The Bill of Rights Comes Alive
For this activity you will need to have a copy of the Bill of Rights for reference. Your group will play the role of a "mini-" Supreme Court and decide some actual cases which have raised the issue of rights in our society.
1. Designate a recorder for your group.
2. As a group, discuss the facts of each of the cases and then vote on a decision based upon your knowledge of the Bill of Rights.
3. The groups decision will be made by a majority vote and the decision should be noted on the groups answer sheet by the recorder.
4. In addition, each individual student should complete his/her own answer sheet, listing their own opinion. As in real life, you are allowed to draft a dissenting opinion (which might even turn out to be in agreement with the actual Supreme Court decision).
5. Analyze each case and fill in the answer sheet for each.
Note: In your role as justice of the Supreme Court, you have the right to interpret each article of the Bill of Rights as you see fit.
For each case follow this template on your own paper.
Case __ : __________________
Ruling (Which party should win?):
Cases for Review
1. Cruel and Unusual?
He was a small-time swindler who had been twice convicted of felonies (for a forged $28 check and fraudulently using a credit card two tires worth $80). Now, on his third felony conviction )cheating a bar owner out hundred $121), the judge imposed a life sentence in prison. He cited the state's habitual offender law that provides a life term in prison for anyone convicted of three separate felonies _ 3 thefts totaling $229. He appealed to the Supreme Court that his constitutional rights have been violated. How would the Court rule?
2. Twenty Whacks
The junior high school was having problems. The school administrators tried to maintain discipline with a variety of methods, including spankings. However, two of the students claimed that a "reign of terror" was being waged against the pupils. One of the students claimed that he received "20 licks" while being held over a table in the principal's office. This resulted in pain, medical attention and 11 days' absence from school. The students argued that their rights were being violated. The lower court disagreed and sided with the right of the school's administrators to maintain order. The students appealed to the Supreme court. How the court rule?
3. God Forbid
The man was arrested on suspicion of killing a taxi driver. Three different officers read the suspect his Miranda rights and stop questioning after the suspect asked to see his lawyer. As police drove him to the station, two them talked casually about the search for the missing murder weapon - a shotgun. Many handicapped children played in the neighborhood, one officer said, adding, "God forbid, one of them might find a weapon which shells and they might hurt themselves. The suspect interrupted to say that he would lead police to the gun. Again, they warned the suspect, but he insisted on getting the weapon "because of the kids." The suspect was later convicted of murder. On appeal, the State Supreme Court overturned a conviction on the grounds of the police actions were the same thing as formal questioning. The state appealed to the Supreme court. How the court rule?
4. Nazi Ban
The leaders of the American Nazis planned a march in a town populated primarily with Jews, including thousands of survivors of Hitler's Nazi regime. In an effort to prevent any demonstrations, the city officials passed a series of ordinances designed to prevent Nazi activity. Claiming that the ordinances violated their freedom of speech and assembly, the Nazis successfully won an appeals court decision. But, the city appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the proposed March was an intentional incitement to riot which does not merit First Amendment protection. How would the Court rule?
5. Dirty Words
The man was driving one weekday afternoon with the son. He turned his car radio to a local FM radio station and heard a comic monologue by George Carlin containing seven words depicting human sexual excretory functions. The man complained to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the commission subsequently issued a ban on seven specific words if found "indecent". The radio station's owners challenged the order and won a Federal Court of Appeals ruling that the FCC ban was too broad and amounted to censorship. The FCC brought the case to the Supreme Court on appeal. How the court rule?
6. The Warrant
Police entered a bar armed with a search warrant. They're looking for drugs. The bar patrons were searched and one policeman found six packets of heroin. The man was convicted of drug possession and sentenced to two years probation. The defendant appealed to the Supreme Court on the grounds that his constitutional rights were violated since the search would specified the bar and the bartender. The state argued that the Constitution permitted search of all persons in a particular location, and besides, the police were merely frisking demand for weapons. How would the Court will?