American studies | English homework help

GENERAL DESCRIPTION:  Length:  five pages of text (i.e., excluding title page and bibliography);  NO late papers will be excepted.  In addition to the paper copy (handed in, in class), you must also submit your paper electronically within one day before the due date to the University’s plagiarism-detection service,, via the “VIEW/COMPLETE” link below.  NOTE:  please submit only the final draft of your paper, since the system allowsonly one submission.  You will be able to view your own scores (“originality report”), which — in addition to revealing plagiarism — also shows the instructor that you’ve successfully quoted sources that have already been run through;  this is therefore a potentially a good thing, if you’re correctly quoting published sources, though some of you may receive an artificially “high” (red) score if quote many well-published sources (i.e., the instructor will figure out what’s coincidental or legitimate).


Choosing a topic related to the Bill of Rights

1.  Using the following link (and related links on the same web site) or another source of your choice, read through the entire Bill of Rights (, and choose ONE PART of any of the first 10 Amendments (the Bill of Rights) to be your topic (preferably one you’re interested in).  To reiterate:  do NOT choose an entire Amendment, since this will be too much for a 5-page paper;  limit your essay to the specific part of whichever Amendment you select and/or to which your court case (see below) relates.


2.  Locate/research ONE recent court case (i.e., adjudicated in some way within the last 10 years) relating to how someone or a group of people were denied their rights under your topic amendment.  This court case can be a lawsuit filed but not yet settled, one that went to court and failed, or a successful challenge to a previous interpretation of the amendment/portion in question.  You may briefly refer to previous/older cases as precedents, but must focus on the specifics of your recent case. 


3.  CRUCIAL:  contact Dr. Baxter (either via e-mail or in class/office hours) to double-check with him that your selected court case fits the parameters of the assignment.  To explain why I ask this:  a few years ago, a student turned in a paper about an employee fired for posting e-mails critical of his boss — a potential violation of his right to free expression — but the case was from Scotland, not the U.S., so for an otherwise well-written paper, he received a D.


4.  In your paper text (body/main part of the essay), analyze both sides of the case — you’re welcome to show indicate your preference/opinion, but reviewing both sides demonstrates your academic professionalism and intellectual integrity.  In your essay’s conclusion, describe why you value your topic/amendment, and how it is relevant to modern American society & culture, using the example you researched.  Assume the reader knows what the Bill of Rights is (i.e., do not waste space discussing all the other amendments in the Bill of Rights), and focus on your chosen amendment or the specific relevant part (for example, you don’t have to find examples for every part of, say, the First Amendment, if you’ve chosen freedom of the press — just focus on the freedom of the press and give a court-case illustration of it).


5.  You must include numbered citations at the end of each sentence or paragraph where you cite and/or quote specific words, concepts or statistics, in CMS format ( for both footnotes/endnotes (your choice) and your separate-page bibliography.  This is a formal academic paper, so do not use non-credible sources (like, etc.)!


6.  Since the Constitution and Bill of Rights are public-domain documents, you do NOT need to cite the text of any Amendment or of the Constitution itself.

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