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Key Constitutional Concepts: Right to Counsel


The landmark Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) examines the impact that one event can make on the Constitution through the judicial process. This lesson is designed to give students an opportunity to interact with the Constitution, peers and the video “Key Constitutional Concepts: Right to Counsel.”

The lesson begins with students considering the need for an attorney in a criminal trial, followed by an examination of the rights contained in the Sixth Amendment. Using the video, students examine both the constitutional right to counsel and how this right has been secured by Supreme Court decisions. Throughout this lesson, students are provided opportunities to form their own opinions regarding Gideon’s case while reviewing the language of the Sixth Amendment as they see his case unfold. The lesson concludes with students writing a historical analysis of the Gideon decision and understanding how criminal defendants are now informed about their right to counsel.

The estimated time for this lesson plan is 45 minutes.

Download the lesson plan