Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions is a national initiative of the federal courts that brings high school and college students into federal courthouses for legal proceedings that stem from situations in which law-abiding young people can find themselves. These court hearings (not mock trials) are realistic simulations that showcase jury deliberations in which all students and learning styles participate, using civil discourse skills. This activity includes: Reality Check Quiz and Discussion Starter; Civil Discourse Skill Building; Courtroom Simulation; and Reality Check Discussion.
This toolkit is a component of the module Constitutional Conversations: How to Have a Civil Dialogue. Use this toolkit to help facilitate civil, constructive conversations about the Constitution in the classroom. The two other components: a video analysis lesson plan about Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s explanation of how the Court decides cases and an
Controversial legal and policy issues, as they are discussed in the public arena, often lead to polarization, not understanding. This Civil Conversation activity offers an alternative. In this structured discussion method, under the guidance of a facilitator, participants are encouraged to engage intellectually with challenging materials, gain insight about their own point of view, and strive for a shared understanding of issues. This lesson plan addresses the debate over the policies of the federal agency – Immigration and Customs Enforcement – that investigates and enforces the nation’s immigration laws.
The Constitutional Rights Foundation provides resources to help students, teachers, administrators, and districts think about the best way forward for their communities and states. Resources include a simulation activity in which students act as state legislators trying to design the most effective policy for reduction of gun violence in their state (grades 9-12); a civil conversation in which students participate in a small-group discussion (middle school); talking points on the causes of school violence; and more.
The emoluments clause is a provision in the U.S. Constitution. An emolument is a profit or advantage an official gains from his or her office. The framers of the Constitution feared that ambassadors in the early republic might be corrupted by gifts from foreign countries. The framers wanted public servants to be free from outside influence.
The Newseum believes that improving civic education has the power to improve our schools, communities and our democracy. The Baltimore unrest can be an entry point in your conversation with students.
The Newseum has numerous resources to help teachers broach this topic in the classroom. Lesson plans, videos and activities guide students in how civil rights issues have been represented in the media over many decades. And how citizens, including young people, can develop a voice and use the freedoms of the First Amendment to effect change and inspire action.
Students will analyze a political cartoon depicting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the title of his famous speech, “I Have a Dream.” Discussion of the meaning of the cartoon leads into a more general conversation about rights and equality.
Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony M. Kennedy discuss two landmark cases, Korematsu v. U.S. and Hirabayashi v. U.S., in which the Supreme Court tried to strike a balance between individual rights and national security during wartime. The cases stem from President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1942 executive order that mandated the relocation of Japanese and Japanese Americans to internment camps. This video complements the documentary Korematsu and Civil Liberties.