Supreme Court Roundup

The 2012 – 2013 Supreme Court term is in full swing, and there are are many cases that deal with important questions of constitutional law on the docket. Use the following resources and discussion questions to analyze and discuss the issues with your students.

 

Student Handout (PDF)

 

1. Florida v. Jardines: Does the use of specially trained, narcotic detection dogs to sniff for drugs around someone’s house require a warrant?

Florida v. JardinesOyez Project

Discussion Questions:

  • How does the Fourth Amendment protect citizens?
  • Do you think someone has a reasonable expectation of privacy with regards to ‘smells’ emitting from their home?
  • How do you believe the court should rule? What is your constitutional reasoning?

 

2. Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin

Does the Equal Protection clause allow race and/or ethnicity to be used in the college admission process?

Fisher v. University of Texas at AustinSCOTUS Blog

Discussion Questions:

  • What does the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment ensure?
  • Does the goal of racial diversity justify the use of racial preferences?
  • How do you believe the court should rule? What is your constitutional reasoning?

 

3. Clapper v. Amnesty International USA

Can the National Security Agency (NSA) monitor international communications by U.S. citizens without a warrant?

Clapper v. Amnesty International USASCOTUS Blog

Discussion Questions:

  • Should the Fourth Amendment apply to electronic messages in the same manner it applies to letters?
  • Can you have standing ( the right to bring a case before a court) if you can’t prove that you specifically were the one being monitored by a covert government program?
  • How do you believe the court should rule? What is your constitutional reasoning?

 

4. United States v. Windsor

Does the Defense of Marriage Act (which defines marriage as between one man and one woman) unfairly deprive legally married same-sex couples of their rights to equal protection?

United States v. WindsorOyez Project

Discussion Questions:

  • If one state’s law recognizes a same-sex marriage, should other states have to honor those marriage contracts?
  • The executive branch has agreed with a lower court that DOMA is unconstitutional; does that inappropriately intrude on separation of powers?
  • How do you believe the court should rule? What is your constitutional reasoning?