September 14, 2012
This summer 60 social studies teachers representing 17 states, the District of Columbia, and an American military base in Germany gathered in Washington, DC, to participate in the 2012 Supreme Court Summer Institute. The Institutes are co-sponsored by Street Law, Inc. and the Supreme Court Historical Society.
The Institute, which began in 1994, is Street Law's premier professional development opportunity for teachers. It deepens knowledge and provides strategies for effectively teaching about the Court through a series of workshops led by Street Law staff and Supreme Court experts from the fields of law, education, and journalism.
Chris Landau, head of Kirkland and Ellis's Appellate Litigation Practice, helps prepare a group of teachers for their moot court arguments
For the six days of the Institute, participants experienced the Supreme Court from inside and out. Workshop topics included granting certiorari, nominating a Supreme Court justice, and the role of interest and advocacy groups. The Institute also gave teachers a unique opportunity to delve into current cases before the Court—with the help of attorneys who worked directly on the cases.
One of the most well-known and controversial cases of the term was Arizona v. United States, which questioned whether Arizona’s immigration law (S.B. 1070) was preempted by federal immigration law.
Teachers participated in a deliberation on the case—deliberations are a teaching strategy for open discussions that encourage students to think critically, develop their own opinions, and find common ground with supporters of the other side of the argument.
With the help of Kristina Campbell, Assistant Professor of Law and Director of the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic at University of the District of Columbia, and Karen Grisez, Special Counsel at Fried Frank, teams worked to find the most compelling arguments to support their side. After sharing their argument with the other side, they switched roles, forcing them to weigh opposing views and make decisions while listening to and honoring dissent.
The program culminated with a visit to the Court to hear decisions. Teachers heard the decision in Arizona v. United States and witnessed history as Justice Kennedy struck down three provisions of Arizona’s immigration law.
Each year Street Law makes available (for free!) all the educational materials used in the Institutes, including teaching strategies, lesson plans, and updated case studies that are ready for classroom use. New case materials for the 2012 sessions include the following:
Does federal law preempt Arizona’s immigration law, S.B. 1070?
Does a sentence of life without parole for a 14-year-old convicted of murder violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments?
Does the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act exceed the constitutional power of the federal government to regulate commerce?
Does the warrantless attachment of a GPS tracking device onto a suspect’s car violate the Fourth Amendment?
Does a law that punishes a lie about having received a military honor violate the First Amendment?
Does the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment forbid re-prosecution of a greater offense after a jury announces that it has voted against guilt on the greater offense and has deadlocked on a lesser offense?
Does the Fourth Amendment allow for a suspicionless strip search of all suspects upon admission to jail or prison, even if the suspect was arrested for a minor offense?
(Reproduced with permission)