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African Americans in the Gilded Age
This video provides a general overview of the experience of African Americans during the pivotal years of the Gilded Age, from the 1860s to the early 1900s. Despite the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution after the Civil War, which abolished slavery and granted citizenship and voting rights to African American men, millions of African Americans across the nation still faced an uphill struggle for equality and civil rights. Political disenfranchisement was widespread and segregation in the form of "Jim Crow" laws affected nearly every facet of public and private life in the South. Many African Americans migrated from the South to the North and West during this period. This era also saw the rise of dozens of notable African American civil rights leaders including Ida B. Wells, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, and W.E.B. Du Bois. Groups like the N.A.AC.P. were also established during this period to fight for the expansion of liberty and equality for African Americans.
The Origins of Partisanship
This video addresses the origins of partisanship in the United States. In the late 18th Century, the new nation was at risk of being torn apart as factions developed between Federalists and Anti-Federalists whose differences over the nature and structure of the new government played out in pamphlets, newspaper essays, state ratifying conventions, in taverns, and on street corners. Some compromise was reached with the ratification of The Bill of Rights, but differences over policy continued to play out among factions and the Federalists and Democratic-Republican parties formed. This video is intended as a general overview of this period of U.S. History, and a springboard for a deeper exploration of the various political disputes of the late 1700s and early 1800s.

Season 1

Grutter v. Bollinger
Grutter v. Bollinger was a case brought to the Supreme Court over the use of Affirmative Action in the college admissions process. The University of Michigan Law School denied acceptance to Barbara Grutter, despite her impressive resume. Grutter, a white woman, believed that her rejection was based on her race. The Supreme Court Justices ultimately ruled that the University of Michigan Law School’s admissions process was constitutional and did not violate the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment. Incorporation, the process of states being held liable to the Bill of Rights, allowed the Supreme Court to hear and rule on the case. However, there was doubt among the most conservative Supreme Court justices like Scalia and Rehnquist that affirmative action policy was a constitutional practice for university admission departments to take part in. Affirmative Action is still a highly debated topic today.
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke was a case brought to the Supreme Court over the use of Affirmative Action in the college admission process. The University of California at Davis Medical School created a minimum minority student quota for the admissions department to fill each year. Bakke, a two-time UC-Davis Med School rejected applicant, sued the school for violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Acts. Ultimately, the Supreme Court justices ruled in support of the goals of Affirmative Action because of incorporation, the idea that the states must adhere to the protections of the Bill of Rights. They also stated that Bakke was, in fact, denied equal protection. This decision, because it was so muddled, did not set long-term precedents or clarifications concerning Affirmative Action. What is Affirmative Action? Affirmative Action is a policy, usually carried out by schools, businesses, government entities, and federal contractors, in which individuals of minority racial status are afforded preferential treatment on the basis of race. Affirmative action came about as part of a desire to rectify the traditional underrepresentation of minority peoples in desirable professions and universities, which negatively impacted their financial and social conditions.
Citizens United v. FEC
Citizens United v. FEC was a Supreme Court case surrounding campaign finance and corporate involvement in politics. The Federal Election Commission was created in 1971 and greatly regulated the amount of campaign finance political candidates were able to receive. By 2002, the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act (McCain-Feingold Act) restricted organizations from financing issue-based advertisements on behalf of candidates. This Citizens United v FEC summary explains how Citizens United released a million dollar ad against Hillary Clinton. Before the film aired, Citizens United challenged the McCain-Feingold Act, stating that money was a form of Free Speech, which is protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court ruled the McCain-Feingold Act as unconstitutional, but stated that corporations still cannot give money directly to political candidates.
McCulloch v. Maryland
McCulloch v Maryland was the 1819 Supreme Court case dealing mostly with the issue of Federalism. This McCulloch v Maryland summary explains the creation of a National Bank which was encouraged by Alexander Hamilton, but opposed by Thomas Jefferson, due to lack of authority given by the Constitution. The first National Bank was chartered, but then died 20 years later. In 1816, a National Bank was re-instated to help deal with debts from the War of 1812. This Second National Bank, established in Maryland, was taxed heavily by Thomas Jefferson and the State of Maryland. Federal Bank Cashier, James McCulloch, refused to pay the tax, stating that the state did not have the right to tax an institution of the Federal Government. Ultimately, the Supreme Court stated that Congress had the right to create the National Bank, under the Necessary and Proper Clause. Also, the State of Maryland did not have the right to tax the National Bank and the Federal Government under the Supremacy Clause.