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.
The Presidency and Executive Power – Module 8 of Constitution 101
Article II of the Constitution establishes the executive branch of the national government, headed by a single President. Article II outlines the method for electing the President, the scope of the President’s powers and duties, and the process of removing one from office. The President’s primary responsibility is to carry out the executive branch’s core function—namely, enforcing the nation’s laws. From the debates over how to structure the Presidency at the Constitutional Convention to modern debates over executive orders, this module will explore the important role of the President in our constitutional system.
George Washington and the Pursuit of Religious Freedom
George Washington and the Pursuit of Religious Freedom is based on a 15-minute film that covers religion in early America, the defeat of the British Empire, and the steps leading up to the passing of the Bill of Rights in 1791. Accompanying resources, such as an interactive map and an interactive timeline investigate the history of religion in early America, Washington’s interactions with various religious groups, and his role in securing religious freedom. Teacher resources include graphic organizers, vocabulary sheets, and additional information to guide inquiry.
Most Despised U.S. Presidents
This lesson explores why five U.S. presidents were hated by groups of Americans, including Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon. Students will explore materials from C-SPAN’s Presidential Survey and engage in a choice board activity. The lesson culminates with students reflecting on how presidents have been criticized historically and in contemporary times and offers two extension activities.
Choice Board: U.S. Presidents and the Press
Throughout history, U.S. presidents have carved out their relationships with the press. In this lesson, students will hear from author and historian Harold Holzer as he discusses how several presidents, from George Washington to Donald Trump, navigated their interactions with the media and implemented strategies to communicate with the press, some of which are still used today.
Constitution 101 Course
Constitution 101 is a 15-unit asynchronous, semester-long curriculum that provides students with a basic understanding of the Constitution’s text, history, structure, and caselaw. Drawing on primary source documents from our new, curated online Founders’ Library—containing over 170 historical texts and over 70 landmark Supreme Court cases selected by leading experts of different perspectives—students will study the historical and philosophical foundations of America’s founding principles from a range of diverse voices The curriculum guides students to think like constitutional lawyers—cultivating the skills necessary to analyze all sides of constitutional questions. Each module includes detailed materials for classroom educators, as well as opportunities for guided discovery and practice and tools to check for understanding.
Bell Ringer: The Fourth Amendment and the Supreme Court
Responding to questions from Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson discusses the Fourth Amendment’s provisions for privacy and for unreasonable searches and seizures during her confirmation hearing to be a Supreme Court justice.
Bell Ringer: How Electoral Votes Are Counted
Brookings Institution Governance Studies Senior Fellow Molly Reynolds talks about the Electoral Count Act of 1887, the current law for how electoral votes get counted after a presidential election. She explains reform efforts and the role of the vice president of the U.S. in the electoral count.
Bell Ringer: Landmark Legislation: Americans with Disabilities Act
Former Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and disability rights activist Judy Heumann talk about the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which Harkin authored and co-sponsored, and the legislation’s impact on lives of Americans with disabilities, the small-business community, and education.
Bell Ringer: Landmark Legislation: Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986
Doris Meissner, former commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, talks about the creation of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, reactions to the passage of this act, and some of the successes and challenges of the act.