In this activity students will examine the influences of the Magna Carta and the English Bill of Rights on the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution. By the end of the activity students should be able to cite clear examples of the influence of English legal traditions in the U.S. Bill of Rights; they should also be able to give examples of how the American document is unique in offering even further expanded rights.
Natural Rights, Citizenship Rights, State Rights, and Black Rights: Another Look at Lincoln and Race
In the real world, the ability of free blacks to enjoy their natural rights and exercise the privileges and immunities of citizenship depended on the states where they actually lived. When those states imposed a raft of legal discriminations on free blacks they cheapened the meaning of freedom and discounted the value of citizenship. I suspect this bothered Lincoln, but it wasn’t his issue. It would take other men and women, and another century of struggle, before “states rights” was abolished. Free registration for students and teachers required to access resource.
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.
Should the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment Be Ratified?
Students will be able to identify and explain aspects of the Equal Rights Amendment debate including various legal and societal considerations.
James Madison and the Bill of Rights
This short video traces the evolution of James Madison’s thinking about the necessity of a Bill of Rights. While originally opposed to both a bill of rights and conditional ratification, Madison came to appreciate the political and the practical efficacy of both. Professor Jack Rakove notes that, unlike many bills of rights which use the phrase “the government ought not”, the American Bill of Rights says “the government shall not”, thus creating a set of legal commands to limit government.
Why Should We Care? Understanding Rights and Responsibilities as Citizens
Students will identify some of the rights they enjoy as a citizen, and what responsibilities accompany those rights. They will reflect on whether or not they have a responsibility to protect the rights of others as well as their own.
Modern Day Slavery: Human Trafficking
Students will learn about human trafficking in the United States and read a short profile of human trafficking survivors as they think about the human rights that are violated in this modern form of slavery.
60-Second Civics Podcasts
60-Second Civics is a podcast that provides a quick and convenient way for listeners to learn about our nation’s government, the Constitution, and our history. The podcast explores themes related to civics and government, the constitutional issues behind the headlines, and the people and ideas that formed our nation’s history and government. The show’s content is primarily derived from the Center for Civic Education’s education for democracy curricula, including We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution, Foundations of Democracy, and Elements of Democracy. It’s easy to subscribe! Listen on iTunes or Stitcher or subscribe via RSS.
The Legal History of Desegregation
Pulitzer prize winning historian Jack Rakove of Stanford discusses the legal history of desegregation, focusing on the analytical problems facing the struggle for desegregation.
Equality for All: Do We Need an Equal Rights Amendment?
In this lesson, students will learn about the history and current relevance of the Equal Rights Amendment. They will have a mini debate on whether or not the amendment should be ratified, and discuss the implications of such an amendment.