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Capitalism Case

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Law, courts, and lawyers played increasing roles in the central social and political conflicts of the 1970s. There was a ton of attention paid to rising crime rates, the rights of the accused, and the death penalty. The growing prison populations and prison riots raised difficult questions about prison conditions and if stricter sentencing should be used to stop the rising crime rate. Intense debates about school busing and school desegregation were carried on in courtrooms and in the streets. The Supreme Court established a woman's right to abortion and changed the course of national politics. Legal disputes over the president's executive privilege and custody of the White House tapes played a pivotal role in the Watergate crisis. And environmental groups and business firms fought out the battles of environmental policy in courtrooms across the country.

Education was also undergoing a radical change in the 1970's. Even with the small amount of activism in the 1960s, fewer than 5 percent of college students nationwide, the principles of inclusion and equal opportunity became the norm in education during the 1970s. Some schools and colleges were run by those who believed that the success of any institution and any teacher should be instead by the treatment of those not achieving. Education policy in the 1970s was also significantly influenced by changes that had been brought about in the prior decade. An extraordinary change of federal education policy was accomplished during the 1960s the Democratic presidents Kennedy and Johnson. Enrollments were up, funding was pouring in from federal sources, student attitudes were optimistic, and jobs were plentiful after graduation. Unfortunately with the troubled economy, enrollments began to fall in the 1970's. Total enrollment at U.S. colleges rose less than 2 percent between 1972 and 1974, with minority attendance rising 11.7 percent during those years. As much as the white majority was discouraged with the job market after graduation because of the struggling economy, minorities such as blacks saw it as their opportunity to receive an education and possibly advance their social standing.

American race relations entered yet another contentious period in the mid-1970s. The civil rights revolution of the 1960s had produced a number of significant gains. A greater number of blacks voted, attended colleges and universities, and had access to better-paying jobs--but significant problems still remained. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the nation's northern cities, where the flight of white, middle-class city dwellers that had begun in the late 1940s accelerated. In many northern cities, middle-class whites lived in the suburbs, while working-class white ethnics, middle-class and working-class African-Americans, and new immigrants lived in urban neighborhoods. The result was rigid segregation by neighborhood and school.

The Supreme Court attempted to solve the persistent problem of school segregation by mandating in 1971 that communities could and should bus students to achieve racial balance between schools (Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg County School District). The Court's decision meant that white students would be bused to predominantly black schools and black students to predominantly white schools.

The gains won by the women's movement in the first half of the 1970s were very real and transformed American life. The primary job for women at the time had been to care for the household while their husbands went to work but due to the Feminist movement things changed. Female politicians won offices at the local, state, and national levels, and by the mid-1970s women were playing a larger role in both the Democratic and Republican parties. Women were also enrolling in medical and law school in larger numbers. At the same time, the women's movement fought tirelessly to win greater protections for victims of sexual abuse. Throughout the early 1970s, feminists won a series of court decisions that made it easier to prosecute rapists. At the grass-roots



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