Project #9886 - POL303



Week 5 - Research Paper

Research Paper

In this essay you will research a case that is actively pending before the Supreme Court of the United States (not yet decided by the Court when you submit your essay at the end of Week Five). It must be a case that raises significant issues involving the interpretation of the Constitution. The thesis of your essay will be a statement of the decision, regarding these issues, which the Court should make, according to your research and analysis of the constitutional principles, Court precedents, facts of the case, and other relevant information.

Step One: Identify a Pending Case
First, you must identify a pending constitutional case that you will research. Here are some suggested search strategies:

  1. Go to and click on “Cases” (at the top-center) to display a list of cases before the Court during its current term. It will show the date on which the case was or is scheduled to be argued before the Court.  Only consider cases that have not yet been argued or were argued very recently; so the Court is unlikely to issue its decision before you submit your essay. Click on the name of a case in this list to display the legal “questions” in each case. Look for “questions” that pose constitutional issues; and from these select a case that presents issues that you would want to research.
  2. Go to and click on “Merits Cases” (at the top-left side) to display a list of recent terms and select the most recent term (e.g., “October Term 2012). That displays a list of cases before the Court during its current term. It will show the date on which the case was or is scheduled to be argued before the Court.  Only consider cases that have not yet been argued or were argued very recently; so the Court is unlikely to issue its decision before you submit your essay. This list also summarizes the issues in each case so that you can identify those with constitutional issues. Click on the name of a case to view more information about it, including links to various resources which may directly support your research.
  3. Google the phrase “pending cases before the US supreme court.” Explore the links that Google offers. If you discover a constitutional case that you want to research, use Oyez or SCOTUSBlog (above) to verify that the case will still be pending when you submit your essay in Week Five.

Step Two: Instructor Approval
Next, your instructor may want you to identify your case, the date it will be (or was) argued, and the constitutional issues posed. Follow your instructor’s directions in this regard. Or, be proactive and forward your case information in Week One or Week Two.

Step Three: Begin Your Research
Now, you should be ready to research your case (remember the valuable resources that may be available in SCOTUSBlog). Start by reviewing the relevant chapter(s) in the textbook. Also, do some serious searching for scholarly articles in the Ashford Online Library.

Step Four: Begin Writing Your Paper
Your paper must clearly state your position on the constitutional issues posed in the case. Your paper should not address broader questions about the merits of the case or your personal opinions about extraneous matters; but it should focus on whether or not the state or federal rules, regulations, or laws at issue would violate a specific provision(s) of the Constitution. You must clearly explain and logically apply a plausible interpretation of the constitutional provision(s) and justify your position using rationales from other relevant and identified Supreme Court decisions. Make clear whether you are relying on rationales used by the Court’s majority view or by a dissenting view; and if you rely on a dissent, your analysis should persuasively justify why this rationale should displace the prevailing majority rationale. Where appropriate, you may also incorporate support from scholarship in the disciplines of history, social science, biology, ethics, criminal justice studies, and public policy; but, such perspectives may be introduced only as they are directly relevant to interpreting the constitutional provision(s) at issue in the case.

Writing the Research Paper
The Research Paper:

  1. Must be eight to ten double-spaced pages in length, and formatted according to APA style as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center.
  2. Must include a title page with the following:
    1. Title of paper
    2. Student’s name
    3. Course name and number
    4. Instructor’s name
    5. Date submitted
  3. Must begin with an introductory paragraph that has a succinct thesis statement.
  4. Must address the topic of the paper with critical thought.
  5. Must end with a conclusion that reaffirms your thesis.
  6. Must use at least five scholarly resources, including two Supreme Court decisions, and a minimum of two scholarly articles from the Ashford Online Library for a total of seven resources.
  7. Must document all sources in APA style, as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center.
  8. Must include a separate reference page, formatted according to APA style as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center.




McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission case

Mary Greene

POL 303 The American Constitution

Instructor:  Richard Golfin

July 15, 2013










The McCutcheon vs. Federal Election Commission case is an imperative one for the reason that of the precedent which it sets for future cases. It is yet another lynchpin in the attacks against campaign finance reform that the Court has been conducting at least since the year of 1976. Campaign finance reform was considerably in a weak position with the Citizens’ United case in the year of 2010. At the moment, the Court is making an allowance for another action which will promote this trend. Even though the Supreme Court has shown that it is decisively in contradiction of such reform because of First Amendment constraints, I have confidence in that precedent, the Constitution and practical concerns on the subject of corruption and the power of corporations dictate that the Supreme Court rule in contradiction of McCutcheon in this case.



History of corporate donations:

-          Tillman Act

-          History of Montana

-          Gilded Age corruption

Early precedents:

-          Newberry case invalidating significant portions of campaign finance reform (Newberry v. united states 2013).

-          United States vs. Classic case allowing some of them (United States vs. classic 2013).

-          Problematic Lochner Court

Buckley v. Valeo and FECA (Buckley v. valeo 2013).

-          Development of strong, new legislation after Watergate

-          Invalidated by Buckley

-          Money as speech

-          Went against traditional free speech protections

-          Oliver Wendell Holmes

-          Protections

-          Went against Supreme Court precedent of protecting against corruption

McCain-Feingold and McConnell vs. FEC

-          ­Details of the law

-          Court rules in 2003 upholding BCRA

-          Protects the anti-corruption legislation

Citizens’ United (Citizens united v. federal election commission 2010).

-          Would be used as the main precedent in support of McCutcheon

-          Said that corporations were people and money was speech

-          Goes against many precedents

-          Violates a number of First Amendment cases

Why the Court should rule in favor of FEC

-          Goes against precedent

-          Unlimited contributions allow for corruption

-          Supreme Court has shown that the government can control for corruption

-          No serious protection of money as speech before Buckley

-          Citizens’ United unfairly decided

-          Went against numerous precedents

-          Would only undermine traditional American values


-          Decision should be simple

-          Country needs more campaign finance reforms

-          Proliferation of SuperPACs and money bombs embarrassing

-          Need to end these precedents












 Buckley v. valeo. (2013). Retrieved from

Citizens united v. federal election commission. (2010). Retrieved from

Daley, B. (2011). Even if it is not bribery: The case for campaign finance reform. Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization, Retrieved from

Hartmann, T. (2010). Unequal protection?: how corporations became people--and you can fight back (2nd ed., rev. and expanded.). San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Mccutcheon v. federal election commission. (2013). Retrieved from

Newberry v. united states. (2013). Retrieved from

Rodell, F. (1955). Nine men?: a political history of the Supreme Court from 1790 to 1955. New York: Random House.

Stratmann, T. (2007). Campaign finance reform and electoral competition: Comment . Public Choice, Retrieved from

United States vs. classic. (2013). Retrieved from


Davis, S. (2008). Corwin and Peltason’s understanding the Constitution. (17th Ed.). Belmont, CA: Thompson Wadsworth Publishing. DOI:



Subject Philosophy
Due By (Pacific Time) 07/28/2013 01:00 pm
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