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-Three Discussion topics. Each topics should contain at least 9-10 sentences.

Chapter 2 – The Texas Constitution

This chapter tells you all about the Texas Constitution. Remember that as a citizen of Texas, you are responsible to both the United States Constitution AND the Texas Constitution. I think you will enjoy reading this chapter and learning some of the facts about our constitution that you did not know before.

This chapter sets the framework for the study of the Texas government. You will learn about some weaknesses in the Texas Constitution. You will also learn about the history and the current state of the Texas Constitution. A lot of people are surprised that the Texas Constitution has over 400 amendments! Research these amendments and write a post about one of them (make sure to include which one it is by number) and fully explain it. Include whether you agree or disagree with the amendment. Read your classmates’ posts and you will learn so much!

Chapter 3 – Texas in the Federal System

In this chapter we are talking about Federalism!

This is a concept that is so interesting so I think you will enjoy your reading this week.

Federalism literally means two or more governments exercising power and authority over the same people in the same territory.  In the United States, power is divided between the national government / a central government and the state governments / regional governments.  There are two or more governments exercising power and authority over the same people in the same territory in the United States – you are responsible for the laws of the State of Texas and also the laws of the United States.

Federalism can be a difficult thing to achieve – it is all about balance and in your readings you will see that there are certain provisions in place in our Constitution to try and achieve the right balance in federalism.  But that can be difficult.  To enhance your understanding of those constitutional provisions take a look at the following outline I put below – I think it will enhance your understanding of how these constitutional provisions tie federalism together.

 Constitutional Provisions that Tie into Federalism

· Article VI of the US Constitution – also known as “The Supremacy Clause”

· Be aware of this portion of the Constitution when studying Dual Federalism.

· This clause says that the US Laws and Constitution and Treaties are “The Supreme Law of the Land” so long as the federal government is acting in pursuit of the its constitutionally authorized powers.

· So Congress may act and argue it is constitutional per the Supremacy Clause and the states may argue their act interferes with states’ rights and Congress is overstepping its constitutionally authorized powers – Congress will then argue what they did was an implied power – a power they needed to use to carry execute their enumerated power.

· Article I – Section 8 – also known as “The Elastic Clause” or “The Necessary and Proper Clause”

· This article gives Congress the means to execute its enumerated powers – it is the basis for Congress’ implied powers.

· This is the clause that gives Congress the powers to do “what is necessary and proper” to carry outs its enumerated (specifically stated) powers.

· Congress’ “catch all.”

· EXAMPLE:  the United States Constitution specifically gives the federal government the power to coin money so that is an ENUMERATED POWER because it is specifically stated.  Congress needed to create a federal bank to put the money it made.  That was not a specific power given to the United States Government but the United States Government created the bank and could rely on the “Necessary and Proper Clause” to do it since creating federal bank is necessary for the United States to carry out its enumerated power of coining money.

· Sometimes Congress relying on the Necessary and Proper Clause is controversial and sometimes it is not.

· This is not always a bad thing – historically, the “Necessary and Proper Clause” has increased the scope of the national government in times of national crisis and national emergencies to allow the national government to take care of the states.  Think about these things

· The Great Depression – National government exercised some control over the states through regulations attached to federal funding grants.  National government offered money to the states to support relief efforts but states had to provide administration supervision or matching funds.  This was a time of significance in terms of the way states thought about the national government solving their problems.  The Constitution did not specifically authorize the national government to do this – they relied on the “Necessary and Proper Clause” to accomplish relief.

· Post September 11, 2001 – Federal government created the Department of Homeland Security – new department that united over 20 previously separate federal agencies.  Quick expansion of the national government through legislation like the USA-Patriot Act.  Bush signed it into legislation on October 26, 2011 (quickly after 9/11).  Reduced the federal government’s restraints in terms of doing things to monitor terrorist activities (like reduced wire tapping requirements when investigating terrorism – changed immigration laws when investigating terrorists.  Congress and Bush acted post-September 11 not based on specifically enumerated powers in the Constitution – the Constitution did not specifically authorize those actions – but based on “the necessary and proper clause.”

·  The Tenth Amendment

· This says that the governmental powers not listed in the Constitution for the national government are powers that the states, or the people of those states, have.

· Examples: the states determine rules for marriages, divorces, driving licenses, state taxes, rules for police and fire department – because these are not specifically given to the national government per the Constitution so they fall to the states.

· But the power to coin money is specifically stated by the Constitution to be the power of the national government so the states do not do it.

·  Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 – also known as “the Commerce  Clause”

· This clause gives Congress the power to regulate commerce among the states.

· The interpretation of this clause has been a major factor in increasing or decreasing the national government’s power.

· In 1824 in Gibbons v. Ogden – the Supreme Court gave a broad interpretation of the Commerce Clause which increased national government power.

· The Commerce Clause is the section of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to regulate trade among the states and with foreign countries.

· In 1857 the Dred Scott decision said Congress had no power to prohibit slavery among the states – used a narrow interpretation of the Commerce Clause to hold this so increased state power.

· In 1937 the Court upholds FDR’s New Deal Legislation – so that again increased power of the national government.

Your Discussion Board Post Assignment:

The United States Constitution makes it clear that the federal law is the law of the land under the United States Supremacy Clause. If there is a federal law, court case, or statute, that conflicts with a state law, then the state law can be invalidated. Remember that sometimes states will pass laws that CONFLICT with federal laws – knowing that may drive litigation in federal court to interpret the state law or change the federal precedent. Do some research on the United States Supreme Court Case Roe v. Wade. That is ruling federal precedent. The Texas Legislature recently passed “The Heartbeat Bill” and Texas Governor Greg Abbott (as of the writing of this prompt) says he will soon sign the bill into law. Do some research on the “Heartbeat Bills” that states are passing, on the Texas “Heartbeat Bill” and write a post including your understanding of Roe v. Wade, your understanding of “The Texas Heartbeat Bill” and what you think may happen in the expected litigation. What will proponents of the bill say in litigation, what will the opponents say about the bill in litigation, and what do you think will happen in the expected litigation?

If you want help or want to discuss these issues, then please reach out and we can meet via Microsoft Teams to go over the details. This is such a timely topic because it is literally happening right now so I want to make sure you understand it.

REMEMBER that your answer should be at least 8-10 sentences long – remember to proofread before you submit! Thank you for your hard work!

Chapter 4 – Political Parties

In this chapter you are reading about political parties. Although I am sure everyone has heard the term “political party,” I think you will still learn a lot in reading this chapter.

For your post on this chapter, write about what sort of party you would form if you were to form a political party in Texas. Determine what your characteristics will be and define your party platform. We live in Texas so you are forming this party in Texas. That said, all parties start somewhere so your goal may be to keep your party focused on Texas issues and effect change here or you can start it here and your goal may be to take it to a national level. It is up to you but you are starting it here in Texas. Will you form a single issue political party here because you feel so strongly about one issue you think it warrants a political party to address it? If so, what is your issue and fully explain it and what your party will do “for” the issue. Or will you form a political party that takes a stand on more than one issue or many issues. If so, explain that to us.

Some Things to Think About When Forming Your Party:

· What is a political party?

· Four major functions of political parties:

· Nominating candidates to office

· Structuring the voting choice in elections

· Proposing alternative government programs

· Coordinating the actions of government officials

· Will you form a large party that takes a stand on many issues or will you form a small party that has one issue that is meaningful to them?

· Large parties like the Democratic Party and the Republican Party have platforms that encompass major issues – in Texas members of larger parties have platforms that address, at least, the following – see page 106 in your book for examples of the Texas Democratic and Republican Party Platforms:

· Stronger states’ rights vs. stronger national rights

· Education

· Taxes – should taxes be more or less – should you put higher taxes on things like cigarettes and alcohol and lower taxes on food?

· Abortion

· Death Penalty

· Immigration

· Citizenship

· Minimum Wage

· Healthcare

· Smaller parties may take on one major issue like the following and hope to gain momentum in a certain issue area. Remember that smaller parties can actually impact major change – smaller parties may not survive themselves “forever” but they can make the larger parties have to contend with the issue they bring to the forefront of voters’ minds. For example:

· A party that is totally focused on the environment.

· A party for the Animals (gained 2 seats in the Dutch Parliament in 2006).

· A party totally focused on immigration and has platform for how to fix it.

· A party totally focused on healthcare for all people and a plan on how to get it.

· A farmer/labor party where the goal is to promote the interest of farmers and growers.

· A “splinter party” that splinters off from a larger party because you disagree with an issue – i.e. you identify with the democrats but really want to be pro-life so you have democratic party ideals but are pro-life.

· EXAMPLE of a party that started on a grassroots level and has grown much larger: Green Party

· Example of a small party that started small and is growing in momentum.

· Grassroots parties that are created in classrooms just like this can gain momentum and grow and change the way people think and vote.

· Started in Denver, Colorado, in 2000.

· Focus overall on the environment, social justice, human rights, peace.

· Here is their platform now – taken from the Green Party website. Visit the website if you want more details on each of their “10 Key Values” below:

1. GRASSROOTS DEMOCRACY

2.

SOCIAL JUSTICE AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

3.

ECOLOGICAL WISDOM

4.

NON-VIOLENCE

5.

DECENTRALIZATION

6.

COMMUNITY-BASED ECONOMICS AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE

7.

FEMINISM AND GENDER EQUITY

8.

RESPECT FOR DIVERSITY

9.

PERSONAL AND GLOBAL RESPONSIBILITY

10.

FUTURE FOCUS AND SUSTAINABILITY

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