Friday, September 30, 2016


Apparently I am a solid liberal and centralist.

I'm not sure if I considered myself as either of those, but let's look at my political socialization to see what influences I've had growing up. My ethnicity does not appear to play a role in my ideology but my economic class and gender do. In my household, political discussion was and is often kept to a minimum. It just isn't a common or prominent topic in my family. When I was younger, I was aware that my stepdad was a Republican, and that is the only real political recollection I have from my family. From church, I've been exposed to more conservative Republican ideals because of current controversial issues concerning abortion and gay marriage. Despite the influence of my church coupled with that of my stepdad, I surprisingly lean towards the Democratic party.

I am no expert on politics - in fact, I'll admit that I know very little - but my opinions on abortion, gay marriage, taxes, environmental protocol, etc. seem to align with those of Democrats. I believe in equality, whether that includes pro-choice, unrestricted marriage laws, or more. In addition, I stand by the push for stricter gun control. While I do acknowledge what the Second Amendment says literally, I interpret that single sentence featured in the Constitution as permission to keep and bear arms should the need arise in time of unexpected war or revolution for the benefit and protection of the country and its values. The article "The Myth Behind Defensive Gun Ownership" highlights one of the many dangers of not having stricter gun regulations. I do not disagree that not allowing people to own a gun can infringe on an individual's rights, but it is more important for the public safety to ensure that gun owners meet the requirements to safely own a firearm.

My results from the political ideology quizzes surprised me because I never felt that my views were so extreme or definite. Perhaps I prefer more liberal ideals because of my age and exposure to trends dominating social media, or perhaps they stem from what I learn in school. Whatever the case may be, it's easy to agree that there isn't one single factor that defines my views, and I think that it's important in this day and age to maintain our individuality by respecting others' opinions but not conforming to them.

You know you love us. Xoxo, Government Girls.
Amanda Hinh

Monday, September 12, 2016


In the episode "A More Perfect Union", Peter Sagal travels across the United States to consult with those who believe in states’ rights and those who believe in a strong central government. Sagal encounters a medical marijuana dispensary owner in Oakland, California. Although legal in California, the federal ban on medical marijuana ceases to lift; therefore the Oakland owner fears for his life as he could be subject to the death penalty at any moment. Subsequently, Sagal stops at a historical epitome of federalist power, the Hoover Dam. Here, Peter Sagal interviews Cort Ancman, who briefly explains how it was solely the federal government who possessed the power to build the dam. A centralist approach of determining the constitutionality of the Hoover dam would be the Commerce Clause. The dam not only ensures control of flooding and irrigation but also the generation of hydroelectric power to neighboring states, which remains expanding Nevada's economy.

Reflection: This video presents the conflicting principles between state and federal rights, similarly to what we learned in Gooru. State and federal rights have sparked controversy well throughout American history. A notable case that outlined a feud over state/federal rights was McCulloch v. Maryland. The case established the supremacy of the national government over state. Moreover, the Court held that Congress had implied powers under the elastic clause.

 You know you love us. Xoxo, Government Girls.
(Jenn Carhuamaca)

Sunday, September 11, 2016


In Constitution U.S.A (A More Perfect Union), Peter Sagal rides around the United States in order to interpret the argument on Federalism. He speaks to people who believe in a centralist approach and some who believe in a decentralist approach.

While in Montana, Sagal talks to Gary Marbad, a “very outspoken gun rights advocate”; he claims that federal firearms regulations are taking away his constitutional rights. Rather than focusing on the second amendment, Marbad is targeting the commerce clause. He claims that the federal government has gotten too much power over the years and that it’s “time to roll it back” to the states because the states have a much better relationship with the people. Similarly, in Northern California, the debate on whether selling medical marijuana is legal or not, is taking place. Steve DeAngelo, Harborside's co-founder and executive director, has created a sleek, scientific apothecary to show that cannabis can be professionally distributed and used for health purposes. According to California’s state laws, growing and selling cannabis is perfectly legal; however, under federal laws (United States), the same act is a crime punishable by death. This reflects back into last week’s lesson on federalism. It shows decentralist beliefs of a weaker government and how much the two (decentralism and centralism) differ. They don’t want the government to be involved in their rights and favor local power instead of national power.

On the other hand, Peter Sagal visits places that show the positive aspects of federal control. He visits a high school in Little Rock, Arkansas; during the battle of segregation versus integration, it was the federal government that dramatically stepped in to make a difference. The governor sent the national guard to prevent nine African American students from entering the school. However, Dwight D. Eisenhower used his authority to override the mission; he made it so that the guards now had to protect the kids and escort them to class everyday. This contradicts some beliefs that the federal government should not be allowed to have so much power. If it weren’t for their increasing authority, they would not have been able to take this action and start the change of segregation.

You know you love us. Xoxo, Government Girls
(Sharon Kwon)

Saturday, September 10, 2016


In PBS’ Constitution USA, “A More Perfect Union” highlights the perpetual conflict between states’ rights and federal power of the government. A prime example of this controversial topic focuses on the legality of marijuana. The owner of the medical marijuana facility featured in the episode could face the death penalty under federal law but according to the state of California, medical marijuana is legal. This extremity is absurd and demonstrates a major weakness in the government; if the national government contradicts states’, then where does that leave American citizens? In many cases, state laws are more important in protecting individuals’ rights than federal law. (reflection) However, the supremacy clause, mentioned in this week’s lesson, addresses the issue of conflicting legislation, concluding that ultimately federal law trumps state laws. This popularly debated issue is a result of centralism vs. decentralism. Due to different interpretations of the Constitution, polar approaches to enforcing legislation and exercising governmental power for the American people create a division in our politics. The Founding Fathers may not have devised the perfect system for governing the United States, but we as a nation, nevertheless, are continuing to thrive and dispute this problem.

You know you love us. Xoxo, Government Girls.
(Amanda Hinh)


The video we watched in class taught me that states' rights are important to a variety of people for a variety of reasons. Although legalizing marijuana and gun rights are commonly viewed as causes on opposite sides of party lines, activists for both believe that the federal government should have less regulatory power over their businesses. I was shocked that the man who operated a medical marijuana dispensary in Oakland was eligible for the death penalty under federal law (which I think is a huge exaggeration of the severity of his crime). A more conservative example is Gary from Montana, who thinks the government is infringing on his right to sell guns within state lines.
As we learned in this week's lesson, issues between state and federal powers have existed from the founding of our country. On one side is centralism, in which the federal government has the majority of the power and states only receive rights surrendered by the national government. On the other side are decentralists, who believe that the 10th Amendment grants broad power to the states, and view the Constitution as a strict construction document. These opposing viewpoints transcend time periods and political parties and are the root of many of America's ongoing debates.
You know you love us. Xoxo, government girls.
(Claire McNamara)

Monday, September 5, 2016

Principles of the Constitution_McNamara

One of the principles of the Constitution we learned about this week was checks and balances, so I created this chart showing the checks that the "branches" of our federal government have on each other. Checks and balances are important because they prevent any one person from becoming too powerful and ruling over the entire government. This was particularly important to the Founding Fathers because they had seen what could happen when the government got too much control, and did not want that to repeat in their new country.
You know you love us. Xoxo, Government Girls
(Claire McNamara)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Principles of the Constitution_Hinh

The U.S. Constitution 101

Reflection: The Founding Fathers were a group of intellectual men with a vision for the future of our nation. They created a solid foundation for a young America but understood and anticipated the alterations that would need to be made to accommodate for changing times. The development of a limited government with checks and balances is such a vital contribution to the success of our government by preventing too much power from falling into any one set of hands, and their ability to devise a system to overcome that obstacle is admirable. It’s remarkable that their founding principles still withstand today, and the Constitution testifies for the unity and durability of our country.

Click here to find a brief overview of everything you need to know about our Constitution.

You know you love us. Xoxo, Government Girls.
(Amanda Hinh)

Friday, September 2, 2016

Principles of the Constitution in a Nutshell_Carhuamaca

 Principles of the Constitution
To view this drawing in a different tab, click here.
Reflection: My drawing displays the numerous principles of the Constitution we have studied in Gooru screencasts the past two days.

Hope you enjoyed this snazzy sketch of the principles of the Constitution! Stay tuned for next week!
You Know you love us. Xoxo, Government Girls
(Jenn Carhuamaca)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

We The People_Kwon

 Separation of Powers
The idea of separation of powers was created by a political and social philosopher named Montesquieu. This was formed in order to avoid tyranny and concentration of power in one set of hands; it separated the government into three different branches - legislative, judicial, and executive. The legislative branch is made up of the House of Representatives as well as the Senate. While this branch creates the laws for the nation, the executive branch enforces those laws. It consists of the President and all other Executive Agencies such as the State Department, Defense Department, and etc.). Lastly, the judicial branch, which includes the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and the District courts, interprets the laws in order to see if they are constitutional or not. No one branch is dependent on the other, which brings us to the checks and balances system.

 Checks and Balances
Image result for checks and balances clipart
The checks and balances system was placed in addition to the separation of powers to limit the amount of authority a certain group has. The system claims that each of the three branches have the ability to “check” the powers of the others. For example, while the president can check the congress, the Congress can also check the President. This also goes for the Judicial Branch; Congress can check the Judicial Branch (and vice versa) while the Judicial Branch can check the President. This was used to avoid what the founders feared - dictatorship.

      Limited Government
A limited government is a government that is bound to certain rules and principles of a constitution. Many limitations were put in place, such as the Bill of Rights, free elections, and more. The anti-federalists, people who feared a strong national government and control in the hands of the elite, stressed the need for the Bill of Rights. This document limited the power of the national government through amendments. Furthermore, free elections were created so that the people would have the ability to vote out those who abused their power.

           Judicial Review
Because of the founders’ fear of absolute control in one person’s hands, they created the concept of judicial review; this means that the courts have the power to rule on the constitutionality of any action of the Congress or the President. We needed a way to determine whether a lawsuit was constitutional or not. This was established by the court cases of Marbury vs. Madison in 1803, when Adams appointed the Midnight Judges.

    Changing the Constitution
There are two ways of changing the Constitution- informally and formally. Informal amendments mean that the Constitution doesn’t necessarily change the actual language of the document; we merely modify the meaning. We are able to do this through court decisions. For example, Plessy vs. Ferguson ruled that African Americans were not considered people and that separate facilities were equal. However, in the Brown vs. Board case, it was said that separate facilities were indeed unequal. When the government formally changes the Constitution, it means that they revise the written language. The federalist system was created to balance the states and the national government. In addition, it was said that ⅔ of Congress needs to propose on an amendment and that ¾ of the states must agree for it to pass.

These cartoons represent the different topics I learned in this lesson. Under every picture, I explain the principles of the constitution.
You know you love us. Xoxo, Government Girls
(Sharon Kwon)