Main content

The Federal Courts and You

In this activity, participants will learn about by the Judiciary Act of 1789 and how the federal court system impacts law-abiding citizens. Three activity options stimulate critical thinking, insight, and discussion about the federal court system and the role of federal judges.

About These Resources


How to Use These Resources

For the three activity options, there is no preparation by students or teachers. An Internet connection and large screen are required for the videos and Powerpoint.

Option 1 – Video and Discussion: Impartial Judiciary

Total Time: 20 minutes

Video: An Impartial Judiciary  (5 minutes)

Judicial independence means that judges must be neutral and impartial in carrying out their responsibilities. Judicial independence isn’t about unlimited power. It sets parameters that assure that judges can make decisions based on the law without worrying about outside pressures. Judicial independence benefits you, even if you never go to court. Watch the video and discuss how this concept has an impact on your daily life. (5 minutes)

In groups, complete the Impartial Judiciary Worksheet (pdf) by explaining the characteristics of an impartial judiciary.

Option 2 – Video and Discussion: Who Becomes a Federal Judge?

Total Time: 20 minutes

Video Series: Pathways to the Bench (4 minutes)

In the video series Pathways to the Bench, individual judges talk about the personal, character-building challenges in their lives that prepared them to serve on the bench. Each judge has a motivational message for others, especially young people, who face obstacles on the path to reaching their goals.

In groups or as a class discuss the judge's message.

Option 3 – Reading and Discussion: The Preamble

Total Time: 20 minutes

Preamble Script

Use the Preamble Script and select 10 participants to read aloud one phrase in the Preamble. Present the Preamble to the Constitution (pdf).

In groups or as a class, use the Preamble Worksheet (pdf) and discuss the requirements of government listed in the Preamble. Why is 'establish justice' listed first?