Supreme Court Decisions
Committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate have decided to review
landmark Supreme Court decisions that established precedence for all future
decisions. They want to decide if new legislation is necessary to alter any of
these decisions. The first four cases they have decided to review are:
Brown v. Board of Education (1954),
States v. Nixon (1974).
They are particularly interested in the roles each of the Three Branches of the
United States Government played in these cases, and whether or not, the doctrine
came into play.
Realized this was an excellent learning opportunity for High School American
Government students. They decided to hold a nationwide competition for the best
reenactments of these separate Court cases which they opened to all American
Government students in the country. The winners of the competition will perform
their reenactment for both Judiciary Committees of Congress in Washington, D.C.
(all expenses paid, of course). Your class has decided to participate in this
National Competition by writing, producing, and performing reenactments of all
four cases. There is a lot of work to be done. Let's Get Started!!!
Your task is to
research, write, produce, and perform a reenactment of one of the following
Historical Supreme Court Cases:
- Marbury v.
- Plessy v.
- Brown v.
Board of Education (1954)
States v. Nixon (1974)
You hope your
reenactment production will win first place in the National American Government
Competition that the Judiciary Committees of the United States Congress is
holding for the best reenactment of Historical Supreme Court Cases. But first,
you must be chosen by your school selection committee to represent your school
at the county level. You have a lot of work to do!
- (click on
bullet to see list) You must write a script for your reenactment. You must
research the case you have been assigned in order to write a factual
script. The Judiciary Committees of Congress have specified what
information must be included in your production:
title of your Historical Supreme Court Decision
historical time period during which the case took place
names and titles (if applicable) of all the key players involved in the
specific issue before the Supreme Court in your case
events that led to the Court hearing this case
specific argument presented by both sides in the case
involvement of the three separate branches of the U.S. government
there is no direct involvement by these branches, how would the outcome
affect the business of the individual branches?
Court's final decision
long term significance of the case
- You have
decided the best way to present your reenactment is with a mock court
hearing with students role-playing the key players involved.
- You will
also have representatives from the three branches of government presenting
"friendly briefs" which detail their opinions on the case.
- You decide
it will be helpful to hand out a "History Frame" to everyone in the audience
to assist in their understanding of the case.
addition, they require a visual aid presentation be used to support your
case. You have decided to create a PowerPoint presentation even though you
know such a program was not available during these cases. They have
indicated that this is their preferred visual aid. Your PowerPoint
presentation will include:
points of both sides of the issue
events that led to the hearing
appropriate pictures or other illustrations
teacher will break you up into 4 groups of at least 6 students.
- Each group
will be assigned one of the four cases to reenact.
There are three
parts to the Process: Research, Reenactment Production, and Reenactment
- The first
part is the research period. Everyone will be a researcher for this period.
- Each one
of you will be assigned a different role in this research and will address
your research to the role you are playing. The roles are: House of
Representatives, Senate, Executive Branch, and the Judicial Branch.
- You will
each be assigned a different website to research on the case.
- Each of
you will be responsible for filling in a
WebQuest Website Report
about the website you are assigned. Fill in the form with your branch
of government in mind as you research. You will be using this report to
assist you in writing the script for the reenactment or your "friendly
brief" if your branch of government is not a key player in the case.
- You may
also use textbooks, historical nooks, and articles to help you in your
- Click on
the case your group has been assigned to see the websites you are to
Marbury v. Madison
Plessy v. Ferguson
Brown v. Board of Education
United States v. Nixon
The second part
of the Process is the production of the reenactment. You must reassemble all
group members. Your group will be given copies of the Grading Rubric so you will
know what needs to be included. Your reenactment must be between 15-30 minutes
Each member of
your group needs to have one of the following roles:
Scriptwriters: Your job is to take the completed WebQuest Website Reports
from all members and write the script for the reenactment.
Brief" writers: Your job is to write a maximum one page "friendly brief"
explaining your opinion of the case if your branch of government is not a
key player in the case. This will be part of the final case script.
PowerPointers: Your job is to design and create the PowerPoint presentation
with the information provided by the other group members. Remember, you need
to list key points, key events, and illustrate with appropriate pictures and
Leader/Communicator: Your job is to help the others synthesize information
in writing the scripts, "friendly briefs," and creating the PowerPoint. You
are also responsible for filling out the
History Frame to handed out to the class during the reenactment.
The third part
of the Process is the actual reenactment. Everyone must play a role in the
production. The roles to be filled are:
Representatives from both sides of the issue who will role-play the
Supreme Court Justice: You will listen to both sides, ask questions when
appropriate, and read the final decision of the Court.
Brief" readers that are representatives of the branches of government not
directly involved in the case.
presenter: You will be running the slide show while the others speak. It is
important that you have your slides in sync with the speakers. You will also
have to answer questions that the Chief Justice may have about your
Your job is to call the court to order, introduce the participants, state
the issue before the court, end the proceedings with a brief summary of the
significance of the case to future law, and dismiss the court.
Reenactment Production: Period costumes or props are not required, but you
will receive extra credit for creativity.
The group must
turn into the teacher:
completed WebQuest Website Reports
- copy of
the completed script
- copy of
all "friendly briefs"
History Frame concerning your case.
- Print out
one of the Group Rubrics for your group and put the names of all members on
it. Give it to your teacher to complete.
- Print out
enough copies of the Individual Member Rubric for each member of the group.
Each member is to write their names on it and list the three roles played by
the individual. Each member must give the Rubric to the teacher to complete.
- Click on
links for Rubrics
Congratulations!!! Your Reenactment Production has been chosen to represent your
school in the county-wide selection competition. You should continue to compete
well all the way to Washington, D.C.
You should now
be familiar with the Historical Supreme Court Decision you were assigned. I know
when you are asked questions by the committee members about the specific roles
played by the three branches of government in your case you will be able to
answer with clarity and understanding concerning their roles, as well as, how
the doctrine of "checks and Balances" was applied in your case.
You did a
fabulous Job! You should consider being a lawyer some day...or at least an actor