Landmark Supreme Court Cases

A Conversation on the Japanese Internment Cases

Essential Question: Should the executive branch have the authority to deny individual rights and liberties during times of war, even if it is done in a discriminatory way?

Yick Wo and the Equal Protection Clause

This documentary examines the case Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1886) in which the Supreme Court held that noncitizens have due process rights under the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. The Court said that unequal application of a law violated the rights of a Chinese immigrant.

A Conversation on the Constitution with Justices Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kennedy and Sandra Day O’Connor: Brown v. Board of Education

Supreme Court Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony M. Kennedy discuss with high school students the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education that ended racial segregation in schools.

A Conversation on the Constitution with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: Search and Seizure

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and a group of high school students discuss the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure in the context of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Mapp v. Ohio.

A Call to Act: Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.

This documentary tells the story of Lilly Ledbetter and her U.S. Supreme Court case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.. Ledbetter’s fight for equal pay for equal work eventually involved all three branches of government and resulted in the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.

A Conversation on the Constitution with Justices Stephen Breyer, Anthony Kennedy and Sandra Day O’Connor: The Importance of the Japanese Internment Cases

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government sent people of Japanese ancestry to internment camps. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the government’s right to restrict the liberty of these citizens and noncitizens in two cases: Korematsu v. U.S. and Hirabayashi v. U.S.

Jury Selection: Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Company

This documentary tells how an African American construction worker’s personal-injury lawsuit against his employer evolved into a landmark jury selection case Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Co. on the Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury.

Korematsu and Civil Liberties

This documentary explores the landmark case Korematsu v. U.S. (1944) concerning the constitutionality of presidential executive order 9066 during World War II that gave the U.S. military the power to ban thousands of American citizens of Japanese ancestry from areas considered important to national security.

One Person, One Vote: Baker v. Carr and Reynolds v. Sims

In this documentary, Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Stephen G. Breyer and other experts discuss how the principle of one person, one vote emerged from a series of landmark decisions in the 1960s, including Baker v. Carr and Reynolds v. Sims.

Right to Remain Silent: Miranda v. Arizona

This documentary explores the landmark Supreme Court decision Miranda v. Arizona that said criminal suspects, at the time of their arrest but before any interrogation, must be told of their Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination and Sixth Amendment right to an attorney.

An Independent Judiciary: Cherokee Nation v. Georgia and Cooper v. Aaron

This documentary, featuring Justice Stephen G. Breyer and leading constitutional scholars, chronicles two key moments that defined our understanding of the role of the judiciary: Cherokee Nation v. Georgia and Cooper v. Aaron.

A Conversation on the Constitution with Justice Anthony Kennedy: Miranda v. Arizona

Justice Kennedy leads a discussion with students about the Miranda v. Arizona case, which established that criminal suspects must be told of their Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination and Sixth Amendment right to an attorney.

Habeas Corpus: The Guantanamo Cases

One of our oldest human rights, habeas corpus safeguards individual freedom by preventing unlawful or arbitrary imprisonment. This documentary examines habeas corpus and the separation of powers in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks through four Guantanamo Bay cases: Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Rasul v. Bush, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and Boumediene v. Bush.

Key Constitutional Concepts

This three-part documentary discusses why and how the Constitution was created at the Constitutional Convention, explores the protection of individuals’ rights in Gideon v. Wainwright, and examines the limits of presidential power in Youngstown v. Sawyer.

Search and Seizure: Mapp v. Ohio

In 1957, Dollree Mapp stood up to police who tried to enter her home without a search warrant. Her act of defiance led to a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Mapp v. Ohio that limited police powers. This documentary explores the Fourth Amendment case in which the Court ruled that evidence illegally obtained by police is not admissible in state courts.

Freedom of the Press: New York Times v. United States

This documentary examines the First Amendment’s protection of a free press as well as the historic origins of this right and the ramifications of the landmark ruling in New York Times v. United States, the Pentagon Papers case, in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prior restraint is unconstitutional.

Actions That Changed the Law: Ledbetter v. Goodyear

This lesson tells the law-changing story behind the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. Students gain insight into law-making process and consider how statutory decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court can prompt better laws.

The Power of One Decision: Brown v. Board of Education

Through the lesson, students gain insight into decision-making at the Supreme Court, learn about the people behind the case, construct a persuasive argument, and evaluate the significance of Brown v. Board of Education.

Equal Justice Under Law: Yick Wo v. Hopkins

This lesson teaches about the cause-and-effect relationships between historical events and the development of constitutional principles that protect the rights of all people in America today.

Freedom of Speech: Finding the Limits

In this lesson students gain insight into the many challenges involved in defining and protecting free speech. They also learn about principles that come from U.S. Supreme Court decisions, such as Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District and Morse v. Frederick, and case law that are applied to define the limits for us today.

An Independent Judiciary: Cherokee Nation v. Georgia and Cooper v. Aaron

This lesson explores the role of the judiciary in relation to the legislative and executive branches and how judicial independence has evolved since the founding of the nation.

One Person, One Vote: Baker v. Carr and Reynolds v. Sims

This lesson explores these questions: “Does the Constitution require that every person’s vote count the same as another person’s vote? Why would that be important?”

Key Constitutional Concepts: Presidential Power

This lesson focuses on the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, which challenged the extent to which the president of the United States can exercise power during times of foreign conflict.

The Confrontation Clause: Crawford v. Washington

The Sixth Amendment’s confrontation clause gives the accused the right “to be confronted with the witnesses against him” at a criminal trial. This video uses the U.S. Supreme Court case Crawford v. Washington to help explain the history and importance of the confrontation clause and why the framers knew it would be crucial to an effective system of justice.”

Understanding the Confrontation Clause

In this lesson, students will explore the fundamental reasons for the confrontation clause of the Sixth Amendment. Students will engage in a simulation and identify the history and evolution of the confrontation clause.

Rights at Risk in Wartime

This lesson explores the four Supreme Court cases known as the Guantanamo cases. These cases are examples of how the Court, the president and even Congress fought to balance national security and civil liberties during the war on terror, a war that continues to this day.

Justice for All in the Courtroom

In this lesson, students analyze the interplay of processes and procedures that courts use to seat an impartial jury and gain appreciation for the essential role of juries in the justice system. They also explore the responsibilities and limits placed on government by the Constitution in the context of civil and criminal trials.

The Supremacy Clause: McCulloch v. Maryland

Tension between the states and the federal government has been a constant throughout U.S. history. This video explores the supremacy clause in Article VI of the Constitution and key moments in the power struggle, including the landmark case McCulloch v. Maryland.

Magna Carta and the Constitution

This video tells the story of the origins of the Magna Carta and explores the two most important principles that it symbolizes: rule of law and due process. Students will learn how the framers interpreted and redefined the rule of law and due process when they created our Constitution. And they will understand how those rights have been expanded and protected by the U.S. Supreme Court through two landmark Supreme Court cases: U.S. v. Nixon and Powell v. Alabama.

The Constitution Project in the Classroom

Annenberg Classroom’s Constitution Project series contains engaging documentaries about landmark Supreme Court cases and constitutional topics. The films, which may be shown in one class period, feature insightful commentary from Supreme Court justices, legal scholars, and the plaintiffs and attorneys in the cases as well as historical footage. Standards-aligned lesson plans accompany the films. Watch this video to learn more about the series and how to use the films in the classroom.

Defenders of Liberty: The People and the Press

This lesson is based on the Annenberg Classroom video that explores the evolution of the free press doctrine, Freedom of the Press: New York Times v. United States.

The 19th Amendment: A Woman’s Right to Vote

Voting is the most basic right of a citizen and the most important right in a democracy. When you vote, you are choosing the people who will make the laws. For almost a century and a half of our nation’s history, women were barred from exercising this fundamental right. This is a film about their long, difficult struggle to win the right to vote. It’s about citizenship, the power of the vote, and why women had to change the Constitution with the 19th Amendment to get the vote.