(Revised 30 Apr.2002)

In order to fine tune your essay writing skills you will be assigned a series of brief essays (quickwrites) relating to the topics covered in the course. On the actual AP test you will have 100 minutes to write four essays.

All chapters are from the The Challenge of Democracy text or The Bill of Rights; a users guide.

Each quickwrite is to be written in class within a space of 25 minutes. Before turning it in be sure to score your paper by indicating in the body of the essay where each point was earned. The scoring is normally based opon one point for each listing or identification (such as a court case) and two points for each explanation (or "discussion") of that item.

Quickwrite Instructions

Chapters 15 and 16 and The Bill of Rights; a users guide

Incorporating the Bill of Rights through the 14th Amendment (Option 1):

In the 20th century the U.S. Supreme Court has often acted as an "instrument of social change".
Identify (1 pt.) and discuss (2 pts.) the impact of any two Supreme Court rulings relating to each of the following topics.

a) due process (the rights of the accused - specifically the 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th amendments )

b) equal protection under the law (with regard to such issues as 1st and 9th amendment rights and freedoms, segregation, racial, sexual or religious discrimination, privacy, voting rights, affirmative action, etc.)

Chapter 15 and Bill of Rights; a users guide

Incorporating the Bill of Rights through the 14th Amendment (Option 2):

The Supreme Court ruled in Barron v. Baltimore (1833) that the Bill of Rights did not apply to the states. Explain how the Court has interpreted the Fourteeenth Amendment to apply the Bill of Rights to the states. In your answer, briefly discuss the Court's decision in two of the following cases to support your explanation.

Gitlow v. New York

Wolf v. Colorado

Gideon v. Wainwright

Escobedo v. Illinois

Chapter 14 and Bill of Rights; a users guide

Incorporating the Bill of Rights through the 14th Amendment (Option 3):

Depending upon the philosophy of Supreme Court justices, historically the Court has pursued a policy of judicial activism or judicial restraint .

Discuss two specific examples of judicial activism and judicial restraint for any two of the following areas of public policy from 1954 to the present.

rights of the accused

civil rights

affirmative action

Be sure to indicate which rulings are associated with Chief Justices Earl Warren, Warren Burger or William Rehnquist.

Chapter 9 (Nominations, Elections and Campaigns, plus pgs. 291-292, 318-319)

Option 1: Since the 1960's the process of selecting presidential candidates has been altered by the changing role of presidential primaries and national party conventions. Discuss four effects that have resulted from this change in the presidential selection process.

one point each for identifying four effects

one point each for explaining, and giving an example, of each effect

Option 2: Listed below are three major obstacles to Congress passing campaign finance reform legislation.

Buckley v. Valeo

Soft money


Choose two obstacles.

(a) Explain/describe each obstacle - 1 pt. each

(b) Explain how these obstacles prevent or discourage Congress from passing campaign finance reform legislation - 2 pts. each

Chapter 7 (Participation and Voting)

Elections in the United States are characterized by low voter turnout. Discuss two demographic characteristics associated with nonvoting and three institutional obstacles associated with nonvoting.

one point each for identification of two demographic chracteristics

one point each for each discussion which links the obstacle to non-voting

Chapter 12 (The Presidency)

Option 1: In addition to the powers set forth in the Constitution, discuss four factors (politics, personality, foreign or domestic crises, economics, etc.) which have expanded the powers of the presidency in the 20th century.

Option 2: According to political scientist Richard Neustadt "the most important presidential power is the power to pursuade". Discuss three specific examples to illustrate this theory.

Chapter 13 (The Bureaucracy)

Option 1: Discuss three reasons why it is so difficult to reform or control the bureaucracy (2 pts.each) and evaluate the success of failure of the Clinton administration's efforts in the early '90's to "reinvent government." Discuss two specific examples. (3 pts.each)

Option 2: The attempt to downsize the federal bureaucracy has been met with both criticism ans support. Discuss one positive and one negative aspect of reducing the size of government (and the number of regulations issued by the bureaucracy). (4 pts.)

Chapter 11 (Congress)

In the 1970's, in order to limit the power of the President and to reassert congressional authority in the policy-making process, Congress passed the following.

The War Powers Act

The Budget and Impoundment Control Act

Briefly describe the provisions of each of these two legislative acts and evaluate the extent to which each act has affected the balance of power between the presidency and Congress in the 1990's.

Chapter 5 (Political Socialization)

Religion, education, income and race can shape a persons political beliefs. Describe the effects of any TWO of these factors and their possible relationship to liberalism or conservatism.

Chapter 10 (Interest Groups)

Some groups of people have disproportional power when it comes influencing elected officials. Using TWO specific groups as examples explain why.

PAC's have changed the way politics is practiced in the U.S.. Describe the role of PAC's and explain their effect on the political process with regard to one of the following:



political parties

Chapter 4 (Federalism)

The balance of power in the American "federal" system has clearly shifted to one of national government domination during the past 200 years.

Assess the validity of this statement by discussing three of the following issues:


The New Deal

The Civil Rights Revolution

The War on Poverty

Chapter 18 (Economic Policy)

11) Clinton campaign strategist James Carville is credited with identifying the key theme of the 1992 election when he advised candidate Clinton that "It's the economy stupid."

Discuss the policies of Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton with regard to economic philosophy and implementation. Specifically refer to Reagan's successful efforts to pass tax reform legislation with Clinton's deficit reduction program.

Chapter 9 and Hardball

Explain the statement "all politics is local". Briefly discuss four specific examples to support your explanation.

Chapter 8 (Political Parties)

"We are witnessing the beginning of the end of political parties as a mainstay in American politics". Discuss three specific examples to support or refute this thesis.

Chapter 10, Overview and PBS Video "So You want to Buy a President "?

Explain to what extent special interest groups have an impact on the development and implementation of public policy ?

Chapter 17 (Policymaking)

Describe the main difference between an issue network and an iron triangle. Use the example of telecommunications to explain why issue networks have become the main policymaking system.