Skip to main content

433 resources available

Book

The First Amendment may well be the best known of our constitutional protections, and possibly the least understood. The First Amendment’s free speech, assembly, and press guarantees allow citizens to express and be exposed to a wide range of opinions.

Video

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.

Video

“Thurgood” is a production of the critically acclaimed play starring Laurence Fishburne as the nation’s first African-American Supreme Court justice.

Book

Unlike the Articles of Confederation, which needed the unanimous consent of the thirteen states to make changes in the structure of the government, the Constitution required ratification by only nine of the states for the new government to go into effect.

Book

The new Constitution recognized that the debts of the previous government under the Articles of Confederation were still valid. If a state law is in conflict with federal law, federal law must prevail.

Book

Realizing that over time the nation would want to make changes to the Constitution, its framers established a process to allow that to happen. Unlike laws and regulations that can be passed by simple majorities in Congress, the Constitution is more difficult to change.

Book

The founders of the United States believed a free press was a prerequisite for a free society. James Madison, often called the Father of the Constitution, said it was “one of the great bulwarks of liberty.”

Book

Free speech is our most fundamental—and our most contested—right. It is an essential freedom because it is how we protect all of our other rights and liberties. If we could not speak openly about the policies and actions of government, then we would have no effective way to participate in the democratic process.

Book

Each state must respect and honor the state laws and court orders of the other states, even when its own laws are different. For example, if citizens of New Jersey marry, divorce, or adopt children in that state, Florida must recognize those actions as valid.

Book

The American Revolution was a radical experiment in liberty. Nowhere was its character more evident than in what Thomas Jefferson called a “novel innovation”—the First Amendment’s separation of church and state. The language was unmistakably direct: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

Book

For the American revolutionaries, freedom of the soul was the most precious liberty. It was first among rights because it gave meaning to freedom itself. Without it, truth would perish; without truth, men and women could never be fully free.

Book

Article III establishes the federal court system. The first section creates the U.S. Supreme Court as the federal system’s highest court.

Book

The Constitution establishes that the President of the United States has the power to run the executive branch of the government. This section, later modified by the Twelfth Amendment, establishes the Electoral College (the process by which the President and Vice President are elected).

Book

“All men are created equal.” This phrase has stirred hearts around the world for more than 200 years. It is one of the values most associated with the United States, but nowhere is the language of equality among individuals found in the Constitution.

Book

Efforts to define freedom began with the European settlement of North America, but the struggle was most fierce during the Civil War and its aftermath of Reconstruction. Until then, Americans usually defined freedom in relationship to the African slavery they knew—slaves were not free, and free men were not slaves.

Book

Rights are expressions of individual liberty. The history of America is, on the whole, a story of individual liberty and rights. In 1776, the signers of the Declaration of Independence boldly proclaimed their belief in the right of equality—“all men are created equal”—and in the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Book

On August 23, 1984, the New York Times carried a brief story on its inside pages about a disorderly march in Dallas, Texas, the host city for the Republican National Convention. The incident had begun as a protest against the renomination of President Ronald Reagan for a second term.

Book

The framers of the Constitution separated the powers of government into three branches, granting legislative power (the power to pass laws) to Congress, executive power (the power to administer the laws) to the President, and judicial power (the power to interpret laws and decide legal disputes) to the courts.

Book

The preamble expresses the purpose of the U.S. Constitution. The federal government gains its power from the people rather than from the states. The government exists to maintain peace at home, provide national defense, promote the well-being of the people, and protect their liberties.

Book

Liberals and conservatives alike have decried “judicial activism,” whenever rulings went against them. Despite these complaints, the Supreme Court has reserved the final word on whether the actions of the executive and legislative branches comply with the Constitution.

Book

Since the Bill of Rights—the first ten amendments to the Constitution—was adopted in 1791, Congress has passed an additional twenty-three amendments, of which the states have ratified only seventeen. Such statistics indicate the magnitude of difficulty in amending the U.S. Constitution.

Book

This book analyzes 30 Supreme Court cases chosen by a group of Supreme Court justices and leading civics educators as the most important for American citizens to understand.

Website

The EPA was formed in 1970 by President Nixon and Congress as an independent government agency to coordinate and oversee the preservation and protection of the environment. Previously, various environmental programs had been handled by different departments.

Website

The Environmental Defense Fund is a nonprofit advocacy group “dedicated to protecting the environmental rights of all people.” It works on issues such as air and water pollution and climate change.