Students will learn about the federal and state courts and what they do. They will explore the courts’ role in fairly settling disputes and administering justice, and the unique role of the U.S. Supreme Court in interpreting the U.S. Constitution.
Need to teach the judicial branch in a hurry? In this lesson, students learn the basics of our judicial system, including the functions of the trial court, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court. Students learn how a case moves up through these levels and discover that these courts exist on both the state and federal levels.
Students explore the distinctions between the federal and state judicial systems. Hypothetical litigants Freddy Federal and State Court Sam (two fish friends hailing from Hawaii) help students understand that our country has two separate legal systems and what the differences are between them. Students learn the basic structure of each system and how each one operates.
In Court Quest, people from around the country need your help to navigate our court system. Listen carefully to each case, so you can guide them to the right place!
Where do laws come from? This lesson teaches students about the sources, types and unique systems of law that exist in the American judicial system. Students are given the opportunity to compare and contrast civil and criminal law, follow the origin of laws from the Constitution down through to local ordinances, and peek into the judicial legal system.
Students participate in a scripted fictional trial based on a real case in which the producers of James Bond films sued Honda for creating an ad that looked way too much like a James Bond movie. After the "trial," students examine evidence and play the role of jurors. Students apply real copyright law to simulate the process courts use in applying law to fact and arrive at a "verdict." This is a two-day lesson.
Here, iCivics presents a judicial variation of the classic card game "Go Fish!" Students use a write-on courtroom game board and play with cards that show the people involved in a trial--such as judges, court staff, attorneys, and litigants--and each of those peoples' roles. By trying to match people and roles to make pairs, students learn what trial participants do both in court and out of court.
Students learn what happens in appellate-level courts and how those courts operate differently from the trial courts most people are familiar with from watching television. By following the case of a real middle school girl who was strip searched at school, students find out what happens when someone takes a case all the way to the Supreme Court. Through this case, students learn about the structure of the federal court system and the way appellate courts decide cases.
Students learn that the rights in the Bill of Rights have no exact definition and are open to interpretation (by the Supreme Court, of course). Students look at real-life cases involving the 8th and 5th amendments and see whether they come to the same conclusion about each case as the Supreme Court did.
Note: this lesson includes two optional PowerPoint presentations (see Lesson Prep below).
Ever tried to win a disagreement? In Argument Wars, you will try out your persuasive abilities by arguing a real Supreme Court case.
Ever wondered how the Supreme Court really works? In Supreme Decision, you help cast the deciding vote.
After playing Supreme Decisionwith your class, use this lesson to reinforce the concepts students learned by playing the game. In this lesson, students compare Ben Brewer’s fictional case in “Supreme Decision” with a real-life case involving a student. They also look at a variety of historic landmark cases to understand why precedents and judicial review are important in peoples’ everyday lives.
Students learn about the landmark case McCulloch v. Maryland, in which the Supreme Court clarified what kinds of actions Congress can take under the “necessary and proper” clause. Students find out what events led to this case, look at some examples of what “necessary and proper” could include, and examine the relationship between state and federal power under the Supremacy Clause.
Our Judicial Branch has a big job! Do you think you have what it takes to be a judge and get the job done?
After learning about real Supreme Court justices, you'll get to try out deciding some of the hardest cases they have had to figure out! See if you can do it.
Where does the court system's power come from? Where should you take your case? What happens if you want to appeal? These are important questions, and we've got the answers!