Landmark Supreme Court Cases – Federalism

From the first days of American history until today, the Supreme Court has been pivotal in interpreting the Constitution and shaping America’s constitutional republic. Read summaries of the majority ruling in landmark Supreme Court cases that have had an impact on our rights as citizens.

  • Resource Type: Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Free Trade: Should our democracy participate in free trade agreements?

This lesson provides students with background information and arguments for and against participating in free trade agreements. Students are encouraged to deliberate the issue and come to their own conclusions based on evidence and reason.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Religion and the States: Why the Constitution is Silent on God

This short video explains why the Constitution is silent on religion. The Founders believed that religion was a matter best left to the states. As Professor Jeffry Morrison notes, the Founders were not unconcerned about religion, but a belief in federalism led them to allow individual states to make decisions about religious matters.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 11, 12

Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)

This case summary provides teachers with everything they need to teach about Gibbons v. Ogden (1824). 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 five 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

Marbury v. Madison (1803)

Does Marbury have a right to his commission, and can he sue the federal government for it? Does the Supreme Court have the authority to order the delivery of the commission? The Supreme Court answers this question in 1803.

This case summary provides teachers with everything they need to teach about Marbury v. Madison (1803). 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 six 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), Special Needs/Language Focus
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 7, 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

U.S. v. Nixon (1974)

This case summary provides teachers with everything they need to teach about United States v. Nixon (1974). 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 eight 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), Special Needs/Language Focus
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Arizona v. U.S. (2012)

Does federal law preempt Arizona’s immigration law? This case summary shows how the Supreme Court dealt with that question in 2012, concerning Arizona’s criminalization of undocumented immigration.

  • 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