Supreme Court Activity
In this activity, students do a simulation of a Supreme Court deliberation that introduces them to the difficult role of the courts balancing individual rights and public safety when national security is threatened.
About These Resources
- Suggested procedures provide a prototype that may be modified
- Our Rights is a ranking activity that asks which rights participants would be willing to give up.
- Activities stimulate critical thinking and consensus building.
- Use the discussion questions to promote civil discussion skills.
- A Supreme Court Quiz tests basic knowledge. How to Use These Resources
How to Use These Resources
The teacher assigns all students to a Supreme Court group of nine. "Extra" students - those beyond the nine on each court - are designated by the teacher to be broadcast journalists. Each is assigned to a Supreme Court.
The student Supreme Court is asked to weigh the risks of eliminating rights to keep the nation safe during a national security alert. The journalists will report the decision of their Court to the rest of the class at the conclusion of the deliberations. Each Supreme Court selects its Chief Justice. He/she is "a first among equals" and facilitates the deliberations. Use the suggested procedures for further guidance on the activitiy.
Before the deliberations, all students work in their Supreme Court groups to find a magazine picture representing each of the first Ten Amendments to the Constitution. Groups may select more than one picture per Amendment.
- Each picture is labeled according to the Amendment it represents. All groups exhibit their pictures in separate areas of the classroom where everyone can see them.
- With the pictures as reference points, each Court deliberates how eliminating one of the rights will impact our life. Use the suggested procedures to deliberate.
- At the end of the deliberations, each Court removes the pictures of the rights they have eliminated from the Constitution. The journalist for each group reports which rights have been eliminated and which have survived. All the rights that have survived any Court are displayed together and all the rights that have been discarded by any Court are grouped together where everyone can see and discuss them.
- The teacher in the classroom, or the judge in the courtroom, facilitates a discussion about the impact of eliminating or preserving the rights selected by the courts.
- Take a quiz on your knowledge of the Supreme Court.