Politics 124 Fall 2003



You are the chair of the Judiciary Committee in the United States Senate. In June of this year the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (300-125) to amend the Constitution by adding a single sentence: The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States. To amend the Constitution, the measure must now pass the Senate where it must receive a two-thirds vote before being put to the states for a vote. As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee you have called for hearings on the flag desecration amendment. Since you are basically a fair person you want to make sure you hear more than one side of the argument. You have invited three individuals to testify before your committee. One of the individuals is a granddaughter of one of the delegates who attended the 1923 Flag Conference. Another is a member of Congress. And the third is your twin sibling who thinks exactly like you do. None of these three individuals, however, can come to the committee hearing, as each of them has an acute fear of flying. So instead the three of them have agreed to submit their testimony in writing. The three individuals have also communicated with each other via the wonders of modern technology to make sure that each testimony makes a distinctive contribution to the committee's understanding of this emotionally charged issue.

Your assignment is to write the testimony for each of these three people. Each testimony should be 600 words the paper therefore should be a total of 1800 words. Any paper over 2000 words will be returned unread. The paper should be double-spaced, with pages numbered. No title page or title is needed. At the top of the first page you should indicate the exact word count for the entire paper, as well as exact word counts for each of the three testimonies. Use in-text citations to reference reading wherever you are drawing on arguments from the reading—that is, citations should not be limited to direct quotations. A list of the documents you are citing should be appended at the end of the paper (the list of references does not count as part of your word count). Sources should be limited to class readings (though readings from other cluster classes would be ok if you thought they were relevant). To get an idea of what a short congressional testimony looks like, you might look at the testimony by Charles Fried in the Goldstein volume (document 11.9, pages 198-99) its about 450 words by my count. Other examples of congressional testimony can be found scattered throughout the Goldstein book. Before you begin writing, I recommend that you read chapter 11 (pages 180-232) and chapter 14 (pages 285-329) in Goldstein.

In evaluating each of the testimonies I will look for a clear thesis and a developed and persuasive argument. The testimonies should also provide evidence of close reading of the relevant texts. Finally, the writing should be clear, concise, well-organized, and free of grammatical and spelling errors.

A first draft of the paper will be due on Thursday, October 2 at the beginning of class. The draft should include two written testimonies of 600 words each. Failure to show up in class (on time, at the beginning of class) with at least two 600 word testimonies will result in an automatic full grade deduction on the final paper. The paper will be due Monday, October 6 at 9am (please note that this is a change from the date indicated on the syllabus). No late papers will be accepted. Your first draft and peer responses should be attached to the back of the final draft you turn in on Monday morning.

Willamette University

Writing Center

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

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