New York Times v. United States, better known as the “Pentagon Papers” case, was a decision expanding freedom of the press and limits on the government’s power to interrupt that freedom. President Richard Nixon used his executive authority to prevent the New York Times from publishing top secret documents pertaining to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. In a 6-3 decision, the Court ruled that the President’s attempt to prevent the publication was a violation of First Amendment protections for press freedom. This lesson has students explore the background of the New York Times v. United States, the arguments made during the case and its legacy.
Bell Ringer: The Geary Act
Professors Mae Ngai and Josh Blackman explain the nature of the Geary Act, the impact on the Chinese in the late 1800s and its relevance today.
Prayer and Friday Night Lights?
In this lesson, students explore the scope and limits of the establishment clause of the First Amendment. First, students read and discuss an article on the constitutional issue of student-led prayer at public school events. Next, they role-play Supreme Court justices and attorneys deciding this issue. Finally, in a whole-class discussion, they debrief their own findings and compare them with those of the Supreme Court in the case of Santa Fe Independent School District v. Jane Doe et al.
Dictators and Civil Wars: The Cold War in Latin America
This 6-minute video explores how the Cold War was an ideological, and sometimes military, struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union. In general, the Soviet Union supported the expansion of communist governments around the globe, and the United States supported anti-communist regimes, including both democracies and dictatorships. By the 1950s, these tensions were seen in Latin America, and revolutions, coups, and uprisings became commonplace throughout most of the latter half of the twentieth century.
Aftermath of the War on Terror
This 11-minute video and lesson plan enable students to examine the experiences of Muslims and Arab Americans following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Students will investigate one example of a flawed prosecution of Arab immigrants living in Detroit as a case study in the climate of fear following the attacks. Students will then choose from among other primary source materials to describe particular experiences and generalize about the broader experiences of Muslims and Arab Americans.
The War on Terror and the Debate Over Torture
This 13-minute video and lesson plan are designed for students to analyze the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the public debate over the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques by U.S. officials and government contractors. Students will evaluate multiple perspectives from a mix of resources (video clips, a short film, documents and political cartoons) and classify arguments as being supportive, neutral or critical of government action.
From Women’s Suffrage to the ERA
This seven-minute video and accompanying lesson plan looks at how throughout the 1960’s and 70’s the second wave feminism movement worked to address gender inequality across the United States. While the movement had several important victories, the Equal Rights Amendment was not passed. Was the second wave feminist movement a success nonetheless?
The video segments for this activity come from “American Reckoning,” a Frontline and Retro Report collaboration that examines a little-known story of the civil rights era. This activity centers on the attempted murder of George Metcalfe and the response by the N.A.A.C.P. and Deacons for Defense chapters of Natchez, Miss.
Judges on Judging Podcast
This six-part podcast, hosted by The Honorable Marjorie O. Rendell, a federal judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, explores the role of judges and courts in our democracy, as well as the importance of a Fair and Impartial Judiciary. The podcasts include discussions among jurists regarding current cases and legal issues.
Supreme Court Lessons
These interactive lessons for high school students lead them through a simulation of an actual Supreme Court case and help them to break down complex constitutional issues. Each lesson begins with an overview of the facts of the case, followed by a brief discussion of the Supreme Court decision. Then, students are asked to take a stand “for” or “against” the majority decision. The cases that the Rendell Center has selected involve student-specific issues and/or those issues shown to be important to youth through their social media posts or active engagement.