Supreme Court Simulation
This project offers an examination of the nation’s highest court, The Supreme Court of the United States and the court’s structure, practices and procedures. Students will also write a writ of Certiorari and present an oral argument before the Court.
Teacher/instructors can choose from one of the two real cases below, The Roper v. Simmons case, or the Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe. Or they may choose their own case. The information for each case is given below.
In this simulation, each student will chose one of two roles:
Role 1: Supreme Court Justice. Nine persons will comprise the roles of Supreme Court Justices: one will be the Chief Justice; the other eight will be associate Justices. The Justices will follow the rules and procedures set out below. They will resolve the Constitutional questions raised by the case. They will read the lawyer’s briefs, weigh the arguments set forth in the briefs, and listen to opposing oral arguments. They may ask questions of the lawyers during the oral arguments to help them decide the issue. They will jointly write an opinion.
Role 2: Attorneys. The rest of the group will divide into two teams: Petitioner attorneys and Respondent attorneys.
The lawyers chosen from the team of the petitioners will argue for their side. Up to two attorneys may be selected. It will be necessary for them to collaborate with the other attorneys on their team to prepare the written brief and to prepare the oral argument that they will present to the court.
The lawyers (up to two) for the respondents will argue for the opposite side. It will also be necessary for them to collaborate with the other attorneys on their team to prepare the written brief and to prepare the oral argument that they will present to the court.
Note: the Supreme Court oral arguments may be presented in front of another class or student assembly who will have copies of each brief and thus be able to follow the oral arguments. After the oral arguments, the Justices will meet to write an opinion. There may be concurring or dissenting opinions from some of the Justices.
The petitioner and the respondent will try to influence the Court through written briefs and oral arguments.
Attorneys for both sides will file a brief before the Court that presents and explains their position. They will use precedents (previously constitutionally sound arguments that support their case.) These briefs are reviewed by the Justices before oral arguments occur. Sometimes there are also amicus curiae briefs filed by outside groups that support one side or the other.
Each side has 30 minutes to present their case. It is forbidden by a Court rule for either the petitioner or the respondent to read their argument. Justices may interrupt at any time the oral argument with questions. Sometimes if a case is especially significant, the Court may allow more time. The petitioners or the respondents may reserve some of their time at the end of the oral arguments to answer points made by opposing counsel. For example, the petitioner may ask to reserve 10 minutes after the oral arguments. This reduces his or her time to 20 minutes for the oral argument.
Student handouts include:
a.Writing a brief
b.Delivering an oral argument
i.Constructing an oral argument
ii.Delivering an oral argument
3.Case background and chronology
a.The Roper v. Simmons case
b.The Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe case
4.Legal precedents for each case
a.Example 1: Susan Jones et al v. Taney Smith et al (a brief arguing a violation of the Thirteenth Amendment)
b.Example 2: Susan Jones et al v. Taney Smith et al (a brief arguing a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment)
c.Example 3: Susan Jones et al v. Taney Smith et al (a brief arguinga violation of the Fifth Amendment)
6.Sample oral argument (an oral argument referencing the Susan Jones et al v. Taney Smith et al case that alludes to all three amendments)
7.A real Supreme court Decision (condensed)