Right to Counsel

In this lesson, students will look at the various dimensions of right to counsel. They will study how the meaning of this right has evolved over time with reference to specific landmark United States Supreme Court cases. Students will develop lists of reasons why such a right is important to the functioning of the adversary process. The lesson ends with an examination of the role of the criminal attorney.

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

Should Our State Require Photo ID for In-Person Voting?

The right to vote is a fundamental right, protected by the U.S. Constitution. But there are limits to this right, and states can establish reasonable restrictions on time, place, and manner of voting. This deliberation lesson sets up the question of whether states should require a photo ID to vote at the polls.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Expansion of Voting Rights

This lesson provides students with a brief overview of the historical evolution and expansion of voting rights in the United States. Students will discuss examples of previous “voting qualifications” used by states in the past to deny minorities the right to vote. They will reflect on why the right to vote is important, and appreciate the outcomes of constitutional amendments, Supreme Court decisions, and the Voting Rights Act in the expansion of this right.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Voting, Elections, Politics
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8

Annenberg Classroom’s That’s Your Right

This fun online card game teaches middle and high school students about their rights under the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution. The game offers three skill levels as a player tries to match a right with scenario. Founder cards grant players special abilities that give them an advantage in game play.

  • Resource Type: Games
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Our Rights

The book Our Rights, written by David J. Bodenhamer, uses historical case studies to explore the rights in the Constitution. Supreme Court cases are used to demonstrate how a right received its modern interpretation, how the right applies today, and how courts and other interpreters seek to balance this right with important societal concerns such as public safety. The complete book or individual chapters can be downloaded.

  • Resource Type: Books
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades:

Lincoln and the “Writ of Liberty”

The actual right of habeas corpus is not stated anywhere in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. The authors of these documents apparently believed that habeas corpus was such a fundamental liberty that it needed no further guarantee in writing. The only mention of the writ of habeas corpus in the Constitution relates to when it can be taken away from judges. On September 24, 1862, Lincoln issued a proclamation unprecedented in American history. He suspended the writ of liberty everywhere in the United States.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Executive Branch/Presidency
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Your Right to Remain Silent: Miranda v. Arizona

In 1966, the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in Miranda v. Arizona dramatically changed criminal procedures. The Court linked the Fifth Amendment’s privilege against self-incrimination to the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of a right to counsel and applied both to protect a suspect’s rights from arrest through trial. This lesson plan is based on the Annenberg Classroom video “The Right to Remain Silent: Miranda v. Arizona.”

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

The Right to Remain Silent: Miranda v. Arizona

This documentary explores the landmark Supreme Court decision Miranda v. Arizona that said criminal suspects, at the time of their arrest but before any interrogation, must be told of their Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination and Sixth Amendment right to an attorney. The decision led to the familiar Miranda warning that begins “You have the right to remain silent…”

  • Resource Type: Closed Captions, Special Needs/Language Focus, Translated Materials, Video
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Twelve Angry Men: Trial by Jury as a Right and as a Political Institution

Twelve Angry Men, originally written for television by Reginald Rose in 1954 and subsequently adapted for stage (1955), film(1957) and television again (1997), effectively conveys the central importance of the right to a jury trial afforded by Article III of the Constitution as well as Amendments V, VI, and XIV.

  • Resource Type: Books, Essays, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12