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Effects of Supreme Court Decisions

45 min

Essential Question 

  • What political, social, and/or economic effects come from the intended and unintended consequences of Supreme Court decisions? 

Guiding Questions 

  • What effects resulted from the decision made by the Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia (1967)? 


  • Students will be able to explain how decisions made by the Supreme Court can have intended and unintended consequences of political, social, and/or economic nature.  


Student Resources: 

Teacher Resources: 

Facilitation Notes  

  • Teachers can use the handout for this lesson for any SCOTUS ruling. After studying a case background, details, and decision, students would be able to complete the Effects Handout. 
  • This playlist contains other cases to consider. 


  • Either or both Loving v. Virginia resources can be used in tandem with this plan for building context, comprehension, and analysis questioning. Teachers may choose to do a combination that best suits the needs of their students.  
  • The decision in Loving v. Virginia (1967) focuses on the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; prior knowledge will affect the time needed to discuss that aspect of the decision.  


  • Ask students why licensing such as hunting, driving, careers (like teaching etc.) is a state power/responsibility instead of federally decided? 
    • Discuss answers with students, guiding conversations about federalism. Students might mention the wide variety of state differences, efficiency, and other insights.  
    • If needed, guiding questions may be helpful: 
      • How might differences between states matter when making licensing rules and regulations? 
      • How might efficiency be affected when done by the state instead of federal government? 
      • Why would the Founders have wanted states to have these powers? 
  • Follow up by asking students when the federal government might step into state licensing policies. Teachers may need to provide hints or examples such as federally protected species in hunting laws or discriminatory policies.  
  • Transition: Say to students: “Today we will investigate when the federal Supreme Court stepped into state rules about marriage. In most states, for marriages to be legally recognized, they require a license, so states have historically made rules about marriages. We will look at the Court’s 1967 decision about interracial marriages and its effects.” 


  • Complete the Loving v. Virginia (1967) option that works best for the needs of your students to cover the background, details, and decision of the Supreme Court case.  
  • Once students are familiar with the case and decision, handout the Effects of Supreme Court Decisions handout.  
  • Scaffolding note 
  • Remind students of your expectations for completing the handout, for example, each question may not need an answer, answers may combine naturally, etc.  
  • Some of the questions may be answerable with facts and data and some with critical thinking or inference, be sure to assist students in being able to differentiate between what you are looking for.  
  • For example, while allowing interracial couples to marry would allow more couples to file for marriage licenses and increase the amount of money states collect from those fees, the actual number of interracial marriages or dollar amount collected might not be a number able to be found.  

Assess & Reflect 

  • After students have answered the effects questions as instructed, ask the following questions: 
    • Based on what you have seen today, which effects (political, social, or economic) have had the biggest impact on individuals since Loving v. Virginia? Explain.  
    • Based on what you have seen today, which effects (political, social, or economic) have had the biggest impact on the states since Loving v. Virginia? Explain. 
    • Based on what you have seen today, which effects (political, social, or economic) have had the biggest impact on the federal government since Loving v. Virginia? Explain. 
  • If students are completing the handout of a different case, the questions can be utilized by replacing Loving v. Virginia with the other case.  


  • Students could complete a research project on the enforcement of the Loving v. Virginia decision in a state that had anti-miscegenation laws on the books before 1967.  
  • Students could compile data into visual representations on the number of interracial marriages that followed the Loving v. Virginia decision.  


Student Handouts

Related Resources