What is an interest group and how does it influence legislation and court cases?


Special interest groups will speak out in various ways for or against legislation or express opinions on court cases related to its focus issues. For example, the National Rifle Association, or NRA, took particular interest in the 2008 Supreme Court caseD.C. v. Heller. The NRA is an interest group that believes in responsible gun ownership for self-protection, hunting, and recreation.Washington, D.C., had a ban on private handgun ownership, citing safety concerns in the busy city. In theD.C. v. Hellercase, a group of people challenged the law as unconstitutional, and the NRA supported their position by submitting its opinion and rationale as a formal document to the court. The NRA used the language of the Constitution and different laws to justify its position, just as judges must do to decide a case.The Supreme Court sided with Heller, striking down the ban. It is arguable how much of a role the NRA played in the case outcome, but the interest group definitely took action. Following the case, it filed lawsuits in other cities with similar bans. In this activity, you will research an interest group to determine what position it would take on a specific public policy or court decision and present the information in the form of an article or blog that could appear on the interest group’s website.STEPSSelect an interest group and research its origins, policy positions, and membership. The following websites can help you find an interest group that focuses on an issue you care about:Federation ofPublic Interest Research GroupsNational Special Interest GroupsProject Vote SmartPublic Policy Issues and GroupsConsider whether the interest group would have supported a recent public policy change or court decision. You may use a law or program you have recently studied or search for one through newspapers, websites for Congress or your state legislature, or other Internet sites. You may find theVirtual Library, the Library of CongressTHOMAS, andSupreme Courtwebsites helpful. You may find thisActivityuseful for how to conduct research.Tip:Do not expect to find a direct link between the policy or court decision and your interest group, such as the NRA example above. You will most likely need to evaluate for yourself what the group’s position would be, based on what you learn about the interest group.Write an article that could appear as a blog entry on the interest group’s website. This is an expository piece of writing, so be sure to write in the third person (do not use “I think” or “I believe” or similar phrases with “I”). You may find it helpful to complete thisActivity on Expository Writingbefore you begin your article.Make sure your article addresses:name and purpose of the interest group, and any key individualsorigins of the interest group, including how it was formed and how it has grown or changed over timewhether it has ties to political parties or other interest groupsdescription of the specific policy or court decisionrationale for the interest group’s position on the policy or court decisionCite the sources of your information inMLA Format. Include your sources with your article when you submit it to your instructor.

Introduction: Special interest groups are organizations that have specific goals and objectives related to various social, political, and economic issues. These groups often speak out to support or oppose legislation, policies, or court decisions related to their focus areas. In this activity, we will explore how interest groups function and their influence on public policy by researching a specific interest group and determining its stance on a recent public policy or court decision.

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Description: To understand the role of interest groups, we will start by selecting an organization and exploring its origins, purpose, and membership. This information will provide a background for understanding the group’s position on a specific policy or court decision. Our research will involve examining various resources, such as the Federation of Public Interest Research Groups, Project Vote Smart, and the National Special Interest Groups, among others.

Once we have selected an interest group, we will seek to evaluate its position on a recent public policy or court decision. We will look for a connection between the policy or court decision and the interest group, although this link may not always be direct or obvious. We will need to evaluate the interest group’s objectives and values to determine its likely position on the policy or court decision.

Our article will focus on presenting our findings and understanding of the interest group and its position on the selected public policy or court decision. We will describe the origins and purpose of the interest group and any key individuals associated with it. We will also provide a detailed explanation of the specific policy or court decision and the interest group’s rationale for its position on the issue.

To ensure the accuracy of our work, we will cite all sources in MLA format and provide a list of references at the end of our article. By undertaking this activity, we will gain insight into the inner workings of interest groups and their impact on public policy. Through research and analysis, we will develop critical thinking and writing skills necessary for evaluating and assessing complex social and political issues.

– To research and analyze an interest group’s position on a specific public policy or court decision
– To write an informative and persuasive article for the interest group’s website
– To cite sources of information in MLA format

Learning Outcomes:
– Students will be able to identify the name, purpose, and origins of an interest group
– Students will be able to evaluate the interest group’s policy positions and rationale based on research and analysis
– Students will be able to write an expository piece in the third person, addressing the specific policy or court decision and the interest group’s position on it
– Students will be able to cite sources in MLA format accurately and appropriately

1. Introduction: Purpose of the Activity
2. Selecting an Interest Group and Conducting Research
3. Writing the Article: Structure and Tone
4. Citing Sources in MLA Format

Note: Each of these headings can be further elaborated upon, depending on the requirements and scope of the activity.

Solution 1:

Interest Group: Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood is a non-profit organization providing reproductive health care services, education, and advocacy related to reproductive rights. The organization has more than 600 health centers across the United States, serving approximately 2.4 million people annually. The organization was founded in 1916 by Margaret Sanger, who wanted to promote birth control access as a means of individual freedom and social progress.

Recently, the organization has been advocating for access to abortion services. Planned Parenthood vehemently opposes Texas’ controversial abortion law passed in 2021, which bans abortions as early as six weeks and restricts access to abortion pills. The organization considers this law a direct attack on reproductive rights and bodily autonomy of women. According to Planned Parenthood, this law will endanger people’s health, particularly low-income individuals, people of color, and rural residents, who face additional obstacles in accessing appropriate healthcare services.

Planned Parenthood supports access to safe, legal abortion and believes in the right of every individual to make their reproductive health choices free of political or religious interference. The organization believes that laws like this infringe on the constitutional rights and bodily autonomy of individuals. It urges the court to overturn this law and support the reproductive rights of individuals in Texas and beyond.

Sources: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us and https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/

Solution 2:

Interest Group: American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is a non-profit organization that advocates for the welfare of older Americans. The organization has over 38 million members and has been operating for over 60 years. AARP aims to promote the health, economic security, and civic engagement of older adults in the United States.

AARP has been vocally advocating for policies that would expand access to healthcare and reduce healthcare costs for older adults. The organization is in support of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. AARP believes that this law has helped improve access to healthcare by allowing individuals to stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26, expanding Medicaid coverage, and prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

AARP argues that proposals that aim to repeal the ACA will result in millions of people losing their health insurance coverage, including older Americans. The organization believes that this will lead to increased healthcare costs, reduced benefits, and ultimately, poorer health outcomes for many older adults. AARP urges policymakers to protect the ACA and focus on expanding access to affordable healthcare coverage for all, including those on fixed incomes.

Sources: https://www.aarp.org/about-aarp/ and https://www.aarp.org/health/health-insurance/info-09-2009/aarp_supports_healthcare_reform.html

Suggested Resources/Books:
1. “Interest Groups and Lobbying: Pursuing Political Interests in America” by Thomas T. Holyoke
2. “The Interest Group Connection: Electioneering, Lobbying, and Policymaking in Washington” by Paul S. Herrnson, Ronald G. Shaiko, and Clyde Wilcox
3. “Lobbying and Policy Change: Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why” by Frank R. Baumgartner, Jeffrey M. Berry, Marie Hojnacki, David C. Kimball, and Beth L. Leech

Similar Asked Questions:

1. What is the role of interest groups in shaping public policy?
2. How do interest groups influence politicians and elections?
3. What are the benefits and drawbacks of interest group participation in the political process?
4. Can interest groups be considered a democratic force in society, or do they undermine democracy?
5. How do interest groups represent the interests of their members, and do they truly give voice to underrepresented groups?

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