Lesson Plan

Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!: Simulating the Supreme Court

Built in 1935, the Supreme Court building sits across the street from the Capitol building in Washington D.C.
Photo caption

The Supreme Court building, built in 1935.

"The Supreme Court, of course, has the responsibility of ensuring that our government never oversteps its proper bounds or violates the rights of individuals. But the Court must also recognize the limits on itself and respect the choices made by the American people." 

⁠—Elena Kagan, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and the first woman to serve as Solicitor General of the United States. 

As one of the three branches of the U.S. federal government, the Supreme Court is an essential part of civics education. In this lesson, students will learn about the structure and purpose of the Supreme Court and analyze the landmark Tinker v. Des Moines (1969) case about student free speech in schools. Once students have analyzed the case and its significance in U.S. history, they will participate in a research-based simulation about student free speech and social media before their own Supreme Court.

Guiding Questions

What are the Constitutional responsibilities and powers of the Supreme Court?

How does the judiciary system function alongside the other two branches of government?

How does the Supreme Court protect your First Amendment rights?

Learning Objectives

Analyze the Constitutional roles and responsibilities of the judiciary system and the Supreme Court.

Analyze Supreme Court rulings and develop an evidence-based argument regarding the First Amendment.

Simulate how a Supreme Court case is researched and argued, and evaluate the proceedings and outcome.