Describe the exclusionary rule and explain its purpose.
The exclusionary rule prevents the introduction at trial of evidence that was obtained by government agents in violation of Constitutional provisions. It was enacted to prevent abuses of various rights, particularly rights against illegal searches and seizures, that were being frequently committed, at least in the eyes of the Supreme Court. By preventing that evidence from being used at trial, the Court hoped to encourage law enforcement officers to stay within the bounds of Constitutional provisions, because failing to do so would jeopardize their ability to convict and imprison criminals.
Describe the pendulum theory of history and give an example from American history.
The pendulum theory of history states that historical trends swing between two extremes, much like a pendulum on a clock. This can be observed in recent American political history, starting with the conservative presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush in the 1980's and early 1990's. That period was then followed by the election of Bill Clinton, who advocated very liberal policies early in his presidency. After a midterm election brought Republicans to a majority in Congress, however, Clinton moved closer to the center. Then George W. Bush enacted conservative, pro-military and pro-law enforcement policies. After his terms ended, however, Barack Obama adopted liberal policies aimed at withdrawing America's military positions.
Discuss at least two disadvantages of the republican form of government adopted by the United States.
One disadvantage to the republican form of government adopted by the United States is the "tyranny of the majority." This problem, recognized by de Tocqueville, occurs when the majority of the population uses constitutional means to oppress the rights of a minority within the population. One example of this in American history is the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. A second disadvantage is the lack of technocratic expertise in the sovereign decision-makers. America's general population, as a whole, lacks education, experience, and in-depth knowledge about very complicated issues of public policy. However, they are ultimately responsible for choosing the individuals who will make those public policy decisions, while lacking the requisite background to make informed decisions in all cases.