Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions

Civil Discourse and Difficult Decisions is a national initiative of the federal courts that brings high school and college students into federal courthouses for legal proceedings that stem from situations in which law-abiding young people can find themselves. These court hearings (not mock trials) are realistic simulations that showcase jury deliberations in which all students and learning styles participate, using civil discourse skills. This activity includes: Reality Check Quiz and Discussion Starter; Civil Discourse Skill Building; Courtroom Simulation; and Reality Check Discussion.

  • Resource Type: Simulation
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12

Judicial Independence: Essential, Limited, Controversial

In a constitutional system of government, the role of the judiciary is essential for maintaining the balance of power, protecting individual rights, upholding the rule of law, interpreting the Constitution, and ensuring equal justice for all. In this lesson, students learn about the role of an independent judiciary in the United States. Through a cooperative […]

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

When National Security Trumps Individual Rights

On December 18, 1944, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down one of its most controversial decisions when it upheld the government’s decision to intern all persons of Japanese ancestry (both alien and nonalien) on the grounds of national security. Over two-thirds of the Japanese in America were citizens and the internment took away their constitutional rights. In this lesson, students evaluate the consequences of past events and decisions related to the Supreme Court case Korematsu v. United States (1944). They consider the challenges involved when trying to balance civil liberties and national security during threatening times and reflect on the lessons learned about civil liberties from the justices in the Korematsu case.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • 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

Evenwel v. Abbott (2016)

Does the principle of “One Person, One Vote” permit states to use total population rather than total voter population when apportioning legislative districts?

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

Making Our Fourth Amendment Right Real

This lesson plan is based on the Annenberg Classroom video “Search and Seizure: Mapp v. Ohio,” which explores the landmark search-and-seizure case that makes state governments also responsible for protecting our Fourth Amendment right. With the exclusionary rule, this right becomes real for all of us.

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

Prepare for Trial

In this lesson, students will learn about the relationship between constitutional rights and fair and unbiased jury selection. Jury duty is an important civic responsibility, and justice in America requires the work of each branch of government as well as the citizens who serve on juries.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8

Participating in the Jury System

Students will participate in activities and discussions about the relationship of a democratic society to its legal institutions, and the issues of fairness and equality under the law and legal system. They will discover how constitutional amendments such as the Fourteenth Amendment influence lawsuits, and they will apply concepts within the Bill of Rights to jury trials.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Primary Sources
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 5, 6, 7, 8