Lesson Summary: Our faith in the Bill of Rights comes from
the continuing effort by the courts to correct unfair
practices, study grievances, and recognize constitutional
applications of the Bill of Rights. This lesson will
focus on and evaluate the interpretation of the First
Amendment right of religious freedom through Supreme
Time Frame: 2 days
Suggested Grade Level: High School
New Jersey Core Standards: 3-12, 6.2, 6.4, 6.5,
The students will be able to:
- Develop critical thinking skills
- Understand the workings of the Supreme Court
- Evaluate the Courtís interpretation of the First
Amendment right to religious freedom
resources (i.e.-teacher prepared dittos on the various
cases being used; student access to the internet for
research purposes) -- suggested web sites:
- possible list of cases:
- West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette (1943)
- Engel v. Vitale (1962)
- Abington v. Schempp (1963)
- Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972)
- Widmar v. Vincent (1981)
- Edwards v. Aguillard (1987)
- Board of Education v. Mergens (1990)
Strategies and Procedures:
will review the procedures/workings of the Supreme
handouts on the facts and issues involved in the
case (or allow students to research).
- Organize the class into three groups: Supreme Court and
two groups of attorneys (prosecution and defense).
- Group will meet and develop arguments in support of itís
side. The Supreme Court group needs to prepare
- Lead attorneys present the arguments with time for a
- Justices deliberate.
- Verdict is given.
- Teacher debriefs the activity (with actual verdicts).
- Teacher will evaluate oral arguments/responses/preparation.
- Students will write an editorial on the verdict (for homework).