First Amendment: Assembly and Petition

Students explore the founding era legacies of assembly and petition and how those legacies informed the creation of these often-overlooked aspects of the First Amendment. They will complete a close reading activity to compare and contrast ideas presented in the Interactive Constitution and describe the ways these rights have been interpreted by the Court and used by citizens at various points throughout U.S. history. They will evaluate the constitutionality of assembly and petition rights in the modern era through an in-class, civil dialogue addressing questions about time, place, and manner restrictions; counter-protests; protests on college campuses; and other relevant assembly and petition questions.

Freedom of Religion: Free Exercise Clause

Students will examine the protections enshrined in the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause. Students will use the Interactive Constitution to examine the Free Exercise Clause’s text and history and how the Supreme Court has interpreted it over time. In this lesson, students compare and contrast the questions, opinions, and dissents in a series of Supreme Court cases to define when the Free Exercise Clause does and does not limit government action.

Freedom of Religion: Establishment Clause

The First Amendment has two clauses related to religion: one preventing the government establishment of religion (the establishment clause) and the other protecting the ability to freely exercise religious beliefs (the free exercise clause). Students examine the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause: why it was included in the Bill of Rights, the issues it addresses, and how the Supreme Court has interpreted it over time.

Freedom of the Press

Students explore the scope and limitations of the First Amendment provision that protects freedom of the press. The lesson poses a hypothetical scenario involving student journalists handling private information. After a brief class discussion, students investigate the history, various interpretations, and modern relevance of First Amendment freedom of the press protections in the Interactive Constitution. The lesson builds on the freedom of speech lesson plan by asking students to compare and contrast the freedoms of speech and press through discussion questions including: How are speech and press related? and How are speech and press key to democratic functions?

Freedom of Speech

In this lesson, students examine the historical context and the drafting of the First Amendment by examining the motivations of the founding generation. Students will also examine various types of “speech,” such as symbolic speech, hate speech, and political speech, to address the scope of protections promised by the First Amendment and learn that speech can only be limited when it is intended to and likely to cause imminent violence. In each instance, students will explore when the government has some authority to restrict speech; areas of consensus among scholars, judges, and citizens; the strongest constitutional arguments on each side of contested issues; and U.S. Supreme Court cases that have addressed free speech rights.

Rights in America

This DocsTeach page includes a variety of primary sources and teaching activities exploring the ways Americans, including African Americans and others, have fought for, attained, and protected their rights. Many documents at the National Archives illustrate how individuals and groups asserted their rights as Americans. Use this site to find teaching activities to explore the topics such as slavery, racism, citizenship, women’s independence, immigration, and more.

Grades 4, 5, 6-12
Citizenship

Freedom of Assembly: The Right to Protest

This lesson will focus on freedom of assembly, as found in the First Amendment. Students will consider the importance of the right to assemble and protest by analyzing cases where First Amendment rights were in question. Using the case National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, students will consider if the government is ever allowed to control the ability to express ideas in public because viewpoints are controversial, offensive, or painful. Students will use primary sources and Supreme Court cases to consider whether the courts made the correct decision in the National Socialist Party v. Skokie case. Students will be able to form an opinion on the essential question: Is the government ever justified to restrict the freedom to assemble?

Freedom of Assembly: National Socialist Party v. Skokie

This film explores the First Amendment right of the “people peaceably to assemble” through the lens of the U.S. Supreme Court case National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie. The legal fight between neo-Nazis and Holocaust survivors over a planned march in a predominantly Jewish community led to a ruling that said the neo-Nazis could not be banned from marching peacefully because of the content of their message.

Landmark Supreme Court Cases

In a partnership with the National Constitution Center, Khan Academy talked to constitutional scholars about ten of the most significant Supreme Court cases in history. Teachers can use this lesson as a supplemental resource during their Supreme Court unit to show how constitutional scholars can debate the outcomes of Supreme Court cases, as well as the impact these cases have had on the United States.