As the Court winds down its 2011-2012 term, several key cases are still pending. Use the following resources and discussion questions to help your students analyze the issues and discuss how they believe the Court should rule under the Constitution. To download a PDF Student handout you can use in your classroom, visit our site!

1. Miller v. Alabama

Constitutional question: Would a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for capital murder violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments if the accused was a juvenile at the time of the crime?
Miller v. Alabama – Oyez Project

Discussion questions

  1. What rights does the Eighth Amendment protect?
  2. How would the Fourteenth Amendment apply to this case?
  3. How do you believe the Court should rule? What is your constitutional reasoning?

2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services et al v. Florida

Constitutional Question: Does the Commerce Clause give Congress the power to require virtually all U.S. citizens to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty?
Case by Case: The US Supreme Court – Reuters

Discussion questions

  1. What does the Commerce Clause empower Congress to do?
  2. Does the Tenth Amendment apply to this case? If so, how?
  3. How do you believe the Court should rule? What is your constitutional reasoning?

3. Arizona v. United States

Constitutional Question: Can Arizona enact a law requiring local police to enforce federal immigration laws?
Arizona v. United States – SCOTUS Blog

Discussion questions

  1. To which level and branch of government does the Constitution give the power to make rules about immigration and naturalization?
  2. Does the Supremacy Clause apply to this case? If so, how?
  3. How do you believe the Court should rule? What is your constitutional reasoning?

4. Reichle v. Howards

Constitutional Question: Can Secret Service agents be sued for violating the First Amendment rights of individuals they had probable cause to arrest?
Supreme Court to Consider the Arrest of a Cheney Critic — New York Times

Discussion questions

  1. How does the First Amendment protect the right to free speech?
  2. Do the events leading up to Mr. Howards’s arrest affect the way you evaluate his First Amendment claim?
  3. How do you believe the Court should rule? What is your constitutional reasoning?

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