American Civics

American Civics

The American population is undergoing a number of dramatic shifts. The U.S. population is becoming more diverse in terms of race. The growth in the Latino population, in particular, constitutes a huge part of this increased diversity. The Latino population is set to double its 1990 size by the year 2015.

The American population is getting older. The median age of the population will steadily increase from 34.0 in 1994 to 35.5 in 2000. This increasing median age is driven by the aging of the population born during the Baby Boom after World War II, from 1946-1964. As the Baby Boomers age, the median age of the American population will rise.

The American population growth rate is slowing. Despite the large increases in the number of persons in the population, the actual rate of population growth projected to decrease during the next six decades by about 50%, from 1.10 between 1990 and 1995 to 0.54 between 2040 and 2050. The decrease in the rate of growth is predominantly due to the aging of the population and, consequently, a dramatic increase in the number of deaths. From 2030 to 2050, the United States would grow more slowly than ever before in its history.

The United States must impose more control on immigration to the United States if it is to have a stable workforce and economy. More control, however, does not necessarily mean less immigration. More control means a more focused immigration policy, which promotes the entry of critical people that will help out the American economy and society. In regards to economics, the ideal immigration policy would actually admit more Latinos who can perform unskilled labor as well as skilled Asian professionals who can perform highly skilled, technical work. In regards to social policy, admitting more Latinos, who tend to have more children, will help offset the decrease in population which will result from the Baby Boomer generation dying off.

2)

According to the Constitution, the six goals of the national government are to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty.

The goal of forming a perfect union arose because, at the time that the Constitution was drafted, the United States was a mere confederacy, composed of thirteen different states. The Constitution sought to turn this confederacy into a true union. A more perfect union had to have a powerful federal government with the ability, for example, to tax people of all states. The current national government fulfills this goal well as the federal government holds the highest powers in each domain of government. The national congress makes law, the U.S. President is responsible for enforcing the law, and the federal judiciary has final say in interpreting these laws.

The goal of establishing justice meant that the nation's laws apply equally to all. The current national government has a federal court system that has the final say in interpreting law. The federal court, particularly the Supreme Court, hears cases involving discrimination under law as well as the Constitutionality of certain laws passed by the national Congress. It is considered very effective as the United States is considered one of the most fair, just nations in the world.

The goal of ensuring domestic tranquility means maintaining law and order, or keeping the peace. The current national government has several agencies performing this task, including the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the National Guard. State and local governments are allowed to use their own police to enforce national laws within their own borders, but must defer to federal agencies when criminal activity crosses borders.

The goal of providing for the common defense means maintaining a military that can protect the union. The current national government fulfills this goal through the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force, the most formidable military in the world. Other federal agencies such as the CIA and the NSA also support this goal through gathering intelligence and influencing foreign states.

The goal of promoting the general welfare is self-explanatory. The current national government promotes the general welfare primarily through its power to tax and spend. This power is typically used by Congress to commission public works such as public roads, schools, and hospitals. It also includes programs such as financial aid, welfare, and funding for scientific research.

The goal of securing the blessings of liberty means ensuring that citizens may however they wish to, provided they observe the laws of the country and not impinge on the rights of others. This goal is demonstrated in the federal Bill of Rights, which protect citizens from intrusion by the Federal Government or by other individuals. The federal Supreme Court is tasked with upholding the Bill of Rights and the U.S. President may order the national guard to enforce the injunctions given by the Supreme Court.

3)

Bail is some form of property deposited or pledged to a court to persuade it to release a suspect from jail. The property is held by the court in order to ensure that the suspect, who is released from custody, does not flee the jurisdiction or fail to appear in court. The property is usually returned if the suspect returns to appear in court and complies with any other directions given by the court.

Bail is not unique to the United States. Bail is common practice in other common law countries, such as the United Kingdom or Canada. In fact, the American practice of bail originated in England during the medieval period. There, sheriffs originally possessed the authority to hold suspected criminals in custody and to release them in return for a deposit or payment of property.

The practice of bail is intimately connected with the doctrine of habeas corpus, that a person shall not be imprisoned without sufficient cause or evidence. The Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 proclaimed that "A magistrate shall discharge prisoners taking their recognizance…in any sum according to the Magistrate's discretion…" the English Bill of Rights of 1689 prohibited magistrates from setting excessive bail, as unreasonable bail of which the suspect is incapable of paying practically amounts to deprivation of liberty. Excessive bail is prohibited in the United States by the Eighth Amendment.

4)

Bicameral legislation is the rooted in the Constitutional doctrine of checks and balances and, more generally, in the classical notion of mixed government. The reasoning is that national interests will be better protected if laws were required to pass in two different chambers of the legislature, each of which is composed of different types of legislators. It is meant to protect minority interests from the tyranny of the majority.

Our notion of bicameral legislation is influenced most heavily by the Government of the Roman Republic, which divided legislation between the aristocratic Senate and the various popular committees and councils. Bicameral legislation was also practiced in England to give representation to the country's different estates through the Aristocratic House of Lords and the Popular House of Commons. In the United States, the bicameral distinction is achieved by giving each chamber different rules of composition, term lengths, and voting rules, instead of different requirements for membership. Generally, one chamber should be popular, responsive, and flexible, while the other chamber is more insulated, aristocratic, and stable.

The House of Representatives represents the popular branch, as it has proportional representation, majority voting, and shorter term lengths. Proportional representation leads to a variable, but generally larger number of seats than the Senate and is meant to make the legislature responsive to shifts in population. Shorter term lengths are meant to make individual representatives accountable to their constituencies, thereby promoting the representation of popular interests.

The senate represents what would be known in other countries as the aristocratic branch. The Senate has a stable number of seats (100), longer term lengths, and stricter voting rules. These features are meant to prevent imprudent legislation by requiring the assent of a supermajority of senators who are better insulated from popular control through longer term lengths. Also, the equal apportionment of seats, with two per state, is meant to prevent the domination of government by larger states, which have larger representations in the House because of proportional representation.

5)

Handguns are an unnecessary source of violent crime and death in the United States today. Hand guns empower criminals through their use and sale and threaten our communities. The Second Amendment affords the right to bear arms for military purposes only. Today, hand guns are not possessed for the purposes of military use, but for the purposes of personal protection, a purpose which is not protected by the Constitution. It shall be illegal for any person to manufacture, possess, or transfer a handgun regardless of that person's intent in possessing it and whether it is loaded or unloaded.

This proposal, since it is not concerned with revenue or appropriation, can be introduced in either the House of Representatives or the Senate. Since it…