Defending Liberty, Pursuing Justice (direct download of video)
Or see the webpage where the video can be found: 

The American Bar Association (ABA) launched a civics education project titled "The Least Understood Branch" (LUB) project as a joint effort of the Standing Committee on Judicial Independence and the Judicial Division, with the League of Women Voters (LWV), Justice at Stake (JAS), and the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) as participating entities. In the context of that project, the ABA's LUB project created a Resource Kit on Fair and Impartial Courts, and produced a video to further explain the necessity of an independent judiciary.  

Through historical photos and footage, as well as contemporary interviews and conversations with leading authorities, such as Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, this 12-minute video explores why judges need to have independence from the public and the media in order to do their jobs most responsibly.  

According to the ABA's website:  "The LUB project focuses on partnering with state and local bar associations to carry the message of the importance of fair and impartial courts in our democracy to every possible venue in their communities." 

In addition to this video, the LUB project has developed sample editorials, op-ed pieces, letters to the editor, and a message platform on the importance of "fair and impartial courts."  It also has published a pamphlet titled "Countering the Critics" as an aid to speakers in this area as well as a guide on responding to potentially hostile or critical questions.  


How do you use it?

This video provides an interesting mix between present-day judges’ experiences and judicial history. The perspective of the judges is particularly useful, as audience members are able to hear real-life explanations for the the way the judiciary operates, rather than just learning facts about what should happen. 

At twelve minutes long and with constant changes of pace, the video is not as daunting as longer videos on the same subject.  Because of that, the video would be a good overview or introduction to a more focused presentation on judicial independence — or alternatively it would nicely set up a question-and-answer session with a judge.

Who is the audience?

The subject of the video makes it appropriate for middle school and older students, although with sufficient context older primary students might be able to follow the main points. 

What other resources will complement this?

  1. A Conversation on the Constitution: Judicial Independence  Video and Lesson Plan from the Leonore Annenberg Institute for Civics (M, H, A)
  2. Beyond Labels  Lesson Plan (PowerPoint) from the Florida Bar (H, A)
  3. Court Shorts: An Impartial Federal Judiciary  Videos from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (M, H, A)
  4. Talking Points on Judicial History: Judicial History and Federal Courts  Teaching module from the Federal Judicial Center (M, H, A)

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.