Landmark Supreme Court 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?
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 Stephen Breyer: Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.
Justice Breyer and a group of high school students discuss separation of powers in connection with pay discrimination case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. that resulted in a 2009 law called the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
In this lesson, students will explore the origins and evolution of the supremacy clause. How are conflicts between federal and state power resolved?
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.
This video describes the Constitution Project film series and shows teachers how to use the award-winning films in their classrooms. The films feature insightful commentary from Supreme Court justices and legal scholars, interviews with the plaintiffs and attorneys in landmark Supreme Court cases as well as historical footage.
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.
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.
This film explores the First Amendment right of the “people peaceably to assemble” through the lens of the U.S. Supreme Court case National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie. The legal fight between neo-Nazis and Holocaust survivors over a planned march in a predominantly Jewish community led to a ruling that said the neo-Nazis could not be banned from marching peacefully because of the content of their message.
This lesson will focus on freedom of assembly, as found in the First Amendment. Students will consider the importance of the right to assemble and protest by analyzing cases where First Amendment rights were in question. Using the case National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, students will consider if the government is ever allowed to control the ability to express ideas in public because viewpoints are controversial, offensive, or painful. Students will use primary sources and Supreme Court cases to consider whether the courts made the correct decision in the National Socialist Party v. Skokie case. Students will be able to form an opinion on the essential question: Is the government ever justified to restrict the freedom to assemble?
This film examines the history of guns and gun ownership in our society from the Revolutionary War to modern times and the complicated debate over what the founders intended when they wrote the Second Amendment. Does it protect a right of individuals to keep and bear arms? Or is it a right that can be exercised only through militia organizations like the National Guard?
This lesson will engage students in the history of the Second Amendment and how its meaning and importance have changed over time. Students will examine various eras in U.S. history that shaped the debate: the American Revolution; the Civil War and Reconstruction; the 1930s and Prohibition; the assassinations in the 1960s; and the Supreme Court decisions in D.C. v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010). Finally, students will be challenged to rewrite the amendment to make it more accessible to the world today.
The First Amendment’s right to free speech is one of our most important rights as citizens. But what does freedom of speech mean for students in public schools? How do you balance a school’s need for order with a student’s right to free expression? This film explores the evolution of student free speech rights through Supreme Court cases, from Tinker v. Des Moines to Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L., the case of the Snapchatting cheerleader.
This film examines freedom of the press, an essential First Amendment right, through the key Supreme Court Case New York Times v. Sullivan. It traces the relationship of the press to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s, and the ways in which proponents of segregation tried to use libel claims via the courts to prevent coverage of the violence inflicted upon peaceful protestors.