Thesis Statements

Legal Studies, American Politics & Gender Studies

The thesis statements below are not separated into particular categories.  Scroll down until you find a statement that suits both your interests and the topics or themes that were covered in your class.

You can use any of these statements as is, change any according to your liking, or compose one on your own.  In any case, you must e-mail the statement that you plan to use well in advance.  If you compose your own statement, please e-mail links to the sources that you plan to use.

If you come up with more accurate or elegant renditions of any of these statements, I would be grateful for your suggestions.

Note 1: You must consult the Term Paper Checklist before you submit any work.    Note 2: I am in the process of updating links and adding new statements (Spring 2013).

Typical Formula for Thesis Statements:

1st Sentence - General Observation   "Scholars once believed..."

2nd Sentence - Qualification  "In recent years, however, ..."

3rd Sentence - Statement of Strategy  "By..., this essay will show..."

You can find additional thesis statements and sources  for term papers on my individual course pages, Thoreau in Our Time, Isms in American Politics, and Media & Politics.

 In holding that homosexuality cannot be singled out for disfavorable treatment, the Court contradicts a decision, unchallenged here, pronounced only 10 years ago, see Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986), and places the prestige of this institution behind the proposition that opposition to homosexuality is as reprehensible as racial or religious bias. Whether it is or not is precisely the cultural debate that gave rise to the Colorado constitutional amendment (and to the preferential laws against which the amendment was directed). Since the Constitution of the United States says nothing about this subject, it is left to be resolved by normal democratic means, including the democratic adoption of provisions in state constitutions. This Court has no business imposing upon all Americans the resolution favored by the elite class from which the Members of this institution are selected, pronouncing that "animosity" toward homosexuality is evil. By placing the decision in this case within the context of previous rulings on sexual privacy, this paper will show that Scalia’s opinion is entirely consistent with the Court’s expressed philosophy on the regulation of sexual activity.

  • One of the most interesting and overlooked aspects of the advent of communications technology in American society is that it dealt an unprecedented blow to the supremacy of the testimony of white men in courts of law.  Previously, the word of a white man would almost always carry more weight than that of a woman, a child, or an adult male member of a minority group.  In order to explore the anxiety created by the introduction of visual and audio evidence into the American legal system, this essay will examine the first Supreme Court ruling on wiretapping, Olmstead v. United States.

  • In Michael M. v. Sonoma County (1981), the Supreme Court ruled that “gender-based classifications are not "inherently suspect" so as to be subject to "strict scrutiny," but will be upheld if they bear a "fair and substantial relationship to legitimate state ends.”  By summarizing the facts of this case and outlining the legal reasoning within the Court’s decision, this essay will attempt to distinguish the difference between gender-based and race-based classifications in American law.

  • In Rostker v. Goldberg (1981), the Supreme Court ruled that exempting women from the military draft was not a form of “invidious” gender discrimination.  According to the majority opinion, the “Constitution requires that Congress treat similarly situated persons similarly, not that it engage in gestures of superficial equality.”  By explicating the reasoning used to uphold this ruling, this essay will attempt to define the Court’s views on gender-based classifications.

  • In J.E..B. v. Alabama (1994), the Supreme Court ruled that jury selection could not be based on assumptions about gender.  In a separate concurring opinion, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor observed,  

    the import of our holding is that any correlation between a juror's gender and attitudes is irrelevant as a matter of constitutional law. But to say that gender makes no difference as a matter of law is not to say that gender makes no difference as a matter of fact…Today's decision is a statement that, in an effort to eliminate the potential discriminatory use of the peremptory…gender is now governed by the special rule of relevance formerly reserved for race.  Though we gain much from this statement, we cannot ignore what we lose… we have added an additional burden to the state and federal trial process, taken a step closer to eliminating the peremptory challenge, and diminished the ability of litigants to act on sometimes accurate gender-based assumptions about juror attitudes.

By outlining cases in which gender might significantly affect jurors’ perspectives, this essay will illustrate that O’Connor’s remarks reflect a significant problem in American law.  

  • In 1986, in Bowers v. Hardwick, the Supreme Court upheld state laws against homosexual sexual activity.  According to the majority opinion,

the Constitution does not confer a fundamental right upon homosexuals to engage in sodomy.  None of the fundamental rights announced in this Court's prior cases involving family relationships, marriage, or procreation bear any resemblance to the right asserted in this case. And any claim that those cases stand for the proposition that any kind of private sexual conduct between consenting adults is constitutionally insulated from state proscription is unsupportable.

By comparing the reasoning in this case with previous rulings on sexual privacy, this essay will illustrate the profound consistency in the Court’s views on the regulation of sexual activity.

  • In 2003, in Lawrence v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Bowers v. Hardwick, a case in which the Court had concluded that homosexuals do not possess any constitutional claim to sexual privacy.  Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy rejected Bowers in part because there is no rational basis to exclude same-sex couples from the zone of privacy provided to heterosexual couples to engage in consensual sexual relations. Along these lines, Kennedy stressed that Bowers was unjustifiably intrusive because it criminalized "the most private human conduct, sexual behavior, and in the most private of places, the home."  Without minimizing the significance of Bowers as a victory for gay and lesbian rights, this essay will examine the problematic aspects of Kennedy's view of same-sex relationships as private matters rather than as public realities.

  • Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” is often cited as the most powerful speech in American history.  While the primary purpose of the speech was to commemorate the men who lost their lives in the Civil War, an examination of Lincoln’s words shows that his address can also be interpreted as an effort to name the United States as an actor on the stage of international politics.  By exploring the way Lincoln wove the details of American history into a narrative on the future of democracy, this essay will show that the “Gettysburg Address” marks the moment when the United States recognized itself as an international power.


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