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Liberty and Equality Today

  • Constitution
  • Declaration of Independence
  • republic
  • justice
  • Founders
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Framers
  • equality
  • inalienable rights
  • liberty
  • natural rights

Liberty and Equality Today Activity: Affirmative Action – The Bakke, Grutter and Gratz Cases

Critical Question: Compare and contrast the Court’s reasoning in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978), Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) and Gratz v. Bollinger (2003).

Write or post the phrase “affirmative action” on the board. Ask students what they understand about the term, and to provide examples of situations in which it is applied.

Distribute Handout B: Case Backgrounds. Have students do a close-reading of the articles, annotating the text and the margins with questions, background-knowledge connections, and reactions.

Distribute Handout A: The United States Constitution and Handouts C – F. Divide the class into three groups (or three sets of groups) and assign each group the task of analyzing the handouts as follows:

Group 1: Handout C: Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978) — Opinions

Group 2: Handout D: Grutter v. Bollinger (2003)–Opinions

Group 3: Handout E: Gratz v. Bollinger (2003)–Opinions

Have students jigsaw into new groups to share their responses to the scaffolding questions as well as each section of Handout F: Documents Summary Table. Reconvene and conduct a large group discussion to summarize the opinions, and the different sides, in each case.

Assign students back to their groups to compare the cases. To assist students as they analyze the documents, you may wish to provide the following list of constitutional principles from which they may choose two or three to compare across the cases and opinions: inalienable rights; equality; due process; federalism.

Allow several minutes for students to discuss in their pairs, then conduct a large-group discussion to fill in the chart. Consider posting or projecting Handout F responses onto the whiteboard.

As a large-group, go over the final chart together and identify the constitutional principles the Court examined and applied in each case.

Optional evaluation: Assign a compare-contrast paragraph or short essay addressing the following prompt: Compare and contrast the Court’s reasoning in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978), Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) and Gratz v. Bollinger (2003).


Liberty and Equality Today Activity: Individual Rights Today

Critical Question: Identify a current issue relating to liberty and equality and analyze the government’s role in addressing the situation.

Lead a large-group discussion about a current or recent event in which liberty and equality is a central issue. Have students identify other current issues relating to liberty and equality and bring in the relevant articles or submit links to articles.

During the following class session, have students briefly share with either the large group or smaller groups the basic facts of the current events they researched. As each is presented, keep a running list on the whiteboard.

Have students do further research about the issue and create a visual (either a poster, a slideshow, or a minute video) according to one of the following criteria:

  • Select a single constitutional principle (inalienable rights, equality, due process, federalism) that is relevant to two or three of the current events presented
  • Select a single current event and analyze it according to two or three constitutional principles


Student Handouts

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