John Marshall, Marbury v. Madison and Judicial Review—How the Court Became Supreme

If James Madison was the “father” of the Constitution” John Marshall was the “father of the Supreme Court”—almost single-handedly clarifying its powers. This new lesson is designed to help students understand Marshall’s brilliant strategy in issuing his decision on Marbury v. Madison, the significance of the concept of judicial review, and the language of this watershed case.

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

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.”

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The Origin, Nature and Importance of the Supreme Court

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and high school students discuss the Supreme Court: its history and traditions, how it selects and decides cases, and the role of an independent judiciary. A lesson guide accompanies the video.

  • Resource Type: Closed Captions, Translated Materials, Video
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The Meaning of George Washington’s Birthday

Why should a nation that loves equality single out one man for special honors? In this ebook, we examine the words and deeds of the “Father of Our Country” and consider the qualities of leadership needed for the flourishing of our nation. Each selection includes a brief introduction by the editors with guiding questions for discussion. Includes stories, speeches, and other writings by Thomas Paine, John Marshall, Thomas Jefferson, Richard Brookhiser, Allen Guelzo, and more.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

McCulloch v. Maryland

Students read about and discuss the landmark Supreme Court case of McCulloch v. Maryland. In a group activity, students study Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution and the 10th Amendment of the Bill of Rights. The groups decide which of several proposals Congress has the authority under Article I, Section 8, to establish or regulate and give their reasons.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12