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

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

Thurgood

Thurgood is a production of the critically acclaimed one-man play starring Laurence Fishburne as Thurgood Marshall, a civil rights pioneer and the first African American to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. The play recounts the milestones in the life and career of Marshall. Educators are required to register online to receive a personalized link to the video.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 8, 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

A Conversation on Brown v. Board of Education

Supreme Court Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony M. Kennedy discuss with high school students this landmark case that ended racial segregation in schools. They explore the background of the case, the role of Thurgood Marshall, how Brown v. Board of Education was decided, and the events following the unanimous ruling that said that “separate education facilities are inherently unequal.” A PDF lesson plan accompanies this video.

  • Resource Type: Closed Captions, ESL Appropriate, ESL Materials, Special Needs/Language Focus, Translated Materials, Video
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • 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 Power of One Decision: Brown v. Board of Education

When minority students decided to take their challenge of the “separate but equal” doctrine to the Supreme Court, the 1954 decision handed down by the court in Brown v. Board of Education and enforced by the executive branch, changed their lives and America forever. In this lesson plan, based on the Annenberg Classroom video “A Conversation on the Constitution: Brown v. Board of Education,” students gain insight into decision-making at the Supreme Court, learn about the people behind the case, construct a persuasive argument, and evaluate the significance of Brown v. Board of Education.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • 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