The History of Immigration Law in the United States

This lesson provides a background on the history of immigration policy in the United States, that is the philosophical origins, legal debates, and legal history from the Founding of the nation to the late 1900s. Students will come to understand how American lawmakers viewed immigrants and the reasoning behind the evolving nature of immigration policy.

  • Resource Type: Editorial Cartoons, Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Citizenship
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Moments in History: Remembering Thurgood Marshall

Few people know the legal mind of justices or judges as well as the law clerks who have worked with them. Justice Thurgood Marshall’s former law clerks offer unique insights into the character, values, and thought processes of the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States.  In this 8.5-minute video called “Moments in History:  Remembering Thurgood Marshall,” prominent lawyers reminisce about the examples of compassion and courage they saw in the life and work of this legal legend.  

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

Dialogue on the Fourteenth Amendment

The American Bar Association Dialogue program provides lawyers, judges and teachers with the resources they need to engage students and community members in a discussion of fundamental American legal principles and civic traditions. This Dialogue on the Fourteenth Amendment is composed of three parts:
Part 1: Equal Protection and Civil Rights – Participants discuss the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment and consider how Congress, through federal legislation, has worked to help realize its constitutional promise.
Part 2: Incorporating the Bill of Rights examines the concept of incorporation. Using a case study of Gitlow v. New York, this section provides a guide to how courts have applied the Bill of Rights, selectively, to the states using the 14th Amendment.
Part 3: Ensuring Equality and Liberty explores how the 14th Amendment has been interpreted by courts to protect fundamental freedoms, including individuals’ right to marry.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Timelines
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12

Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions

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.

  • Resource Type: Simulation
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12

Different Treatment for Different Folks

The lesson begins with an illustration of the “separate but equal” doctrine – two water fountains are depicted, one labeled “colored” and the other labeled “white”. Students will discuss how this doctrine was used to justify separate treatment based on race, and that such a policy would not be legal today.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8

Migration: In our democracy, should legal foreign workers have the same labor rights as citizens?

This lesson provides students with background information and arguments for and against providing legal foreign workers with the same labor rights as citizens. 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: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Mini-Moot Courts Resource Bundle and Video

A moot court is a role-play of an appeals court or Supreme Court hearing. The court is asked to rule on a lower court’s decision. No witnesses are called, nor are the basic facts in a case disputed. Arguments are prepared and presented on a legal question (e.g., the constitutionality of a law or government action or the interpretation of a federal statute). Moot courts are an effective strategy for focusing student attention on underlying legal principles and concepts of justice.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Professional Development
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Participating in the Jury System

Students will participate in activities and discussions about the relationship of a democratic society to its legal institutions, and the issues of fairness and equality under the law and legal system. They will discover how constitutional amendments such as the Fourteenth Amendment influence lawsuits, and they will apply concepts within the Bill of Rights to jury trials.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8