Lesson Plan: The Judicial Branch

Date: December 8, 1997

Objectives: The students will

I. outline the structure of the Federal and state courts.

II. differentiate between appellate jurisdiction, original jurisdiction, civil, and criminal law.

III. be able to follow a typical case through the state and federal court systems;

IV. identify key Supreme Court cases and state their importance.

Warm Up Activity (Anticipatory Set): Vocabulary Review

A) Display a set of matching terms from the students' vocabulary list on the overhead. A set is provided below.

B) Have students complete the matching exercise on their own papers.

C) Instruct students to exchange papers and correct papers orally. Review terms aloud, have students enter scores, and return to the owners. Collect for a grade.

 Judicial Branch Matching:

If you are using Government in America, Chapter 17 discusses the Judicial Branch. The key terms of Section One

  1. Original Jurisdiction
  2. Appellate Jurisdiction
  3. Judicial Review
  4. Constitutional Courts
  5. Legislative Courts
  6. Federal District Courts
  7. Courts of Appeals
  8. Territorial Courts
  9. Federal Questions
  10. Admiralty Law
  11. Circuit Court
  12. Sovereign immunity
  13. Court Martial
  14. Court of International Trade
  15. US Claims Court
  16. US Tax Court
  17. Concurrent Jurisdiction
Once students have mastered these terms, have them use their web browser to complete a JavaScript Matching exercise on the Judicial Branch (Section one of Chapter 17)
1) Felony 
2) Misdemeanor 
3) Civil case 
4) Criminal case 
5) Original Jurisdiction 
6) Appellate Jurisdiction 
7) Interpretation 
8) Constitutionality 
9) US District Court 
10) Maryland Court of Appeals
A) This court hears cases before they reach the Supreme Court. 
B) This court had original jurisdiction in all federal cases. 
C) The quality of not violating the ideals and restrictions set out by the nation's written plan of government. 
D) The process of deciding the meaning of law. Explaining the law and making decisions based on that explanation. 
E) The authority of a court to hear a case coming up from the lower courts. 
F) The authority of a court to be the first to hear a case. 
G) Any court action that tries to determine if a crime has been committed. 
H) Any court action that attempts to settle a dispute or correct a wrong between two parties. 
I) Any crime that carries a sentence of one year or less. 
J) Any crime that carries a sentence of over one year or more.

Matching exercises have also been set up according to chapter sections from American Civics:

Chapter 7 Section 1
Chapter 7 Section 2
Chapter 7 Section 3

Main Activity (Instructional Input): Chapter Review on the Judicial Branch

Vocabulary Terms: Section 3 Government In America

For periods 2, 5, and 6

A) Have students take out worksheet assigned to them on Chapter 17 in Government in America.

B) Review worksheets orally.

For periods 3 and 7:

A) Distribute worksheet for Chapter 7.

B) have students complete part 1 # 1-10 on their own papers. Review and discuss orally.

Examples (Modeling): Examining  Supreme Court Cases

C) Upon completion, distribute the Scholastic Update Magazine of November 3, 1997.

D) Assign students the following articles to read and discuss:

1) "A case of Black and White: Affirmative Action" on pp 2-5.
2) "Freedom of speech in Cyberspace" pp. 10-12

E) Have the students break into groups of four and have them complete the chart below on their own paper.

If the Scholastic Magazine is not available, have students use the links to the court cases provided below.

Case 1: Piscataway vs. Taxman
(News summary from ACLU)
Facts of the Case
Argument for Affirmative Action
Argument Against Affirmative Action
Previous Case Rulings
Supreme Court Decision

Case 2: ACLU vs. Janet Reno
( Supreme Court Decision From Findlaw)
Facts of the Case
Argument for CDA
Argument Against CDA
Previous Case Rulings
Supreme Court Decision

Other important cases can be added.

Check For Understanding:

F) Once students have completed the chart, allow each group to present their findings in one of the areas. Student groups should present both sides of the case. Have the class vote on the issues and compare with the actual decision.

Homework (Independent Practice): Have students complete the assignment above for homework if needed.

Wrap-Up Activity (Closure): Discussion:

A) Have students choose one of the following questions and answer in a paragraph or more written format.

1) Does the Supreme Court have too much or two little power? Explain?
2) Which Supreme Court decision do you believe has had the greatest impact on American life? State your reasons.
3) What do you think is the most important issue facing the Supreme Court today? List your reasons.

Evaluation: The lesson will be evaluated by:

I. the accuracy of student's written responses;

II. student's scores on future tests and quizzes.

George Cassutto's Cyberlearning World: http://www.cyberlearning-world.com

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