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Book

The Great Depression that followed the Wall Street panic of November 1929 was an economic scourge of mammoth proportions. Its effects lingered for a decade and spread around the world. Unemployment soared to almost one-quarter of the American labor force in 1933, a twentieth century high.

Book

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law. . . abridging the freedom of speech.” It expresses an absolute prohibition of legislation that would deny this freedom. Constitutional protection of this fundamental civil liberty, however, has not been absolute.

Book

Lochner v. New York (1905) and Muller v. Oregon (1908) addressed the important question of how far state governments could go in regulating the impact of the late-nineteenth-century industrial revolution on labor and women. Writing in 1787, the framers of the Constitution reserved to the states broad powers to deal with matters of health, safety, morals, and welfare.

Book

On June 7, 1892, Homer Plessy waited at the Press Street railroad depot in New Orleans. He had a first-class ticket for a thirty-mile trip to Covington, Louisiana. The train arrived on time at 4:15 in the afternoon, and the nicely dressed, well-groomed young man entered the first-class carriage, took a seat, gave his ticket to the conductor, and boldly spoke words that led to his arrest and trial in a court of law.

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During a national crisis, such as the Civil War, there is inevitably severe tension between these two imperatives of constitutional government: maintaining both the security of the nation and the security of civil liberties for every individual within the nation.

Book

In 1857 the Supreme Court refused to grant Dred Scott’s petition for freedom from slavery. In the 1830s, Dred Scott had moved from St. Louis with his owner, Dr. Emerson, to the free state of Illinois. After Emerson’s death, Scott returned to St. Louis with the doctor’s widow.

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A dispute between two New York steamboat owners, Thomas Gibbons and Aaron Ogden, raised questions about the powers of Congress to regulate commercial activity within the states and among the different states of the union. Thus, the U.S. Supreme Court was called upon in Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) to settle for the first time a controversy about the meaning of the commerce clause in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution.

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During the early years of the nineteenth century, many Americans were primarily loyal to their state rather than to the United States of America. Luther Martin of Maryland, for example, often spoke of Maryland as “my country.”

Book

Like many Supreme Court cases, the great case of Marbury v. Madison began simply. William Marbury and three other people did not receive appointments as justices of the peace for the District of Columbia. Their claim before the Court was the result of a general effort by the outgoing administration of President John Adams to place its Federalist supporters in newly created judicial positions.

Book

Monarchs ruled the nations of the world when the U.S. Constitution was written in 1787. Some monarchies, such as the one that ruled Great Britain, also had parliaments in which the people and the aristocracy were represented. As parliamentary systems developed, they combined legislative and executive functions, with the prime minister and other cabinet members serving as members of Parliament. This differs sharply from the separation of powers established in our Constitution.

Book

What does our Constitution mean to you, and why should you bother studying it? When it comes to your rights and liberties, it would be dangerous to be indifferent.

Book

This book takes an in-depth look at the Constitution, annotated with detailed explanations of its terms and contents. Included are texts of primary source materials, sidebar material on each article and amendment, profiles of Supreme Court cases, and timelines.

Website

The Youth Leadership Initiative, based at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, has created three interactive simulations. E-Congress, a free, interactive, national online simulation lets students play the part of a member of the House. They research issues, write legislation, debate bills in committee and work to move their bill to the House floor. Students use innovative technology to interact with their legislators and to connect with their peers around the country. Mock Election is conducted each fall by the Youth Leadership Initiative for students around the nation using electronic ballots designed for each student’s home district. A More Perfect Union simulates an actual campaign for Senate. The site also provides teacher-developed lesson plans and a service-learning program called Democracy Corps.

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This comprehensive site contains Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government for Kids, which features information about all aspects of government, citizenship, elections and voting. It also provides links to kids’ sites for most government agencies. Activities include print games, interactive games and activities; information pages; links to other government agencies’ curriculum; and a glossary.

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This government site focuses on court literacy, featuring free, downloadable in-depth resources to help students understand how the courts work, key amendments to the Constitution, federal court basics and fast facts, legal concepts, legal landmarks and Supreme Court cases. Classrooms to Courtrooms provides real-life teen-related scenarios to stage in-class or in-court simulations of trials with accompanying scripts.

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Street Law and the Supreme Court Historical Society partnered to create Landmark Cases of the U.S. Supreme Court. In-depth information about each case, related activities that involve interactive teaching strategies and external resources are provided. Scotus in the Classroom is a project in which Street Law selects the most classroom-relevant, student-friendly cases argued at the Supreme Court. Teachers receive support to conduct moot courts based on each case. A Resource Library has compiled hundreds of teaching activities, case summaries, mock trials and articles. Street Law also offers a Supreme Court Summer Institute for teachers.

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Teachers share their learning materials covering a range of subjects for all grade levels. The resources may be downloaded for free. An online forum lets teachers exchange ideas and advice and share best practices. Share My Lesson also provides a resource bank for the Common Core State Standards, which has advice and guides for teachers.

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This PBS site for teachers covers all subject areas, including civics participation, community, the three branches of government, politics, economics, current events, the courts and history. Lesson plans are free, with some material downloadable. Videos and audio recordings supplement lesson plans; interactive activities for younger children are available in the Democracy Project. Teachers have access to discussion forums, online professional developments courses, and an archive of webinars.

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A free, online multimedia database of the U.S. Supreme Court, Oyez.org and its mobile apps offer plain-English case summaries, decision information, opinions, and transcript-synchronized audio for every recorded case in Supreme Court history. The transcript-synchronized audio allows users to hear what it’s like to be present at the Court for arguments or opinion announcements, and to catch the subtleties and emotion unavailable simply from reading the transcript. Users can also clip and download segments of audio or entire arguments as MP3s. Oyez engages a non-legal audience, primarily students, with the judicial branch to promote public understanding in a historical and contemporary context.

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This PBS site uses current events as the basis for educational content revolving around news categories such as health, science, U.S. and history. Lesson plans based on current events contain videos, audio and photo essays; a forum for students to post essays, articles or comments on issues in the news. The material is free.

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This organization’s NewseumED website contains free learning tools on media literacy and First Amendment rights. Find lesson plans, primary sources, activities and more. Get ideas for teaching the latest news topics and trends. Connect with other educators in the EDCommunity. Explore the EDCollections on topics such as media literacy, women’s rights, the First Amendment and the Civil Rights Movement, and Decoding Elections.

Website

The New York Times’ content, current and historical, is the basis for teacher and student resources on this site. The Teaching Topics page is a living index page of links to resources on frequently taught subjects. For each topic, collected resources include lesson plans, related articles, multimedia, themed crosswords and archival material. Lesson plans cover numerous topics, including social studies, current events, civics and American history.