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Book

A primary defining characteristic of democracy is the regular occurrence of free, fair, competitive elections in which practically all the people of a country can vote to select their representatives in government.

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In a constitutional democracy, there is bound to be diversity among the people. It may be expressed as diversity in ideas and interests, diversity in social and political groups, diversity in religion, race, and ethnicity, and diversity in centers of power.

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Democracy in the governments of countries today is representative, meaning that the people rule indirectly through their elected public officials. Democracy today is also constitutional, meaning that government by the people’s representatives is both limited and empowered to protect equally and justly the rights of everyone in the country.

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Constitutionalism is a way of thinking about the relationship between the rulers and the ruled in a community. It combines two concepts, limited government and the rule of law, that permeate the constitution, a country’s framework for government.

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A constitution is the basic law and general plan of government or a people within a country. The purposes, powers, and limitations of government are prescribed in the constitution. It thus sets forth the way people are governed or ruled.

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The common good (sometimes called the public good) may refer to the collective welfare of the community. It also may refer to the individual welfare of each person in the community.

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Civil society is the network of voluntary associations, or non-governmental organizations, that are separate from the institutions of the government but subject to the rule of law. Apart from the government, civil society is a private domain that serves the public good.

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All democratic countries provide formal and informal opportunities for civic education, or teaching and learning about citizenship. Formal civic education is carried out through the curriculum of schools, and informal civic education occurs through the interaction of individuals in various societal organizations.

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Citizenship is the legal relationship between citizens and their government and country. Citizens owe their government loyalty, support, and service. The government owes the citizens the protection of constitutionally guaranteed rights to life, liberty, property, and equal justice under law.

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A citizen is a full and equal member of a political community, such as a country or nation-state. Such membership is a necessary condition for the establishment and maintenance of a democracy.

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Authority is the legitimate use of power by rulers over the individuals they rule. It is a government’s justification for exercising power over the people within its jurisdiction.

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Accountability means that the government in a democracy is responsible to the people for its actions. This responsibility is primarily ensured by periodic public elections through which the people choose their representatives in government.

Handout

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.

Website

The Monticello Digital Classroom, launched in 2017, combines content from the prior classroom archive with materials from the Sea of Liberty website. The Digital Classroom includes lesson plans, articles, and multimedia content for use by teachers, students and scholars of all levels.

Website

The ABOTA Foundation provides free civics and law-related education resources and programs to teachers and students. Lesson plan topics include media literacy; civic participation in the justice system; the Constitution; federal and state courts; judicial independence; Magna Carta; trial by jury; and separation of powers. ABOTA also offers the James Otis Lecture Series on the Constitution and Teachers Law School, a crash course in the law and legal system for middle and high school educators.

Video

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.”

Handout

This guide for K-12 educators provides four types of activity suggestions and related resources for your upper elementary, middle or high school students: class starters; in-depth classroom activities; projects/performances for assessment; and culmination activities.

Handout

The landmark Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright 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

Handout

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.

Handout

This lesson explores the landmark Supreme Court case that made law enforcement the protectors of individual liberty where people are most vulnerable – in the interrogation room.

Handout

This lesson explores the landmark Supreme Court decision that makes state governments also responsible for protecting our Fourth Amendment right. With the exclusionary rule, this right becomes real for all of us.

Handout

In this lesson, students learn about the process used for jury selection and how the role and responsibilities of government in civil and criminal jury trials are viewed by the Supreme Court. They also reflect on the democratic values, principles, and dispositions of character working behind the scenes.

Handout

In this lesson, students learn about the importance, history, and constitutional foundations of jury service. They become familiar with federal and state juror questionnaires and jury summonses.