Law is a social activity. It is made within an environment where many forces attempt to influence whether a bill becomes law; and it is interpreted in an environment where actors on both (or sometimes many) sides of the controversy to be decided have interests that they are motivated to satisfy.
In this Individual Project assignment, you have an opportunity to write an essay on 1 of 2 topics listed below:
Option 1: In the wake of the terrorist attacks in New York on September 11, 2001, a law called the USA Patriot Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush. Regulations were put into place as a result of this law that increased the powers of various government agencies to engage in surveillance activities on American citizens under broader circumstances than ever before. This called into question for many people whether the legislation trampled on the civil liberties of Americans. Although reforms to the Act have resulted in changes intended to reduce these fears, in a number of court cases, interest groups have engaged in activities in an attempt to influence the outcomes.
Option 2: In May of 2008, marriage between same-sex couples became legal in California. This situation lasted for only a few short months, and then a proposed amendment to the California Constitution (Proposition 8) was passed by the voters in November of the same year. Both proponents and opponents of same-sex marriage acknowledge that this issue will be in and out of the courts for many years, most likely ending with a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. The battle for and against Proposition 8 was intensely waged by forces on both sides of the issue. These forces are continuing their activities in hopes of influencing future court outcomes by swaying public opinion and media attention in their favor.
Write an essay of between 2â€“3 pages on 1 of these issues (Option 1 or Option 2). You will need to access various types of outside sources to respond thoroughly to the following questions and topics, and include appropriate and properly formatted APA-style citations:
- What are the key provisions of law that are at the center of this debate?
- Which interest groups and individuals are active on both sides of the debate on this issue, and what specific interests are they attempting to promote?
- What is the current legal situation on this issue?
- Using research from your text, the AIU Library, supplemental course materials, and Web-based resources for background, what activities have the groups or individuals promoting various positions on this issue engaged in that you think might have influenced legal interpretation?
- What do you conclude about how public opinion, actions of interest groups, and media coverage do or do not have the potential of influencing the outcome of court cases on important social policies?