TABLE OF CONTENTS

Judicial Branch and Civil Liberties Unit: Civics Curated Course

The Supreme Court

Supreme Court Document-based Questions

Supreme Court DBQs: Exploring the Cases that Changed History helps your students develop the critical thinking skills they need to evaluate the Court’s rulings and the impact of these rulings on American society. Your students will analyze primary sources spanning five centuries–colonial codes of law, the Federalist Papers, the Constitution, contemporary photographs, case law, oral arguments, the Court’s majority and dissenting opinions, and others. Key tasks for each DBQ will lead them towards an understanding of the role played by the Court and an assessment of its decisions. Each DBQ also contains a section called “The Issue Endures,” which highlights current applications of the case issue.




Collection Contents

Marbury v. Madison (1803)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of Marbury v. Madison. Setting the precedent of Judicial review, this lesson focuses on the question of whether or not the Supreme Court should have the power to overturn unconstitutional federal laws.
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Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of Dred Scott v. Sanford. This case deals with the issues of slavery, states rights, and the interpretation of our founding documents. This lesson focuses on the question of how the two sides in Dred Scott decision interpreted the same Founding documents and came to such different conclusions.
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United States v. Nixon (1974

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of United States v. Nixon. Dealing with the principle of separation of powers, this lesson focuses on the question of whether or not the Constitution's separation of powers intended to create an absolute executive privilege.
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Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary documents concerning Plessy v. Ferguson. Dealing with the principle of Equal Protection, this lesson asks students to evaluate the degree to which custom, precedent, and understanding of federalism informed the ruling in the case.
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Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of Brown v. Board of Education. Dealing with the principle of Equal Protection, this lesson asks students to assess the role played by the Court as the protector of individual rights against the tyranny of the majority.
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Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. Dealing with the principle of Equal Protection and affirmative action, this lesson asks students to asses whether or not the University of California at Davis's special admissions program resulted in unconstitutional reverse discrimination.
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Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger (2003)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger. Dealing with the principle of equal protection and affirmative action, this lesson asks students to evaluate the Court's reasoning in uploading Grutter while striking down Gratz.
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Mapp v. Ohio (1961)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of Mapp v. Ohio. Dealing with incorporation of the 4th amendment and the legality of searches and seizures, this lesson asks students to asses the claim that the exclusionary rule helps ensure liberty and justice.
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Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of Gideon v. Wainwright. Dealing with whether or not a state must provide a lawyer to the accused, this lesson asks students whether or not they believe the Sixth amendment guarantee's the right to counsel in all cases and whether the government must provide a lawyer to defendants who want one but cannot afford one.
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Miranda v. Arizona (1966)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona. Dealing with the Fifth and Sixth amendments and whether or not the accused needs to be advised of their rights upon arrest, this lesson asks students to evaluate the extent to which Miranda is the fulfillment of the legal tradition of the promise against self-incrimination.
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Tinker v. Des Moines (1969)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of Tinker v. Des Moines. Dealing with students rights and the First amendments protection of free speech, this lesson asks students to evaluate the extent to which the First Amendment should protect symbolic speech, and the degree to which that protection should be guaranteed to students in public schools.
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Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier. Dealing with the extent of students First Amendment rights, this lesson asks students to argue whether or not the First amendment should protect student speech in public school-sponsored newspapers.
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Pottawatomie v. Earls (2002)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of Pottawatomie v. Earls. Dealing with students Fourth Amendment protections when in schools, this lesson asks students to assess the Court's evolving definition of "reasonable" searches with respect to public school students.
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Schenck v. United States (1919)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of Schenck v. United States. Dealing with the First Amendment's free speech protections and whether it has limits during wartime, this lesson asks students to evaluate the Supreme Court's limitations of free speech set forth in Schenck.
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Texas v. Johnson (1989)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of Texas v. Johnson. Dealing with the First Amendment's freedom of expression protections, this lesson asks students to argue whether or not burning the American flag is so offensive as to be outside the legitimate marketplace of ideas.
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Reno v. ACLU (1997)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of Reno v. ACLU. Dealing with whether or not the First Amendment protected obscene or indecent speech on the internet, this lesson asks students to argue whether or not Congress should be able to ban "indecent" or "patently offensive" speech on the Internet.
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Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of Griswold v. Connecticut. Dealing with whether or not a citizen has a natural right to privacy, this lesson asks students to support or refuse the Supreme Court's ruling in Griswold, that the Constitution protects a right to privacy within marriage that includes the decision to use artificial birth control.
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Roe v. Wade (1973)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of Roe v. Wade. Dealing with a citizens Constitutional right to privacy and liberty this lesson asks students to evaluate the Court's constitutional reasoning in Roe v. Wade.
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Lawrence v. Texas (2003)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of Lawrence v. Texas. Dealing with a citizens constitutional right to privacy in regards to sex, this lesson asks students to analyze how the Court's definition of privacy evolved from 1965 to 2003.
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McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of McCulloch v. Maryland. Dealing with the Constitution's Necessary and Property clause, this lesson asks students to asses to what extent the Necessary and Proper Clause grants a new power to Congress and what is the meaning of "Proper" in this context.
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South Dakota v. Dole (1987)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of South Dakota v. Dole. Dealing with the whether or not the Federal government can attach conditions to money given to states in areas where the Federal government has no enumerated power, this lesson asks students to evaluate the extent to which the Court's interpretation of the General Welfare clause and attachment of conditions to federal funds given to states is consistent with the principle of Federalism.
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Gonzales v. Raich (2005)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of Gonzales v. Raich. Dealing with the Commerce clause and the governments regulatory powers, this lesson asks students to trace and evaluate the evolution of the Supreme Court's interpretation of Congress's commerce power in light of the principle of federalism.
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Nollan v. California Coastal Commission (1987)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of Nollan v. California Costal Commission. Dealing with whether or not regulations restricting property owners actions on their own property are protected by the Fifth amendment, this lesson asks students why property rights are sometimes referred to as a "bundle of sticks".
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Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Commission (1992)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of Lucas v. South Carolina Costal Council. Dealing with the "regulatory taking" of property, this lesson asks students how much they think the government should be able to regulate property before it becomes a "taking" requiring just compensation.
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Kelo v. New London (2005)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of Kelo v. New London. Dealing with eminent domain and whether the government can take private property and give it to a private developer, this lesson asks students to evaluate the Court's ruling in the case.
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Liberty and the Supreme Court

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

A document based question which explores the ways the concepts of liberty and property have been understood overtime in the United States and in particular how the Supreme Court has interpreted the right to liberty.
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Who Said It: Quote Match

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

In this document based question, students will evaluate the Founder's and Progressives' views on the subjects of human nature and the purpose of government.
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Citizens United v. F.E.C. (2010)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of Citizens United v. F.E.C. Dealing with free speech in the political arena, this lesson asks students to asses whether or not the Supreme Court ruled correctly in Citizens United, in light of constitutional principles including republican government, freedom of speech, and property rights.
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Korematsu v. U.S. (1944)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary source documents concerning the Supreme Court case of Korematsu v. United States. Dealing with President Franklin Roosevelt's executive order 9066 and the relocation of Japanese Americans during World War Two, this lesson asks students to asses the Supreme Court's Decision in Korematsu v. United States.
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Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Little Rock Crisis (1957)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

A document based question which explores Dwight D. Eisenhower's response to the Little Rock Crisis. This lesson asks students to asses President Eisenhower's constitutional justification for his decision to send federal troops to Little Rock Arkansas, to enforce a federal court's order to integrate public schools.
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Bush v. Gore (2000)

by Bill of Rights Institute EDUCATING INDIVIDUALS about THE CONSTITUTION

Case background and primary sources concerning the Supreme Court case of Bush v. Gore. Dealing with the 2000 election, this lesson asks students whether or not they think the United States Supreme Court correctly decided the case.
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