U.S. v. Lopez (1995)

Did Congress have the power to pass the Gun Free School Zones Act? After a 12th-grade student was arrested under the act, he and his lawyers challenged the constitutionality of the law.

  • Resource Type: Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The YLI E-Congress Legislative Simulation

Looking for an interactive way to teach about the legislative branch? The Youth Leadership Initiative’s E-Congress program allows students to learn about Congress by writing original legislation and following it through the lawmaking process. Registration is required.

  • Resource Type: Editorial Cartoons, Lesson Plans, Quizzes, Research (Digests of Primary Sources), Surveys
  • Subject: Legislative Branch/Congress
  • Grades: 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)

Did Congress have the authority under the Constitution to commission a national bank? If so, did the state of Maryland have the authority to tax a branch of the national bank operating within its borders?

This case summary provides teachers with everything they need to teach about McCulloch v. Maryland (1819). It contains background information in the form of summaries and important vocabulary at three different reading levels, as well a review of relevant legal concepts, diagram of how the case moved through the court system, and summary of the decision. This resource also includes seven classroom-ready activities that teach about the case using interactive methods.

  • Resource Type: ESL Appropriate, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Gonzales v. Raich (2005)

Do federal drug laws exceed the Commerce Clause when applied to intrastate possession of medical marijuana, authorized by state law? This case summary shows how the Supreme Court answered that question in 2005.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Gonzalez v. Oregon (2006)

Did the Controlled Substances Act authorize the U.S. attorney general to ban the use of controlled substances for physician-assisted suicide in Oregon? This case summary shows how the Supreme Court answered that question in 2006.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

The Pursuit of Justice

The Pursuit of Justice book, written by Kermit L. Hall and John J. Patrick, analyzes 30 Supreme Court cases chosen by a group of Supreme Court justices and leading civics educators as the most important for American citizens to understand. An additional 100 significant cases included in state history and civics standards are summarized. The complete book or individuals chapters can be downloaded.

  • Resource Type: Books
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Exploring the United States Constitution eBook

Each chapter connects one or more of the billions of primary source documents in the holdings of the National Archives to the principles found in the United States Constitution. These documents exemplify the workings of the three branches of the federal government as laid out in our Constitution. This eBook is available as a Multi-Touch book for iPad and Mac on iTunes, or for PC, Android devices, Mac, iPhone, iPad, or eReader with Scribd.

  • Resource Type: Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The Constitution at Work

In this online activity students will analyze documents that span the course of American history to determine their connection to the U.S. Constitution. Students will then make connections between the documents they have examined and the big ideas found within the Constitution.

  • Resource Type: Assessments, Games, Interactives, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11

James Madison Lesson 2: The Second National Bank—Powers Not Specified in the Constitution

In this lesson, students examine the First and Second National Banks and whether or not such a bank’s powers are constitutional or unconstitutional.

How should the Constitution be applied to situations not specified in the text? How can balance be achieved between the power of the states and that of the federal government? How can a balance of power be achieved among the three branches of the federal government? In this lesson, Madison’s words will help students understand the constitutional issues involved in some controversies that arose during Madison’s presidency.

  • Resource Type: Essays, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Legislative Branch/Congress
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12