Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Last Class Reflection

     Overall, I really enjoyed the AP Gov class this semester. I learned a lot of new things that I never would have known if I had not been in this class. Taking this class as a second semester senior, I was not extremely motivated to do all of homework or study at all times, but I found it easy to study for this class because it was interesting and the stuff we learned about was important knowledge that every high school senior should know before heading off to college. The only thing I wish that would have been different in this class is maybe watching even more current events from the news. Although I enjoyed watching Politico and The Colbert Report, I think it would be good to watch more news stories about what is going on in the government. It might also be interesting to learn more about the types of jobs that are in the government because as we are heading off to college it would be nice to know about some of the job opportunities out there.
     To next years seniors, take your time moving through your last year here at SI. Time really does fly and senior year was a flash. I wish that I had spent more time with my friends and family and less time worrying about grades. Although it is important not to completely lose focus, senior year is your last year at home, so don't be as worried as you were junior year because it's not worth it. Also, for AP Gov in particular, this is a great class to take second semester because it is really important to know all about the government as you venture out into the real world by yourself and I think that this class really helps prepare you for that.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fisher v. Texas

Closing Statement

Thank you for your time today.

It is clear that this Court has established in Grutter v. Bollinger that universities are allowed to consider ethnic and racial diversity as one criterion when selecting students for admission. This decision was based on the widely accepted finding that the educational environment for all students is improved and enriched when the classes include students of different ethnic and racial backgrounds. There has been no change in this consensus since the Grutter case was decided, and it would be disruptive and inconsistent with the current law of the land if this Court were to reverse itself so quickly and reverse its findings in Grutter without any material change in the law or facts. Such an action would undermine the credibility of the Court as an objective and non-political institution.

Under the terms of the Grutter decision, the University is allowed to use diversity as one factor in evaluating applicants in order to assure that there is a critical mass of diverse students in each entering class. The University has taken this responsibility very seriously and fashioned a narrowly designed program. It is used only to supplement the Texas law granting automatic admission to the top 10% of graduates from each Texas high school and to ensure that the State’s leading University will enroll a student body that reflects the diversity of our State.

No one is talking about expanding this program beyond the freshman admission process in any way, and the program will remain narrowly focused as required under Grutter. Claims that basing an admissions program on the rules set forth in Grutter will somehow open the floodgates of reverse discrimination are nonsense. There is no evidence to support this exaggerated position. On the contrary, America’s universities are responsible institutions that will follow the law and, if they do not do so, they will answer to our courts.

The University regrets that it was not able to offer a place to Ms. Fisher. However, she has gone on to graduate from Louisiana State University and has suffered no real harm. More importantly, there is no evidence that she was denied admission because she is white, or that she would have been granted admission in the absence of the University policy to consider diversity as a factor when evaluating its applicants.

In conclusion, the University has complied with all of the requirements set forth by this Court in Grutter and under the 14th Amendment. Our program is narrowly focused and pursues the previously approved goal of the student body diversity.

Thank you.

Friday, April 12, 2013

3-2-1: Rehnquist Court

I discovered that Berger was the 15th Supreme Court Justice in a time where Nixon had the chance to elect 4 more supreme court justices in just two years. Nixon was conservative and thought that the Warren Court was too liberal. Nixon elected Rehnquist as a conservative, pro-war supreme court justice. The democrats were against Rehnquist. I also learned that if a woman was pregnant they were considered out of the working industry. Justice Blackmun voted for abortion and this shocked everyone because it got rid of the abortion laws in 46 states. He did this by stating that the government didn't have the right to decide what a woman chose to do and that it was between her and her doctor. Justice Rehnquist was the justice known as the lone ranger because he always voted against the majority.

One connection I can make is to the case of Roe v. Wade. When we discussed this case in class, I remember how Roe won, and now I can connect that Justice Blackmun was the justice on that case and he made the decision to legalize abortions.
Another connection that I can make to the video is that Rehnquist was the lone ranger and in Supreme Court cases one justice can make a huge difference. For example, in the Stenberg v. Carhart case the decision was decided by a swing vote. O'Connor joined the liberal side causing the Court to overturne a Nebraska law banning "partial birth abortion." Justice Rehnquist was just like O'Connor because he was known as the man who could switch the outcome of the case.

One question I have is what was the main difference between the Warren Court and the Rehnquist Court?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

3-2-1: The Justice Nobody Knows

After watching the 3-2-1 on Clarence Thomas, I learned a lot about the Supreme Court Justices and how their job works. Clarence Thomas is the only African-American Supreme Court Justice and is a conservative Republican. He is considered by many Democrats to be a hypocrite and a traitor. Thomas attended a catholic school, almost became a priest, however dropped out and then went on to attend Holy Cross University and then Yale. In the interview, I learned much about Thomas' beliefs on race. He believes that the Constitution is "color blind" and he is part of an emerging majority on the court that believes laws granting preferential treatments on race should be struck down. I learned that Thomas considers government programs that help blacks to be demeaning. Thomas also rejected civil rights dogma because he said it created a cult of victimization and did not do anything to help bring whites and blacks together. His belief is that they were treating blacks as if they require special treatment in order to succeed. Thomas is on track to becoming the longest serving surpeme court justices in history.

One connection I can make is to Ex- Supreme Court Justice, Diane Hathaway. Just as Thomas was accused of raping Anita Hill before being confirmed in the Supreme Court, Hathaway was accused of bank fraud. The connection here is that although they are Justices of the Supreme Court, does not mean that they cannot be accused of doing illegal things. The difference in the two situations was that Thomas was found not guilty, however Hathaway pleaded guilty to bank fraud. Another connection that I can make is to Tim Wise. He spoke on behalf of the African-American community and spoke on the issue of color blindness, just like Clarence Thomas brought up the fact that the Constitution is color blind. 

My question is, what steps must a person take to be confirmed as a supreme court justice?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Roe v. Wade

My issue this year is Healthcare and as we are learning about the Federal Courts in my Government class this week, I am writing a blog post on the Roe v. Wade case.

In the year 1973 at the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, the court took on the case of Roe v. Wade. This case was dealt with at the Federal level. Roe, a Texas resident, attempted to have an abortion. However, in the state of Texas, abortions are strictly prohibited. The Court granted a writ of certiorari and heard arguments twice. The first time, Roe's attorney could not say where in the constitution her argument was located in. In the second round, Roe's attorney strengthened her constitutional argument and Roe ended up winning with 7 votes for and 2 against. The Court ruled that a woman's right to have an abortion was protected under the right to privacy, the 14th Amendment. As a result, this decision affected 46 other states on their views on abortions.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bureaucracies and Health Care: Department of Health and Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services is the main agency that strives to protect healthcare for all Americans as well as provide human services to everyone in need. The HHS does support Obamacare and Social Security and Medicare are also involved in this department. The HHS has the largest budget among all the federal departments. In addition, "the HHS programs provide for equitable treatment of beneficiaries nationwide, and they enable the collection of national health and other data."

The work of the Department is carried out principally by four operating divisions: Public Health Services, Social Security Administration, Health Care Financing Administration, Administration for Children and Families. HHS works closely with state and local governments. Many HHS-funded services are provided at the local level by state or county agencies. The Department Leader is the Office of the Secretary.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Letter to President

Dear Mr. President,

My name is Lauren Liebes and I am currently a senior at Saint Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco, California. As a part of my AP Government class this semester, I have chosen to focus specifically on the issue of healthcare because it is an extremely important topic in my eyes. I am writing to express my concern and ask for your help to make the health-insurance industry more user-friendly. First and foremost, I appreciate everything you have done to make healthcare more affordable and more available to all Americans. However, I believe that the health insurance companies are still very difficult to deal with. I do not believe that the average American can read or understand his or her medical bills, read and understand notices from his or her insurance company, or stand up for his or her own rights and contest matters when the insurance company denies coverage or under pays.

My own family has had many problems. For example, my father hurt his back and had to go to the hospital. He received a shot of morphine in the emergency room, and several days later received a bill for $1300. The insurance company refused to pay, claiming that the doctor was not part of their insurance network. After many phone calls, the insurance company agreed that the hospital was in the insurance network, and my dad did not have to ask for a doctor who was also in the network. The insurance company said they were going to pay, but they never did. Instead, people started calling our house demanding that we paid $1300 bill. When my dad called back, the insurance company said not to worry about it, that they were just negotiating with the hospital about how much the bill should be. Unfortunately, the calls from the collection agency never stopped. Eventually the insurance company paid up. I believe that patients should not be caught between insurance companies at the hospital.

I also know that my parents find it almost impossible to read the letters and bills that come from the insurance companies. They are full of small print and all kinds of conditions that are difficult to understand. I would like to ask that you do whatever you can to force insurance companies to write letters and deliver bills that are in plain English, that an average person can understand. I believe that this is the only way that regular citizens can be treated fairly and understand whether they are getting the insurance coverage that they have paid for. I would also like to urge you to try and do something to prevent patients from getting caught between the insurance companies and hospitals when they are fighting over how much the hospital can charge to take care of patients.

Thank you very much for listening, and I appreciate your leadership in the area of healthcare reform.

Lauren Liebes