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Posted: September 6th, 2023

General Term Paper Information

General Term Paper Information
This assignment is one in which you will examine one of the Supreme Court decisions of the 20th century that impacted civil rights and freedoms. Generally speaking, the Supreme Court was much more active in expanding civil liberties and protections in the twentieth century than during any other period of U.S. history.
For this paper, you will analyze a single Supreme Court decision from almost any point in this course (1914 through 2000). The only topics you need to avoid are subjects that do not fall within the time frame for this assignment or that limit civil liberties in the United States (e.g. Korematsu v. United States). Also, Roe v. Wade is not an option for this assignment because I provided a sample of the term paper below that used this court case. A list of pre-approved court cases has been provided for you below, but you are not limited to these topics. If there is another topic of interest, please contact me for approval before you begin your research. As a bit of advice, a lot of former students choose very large cases like Brown v. Board with the thought that the more resources available the better, but the amount of information out there can be overwhelming and hamper your research (so you might find selecting a less well-known case makes for an easier paper).
Below you will find a list of some of the various Supreme Court decisions, broken down into categories, which expanded civil rights during the time frame of this class. By no means is the following list intended to cover every possible case of the 20th century, but hopefully this will give you some ideas of where you can go with this research paper. If you find a potential topic that is not on the list, suggest it!
Ideas for Term Paper Topics.docx
Download Ideas for Term Paper Topics.docx

Term Paper Structure
The paper will consist of multiple distinct and individual sections which focus on your selected Supreme Court case.
1. Cover Page – The top page of your submission should be the cover/title page of your paper. The cover page consists of the subject of your paper in the center, with your name and any other information you want to include in the bottom right. Feel free to include a title for your paper to give it some personality, but this is optional.
2. Body of Essay – Each of the three sections should be clearly marked with a title as a new section. For example, Section I would be titled “Background” and Section III would be titled “Significance.” This is a very basic example, so feel free to get creative on titles, etc. The titles should be regular sized font, but centered, bolded, and/or underlined to make it clear. If Section I is two and a half pages, you should end the section there (mid-page), start a new page, and add the title at the top of the new page to indicate the beginning of Section II.
○ Section I – This section should provide a short background of the case, including the circumstances of the initial arrest, incident, or challenge to established law. Include any information you feel is important for the reader to know in order to understand your subject. This section should be a minimum of 350 words (about 1 page) in length.
○ Section II – This section should explain the decision by the court. This will include the motivations for the decision as well as an explanation of the dissenting votes. If your case was decided on a unanimous vote, you would analyze the legal arguments presented by the losing side in the case. This section should be a minimum of 350 words (about 1 page) in length.
○ Section III. This section will analyze the significance of the case on civil liberties and should much more extensively researched than the first two sections (which are largely explanatory). Examine the outcomes of the decision in terms of immediate changes and their impact on other cases, if relevant. This section should be a minimum of 700 words (about 2 pages) in length.
3. Works Cited – The final page of your paper is the works cited page. The works cited page should be on its own page and includes the full citation of the sources you have used in the paper in Chicago style. Please see the handout on citations and Chicago formatting.

I have included a sample student paper below. It is not perfect, but this should give you an idea of how you should format the final submission. Since I am giving you an example of Roe v. Wade, you cannot do this case for the assignment.
Student Sample 1.docx
Download Student Sample 1.docx

Required Submissions
Topic Approval (optional)
If you have decided to write on a Supreme Court case which is listed on the handout above, you can skip this step.
If you have decided to write on a decision that is not listed on the handout, you must submit a prospectus (formal proposal) that includes a detailed description of your project. The goal of a prospectus is to explain the main components of your paper, the key evidence, and the sources of that evidence. The prospectus must include the subject of your research paper and a brief summary of the impacts and significance of the case. You must also include the specific sources where you found the information in your preliminary research. This is an ungraded assignment, but the subject of all papers not listed on the handout must be approved to receive credit for the other submissions listed below. Any papers submitted with a non-approved topic will not be graded and will be marked as “No credit.” If you have chosen a topic from the approved list, but you would like me to look over your sources and early research, feel free to send me a prospectus. There is no location within Canvas to upload the prospectus, so please submit the prospectus via email as a Word attachment.

Rough Draft – Due Week 6
In order to keep on track, you should have Section I and II completed and starting to work on Section III of your court case.
For this assignment, you need to submit a rough draft of your term paper that includes a completed Section I & II, and everything you have completed for Section III. Anything that you have not fully completed in Section III should be put in a detailed outline so that I can see where you are going for the rest of the paper. Avoid generalizations in the outlined section and be as detailed as possible. The last page should be a Works Cited page including any sources you have used for the paper.
This is a rough draft so you can always edit later before your final submission, but you should have Section I & II completed and only need minor changes like word selection, punctuation, etc., if anything at all. This means all formatting and footnoting should be complete for the first two sections. Your submission should be a minimum of 350 words for Section I, 350 words for Section II, and one page of detailed outline for Section III (or at least 1 page of a completed Section III), which is a total of three pages plus a works cited page. The last page of detailed outline needs to include the structure, specific evidence, and sources of this research, otherwise only partial credit will be given due to short/missing components. This assignment will be returned with comments indicating the larger issues, but is not intended to be comprehensive.
PLEASE NOTE – There are only three grades given for this assignment. Credit for the Term Paper Rough Draft assignment will be given as 50 points for a completed submission, 30 points for submissions with short/missing components, and 0 points for submissions with very short/multiple missing components. The rough draft will be accepted late for up to one week with a 5 point deduction for each day or any portion thereof.

Final Draft – Due Week 10
The total submission is a minimum of about four double spaced pages (must meet minimum word counts for each section), which means four full pages of essay not including footnotes, titles, etc. The format should follow what is described in the “Term Paper Structure” above.

● Final Draft Submission Format and Requirements
Essay should be 12 point Times New Roman font with standard 1” margins on all sides. Do not put your name on each page or skip extra lines between paragraphs or titles. Writing should be tight and have a good flow (e.g. avoiding dropped quotes and having topic sentences).
You should use Chicago style formatting for all citations, which means you must include footnotes for the evidence used in your paper (not endnotes or parenthetical citations). There is a very specific way to insert footnotes, so please read the citations handout in Canvas. Failure to cite sources can be construed as plagiarism – please see the syllabus and college catalog for details. Any direct quotes five or more lines in length need to be cited as block quotes but as a general rule, five lines is too long anyway and you should try to paraphrase or only use part of the quote.
Late papers are accepted, but they will receive a one grade (15 point) deduction for each day they are late, or any portion thereof. The last submission date for late papers is five days after the due date, at which point the assignment will be graded as “No credit.”

Term Paper Grading
One of my professors once told me that it is called a term paper because you are supposed to complete it over the entire term, otherwise it would be called a weekend paper. In retrospect and now that I am a professor, I know what he meant. There is a clear and very obvious difference between those papers which were researched over the quarter and those that were thrown together in the last week. My advice is to start early and dedicate a regular amount of time each week to reading about your topic.
Students sometimes do not understand how a paper is graded, especially in subjective writing assignments. Below you will find a grading rubric to outline the basic elements for each grade level. Please note that term papers are graded in 5% (7.5 point) increments and failure to meet minimum requirements will result in a non-passing grade.
As you review the rubric below, keep in mind that the basic grade of a paper derives from its content while the difference between the higher and lower grades may depend on issues such as presentation. In other words, just because a submission has some characteristics of an “A,” it might not receive that grade due to other factors. These categories are not intended to be completely definitive in assigning grades, but they should provide you a good guideline of how each grade is determined.
Evaluation Rubric for Term Paper.docx
Download Evaluation Rubric for Term Paper.docx

A – Outstanding (135-150 points)
● Section I & II – Effective historical description to make your case vivid and interesting.
● Section III – Strong analysis, based on historical documentation, of the impacts of the case. You have a clear opinion about how and why this subject is significant at the time and today (if relevant). Full explanations of your examples show why they are important for the reader to consider.
● Research – Factual information is correct and corroborated by material from your sources. Detailed examples illustrate your points. Source materials are appropriate for a college paper and do not include non-academic sources.
● Writing – Well written essay with full sentences and paragraphs. No punctuation, spelling, or grammatical issues present. Writing is tightly organized and has clearly been revised through several drafts. Essay written in past tense.
● Presentation – Includes all the required components and formatting guidelines such as title page, works cited page, each section starts on a new page, correct font, proper margins, etc. No errors in citations or works cited page.

B – Above Average/Very Good (120-135 points)
● Section I & II – Good historical description of the case but could leave some unanswered questions or gaps in background.
● Section III – Good analysis, based on historical documentation, of the impacts of the case. Some areas of subject unexplored, but covers most important issues
● Research – Factual information is correct and corroborated by material from your sources. Detailed examples illustrate your points. Majority of source materials are appropriate for a college paper and do not include non-academic sources.
● Writing – Good essay with full sentences and paragraphs. Minimal punctuation, spelling, or grammatical issues present, but do not distract from content of paper. Writing is good, but essay would benefit from a revised draft. Some minor problems moving in and out of past tense.
● Presentation – Includes most required components, but could be missing one component or does not follow all formatting guidelines. Minimal errors in citations or work cited page.

C – Average/Satisfactory (105-120 points)
● Section I & II – Historical description is general and covers basic elements of case.
● Section III – Needs more analysis of significance or impacts of the case. Touches on most obvious impacts, but misses the secondary issues.
● Research – Could include inaccurate or unsupported information. General or vague examples and evidence. Relies on minimal source materials or materials which are inappropriate for a college paper or includes non-academic sources.
● Writing – Average essay with full sentences and paragraphs. Some punctuation, spelling, or grammatical errors that distract from content. Writing or organization issues to the degree that it appears to have not been proofread or gone through multiple drafts. Inconsistent in use of past tense.
● Presentation – Missing some components or does not follow all formatting guidelines. Multiple errors in citations or works cited page, or missing citations.

D – Below Average/Unsatisfactory (90-105 points)
● Section I & II – Poorly researched background description. Does not meet minimum length requirement.
● Section III – Poor analysis of the impacts of the case which misses some important impacts. Does not meet minimum length requirement.
● Research – Could include inaccurate information or rely on conjecture or personal experiences. General or vague examples and evidence. Poorly researched and includes source materials not appropriate for a college paper or non-academic sources.
● Writing – Problematic essay with sentence and paragraph issues. Multiple punctuation, spelling, or grammatical errors that distract from content. Writing and organization issues to the degree that it appears to have not been proofread or undergone more than one draft. Very inconsistent in use of past tense.
● Presentation – Missing components and does not follow formatting guidelines. Multiple errors in citations or works cited page, and missing citations.

F – Far Below Average/Failing (37.5-90 points)
● Section I & II – Poorly researched background description. Does not meet minimum length requirement.
● Section III – Poor analysis of the impacts of the case which misses some important impacts. Does not meet minimum length requirement.
● Research – Includes inaccurate information or relies on conjecture or personal experiences. Poor and vague examples and evidence. Poorly researched and includes source materials not appropriate for a college paper and non-academic sources.
● Writing – Poorly written essay with significant sentence and paragraph issues. Difficult to understand multiple points due to repeated spelling, grammatical, or punctuation errors. Writing and organization issues to the degree that it appears to have been quickly completed and not undergone any drafts revisions. Frequently in wrong tense.
● Presentation – Missing most components and does not follow formatting guidelines. Multiple errors in citations or works cited page, and missing citations.

No Credit (0 points)
Did not submit, plagiarized/academic integrity violation, or submitted an unapproved topic.

Ideas for term paper topics

Freedom of Religion
Lemon v. Kurtzman (1968)
Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972)
Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Association (1988)

Desegregation/Racial Discrimination
Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada (1938)
Smith v. Allwright (1944)
Morgan v. Virginia (1946)
Mendez v. Westminster (1946)
Oyama v. California (1948)
Sweatt v. Painter (1950)
Sei Fujii v. California (1952)
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)
Hernandez v. Texas (1954)
Cooper v. Aaron (1958)
Bailey v. Patterson (1962)
Heart of Atlanta Motel Inc. v. United States (1964)
Loving v. Virginia (1967)
Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co. (1968)
Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (1971)

Gender/Sexual Equality
Frontiero v. Richardson (1973)
Craig v. Boren (1976)
Romer v. Evans (1996)
Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc. (1998)

Sexual Harassment
Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson (1986)
Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools (1992)
Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc. (1998)

Voting Rights
Smith v. Allwright (1944)
Reynolds v. Sims (1964)

Education Rights
Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925)
Mendez v. Westminster (1946)
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969)
Lau v. Nichols (1974)
Plyler v. Doe (1982)
Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools (1992)
United States v. Virginia (1996)

Employment Discrimination
Pittsburgh Press Co. v. Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations (1937)
Griggs v. Duke Power Co. (1971)
University of California Regents v. Bakke (1978)
International Union, UAW v. Johnson Controls, Inc. (1991)

Criminal Justice Protections
Powell v. Alabama (1932)
Mapp v. Ohio (1961)
Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)
Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
Katz v. United States (1967)
Terry v. Ohio (1968)
Furman v. Georgia (1972)
In re Gault (1976)
Batson v. Kentucky (1986)

Women’s Rights
Adkins v. Children’s Hospital (1923)
Pittsburgh Press Co. v. Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations (1937)
Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)
Phillips v. Martin Marietta Corp. (1971)
Reed v. Reed (1971)
Cleveland Board of Education v. LaFleur (1974)
International Union, UAW v. Johnson Controls, Inc. (1991)
Native American/Tribal Rights
Menominee Tribe v. United States (1968)
United States v. Antelope (1977)
Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez (1978)
Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians v. Holyfield (1989)
Coyote v. US Fish and Wildlife Service (1992)

Freedom of Press, Speech, and Assembly
Near v. Minnesota (1931)
De Jonge v. Oregon (1937)
West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943)
Kent v. Dulles (1958)
New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964)
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969)
New York Times Co. v. United States (1971)
Texas v. Johnson (1989)

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