The Supreme Court: The Judicial Power of the United States

This lesson provides an introduction to the Supreme Court. Students will learn basic facts about the Supreme Court by examining the United States Constitution and one of the landmark cases decided by that court. The lesson is designed to help students understand how the Supreme Court operates.

The federal judiciary, which includes the Supreme Court as well as the district and circuit courts, is one of three branches of the federal government. The judiciary has played a key role in American history and remains a powerful voice in resolving contemporary controversies. The first governing document of this nation, the Articles of Confederation, gave Congress certain judicial powers, but did not establish a distinct federal court system.

  • Resource Type: Essays, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8

Grade 6-8 Article III, The Supreme Court

The purpose of this lesson is to assist student understanding of the U.S. Supreme Court created under the Constitution. Through a document exploration and story-telling activity, students will understand the role of the Supreme Court in our constitutional system of government. Students will also explore how the Court’s role has evolved over time by looking to a number of key Supreme Court decisions.

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

Grade 3-5 What makes a court Supreme?

The purpose of this lesson is to help students understand the original purpose and powers of the Supreme Court according to the Constitution. Students will learn the Supreme Court’s role in preserving the U.S. Constitution and the balance of power it creates. In this lesson, students will learn about the powers of the Supreme Court according to the Constitution through a guided hidden message activity and vocabulary lesson.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 3, 4, 5

Supreme Court Round-Up 2013-2014 eLesson

Our annual Supreme Court Round-Up eLesson is here! Students will research three cases from the 2013-2014 year and report on their findings. Download the student guide and answer key.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Nomination of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court

Are you teaching about President Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court? Lead your students through an exploration of the process and have them take on a role as adviser to a senator in preparation for the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing.

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

Grades 11-12: Understanding the Second Amendment through Primary Sources: Assessing the Supreme Court’s Opinion in D.C. v. Heller

In this lesson, students will examine the scope, origins and development of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Students will assess and evaluate the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) by assuming the role of Supreme Court justice and engaging directly with the historical source materials used by the Court. Students will then work together as a class to decide on the scope and meaning of the Second Amendment.

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

8th Grade: Understanding the Second Amendment through Primary Sources: Assessing the Supreme Court’s Opinion in D.C. v. Heller

In this lesson students, will examine the scope, origins and development of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Students will assess and evaluate the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) by assuming the role of Supreme Court justice and engaging directly with the historical source materials used by the Court. Students will then work together as a class to decide on the scope and meaning of the Second Amendment.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 8

Greene v. River City: Multimedia Supreme Court Experience

This simulated Supreme Court case examines claims initiated by a student group that their school district’s refusal to host school dances violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Using the facts from this single case, Greene v. River City provides students two opportunities to learn about and become engaged in our legal system, either as justices serving on the highest court or as participants, taking on all of the roles in a moot court.

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

Supreme Court Roundup 2012-2013

The 2012 – 2013 Supreme Court term is in full swing, and there are are many cases that deal with important questions of constitutional law on the docket. Use the following resources and discussion questions to analyze and discuss the issues with your students.
Discussion Questions: How does the Fourth Amendment protect citizens? Do you think someone has a reasonable expectation of privacy with regards to ‘smells’ emitting from their home? How do you believe the court should rule? What is your constitutional reasoning?

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

Landmark Supreme Court Cases: Scott v. Sandford

Using video clips from the Landmark Supreme Court Case series, a partnership between C-SPAN and the National Constitution Center, students will research and role-play to better understand the legal, social, and economic factors relating to– and implications of– the majority and dissenting opinions in this infamous case.

  • Resource Type: Assessments, Essays, Interactives, Lesson Plans, Primary Sources, Video
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12