The Supremacy Clause

Tension between the states and the federal government has been a constant throughout U.S. history. This video explores the supremacy clause in Article VI of the Constitution and key moments in the power struggle, including the landmark case McCulloch v. Maryland. In McCulloch, Chief Justice John Marshall wrote that the supremacy clause unequivocally states that the “Constitution, and the Laws of the United States … shall be the supreme Law of the Land.”

Grades 8, 9-12
Foundations of Democracy
Video

The United States Constitution (CKHG Unit)

The United States Constitution

This unit explores the creation and central ideas of the United States Constitution. Across 18 lessons, students learn how, after the Revolution, the Founding Fathers worked to confront the shortcomings of the Articles of Confederation. They learn why the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution, and explore reasons why the Constitution has survived as the guiding document of government in the United States.

Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Foundations of Democracy
Assessments

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.

Grades 8, 9-12
Federal Government
Modules (Teaching Unit)

The Constitution in Today’s America

This lesson will teach students about the development of the U.S. Constitution and its role in our system of government. Students will learn about the relationship between the Constitution and a democratic government. In the activities and lesson extensions, they will explore decisions made in the Constitution, including the creation of government institutions, and the purpose of the amendment process. Students also will write an essay in which they analyze how the Constitution helped to fulfill the promise of the United States.

Grades 5, 6, 7, 8
Rights and Responsibilities
Lesson Plans

Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation

Popularly known as Constitution Annotated, this Senate Document encompasses the U.S. Constitution and analysis and interpretation of it, with in-text annotations of cases decided by the Supreme Court of the United States. What began as an inclusion of the 1911 Senate Manual, is now almost 3,000 pages, and references more than 6,000 Supreme Court cases. The online version is updated regularly as new Supreme Court cases are decided. You can search or browse Constitution Annotated.

230 Years of the United States Constitution

The Constitution has stood as both the plan for the American system of government and through its 27 amendments, a summary of the political values of generations of Americans. This resource has been assembled to help teachers and anyone interested in the Constitution better understand and appreciate it, using the document itself and other original works contemporaneous with it.

Grades 9-12
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans

Magna Carta: Cornerstone of the U.S. Constitution

Magna Carta served to lay the foundation for later declarations of rights in England and the United States. In attempting to establish checks on the king’s powers, this document asserted the right of “due process” of law. It also provided the basis for an idea of a “higher law,” one that could not be altered either by executive mandate or legislative acts. This concept, embraced by the leaders of the American Revolution, is embedded in the supremacy clause of the United States Constitution.

The Supreme Court: The Judicial Power of the United States

This lesson provides an introduction to the Supreme Court. Students will learn basic facts about the Supreme Court by examining the United States Constitution and one of the landmark cases decided by that court. The lesson is designed to help students understand how the Supreme Court operates.

The federal judiciary, which includes the Supreme Court as well as the district and circuit courts, is one of three branches of the federal government. The judiciary has played a key role in American history and remains a powerful voice in resolving contemporary controversies. The first governing document of this nation, the Articles of Confederation, gave Congress certain judicial powers, but did not establish a distinct federal court system.

Grades 6, 7, 8
Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
Essays

The U.S. Constitution: Continuity and Change in the Governing of the United States

This unit examines continuity and change in the governing of the United States. Lessons one and two are focused on a study of the Constitution and Bill of Rights and provide access to primary source documents from the Library of Congress. Lesson three investigates important issues which confronted the first Congress and has students examine current congressional debate over similar issues. Lesson four features broadsides from the Continental Congress.

Grades 6-12
Legislative Branch/Congress
Lesson Plans