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Qualifications for judges of district-level court

1. In many American states, judges are elected rather than appointed. Please briefly describe the appointment process in one state. Do you agree with state judges being elected in this manner? What might be done to improve the process?

Qualifications for judges of district-level courts include U.S. citizenship, residence in the district for two years immediately before election or appointment, and a license to practice law in Texas. As a guarantee of practical legal experience, a district-level judge must have been a practicing lawyer, a judge of a court of record, or both for at least four years prior to election. As in the case of Texas judges in other state courts, a vacant judgeship (resulting from death, resignation, retirement, removal, or the creation of a new court) is filled by gubernatorial appointment with the advice and consent of the Senate. More than half of the judges in district-level courts initially reach the bench as a result of appointment. Historically, having the political advantage of running as incumbents, they retained their positions b winning subsequent elections. In recent elections, however, incumbent Democratic judges have been defeated in increasing numbers as party affiliation has become more important than incumbency.

The Long Star State's appellate courts consist of 14 courts of appeals, the Court of Criminal Appeals, and the Supreme Court of Texas. Each of these courts has three or more judges or justices, and all members are popularly elected for terms of six years. Terms are staggered so that one-third of the members are elected or re-elected every two years because it helps to ensure hat at any given time, barring death, resignation, or removal form office, each appellate court will have two or more judges with prior experience on that court. Justices of courts of appeals, judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals, and justices of the Supreme Court of Texas must be at least 35 years age and have had ten years of experience as a practicing lawyer or ten years of combined experience as a practicing lawyer and judge of a court of record. Decisions are reached by majority vote of the judges assigned to the case after their examination of the written record of the case; their review of written briefs, or arguments, prepared by the parties' attorneys; and their hearing of oral argument by the attorneys.

My suggestions for reforming the method of selecting district court judges and appellate court judges and justices in Texas is that the people who run for judges don't really have to have citizenship and the residence of the district. Because I think is a person have other qualifications except citizenship, I don't really think that is fair. If that person's qualifications are beyond great, but he or she doesn't have citizenship, he or she has to wait for 5 years to get it. We don't know anything after five years, may be after 5 years, he doesn't have the same passion for the judges five years ago. Another reforming is that the justices for Supreme Court of Texas, the people don't really have to be 35 years or older. People who are 27 or 30 years old can be a great justices. I think the age doesn't really matter because if they can be a great justices as any age, why set a limit on the age. Those are my suggestions for reforming the method of selecting the judges for district court and appellate court and justices for Supreme Court of Texas.

I agree with state judges being elected in this manner. I feel that the process allows for an extensive background check and thus guarantees and effective judge once that official comes to the bench. Judges to have much power and therefore need to be screened appropriately. The screening process allows comfort and security to individuals because they know that those that will be judging on cases have had to go through extensive background checks, and an extensive process in able to perform their jobs. This will hopefully ensure fairness as well as proper judging skills. However, elections always do have room for improvement. In my opinion, I feel that elections do allow for judges to get too politically involved in some concepts, and possibly controlled by campaign financing. One way of improving this is to simply get rid of campaign financing altogether—although this seems an unlikely thing to happen. However, it would take away the over-active political agendas of some interest groups.

2. Briefly list or describe the subject-matter areas in which the Congress has legislative jurisdiction. Should Congress's jurisdiction be narrowed, broadened, or left as is? Please explain your answer.

Congress can make laws for the country. These include powers like the regulation of taxes, regulation of commerce between the states and with foreign countries, the power to declare war, and the power to impeach the President are some of the other matters the legislative branch have to deal with.” Furthermore, Congress is made up of two chambers, or houses, which include the House of Representatives and the Senate. Within the Senate there are 100 senators, two senators for each state. Senators serve for 6 year terms. Within the Senate, senators must approve presidential appointments as well as foreign policy notions. On the other hand, the second branch, the House of Representatives is made up of 435 members, chosen from districts, and serving two year terms. They primarily focus on dealing with tax implementation measures

The question of whether the Congress is representative towards the American public has been a longstanding question that has become the spotlight of numerous political debates. Many people believe that with a membership of nearly all-white males from a higher social status in society, it is nearly impossible for a true representation to occur. This is a mistake. The Congress is a fair representation of the American public. With the use of a bicameral legislature that serves both public sentiment and national interests, congressional voting that is representative of its constituents, and the power to vote, congressional representation is indeed met. One of the most controversial issues regarding the representation of the Congress is how the lack of minorities and women in membership affect a true representation of the American public. For much of the life of Congress, the membership has been comprised completely of white males. However, with the surface of the civil rights movement and a growing awareness of a diverse America, membership in the Congress has begun to change. There are now African Americans, women, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and American Indians that are all members of Congress. Many women used to gain membership into Congress by becoming widows, however, today almost all are elected officials and this trend is on the rise.

Nevertheless, white males continue to dominate the majority. Does this mean that representation is still unequal? The answer is no. Regardless of race, culture, and gender differences, members typically make their choices in accordance with their constituents. For example, although most of the African American members vote liberal, this does not necessarily mean that African Americans are all liberal. Rather, these members represent districts that are liberal. This means that voting tendencies don't rely on race; rather they rely on the views of their districts. If a district is liberal, it's only proper for their congressman to make more liberal decisions as well. Thus, if Congress membership were based on racial, ethnic, and gender representatives, they would vote in a similar fashion that the Congress of today does. Basically, in spite of the fact that white males dominate the majority of Congress, women and racial minorities vote in the same manner. This manner is representing their constituent's views. This proves that it is unnecessary to form a Congress based on gender and racial characteristics. Another issue surrounding the representation of Congress pertains to how representation should be handled. Some say that it is the responsibility of the Congress to act in accordance with the views of its constituents. Still, others believe that members of the Congress have earned the responsibility to act on their own decisions and upon what they deem to be the most important issues. The best way to solve this problem is to meet somewhere in the middle. One must realize the fact that members of Congress are responsible and educated individuals, if they weren't they wouldn't be in Congress. However, as a representative for a district, it is also the responsibility of the member to deal with the issues important to the district.

Therefore, by dealing with the issues of the public and having the responsibility to act on their own judgment, members of the Congress are able to represent the American public in a more beneficial manner. The issue of congressional representation also depends on three important factors: home style, name recognition, and midterm elections. In a nutshell, home style is the manner in which members of Congress present themselves to the voting public. The reason why home style is important to understand is that if a member of Congress is especially good at it, he/she has a significant advantage over other nominees running for office during an election. Many politicians make home style one of their personal goals in order to gain extra votes. If someone's home style is really good, they can gain the votes from voters who might not even agree with their political views. This can obviously have a dramatic impact on representation because the views of the district could easily be contradictory to the views of their congressman. A similar factor to home style, name recognition also plays a fundamental role in the voting process and in turn, the representation of a district. Name recognition is important because when someone enters a poll booth and they only see a few names they recognize, those are going to be the ones they vote for.

The third factor, midterm elections, is somewhat different than the other two. Midterm elections occur during a president's term in office. If public sentiment towards the president is negative during a midterm election, running officials that are members of the same party as the president have a decreased chance of becoming elected. This is important to remember because it represents the sentiment of the public at a specific point in time, which may just be a short-term feeling. As a result, officials are elected that might not represent the overall feeling of the public.

One recent example occurred during the Clinton presidency. Public approval was extremely low and this was evident by the voting that took place during the 1994 midterm elections where the public voted in the largest amount of Republicans in years. All in all, the American public holds the deck of cards because it has the power to vote. Just because the majority of congressmen are white males doesn't mean that the country is misrepresented. If the United States deemed it necessary to implement a Congress that represented all people of the public, where would it end? Who would get representation and who wouldn't? Would the uneducated have representation? This is unfair. Why in the world would we put someone with no credentials other than the fact that he/she represents a specific sector of society? Being a member of Congress is a job. In the real world, if you lack the credentials, you don't get the job. So why should this differ in Congress especially since it is one of the most important decision making branches in the United States. What about homosexuals, the blind, vegetarians, etc.? These are all communities within the United States. It's simply not feasible to implement a Congress of complete descriptive representation. Equal representation doesn't imply good representation. The members of Congress base their decisions and actions on where their districts interests are and that certainly equals clear representation.


3. Should morbidly obese people be recognised as a "suspect class" for purposes of equal protection analysis? Why or why not?

I do not feel that morbidly obese people should be focused in on as a “suspect class” for purposes of equal protection analysis. I feel this way because of the many causes of obesity. Obesity can be very difficult for many to control. There are many causes of these obese inducing reactive behaviors. Many psychology articles that have been written prove that some people have that unconscious psychological program that drives their behaviors. Some psychology literatures show us that some quarters contend obesity is caused by the imbalance between calories consumed and expended through physical activity. Foresight literature further states that some underlying drivers influence how and why our diet and activity levels have changed to such waistline expanding effect. Genetics can play an increasing part of this, and genetics may be difficult for these individuals to control.

Many Americans are currently unaware that they are overweight or obese,and those who acknowledge their weight problems are often unwilling to change. About thirty five percent of Americans are overweight and thirty percent are obese.

From the economic perspective, predictions are for sharp rises in the costs to the taxpayer of treating obesity and related chronic illness. There is a good business case for public health investment, but challenges remain in knowing how to allocate funds effectively, and finding the right boundaries of what some consider to be ‘nanny state' intervention. The food supply chain will continue to focus on profits rather than health; growing consumer awareness of nutrition appears to be an emerging trend, which may help to align the profit motive with human health.

The World Health Organization believes that urbanization sets the conditions that promote poor eating habits and inactivity. As over half the world's population live in cities, making urban existence healthier is of increasing concern. In fact, some organizations encourage exercises such as cycling and walking because. Sports has become increasingly popular to fight obesity. Optimists anticipate that there will be greater emphasis on the health values of food, with positive environmental benefit; greater ecological and nutritional awareness may demand more wholesome, local foods, or may see a trend towards more highly-processed ‘functional foods'.

Many people use food to shield themselves as they engage in emotionally triggered eating to compensate for or to fulfill their dysfunctional 'intimacy avoidance' program. intended to grow fat since most men and women seem to have an equal tendency to avoid dating people with eating disorders. But when it comes to obesity, men are far less accepting than women according to a new Division of Nutritional Sciences study. Many students and probably others generally would not hesitate to stigmatize people with eating disorders. And as a result, many are hesitant to become involved in romantic relationships with a person who has anorexia nervosa or bulimia. The causality of how people have learned a dysfunctional behavior to fulfill their emotional needs has been due to advertisements. Advertisements state that eating lots of delicious cakes and other meaty foods will be very happy. This will give the advertisement viewers the impression that if they have any personal and love problems, the best way to heal it is to eat, eat and eat their problems--away

Some people's minds have been triggered to implement certain behavioral patterns to alleviate their psychological problems. One way is to use food as a self medication. The person thinks that their fake happy feelings and the resulting obesity shields them from the possibility that their prior significant emotional event. This prior event triggered the pattern to begin with, from ever happening again because they assume they are making themselves unattractive to the opposite sex. Now they know they will never be hurt again. Some of these people enter a trance-like self-hypnotic state and automatically start eating whenever they are triggered by a certain feeling or situation. They have hypnotized themselves to prefer eating instead of venturing into a new love affair to avoid being hurt from intimacy.

Often obesity can start in childhood and this is why the becoming obese is often unavoidable for many people. Childhood obesity has a variety of causes, from the genetic to the environmental to those formed by personal habits. Though lack of physical activity and consuming high-calorie foods are currently the most discussed causes, the others and important and equally pressing concerns and thus warrant mention as well.

The problem is by no means new; in fact, as early as 1983, reports stated that between five and twenty-five percent of American children were obese. and similar numbers persist today. In fact, it has risen by almost threefold in the United States over the past quarter-century. Experts break down the causes into two categories: non-modifiable and modifiable. In the former case, the blame can be placed almost solely on genetics. This cause is clearly the hardest to address, because it cannot simply be explained by diet and exercise, and modifying these do not necessarily solve the problem. Children and parents can curtail food intake and create exercise regimens, but even beneficial practices like these may help little or not at all.

Modifiable factors are more numerous and more behavioral in origin. These include environment, lack of regular physical exercise, sedentary behavior, and dietary habits. Though childhood obesity appears in every American social and ethnic group, environmental factors certainly reflect the phenomenon's skewed demographics. For black and Latino children, this is partly explained by culture and poverty, which limits families' dietary choices to cheaper foodstuffs like starches and processed foods, which have large amounts of carbohydrates and calories. In turn, these promote weight gains unless balanced with healthier foods (particularly fruits and vegetables) and physical exercise.

One cannot ignore the most recently obvious causes for childhood obesity – lack of physical activity and children's poorer heating habits. Because of reduced facilities and opportunities for children to play sports or engage in regular exercise (especially as schools cut or limit physical-education programs due to curriculum changes), children simply do not expend their energy as vigorously or as often. Also, more passive kinds of indoor recreation have emerged in the last two decades, with the expansion of cable television (and its increased viewing choices) and the rise of video and computer games, as well as the Internet. These help reduce children's initiative to exercise or participate in sports and thus distracts them from one important method of maintaining their health.

In addition, the kinds of foods children eat are radically different than a generation ago, when fewer processed foods existed on the market. Because more mothers work today than two or three decades ago and thus have less time to plan and prepare meals, families rely more heavily on pre-prepared, processed foods with higher fat and sugar contents. Combining more calories and fats with lower levels of physical activity means that children virtually leave themselves vulnerable to becoming overweight.

Given these factors, the rise in childhood obesity becomes less surprising when one considers that the human metabolism is very easy to upset even with small changes in diet. The damage that children thus do to themselves, combined with genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors, is thus considerable and represents a genuine crisis.

Childhood obesity has emerged in recent years as a serious health-care concern. Among its mainly causes, though, only one – heredity – remains outside families' or physicians' ability to halt, though it can be contained to a degree. Despite its rapid spread, childhood obesity is easier to prevent than to treat, and prevention focuses in large measure on parent education. Indeed, education is perhaps the most vital means of encouraging families to serve children healthier foods, with fewer sugars and calories and less fat, and to find ways for children to become more physically active. Childhood obesity is an undeniable public-health crisis, but with diligence it can be addressed and contained. Because so many people are affected and because it is so difficult to control, obesity should not be a suspect class.


4. The US Constitution has been interpreted by the courts to allow members of the public to say rude, vulgar, and profane things to public officials. Do you think this is necessary or desirable in a democracy? Why or why not?

I agree with the right to say rude things to public officials. It is not necessarily the respectful thing to do, but people in a democracy are free to express their opinions and to let their officials know when they are unhappy, even by the strongest words. For example, there is a strong sense in this country that public officials cannot be trusted, and this can contribute to vulgar comments to politicians. Regardless, vulgar comments are protected by free speech, and people have the right to express themselves.

There are problems with American politics, and in order to make sure the democracy is heard, sometimes vulgarity toward public officials may be necessary. Political America can well be described in one word: frustrating. Politics, over the second half of the 20th century has taken a turn for the worse. It has reached a level of inefficiency where many argue it has become ineffective. What many people fail to realize, however, is that our government is slow by design. Fragmented government, the separation of powers, and political factionalism are all basic infrastructural elements of our government that exist for the sole purpose of decelerating the political process in order to make it more deliberate and more democratic. Unfortunately, because of the level of citizen frustration, the political system itself is often called into question, and cited as the source of the government's troubles. While it is always easy to "blame the system," many would be surprised to learn that the real source of trouble lies not within the federal infrastructure, but within the apathetic stance many Americans have taken on politics.

The design of the federal system is intentional. To try to change the government in order to increase efficiency would be foolish. The Constitution's framers made the government inefficient primarily because they had grown leery of the dictatorial efficiency with which many European monarchies worked. In Britain, for example, policy was executed efficiently because King George held incredible power. The King could appoint governors, make treaties, command the military and control the lives of the colonists, largely without the restraint of Parliament. British "efficiency" became a clear example of the dangers that such a system posed. Provisions such as denials of powers, separation of government, and a complex system of checks and balances were installed in order to guard against such extremes.

Recently however, the process has tended to shift from slow to standstill. With today's fast-paced lifestyle, this shift has caused outrage and frustration, driving many people not only to blame the process, but also to try to change it. One must, however, consider the ramifications that modifying the system would have. Making the system more efficient would, as the framers realized, be a very dangerous move. If other factors which contribute to the gridlock, can be eliminated the U.S. political process can be expedited while still maintaining the safeguarded system described in the Constitution. One such factor is the increasing role that ultra-partisan politics has in Washington. Recently, a decline in the integrity of political parties has led to a massive decline in politics in general

In order to increase revenues, parties have become much more monetarily manipulated. The major side effect of this is that benefactors are dictating party politics, party goals are more rigid and have become litmus tests of member loyalty, and room for political compromise (the way the framers envisioned the system working) is diminishing. Over the past five years, several incidents stick out as testaments to the evils of intense partisan politics: in 1996, the Federal Government suffered a massive shutdown because compromise could not be reached on a budget; the past two years have been marred by the partisan attempt to impeach and convict the President over the Monica Lewenski scandal; and most recently, Congress failed to pass a nuclear test ban treaty, primarily out of spite for the President. Politics is often described as being the art of compromise. It seems, however, that many politicians have lost sight of this. Politicians seem to be paying less attention to compromising over issues and more attention to forcing their own parochial agendas, often by whatever means possible.

On the floor of the old House of Representatives (now Statuary Hall), Members once looked up in reverence to statues depicting higher authorities (Lady Liberty and Cleo, the Greek Muse of History). In terms of pointing out the decline of the process, it is interesting to note the "higher authorities" in the house are now C-Span Cameras. It is clear that the public views political strife negatively. Findings show that the popularity ratings of political figures decrease substantially when Congress is struggling with partisan policy issues. If Americans are frustrated by political gridlock, and uncompromising politicians are contributing to the gridlock, then why do they remain in office? The reason stems from the apathetic stance many have taken on politics. Americans continue to criticize government, but are unwilling to play an active role in it. While distrust about Washington politics has risen in recent years, the level at which people keep themselves politically informed has dropped. But the truth lies to the contrary. For a democratic government to function correctly, its citizens are called upon to participate in the proceedings of the political process. Because of the nation's low voter turnout, our government has essentially been rendered ineffective, and the power that was once held in the hands of the civic-minded, voting American majority has fallen at the feet of uncompromising politicians.

Therefore, if a person wishes to express himself or herself in regards to these practices in a vulgar way, there is no reason not to allow him or her to do so. This is the basis of democracy. The main argument of free speech is emotional and very controversial. It is difficult to define what is harmful, and just like pornography, what is harmful to one person might not be harmful to another. So far, the main courts of the country are adamant in upholding the right to free speech.

Freedom of speech is one of America's most important rights, and to give up freedom of speech for any reason, no matter how noble, is wrong. People must be able to speak their minds and view what they want, or the country faces the possibility of becoming a dictatorship or a place where freedoms are no longer taken for granted. To give up freedom of speech for any reason just makes it easier to give up again and again. The arguments over freedom of speech are always difficult and emotional, but our country was founded on basic rights like freedom of speech, and we cannot give them up now. If a person would not be able to make a vulgar comment to a politician, what basis of freedom of speech would be the next item to go?

There are potential violations of federal constitutional rights in this case. My client would need to be made aware that placing a focus only on gay couples of a certain race can seem like racism on three fronts; that of race, that of one being homosexual, and that of one being “select—“ for there is no proof here that the client would even provide benefits to all Asian gay couples. The rights to fairness and equality are very important in America, and since the National Park Service is a part of the government, it would be grossly unfair to allow travel packages only to a select group of individuals. If the packages were, say, awarded via raffle, lottery, or some other fair way, where a racial mix of customers was involved, that would not be an issue. Furthermore, if it were a private and not public government institution, that would also be another issue. However, because this is a public foundation based on taxpayer dollars, such discrimination like this could not stand.

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