FAQs: Juries

Eleven short videos feature constitutional experts, lawyers and judges who discuss juries and jury service, including the English and American histories of juries, what to expect as a juror, how a trial works, how grand juries work, and insights from judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The Preamble to the Constitution: How Do You Make a More Perfect Union?

Help your students understand, by way of primary source documents from archival sources, why the Founders found it necessary to establish a more perfect Union and what goals guided them in accomplishing such a weighty task.

  • Resource Type: Essays, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 3, 4, 5

Lesson 2: The Federalist Defense of Diversity and “Extending the Sphere”

This lesson involves a detailed analysis of Alexander Hamilton’s and James Madison’s arguments in favor of the extended republic in The Federalist Nos. 9, 10 and 51. Students consider and understand in greater depth the problem of faction in a free republic and the difficulty of establishing a government that has enough power to fulfill its responsibilities, but which will not abuse that power and infringe on liberties of citizens.

  • Resource Type: Essays, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

New York Times Co. v. U.S. (1971)

Did the government’s efforts to prevent two newspapers from publishing classified information given to them by a government whistle-blower violate the First Amendment protection of freedom of the press? The Washington Post published classified information despite a court injunction. That information changed American perception of the Vietnam War effort.

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

Different Perspectives on the Civil Rights Movement

Anthony Badger uses the career of President Jimmy Carter to frame the questions of change in the American South and the relative impact that economic modernization, nonviolent protest, and armed self-defense had on the end of segregation and the steps taken toward political and social equality.

  • Resource Type: Essays, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Detaining U.S. Citizens as Enemy Combatants

This unit gives an overview of some of the issues relating to enemy combatants. It reviews some of the powers of Presidents during wartime, the rights of citizens here in the United States, and the ways the U.S. Supreme Court has tried to balance individual freedoms with national defense. And it presents a discussion model called “structured academic controversy” for exploring the facts, arguments, and options surrounding these issues.

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

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nonviolent Resistance

By examining King’s famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in defense of nonviolent protest, along with two significant criticisms of his direct action campaign, this lesson will help students assess various alternatives for securing civil rights for black Americans in a self-governing society. (Duration: 3 class periods)

  • Resource Type: Essays, Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The American Jury: A Jury Duty Experience

In this simulation, students are provided with the opening arguments, the cases of the prosecution and the defense, witness testimonies, and closing arguments of a burglary trial. Students are asked to serve as jurors and find evidence of guilt or reasonable doubt based on the information at hand.

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

Snowden and the NSA

A mere nine months ago no one knew the name Edward Snowden. Now not a week goes by without a news story related to his revelations about the National Security Agency (NSA). No doubt your class has already begun to ponder the implications of NSA information gathering and what it says about our system of governance. Does the executive branch, which controls the NSA through the Department of Defense, have too much power? How do we resolve the tension between liberty and security? Is Snowden, who released classified information, a traitor or a whistleblower? Were his actions morally justified?

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