cases as well as the materials regarding the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021 (VRAA) which is currently being considered by Congress.  At this link, you’ll find the text of the bill as well as tabs leading you to summaries, actions, and more information.   

What did you learn from these materials about state and federal separation of powers?  Checks and balances?  Do you think the Supreme Courts’ reasoning in both cases made sense?  Why or why not?  How might the VRAA if passed have an impact on these two decisions?

Note:  If you’re REALLY ambitious, the Bush v. Gore 531 US 98 (2000)  decision also addresses state power regarding election procedures.  It’s a long decision, so it’s optional!

250 words respond to the following

Excessive Use of Force

By now you should have read the Graham v. Connor case included in M2 Readings.  If not, please do so before attempting to complete this assignment.  Then, use the following two articles (retrievable via ESC library) to respond to the questions below.

  • Hollis, M.; Jennings, W. (2018). Racial disparities in police use-of-force: a state-of-the-art review. Policing 41(2), 178-193. 
  • Frank, C.; Frank, J.; Liederbach, J. (2014). Understanding police use of force. Policing 37(3), 558-578. 
  1. What do the studies show concerning race as a factor in excessive use of force by police officers?   How might some of this research be characterized as problematic?
  2. What do you think is the proper standard for determining whether an officer in a given situation used excessive force in a stop or arrest?  Should it be whether it was reasonable from the perspective of an objective observer, as the Supreme Court determined in Graham v. Connor?  
  3. Is it possible to come up with a standard that is better defined than “objective reasonableness”?  What should it be?
  4. Do you agree with the Court in Graham that an officer’s intentions should not be taken into consideration in determining whether use of force was reasonable?  What if those intentions appear to be based on race?
  5. What does “de-funding” the police mean?  Is this a viable solution to the excessive use of force by police officers?


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