This lesson will allow students to study and relitigate cases that have been argued in front of the Supreme Court. Students will examine common mistakes made in public speaking, learn about the United States Supreme Court, organize their case details, build arguments with analysis and perform as attorneys and Supreme Court justices during a mock argument session. Since the cases relate to students, the interest level is generally very high.
Rationale for the lesson
There are many benefits to this lesson. The most basic is communicating content about the Supreme Court. Beyond that initial step, however, this lesson will allow students to learn about issues that impact them every day at school and in their lives. They will also practice their own argument and analysis skills in addition to presenting in a public speaking environment. The odds of students arguing a case before the Supreme Court some day are low, but the skills they practice will be used on a frequent basis as they grow up. The ability to sell a case (perhaps selling their own skills at a job interview) or advocate for an issue (perhaps they will be asked to do so for a business proposal) are both skills that can be utilized in very realistic situations later in life.
Prerequisite knowledge and skills
The amount of knowledge required depends on how deeply you’d like to go with this activity. On the low end, students need very little knowledge; just the basics of the assignment. I’d recommend a minimum of going over the Google Presentation linked in the lesson, however, so students have a base level of knowledge. Beyond the presentation, you can certainly have students read over cases or utilize other information to go deeper, but they’ll achieve a significant amount of depth with the presentation and project. You can use this lesson after a lesson on the Bill of Rights and other amendments or you could include those lessons within this project so students learn about amendments as they study a case that deals with that text.