Causal Argument Assignment
The overall point of this assignment is:
1. to trace the causes that led to the proposal and/or enactment of a
2. to argue for the potential effects of sustaining, implementing or abolishing the
Also, please keep in mind that for our purposes, racism can be reasonably extended
beyond skin color to discrimination based on ethnicity and country of origin. If you are
interested in focusing on other forms of discrimination, please discuss it with me before
? 13 th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1865) – understood to be the
federal law that ended slavery in this country.
? 14 th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1868) – gave black men full
citizenship and equal protection under federal law.
? Jim Crow Laws – any state law passed in the South that established different
rules for blacks and whites.
? Voting Rights Acts of 1965 prohibits racial discrimination in voting.
? Stand Your Ground Laws – under certain circumstances, individuals can use
force to defend themselves without first attempting to retreat from danger.
? Use of Force by Law Enforcement Officers – the intention of Use of Force
policies is to keep law enforcement officers from abusing their power.
? Minimum Prison Sentencing Guidelines – automatic prison terms for
certain crimes, specifically, but not limited to drug-related crimes.
? Prisoner Disenfranchisement – policies that link voting rights and felony
Consider the causes: Why was this law/policy/program put into place? What
circumstances contributed to its implementation? What problem or potential problem
was it aiming to control or solve?
? Consider the effects: What are the results of this law/policy/program?
? Necessary (What will definitely happen?)/Possible (What might happen?)/Likely
(What will probably happen?)
? On an individual/On the community/On society overall
You are not required to follow this organizational structure, but it may help you to get started.
? Begin with a hook to pull in your audience. Consider using a notable statistic
or a story that clearly illustrates the point of your essay (real or hypothetical).
? Give a brief overview of your essay.
? Include a thesis statement which specifically sets out what you are proving to
be true regarding the causes of the situation.
II. History/Background to Current Situation
? This section should take as much space as neededa few to several
? Discuss the significant and relevant history of your topic up to the current
situation and how it came to be.
? Use research as needed to give precise and accurate background for context.
III. Evaluative Claim
? Once you have given a brief history/background of the current situation,
evaluate the situation as it is at present.
? In essence, you are passing judgment on the situation, arguing evaluatively.
? Again, use research as appropriate to support your judgments.
? While this section of your essay could run anywhere from one to three
paragraphs, typically one paragraph is the norm.
IV. Causal Argument
? This is the heart of your work. Once you have detailed the history/background
to current situation and evaluated the current situation, you are ready to
present your causal analysis.
? Demonstrate a link between the current situation and the causes for its
? Use current significant and relevant research to support your causal claim.
Find as many logical causes for the current situation as possible.
? Summarize the meaningful conclusions you have drawn clearly and precisely,
remembering to resummarize your thesis.
? Revisit the hook that from the Introduction.
? 4 to 5 pages plus a Works Cited page
? MLA formatting Times New Roman; 12-point font; double-spacing
? MLA in-text citations and Works Cited page
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