Congress Readings

For the readings below answer the questions and email your responses to

The Federalist Papers 53, 56, 57, 58, 62, 63

1. How do the authors of The Federalist explain the different terms of office for the House and the Senate?

2. According to the theory of The Federalist,  how does the Constitution bring about a system of checks and balances between the House and the Senate?

3. What are the primary functions of the legislature to be according to The Federalist?

Congress: The Electoral Connection

 1. Define and give an example of advertising.

2. Define and give examples of credit claiming.

3. Define and give examples of position-taking.

Congress Court Cases

The two court cases that deal with Congress are Baker v Carr and Reno v Shaw. Your task is read each case and answer the following questions:

  1. What is the background of the case (facts and prior history
  2. What is the Constitutional provision(s) at issue?
  3. What was the majority opinion and what was the dissenting opinion?
  4. What are the implications (what effects did it have on government and or individuals; why is it an important decision?)

This assignment is due at the beginning of the next scheduled class period.

Federalism Court Cases

In this assignment you will brief the two Supreme Court cases that deal with Federalism.  How to brief a court case is here-How To Brief.  The cases are McCulloch v Maryland and US v Lopez.  There are more sites that offer insight to the cases than the ones provided here.  Videos explaining the court cases is here – Court Case videos.  One key factor to be aware of is the usage of the Commerce Clause.  A link explaining the clause has been provided.  These two briefs are due at the start of the next scheduled class period.

Federalism Readings

Answer the following questions and submit them at the beginning of the next scheduled class meeting.

The Merits of the Federal System

1. Bryce points out that none of these political mechanisms would be successful without moral and material influences: the love of self-government and a “sense of community in blood, in language, in habits and ideas, a common pride in the national history and the national flag.” Is he right? Are these factors more important than the mechanism established under the Constitution, and are they still important? Are they still realistic assessments of the American populace?

2. Bryce notes that federalism allows local governments to experiment in legislation and administration without risking the fate of the nation as a whole. Is this kind of separation necessarily good? Does Bryce overlook many of the costs of federalism?

Gonzales v Raich

1.  Who did the Supreme Court defer to?

2.  What two clauses were cited in this case?  Explain both clauses and how the court used the clauses in their ruling.

McCulloch v Maryland

1.  What were the principal arguments used by Chief Justice Marshall to justify the extension of congressional power to include the power to incorporate a bank, even though the words “bank” and “incorporation” are no where to be found in text of the Constitution itself?

Brutus #1 Reading

Here is Brutus #1.  This is a reply of the Anti-Federalists to the Federalists and the Federalist Papers.  Brutus #1 is in response to Federalist #10.  Please read Brutus #1 and answer the questions below.

Brutus #1

Questions to Consider

  1. Which form of government (a large national republic or a confederation of small republics) is more likely to preserve and protect personal liberties and why?
  2. Can a larger republic, based on the principle of consent of the governed, sufficiently protect the rights and liberties of the individual states and people, or is a confederation the only method of securing such liberty?
  3. Should the federal legislature be able to repeal state laws in order to impose federal laws for the purpose of promoting the general welfare or common defense of the nation? If so, why? If not, why?
  4. Brutus argues that in a republic, “the manners, sentiments, and interests of the people should be similar…if not, there will be a constant clashing of opinions and the representatives of one part will be constantly striving against the other.” Should a republic be made up of a small group of like-minded people? Or, is diversity of opinion beneficial to the success of a federal government?

Articles of Confederation

The Articles of Confederation was the form of government that was used during and after the Revolutionary War.  Below you will find the Articles of Confederation and guided reading questions.

Articles of Confederation


How united were the states under the Articles of Confederation?
What were two flaws in the Articles of Confederation?
Why don’t we still have the Articles of Confederation as the US Constitution?
Would we be better off if the USA were bound less tightly, the states had most of the power, and the federal government had little power?

Declaration of Independence

Read the Declaration of Independence and answer the following questions:
1. What original or novel thoughts were presented by Jefferson in the Declaration?
2. Compare the theory of government defended in the Declaration with the doctrines of Locke.
3. Who does the Declaration give more rights to the state or national government?
4. What is the proper function of government, according to the Declaration, and why had George III violated his right to rule over the American colonies?

Declaration of Independence