10 supreme court cases every teen should know: Part 1: the nation highest court has had plenty to say about everything from free speech at school to teenagers' rights in the legal system.

Author:Jacobs, Tom
Position::NATIONAL
 
FREE EXCERPT

LESSON PLAN 1

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BEFORE READING

Photocopy the Bill of Rights and distribute to students.

CRITICAL THINKING

After reviewing the Tinker case, divide the class into two teams of "lawyers."

* Ask each team to apply the Supreme Court's "disruption test" to come up with an example of a student protest that would be constitutionally protected and an example that would not.

* Then remind the class of the section of the article that discussed Lower-court rulings on nose rings, dyed hair, T-shirts with slogans, and a Confederate flag. Why might the courts have allowed all but the Confederate flag?

WRITING PROMPT

Review the case on school prayer, Santa Fe Independent School District v. Jane Doe.

* Have students write a five-paragraph essay in which they explain why they agree or disagree with the Supreme Court's ruling.

* The Santa Fe ruling has been interpreted to allow student-initiated group prayer. Do students agree or disagree that this approach is fair to those who choose not to pray?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

For which kinds of crimes do you think the courts should try teenagers as adults?

* Are teens as liable for their behavior as adults?

Why do you think the Founding Fathers provided for Life terms for Supreme Court Justices? What are the pros and cons of Life terms?

* The next time the President nominates someone to the Supreme Court, what questions about teen rights would you want to ask the nominee at his or her Senate confirmation hearings?

FAST FACT

In a typical year, some 1,800 appeals reach the Court, but only 80 or so are accepted for the Court to review.

WEB WATCH

www.supremecourthistory.org

The Supreme Court Historical Society provides information about the Court.

For those of us on the outside, the U.S. Supreme Court can seem remote and mysterious. But the Court, whose nine Justices are appointed for life and deliberate in secret, exerts a powerful influence over the course of the nation and over the lives of Americans--including teenagers.

In a landmark 1967 case known as In re Gault ("in re" is Latin for "in reference to"), which concerned the arrest of a 15-year-old Arizona boy, the Court ruled that teenagers have distinct rights under the U.S. Constitution. (Prior to that, the law generally regarded children as the property of their parents). In the 40 years since, the Court has weighed in on a host of issues involving people under 18--from freedom of speech and privacy at school to the rights of teenagers in the legal system.

Part 1 of this two-part article looks at five cases involving student protests, school searches, corporal punishment, school prayer, and the prosecution of juveniles in adult courts.

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TINKER v. DES MOINES INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICK (1969)

ISSUE FREEDOM OF SPEECH AT SCHOOL

BOTTOM LINE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO EXPRESS YOURSELF--UP TO A POINT

BACKGROUND In December 1965, John and Mary Beth Tinker and their friend Chris Eckhardt wore black armbands to school in Des Moines, Iowa, to protest the war in Vietnam. School officials told them to remove the armbands, and when they refused, they were suspended (John, 15, from North High; Mary Beth, 13, from Warren Harding Junior High; and Chris, 16, from Roosevelt High). With their parents, they sued the school district, claiming a violation...

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