Supreme Decision

The “Supreme Decision” game
is a fun way for  children to learn about how judges make decisions.  The game dissects the processes of the Supreme Court in simple terms so students can understand and relate to them.

The 30-minute video puts students into the court room in a case that would interest a middle school student—the case of a young boy getting into trouble at school after wearing a t-shirt with his favorite band on it.

The game gives clear definitions of the First Amendment, its terms and related ideas, what is and is not protected, and why.  It asks a series of questions to make sure students understand, and then explains why their responses are relevant to the discussion.  It also provides historical context and explains the importance of that context clearly. 

How do you use it?

The game is an interactive approach to a real-life scenario, and can be used as a stand-alone teaching tool or as a case study for a fuller lecture/discussion about the Supreme Court, the First Amendment, and how judges make decisions.

The interactive video shows the Supreme Court discussing a case.  Students  become engaged at the end of the video when it comes time to make the decision.

The game is set up to help students build an understanding of the nuances and tough decision points in the law.  "Supreme Decision" takes an example—which does not appear as a clear-cut issue—and lets a student walk through every step of the Supreme Court's decision. It takes the child’s opinion into consideration while providing legislative support for that decision.

Who is the audience?

"Supreme Decision" can be used to teach older elementary (4th and 5th grade), middle and high school students. Yet although it is meant for younger audiences, this video is sufficiently versatile to help older age groups, even college-level students, understand the Supreme Court and its decision-making.

The game uses easy vocabulary, however, understandable by younger children, and clarifies every decision in the game more than once. 

What other resources will complement this?

  1. 9/11 and the Constitution  Lesson plans from the Center for Civic Education (M, H)  
  2. A Day in the Life  Interactive "game" from (M, H)
  3. Balancing Free Speech and Fair Trial   Lesson Plan from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (H)
  4. Courts in the Classroom  Videos from the Judicial Council of California and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (P, M H)
  5. Interpreting the Constitution: What Does That Mean?  Lesson Plan from iCivics (H)
  6. Korematsu and Civil Liberties  Video from the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics (H, A)
  7. One Person, One Vote  Video and lesson plan from the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics (H, A)
  8. Perseverance and the Bill of Rights  Lesson plan from the Bill of Rights Institute, via the National Constitution Center (M, H)  
  9. Respecting Freedom of Speech  Lesson Plan from the Bill of Rights Institute, via the National Constitution Center (M, H)  P
  10. The First and Fourteenth Amendments  Lesson Plan from Channel One (M, H)  
  11. The Story of the Bill of Rights  Videos and game from the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics (M, H)
  12. Yick Wo and the Equal Protection Clause  Video from the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics (H, A)
And on the Structure of the Federal Courts:
  1. Appellate Courts: Let's Take It Up  Lesson Plan from iCivics (P, M, H) 
  2. Court Quest  Game from Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics and iCivics (M, H, A)
  3. Courts in the Classroom  Videos from the Judicial Council of California and the Administrative Office (P, M H)
  4. Federal Courts & What They Do  Document from the Federal Judicial Center (H, A)
  5. Interactive Diagram of the Federal Court System — Interactive document from Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics (M, H, A)
  6. Oyez Baseball  Game from Justia and the Oyez Project (M, H, A)
  7. What the Federal Courts Do  Website/slideshow from the Federal Judicial Center (M, H, A)
And on Bankruptcy:
  1. What is a Bankruptcy Case?
  2. How Bankruptcy Cases Move through Federal Courts 
  3. How Bankruptcy Cases Move Through Federal Courts — Quiz #6

Additional Recommended Resources Off-Site Links
  1. A Constitutional Timeline
    • Multi-aged audience timeline that highlights key dates in history of Constitution, with links to text, audio and video clips. From National Constitution Center's Constitution Day site. 
  2. Interactive Constitution
    • Multi-aged audience site that enables users to search Constitution by keyword or topic, with access to explanatory materials throughout. From National Constitution Center.   
  3. The Annenberg Guide to the United States Constitution
    • Multi-aged audience site that lists the text of each section of every article in the Constitution, and provides explanation of what the text means in plain language.  From the Leonore Annenberg Institute of Civics. 
  4. Understanding the Federal Courts
    • Multi-aged online textbook-type document that includes sections on Article III, the Federal Court system and the geographical boundaries of the Courts of Appeal and the District Courts, the code of conduct for judges, juror qualifications, exemptions and terms of service, as well as categories of bankruptcy cases.  From the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts.