Be sure to consider multiple perspectives and write as clearly and concisely as possible. You must include a minimum of 300 words and cite your work. Be sure to review the discussion rubric tab under the ‘Start Here’ module for details on how your discussions will be graded.
Side note: I do not teach from the textbook and you are not required to read it. Consider the textbook as a reference to provide clarification on various topics. You should read the information below, it will help you complete the assignment. I can tell if you read the information because it is usually reflected in the quality of work that you submit.
“We have the oldest written constitution still in force in the world, and it starts out with three words, ‘We, the people.’” U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 1993-2020
Is our democracy in peril?
According to a Quinnipiac poll, almost 6 in 10 Americans think that the nation’s Democracy is in danger of collapse. The social justice concerns of the past few years have caused many to reexamine how structural institutions impact equity in the 21st Century. Unfortunately, Vanessa Guillén, George Floyd, Breona Taylor, Michelle Go (Links to an external site.), and Congregation Beth Israel, and so many others have become household names because of violence. The U.S. Constitution is the core of the U.S. democracy, yet it was written when the majority of people living in the U.S. were excluded from its founding principles. The Washington Post (Links to an external site.) recently reported that 1700 former congressmen enslaved Black people. Does guaranteeing “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for those who feel oppressed under the current U.S. Constitution depend on how the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) interprets the law?
HCC Student Life. (2021, September 23). The “We” in We The People-Constitution Day. YouTube. [Video].
https://youtu.be/SW7MaMkM4qo (Links to an external site.)
(You will need to incorporate data into your assignment to fulfill the Quality of Evidence portion of the discussion rubric. Feel free to use the information below to support your argument.)
Brennan, M. (2021, June 9). Record-High 47% in U.S. Think Abortion Is Morally Acceptable. Gallup. https://news.gallup.com/poll/350756/record-high-think-abortion-morally-acceptable.aspx (Links to an external site.)
Brownlee, C. (2021, December 27). Gun Violence in 2021, By the Numbers. The Trace. https://www.thetrace.org/2021/12/gun-violence-data-stats-2021/ (Links to an external site.)
Guttmacher Institute. (n.d.). United States Abortion Demographics. https://www.guttmacher.org/united-states/abortion/demographics (Links to an external site.)
NBC News. (2021, August 21). Census Shows A More Diverse, Urban America. YouTube. [Video].
https://youtu.be/cqJwKu4dNSk (Links to an external site.)
Quinnipiac University. (2022, January 12). Political Instability Not U.S. Adversaries, Seen As Bigger Threat, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Nearly 6 In 10 Think Nation’s Democracy Is In Danger Of Collapse. https://poll.qu.edu/poll-release?releaseid=3831 (Links to an external site.)
Schaeffer. K. (2021, September 13). Key facts about Americans and guns. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/09/13/key-facts-about-americans-and-guns/ (Links to an external site.)
U.S. Census Bureau. (n.d.). Quick Facts: United States. https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/HSD410219 (Links to an external site.) (You will see this item several times throughout the course, so you may want to become familiar with it.)
Texas Related Data (Optional: Just in case you were interested.)
America Counts Staff. (2021, August 15). Texas Added Almost 4 Million People in Last Decade. U.S. Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/library/stories/state-by-state/texas-population-change-between-census-decade.html (Links to an external site.)
“There was a 3% decline in the abortion rate in Texas between 2014 and 2017, from 9.8 to 9.4 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age. Abortions in Texas represent 6.4% of all abortions in the United States.”
“In 2017, some 96% of Texas counties had no clinics that provided abortions, and 43% of Texas women lived in those counties.”
Guttmacher Institute. (n.d.). State Facts About Abortion: Texas. https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/state-facts-about-abortion-texas# (Links to an external site.)
Based on a University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, “In this latest poll, 13% said abortion should never be permitted; 31% said “the law should permit abortion only in case of rape, incest or when the woman’s life is in danger”; 12% said it should also be allowed in other cases, “but only after the need for the abortion has been clearly established”; and 38% said, “a woman should always be able to obtain an abortion as a matter of personal choice.”
Ramsey, R. (2021, March 2). Texas voters’ views shifting on abortion, pot, gambling and Confederate monuments, poll finds. The Texas Tribune. https://www.texastribune.org/2021/03/02/texas-gambling-abortion-marijuana-confederate/ (Links to an external site.)
The intersection of gun rights and reproductive rights.
Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, currently, over 40 states have enacted laws restricting abortion, including Texas with Senate Bill (S.B.) 8. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), has begun hearing arguments on the Mississippi abortion case, Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. According to a 2019 CDC, Abortion Surveillance Report (Links to an external site.) the number of abortions from 2010 to 2019 has gone down. While the number of abortions has been reduced, the number of gun-related deaths and shootings has gone up. The Trace documents that there were 693 mass shooting incidents in 2021.
Many states like California and New York plan to use the clause in Texas S.B. 8 to deter gun violence. Texas S.B. 8 bans abortions after a heartbeat has been detected and allow individuals the ability to sue anyone (up to $10,000 per claim) who “aids or abets” an abortion to a Texas resident, including doctors, nurses, and ride-share drivers. States seeking to address gun violence plan to pass similar legislation to allow private individuals to sue people who make, sell, or distribute weapons banned in the state. In November 2021, SCOTUS heard oral arguments on New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. The SCOTUSblog (Links to an external site.), states that the New York law “requires anyone who wants a license to carry a concealed handgun to show “proper cause” for the license. Courts in New York have defined “proper cause” to require applicants to show a special need to defend themselves, rather than simply wanting to protect themselves or their property.”
The Mississippi abortion case will be the first abortion case heard by former President Trumps’s 3 conservative appointments to SCOTUS. 6 out of 3 SCOTUS justices have been nominated by conservative presidents. Many expect that the case will limit reproductive rights previously granted in Roe v. Wade, due to the conservative lean to the court.
(Please note that I am using non-gender-specific words when referring to reproductive rights because people who identify as women are not the only people who have abortions.)
ABC News. (2021, October 25). Gun violence: An American epidemic? YouTube.[Video].
https://youtu.be/L6-QDdPxoKI (Links to an external site.)
ABC News. (2017, January 17). The history of abortion laws in America. GMA [Video]. https://www.goodmorningamerica.com/news/video/history-abortion-laws-america-45143941 (Links to an external site.)
KHOU 11. (2021, September 1). Timeline: Texas abortion laws over the years. YouTube. [Video].
https://youtu.be/VEOe00p2nu8 (Links to an external site.)
KVUE. (2021, September 2). Texas abortion bill is in effect. Here’s what that means. YouTube. [Video].
https://youtu.be/InaEZsZP208 (Links to an external site.)
(You will need to answer the items in bold because they connect to the course and account for the Knowledge of Subject Manner on the discussion rubric. You may find further information on the topics in Chapter 2: 3 Things to Know.)
Do you see the U.S. Constitution as a document that should be interpreted as the founders created it in 1787 (originalist theory) or as a living document that should be interpreted to reflect the changes in America? Does guaranteeing “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for those who feel oppressed under the current U.S. Constitution depend on how the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) interprets the law? What would that mean for historically excluded groups (HEG’s are people who have been excluded from receiving the full rights and privileges in society. Ex: women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, etc.)? Why are some people still granted more rights than others? Should the demographic changes in the U.S. population reflect how the U.S. Constitution is interpreted? Why?
Within the system of separation of powers, provide 1 recourse the current executive and legislative branches have to counteract potential political overreach if SCOTUS overturns Roe v. Wade. Explain how checks and balance would work if a liberal-leaning president refused to execute the orders of a conservative-leaning SCOTUS. What would be the political, social, and democratic implications? Would it be constitutional for SCOTUS to overturn Roe v. Wade but in the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen case, state that citizens have the right to bear arms without governmental influence?
Many of the states with the most restrictive abortion laws have the most relaxed gun laws. On September 1, 2021, Texas HB 1927 instituted “open carry”. Is there a correlation between reproductive rights and gun rights? Who deserves the right to life? Why are gun rights and abortion rights viewed differently? Why have reproductive rights become more of a partisan fight vs a fight over beliefs? Who profits and why was the narrative created? What happens when your individual right infringes on the rights of others?
Required Reading (Yes, I want you to read these items.)
Solum, L. (2019). Originalism Versus Living Constitutionalism: The Conceptual Structure of the Great Debate. Scholarly Commons. https://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1376&context=nulr (Links to an external site.) PDF: Solum.Originalism Versus Living Constitutionalism The Conceptual Structure of the Great Debate.pdf
Oyez. (n.d.) Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. https://www.oyez.org/cases/2021/19-1392 (Links to an external site.)
Suggested Reading (Optional)
Albert, R. (2020, June 30). Time to update the language of the Constitution. The Hill. https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/505071-time-to-update-the-language-of-the-constitution?amp (Links to an external site.)
Allard, N. (2018). People are saying US democracy is falling apart — but it’s actually working like the Constitution intended it to. Retrieved on January 15, 2021 from https://www.businessinsider.com/us-democracy-is-not-at-risk-constitution-2018-9 (Links to an external site.)
Azerrad, D. (2015, December 28). What the Constitution Really Says About Race and Slavery. The Heritage Foundation. https://www.heritage.org/the-constitution/commentary/what-the-constitution-really-says-about-race-and-slavery (Links to an external site.)
Carson, T. (2021, September 3). Tucker Carlson: Texas abortion law demonstrates democracy still exists. Fox News. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/tucker-carlson-texas-abortion-law-democracy (Links to an external site.)
Guttmacher Institute. (2021, August 1). An Overview of Abortion Laws: State Laws and Policies. https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/overview-abortion-laws (Links to an external site.)
Legiscan. (n.d.). Texas Senate Bill 8. https://legiscan.com/TX/text/SB8/id/2395961 (Links to an external site.)
Martin, R. (2021). Ken Burns Says U.S. Has 3 Viruses: COVID-19, White Supremacy And Misinformation. Retrieved on January 20, 2021 from https://www.npr.org/2021/01/19/958189841/ken-burns-says-u-s-has-3-viruses-covid-19-white-supremacy-and-misinformation (Links to an external site.)
McLaughlin, D. (2020, October 16). Silly Attacks on Amy Coney Barrett and Constitutional Originalism. The National Review. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nationalreview.com/2020/10/silly-attacks-on-amy-coney-barrett-and-constitutional-originalism/amp/ (Links to an external site.) (This article is free, however, the website limits the number of times you can view it.)
Miller, D. A. H. (2021, June 29). African Americans and the Insurrectionary Second Amendment. Brennan Center for Justice. https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/african-americans-and-insurrectionary-second-amendment (Links to an external site.)
Oxner, R. & Barragan. J. (2021, November 2). Abortion providers and gun rights advocates are “strange bedfellows” in fight to strike down Texas’ new abortion law. The Texas Tribune. https://www.texastribune.org/2021/11/02/texas-abortion-law-gun-rights/ (Links to an external site.)
Purple, M. (2021, May 21). Dobbs V. Jackson: This Is The Big One. The American Conservative. https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/dobbs-v-jackson-this-is-the-big-one/ (Links to an external site.)
Totenberg, N. (2021, May 17). In Challenge To Roe, Supreme Court To Review Mississippi Abortion Law. NPR: All Things Considered. https://www.npr.org/2021/05/17/997478374/supreme-court-to-review-mississippi-abortion-ban (Links to an external site.)
University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. (n.d.). Theories of Constitutional Interpretation. http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/interp.html (Links to an external site.)