The Judicial Branch

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.

Check out this quick video on the Judicial Branch on YouTube!


Branches of Power
Play Time: 30+ mins
See the bigger picture and control all three branches of government!

Judicial Branch in a Flash!

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.

Got a 1:1 classroom? Download fillable PDF versions of this lesson's materials below!


The Courts in a Nutshell

In this WebQuest, students look at all levels of both the state and federal court systems. They learn about jurisdiction, look up the courts in their own state, find out what federal appellate circuit they live in, and investigate the current U.S. Supreme Court justices.


Sources of Law

Where do laws come from? This lesson teaches students about the sources, types, and unique systems of law that exist in the United States. Students learn about sources of law from the Constitution to local ordinances. They also compare and contrast civil and criminal law and peek into the special systems of military and juvenile justice.

Got a 1:1 classroom? Download fillable PDF versions of this lesson's materials below!


Trial Court "Go Fish"

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 their roles. By trying to match people and roles to make pairs, students learn what trial participants do both in court and out of court.


James Bond in a Honda: Trial Simulation Lesson

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.


We The Jury
Play Time: 15-30 mins
Use evidence, testimony, and quick thinking to decide challenging court cases.

Court Quest
Play Time: 15-30 mins
Navigate our court system and guide citizens to the right place.

Appellate Courts: Let's Take It Up

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.


Argument Wars
Play Time: 0-15 mins
Argue real Supreme Court cases, and put your lawyering skills to the test.
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