The Fourteenth Amendment and the Rights Revolution
Introductory Writing Assignment
Due: Sept. 12 (beginning of class)
Reading: In re Booth and Rycraft, 3 Wis. 157 (1854)
Note: You should use the internet link to the U. S. Constitution in the schedule to read sections of the Constitution on which Judge Smith relies.
Assignment: Write an essay that does the following:
1. Summarizes the important elements of the opinion, including the question before the court, how the court decided the case, and Judge Smith’s reasoning. You should keep quotes from the opinion to a minimum. To the extent you use a brief quote, you must explain it in your own words.
2. Explains the arguments that a Southern slaveholder might have used to respond to Judge Smith for enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.
Purpose: This assignment has two basic purposes. First, to give you an understanding of the American constitutional order before the Civil War and adoption of the 14th Amendment. Second, to give me a sense early in the term of your critical reading and writing abilities.
Audience: You should assume that your reader is a well-educated person, but one who is not familiar with the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s opinion in In re Booth and Rycraft.
Format: Two-pages, typed. The essay should be well-organized and written, free of grammatical and spelling errors, and have a title.
Grading: This will count as part of your informal writing grade. I will evaluate it on a check minus/check/check plus basis. To give you a sense of how the paper would be evaluated were it a graded assignment, I will also note what grade it would have received.