Actions That Changed the Law

In 1998, when Lilly Ledbetter filed her complaint of wage discrimination against the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, her goal was to get equal pay for equal work because that was the law. She had no idea that her decision would eventually involve all three branches of government and result in a law with her name on it – the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12

Connecting the Separate Powers

In this lesson, students will gain an understanding of the separation of powers using role playing and discussion. Students will identify which parts of the Constitution provide for the branches of our government, and will categorize public officials into one of these three branches.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Timelines
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12

Fundamental Freedoms

This lesson uses three Supreme Court cases to illustrate the difficulty in balancing our rights as citizens with the authority of a governmental body. Students will learn what our rights are, where they come from, and how far they extend.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit)
  • Subject: Rights and Responsibilities
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

What’s in a Constitutional Preamble?

Students will compare the preamble of the U.S. Constitution with the preambles from two state constitutions. They will extract common themes from the three, and note key differences. The preamble to the Constitution has not been changed since its drafting; the Constitution, however, has been amended. Students will reevaluate the ideals expressed in the Preamble and consider their relevance today. They are given the chance to rewrite the Preamble, share their rationale, and explain the values contained expressed inside.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

A Call to Act: Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.

This documentary tells the story of Lilly Ledbetter, whose fight for equal pay for equal work eventually involved all three branches of government and resulted in a law with her name on it — the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. A PDF lesson plan accompanies this video.

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

Grade 9-12 The Dynamics of War Powers

This three-part lesson asks students to think critically about the nature of the War Powers identified by the Constitution. Beginning with the historical foundations of the War Powers as written in the Constitution, students will explore why the Founders identified the War Powers as they did, using primary sources to back up their arguments. Students will then consider how War Powers have changed over time, evaluating the evolving dynamic of powers between the three branches of government.

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

A Conversation on Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer and a group of high school students discuss separation of powers among the three branches of government in connection with the pay discrimination case that resulted in a 2009 law – the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The video complements the documentary A Call to Act: Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Branches of Power

This game immerses students in the workings of our three branches of government. Players take on the roles of legislator, president and Supreme Court justice to get constitutional laws enacted. Players juggle several bills at once while holding press conferences and town hall meetings.

  • Resource Type: Games
  • Subject: Federal Government
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Constitutional Index – Three-fifths Clause

The Constitutional Index breaks down the U.S. Constitution by Section, Amendment, and Clause and contains broader topics and themes. These are used to cross-reference Library resources in an effort to annotate constitutional history.

  • Resource Type: Primary Sources, Research (Digests of Primary Sources)
  • Subject: Legislative Branch/Congress
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12