The Supreme Court plays a significant role in our government, hearing cases and establishing precedents on how to interpret the law. Each year, citizens bring cases before the Court on important constitutional questions. The Justices are sometimes unanimous in their decisions, but often, they will disagree. Understanding these decisions and how and why they are decided helps hold the court accountable and paves the way for future Supreme Court decisions.
Take a look at a few of the cases decided this term and decide whether or not you agree with the Court’s decision. Additionally, review cases that are pending to decide how you believe the Court should rule. How might the precedents set by these decisions impact the future of the United States?
Select one case from the “finished cases” list and one case from the “pending cases” list. Then answer the following questions.
Finished Cases Questions
- What was the question argued in the case?
- What was the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the case?
- Which Supreme Court justice wrote the majority or unanimous opinion? Which justice wrote the dissenting opinion, if any? Which justice wrote the concurring opinion, if any?
- Do you agree with the court’s decision? Explain your answer.
- Do you believe the Supreme Court has fulfilled its constitutional duty in making this decision? Why or why not?
Pending Cases Questions
- What is the question argued in the case?
- What are the arguments you expect to see presented?
- How do you expect the Court to rule? Why?
- What precedents might they draw upon?
- How would you rule if you were on the Supreme Court? Why?
- Do you think it matters if the Supreme Court hears cases remotely? Why or why not?
Supreme Court Document-Based Questions
Supreme Court DBQs: Exploring the Cases that Changed History helps your students develop the critical thinking skills they need to evaluate the Court's rulings and the impact of these rulings on American society. Your students will analyze primary sources spanning five centuries--colonial codes of law, the Federalist Papers, the Constitution, contemporary photographs, case law, oral arguments, the Court's majority and dissenting opinions, and others. Key tasks for each DBQ will lead them towards an understanding of the role played by the Court and an assessment of its decisions. Each DBQ also contains a section called "The Issue Endures," which highlights current applications of the case issue.
The Supreme Court: Final Arbiter in Our Government?
Asks students to decide what the role of the Supreme Court is in determining the constitutionality of laws.
The Supreme Court: An Apolitical Branch?
Have Supreme Court nominations always been this partisan? And is it a problem that they are political?
Liberty and the Supreme Court
A document-based question that explores the ways the concepts of liberty and property have been understood over time in the United States and, in particular, how the Supreme Court has interpreted liberty.
Religious Liberty and the Supreme Court
In this lesson, students will gain an understanding of how the doctrine of incorporation broadened the application of the First Amendment. They will also gain an understanding of the facts of landmark Establishment Clause Supreme Court cases, evaluate arguments about the scope of the Establishment Clause, and assess the Supreme Court's interpretations of the First Amendment with respect to religion in public schools.