Flag Burning: Texas v. Johnson (1989)

This lesson explores Texas v. Johnson, the controversial 1989 Supreme Court decision on flag burning. First, students read about and discuss Texas v. Johnson. Then in small groups, students role play aides to a U.S. senator on the Judiciary Committee. The committee is considering a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning flag burning, and the aides must make a recommendation on whether the senator should support or oppose the proposed amendment.

Grades 9-12
Rights and Responsibilities
Lesson Plans

The Rule of Law in Your Life

Rule of law is a principle under which all persons, institutions, and entities are accountable to laws that are: publicly promulgated, equally enforced, independently adjudicated, and consistent with international human rights principles. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has created this resource to help your students understand rule of law with an overview of the topic; opening discussion questions; relevant landmark case summaries; and discussion questions to check for understanding. In a Court Shorts video, nine federal judges explain how fair and consistent adherence to the law protects our rights and well-being in everyday situations.

Grades 11, 12, 8, 9, 10
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans

Freedom of Speech: Finding the Limits

As part of the Bill of Rights, freedom of speech is guaranteed by the Constitution, but it is not defined by it. That task is left up to the people through a representative government that makes the laws and a judicial system that interprets and applies the laws to resolve disputes. In this lesson, based on the Annenberg Classroom video “A Conversation on the Constitution: Freedom of Speech,” students gain insight into the many challenges involved in defining and protecting free speech. They also learn about principles that come from Supreme Court decisions and case law that are applied to define the limits for us today.

Grades 12, 9, 10, 11
Foundations of Democracy
Lesson Plans

The First Amendment and Teens

What does the First Amendment mean in the lives of teens? Over the years, the Supreme Court has struggled with First Amendment issues to determine what constitutes protected speech and, in particular, the speech of students. These activities, which engage all learning styles, apply Supreme Court precedents to relatable, teen scenarios. The modified trial simulations have been well tested in federal courtrooms. The resources are ready for immediate use in courtrooms and classrooms.