The Chief Justice has numerous responsibilities besides leading the Supreme Court. Explore the roles and responsibilities of the head of the Judicial Branch and examine the seventeen Chief Justices with a helpful infographic.
These lesson plans for both basic high school and AP US History have been created for students who have watched the video. Students will analyze a map of 1876 electoral votes, a cartoon depicting a Black voter being turned away from the ballot box, an infographic about voting procedures that highlights the role of canvassing
Marbury v. Madison (1803) is the landmark decision that established the principle of judicial review. But the facts behind the case are complicated and often confusing to students, especially the part about original jurisdiction. This 15-minute video tells the story of Marbury in a clear and straightforward way. It uses period images—portraits and newspaper headlines—as
The biography of John Marshall, the soldier, attorney, and American statesman who became the longest serving Chief Justice in Supreme Court History. After fighting in the Revolutionary War, John opened up a successful legal practice in Virginia where his renowned legal skills were in high demand. He served as Secretary of State before being nominated
In 1937 President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced his plan to enlarge the Supreme Court to as many as 15 justices. Congress debated the merits of the plan and Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes opposed it. After 168 days the bill failed, but the lessons from the Court-packing episode are relevant today. This 15-minute documentary designed
These lesson plans for basic high school and for AP US History have been created for students who have watched the video. They include activities such as analyzing part of the text of FDR’s Court-packing Plan, interpreting political cartoons reacting to the plan, and discussing the intersection of the three branches of government.
With the Constitution, the Founding generation created the greatest charter of freedom in the history of the world. However, the Founding generation did not believe that it had a monopoly on constitutional wisdom. Therefore, the founders set out a formal amendment process that allowed later generations to revise our nation’s charter and “form a more perfect Union.” They wrote this process into Article V of the Constitution. Over time, the American people have used this amendment process to transform the Constitution by adding a Bill of Rights, abolishing slavery, promising freedom and equality, and extending the right to vote to women and African Americans. All told, we have ratified 27 constitutional amendments across American history. Learning objectives: Describe the reasons that the Founding generation included a formal process for amending the Constitution;
explain how the Constitution’s amendment process works, and why the founders made it so hard to amend the Constitution; identify the key periods of constitutional change in American history and outline factors that drive successful pushes to amend the Constitution; describe all 27 amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
The 14th Amendment wrote the Declaration of Independence’s promise of freedom and equality into the Constitution. Ratified after the Civil War, this amendment transformed the Constitution forever and is at the core of a period that many scholars refer to as our nation’s “Second Founding.” Even so, the 14th Amendment remains the focus of many of today’s most important constitutional debates (and Supreme Court cases). In many ways, the history of the modern Supreme Court is largely a history of modern-day battles over the 14th Amendment’s meaning. So many of the constitutional cases that Americans care about today turn on the 14th Amendment. Learning objectives: Explain why the 14th Amendment was added to the Constitution; identify the core principles in the 14th Amendment’s clauses; summarize how the Supreme Court has interpreted the meaning of the 14th Amendment; evaluate the effect of the 14th Amendment on liberty and equality.
The original Constitution did not specifically protect the right to vote—leaving the issue largely to the states. For much of American history, this right has often been granted to some, but denied to others; however, through a series of amendments to the Constitution, the right to vote has expanded over time. These amendments have protected the voting rights of new groups, including by banning discrimination at the ballot box based on race (15th Amendment) and sex (19th Amendment). They also granted Congress new power to enforce these constitutional guarantees, which Congress has used to pass landmark statutes like the Voting Rights Act of 1965. While state governments continue to play a central role in elections today, these new amendments carved out a new—and important—role for the national government in this important area.
Slavery was embedded into America’s fabric by the time of the framing and ratification of the Constitution. At the Constitutional Convention, the delegates refused to write the word “slavery” or enshrine a “right to property in men” in the Constitution’s text, but they did compromise on the issue of slavery, writing important protections for slaveholders into our nation’s charter. Debates over slavery continued (and increased) in the decades to come, culminating in Abraham Lincoln’s election as America’s first anti-slavery president, Southern secession, and the Civil War. Following this bloody war, the Reconstruction Republicans worked to rebuild our nation on a stronger constitutional foundation, passing our nation’s first civil rights laws and ratifying the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. These amendments ended slavery, wrote the Declaration of Independence’s promise of freedom and equality into the Constitution, and promised to end racial discrimination in voting. Many scholars refer to this key period as America’s “Second Founding.”