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Supreme Court Decision

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  Assignment #1

Office of the President of the United States

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, D.C. 20500



Dear Cabinet Member:

Prior to the next cabinet meeting you must submit a report on your highest priority program. The purpose of this report is to inform me of your priority program for the upcoming fiscal year. Please give me details on why your highest ranking program should be included in this year’s budget proposal. In your report, include necessary documentation including any supporting graphics and testimonials that you believe necessary to make your case for support of this program.

I look forward to seeing your report and I await your recommendations on how the federal government can continue its most critical programs in these times of economic restraint.

Sincerely yours,


The President of the United States



Washington, D.C. is an extremely competitive, political town and you must work hard to keep your agency an important part of government. It’s the beginning of the legislative calendar and you must compete with other agencies and departments for a part of the budget and a high profile emphasis from the president.

Choose which federal executive department you would like to represent (see list below).  Identify a current or new program that you will present to the president as a priority for your department.  Write a report to the president describing the problem and the program that will alleviate the problem.  You may prepare charts, tables and graphs to explain your plans to the President.


  1. Submit a written report addressed to the president. A quality report will probably be between 750-1000 words.  However, the president cares more about clarity and detail than length – charts and other visual aids may be more valuable than word count.
  2. You should use at least 5 quality sources to research and clarify your report. When appropriate, the sources should be cited within the report using MLA or APA style.  A complete bibliography should be attached to the report. A bibliography includes all sources from which you gathered information.
  3. The president wants to focus on your ideas, not your errors. Be sure to check for clarity and appropriate word usage; complete sentences; correct grammar, spelling and punctuation.
  4. As the head of your department you should demonstrate substantial understanding about your department and your priority program.
  5. In order to get a favorable response from the president, be sure to follow all guidelines as outlined in the attached rubric.
  6. In the report describe the top priority program for your department:
  • How does this program fit into the official mission of your department?
  • Why is your department best suited to run this program?
  • Is this a new program or an existing program?
  • What problem does the program solve?  How significant is the problem?  Give evidence, not anecdote.
  • What is the estimated fiscal impact of the program and how does it fit into your department’s budget?
  • Why should the program be important to the president?


The Federal Executive Departments can be individually accessed through the following homepages:

The President’s Cabinet: 

Department of Agriculture:

Department of Commerce:

Department of Defense:  

Department of Education:

Department of Energy:    

Department of Health and Human Services:

Department of Housing and Urban Development:

Department of the Interior:

Department of Justice:     

Department of State:        

Department of Transportation:

Department of the Treasury:

Department of Veterans Affairs:

Department of Homeland Security:


Writing Assignment #2: Supreme Court Decision

In this assignment, you will be a Supreme Court Justice deciding on a Fourth Amendment case.   Carefully read about the case in question, the summaries of related Supreme Court decisions, and directions for the assignment. 

The Case “Doe v. City of Intrusia”:

Trouble was brewing in the small, quiet city of Intrusia.  Someone was selling methamphetamine to the local teenagers and a popular football player died after an overdose.  The community was panicked and demanded that the police find the source of the meth and shut it down immediately.  The police suspected that 20 year old Joe Doe was selling the meth but they didn’t have much evidence. 

The state prosecutor advised the police department to talk with the local cell phone carrier about “cloning” Mr. Doe’s phone.  The cell phone carrier created a “clone” phone which allowed the police to read text messages sent and received by Mr. Doe.  In no time the police had evidence implicating Mr. Doe as a dealer and the location of the meth lab.  Mr. Doe was convicted and the meth lab was closed.

Mr. Doe is appealing his conviction, claiming that the interception of text messages violated the unreasonable search and seizure protections of the Fourth Amendment.  Furthermore, all evidence from the text messages should have been excluded from his trial.

The City of Intrusia argues that there was no physical intrusion into Mr. Doe’s space and that police were acting quickly in order to uphold their duty to protect the community’s safety.


In Silverman v. United States the Supreme Court held that that the Fourth Amendment does not protect conversations, therefore wiretapping does not constitute a search and seizure.  The case was reversed in Katz v. United States, when Justice Harlan proposed a two pronged test of whether public actions should be considered private and therefore protected.   1)  Has the person exhibited an expectation of privacy?  and 2) is the expectation of privacy one that society is prepared to recognize as ‘reasonable.’?

In more recent decisions, the Supreme Court has found that society is not prepared to extend privacy rights to bank customers regarding their bank statements and that society was not prepared to recognize a privacy right-to grow a backyard crop of marijuana.

The Questions:

  • Does the Fourth Amendment protect text messages sent over a cell phone?
  • Is there a “reasonable expectation of privacy” when texts are sent?
    • Did Mr. Doe exhibit an expectation of privacy when he sent the texts?
    • Is there a societal expectation of privacy in the process of text messaging?

Related Supreme Court Decisions (each case is linked to a short description on

Court Case Question
Olmstead v. United States (1928) Did the use of evidence disclosed in wiretapped private telephone conversations; violate the recorded party’s Fourth and Fifth Amendments?
Katz v. United States (1967) Does the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures require the police to obtain a search warrant in order to wiretap a public pay phone?
United States v. Miller (1975) Were Miller’s bank records illegally seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment?
Smith v. Maryland (1979) Does the installation and use of a pen register constitute a search under the Fourth Amendment?
California v. Ciraolo (1986) Did the warrantless, aerial observation of Ciraolo’s back yard from an altitude of 1,000 feet constitute an illegal search and violate the Fourth Amendment?
Bond v. United States (2000) Does a law enforcement officer’s physical manipulation of a bus passenger’s carry-on luggage violate the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches?
Kyllo v. United States (2001) Does the use of a thermal-imaging device to detect relative amounts of heat emanating from a private home constitute an unconstitutional search in violation of the Fourth Amendment?

The Assignment:

  • Write an opinion as if you were a judge deciding this case.  Please note that the term “opinion” here does NOT mean an expression of your personal views! Instead, it means a formal statement of the legal reasons and principles defending your conclusion of whether text messages are protected under the Fourth Amendment.
  • To help you in making your decision, please read the summaries of past Fourth Amendment rulings.
  • As you read through the Supreme Court decisions above, look at how justices have crafted their decisions, and learn from them.  Use these as models for your paper.
  • Write clearly and concisely. State your decision, and defend it.
  • Cite precedent and the Constitution.
  • Refer to at least 3 of the cases featured above.
  • Write a minimum of 500 words.
  • Use college-level writing.
  • Save and submit through the “View/Complete Assignment” link below.



Writing Assignment #3

Letter to an Elected Official


Note: There are two parts to this written assignment, a background analysis and a formal letter.  In order to receive full credit for the assignment, you must submit both parts.

  1. Think of a political issue that is important to you. The issue should be currently debated nationally and covered by the media.
  2. Prepare a background analysis in order to organize your thoughts and educate yourself about the issue. Use Ivy Tech’s Virtual Library to find 2-3 articles about the issue. Your background analysis must include:
  • Identification of the people or groups involved in the debate,
  • Description of conflicting viewpoints surrounding the issue; and
  • Various policy outcomes that are desired by the different participants in the debate.
  • Students may use either APA format or MLA format, but academic standards require that all sources used must be cited.  (Click on the links to learn more about MLA and APA)
  1. Identify the most appropriate federal, state or local elected or appointed official who can assist in affecting change. Find the address, or email address, of the official you’ve written to.
  2. Using formal correspondence style, prepare a letter informing the official of your concern and offering a solution or making a request for action. CAUTION: Yours may be an emotional issue, but your argument must be based on reason, not just emotion. Support your position, and refute opposing positions, with factual information and well-reasoned arguments.
  3. Send an email to the selected official and submit your background analysis and letter.







Discussion #1:

In this session, your textbook described how food is both a private and a public good.  While food choices are largely private decisions, food production and consumption has a significant public impact.  Food and its relationship to obesity in the United States have caused new controversies in food policy.


“The government’s role in ensuring food security (that is, an adequate supply of food) and food safety is not controversial.  People expect the government to ensure that they have enough food and safe food. But food policy has become controversial as the government has begun to promote healthy diets by regulations that require labeling menus and limit portion sizes and proposals to tax certain items such as sweetened drinks.”


Watch the Jamie Oliver TED talk concerning the societal costs of obesity.


What do you think?

  • Should the United States government implement policies to encourage healthy eating and decrease obesity? Explain your reasoning.
  • If you believe that the government should implement anti-obesity policies, how far should it go to encourage healthy eating?
  • If you believe that the government should not be involved obesity prevention, how should the public costs of obesity be dealt with?


Discussion #2

After completing the activity “Debating US Drone Policy” (found under Session 16: Learning Activities and Readings folder) discuss the following:


  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of using drones?
  • Why is their controversy surrounding the use of drones?
  • Three policy options were discussed in “The Choice Program” website: a)continue to use drones whenever needed, b) use drones under strict limitations, and c) end targeted killings. Of these three options which do you support?  Why?  What are the most compelling arguments for this policy?


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