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Supreme Court Round-Up 2012-2013

Supreme Court Round-up 2012-2013

Use the following resources and discussion questions to analyze and discuss the constitutional issues on the 2012-2013 Supreme Court docket with your students.
Florida v. Jardines
Does the use of specially trained, narcotic detection dogs to sniff for drugs around someone’s house require a warrant?

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?

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?

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

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?

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?

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?

Supreme Court and Current Events

Use the following current events resources and questions to help your students discuss controversial Supreme Court cases.


Landmark Supreme Court Cases

Questions to Consider

  1. What constitutional issues are associated with gay marriage and voting rights?
  2. How is the principle of federalism important in these cases? What tension exists between the idea of federalism and the protection of individual rights?
  3. State officials declined to defend Hollingsworth v. Perry (2013), which was the reason the Supreme Court declined to overturn the lower court’s rulings. Do you think the state should have a responsibility to defend its laws in court?
  4. In Shelby County v. Holder (2013), the court found that a section of the Voting Rights Act was unconstitutional. What was their justification? Do you think it was a legitimate consideration?
  5. Voter identification laws have been a hot button and extremely controversial issue. What do you think is the proper balance between voter access and precautions against voting fraud?


Have students write a one page essay analyzing one of the four supreme court cases discussed in the eLesson, with a particular emphasis on the key constitutional principle at the heart of each case. Students should use additional outside research to flesh out their arguments.