March 21, 2019

Separation of Powers

Comparing State and Federal Constitutions

This lesson is intended to make students aware of the differences between state and federal constitutions. They will discuss the effects these differences can affect their individual rights. Two activities focus on differences in state and federal constitutional provisions regarding the environment and the right to privacy, and a third emphasizes the importance of the courts to interpreting these constitutions. 

Lincoln and the Constitution

This portion of a Dialogue on Lincoln explores the Civil War president's relationship with the U.S. Constitution, including suspending habeas corpus. It discusses the role of the executive branch during wartime, alongside the other two branches of government. 

Role of the Courts

In this lesson, students will discuss the structure of the Judicial Branch and its relationship to state and local courts. They will learn that the court is important to the interpretation of the law, and the resolution of disputes regarding the law. An accompanying Power Point is also available. 

Separation of Powers: Federalist No. 48

This document analysis of an excerpt from Federalist No. 48 is meant to generate conversation about the separation of the branches of government established in the Constitution. 

Separation of Powers: Letter from President Eisenhower Document Analysis

In 1954 the Supreme Court ruled in Brown vs. Board of Education that segregated schools were "inherently unequal." In 1957, Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas was ordered to desegregate. However, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus ordered the Arkansas National Guard to prevent nine African American students who enrolled at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas from entering the school on September 3. A Federal District Court ruled against the use of the National Guard at the school. When the students returned to the school, they were met by an angry mob of 1,000 segregationists, and, police removed them for their own protection. President Eisenhower then ordered federal troops to Central High in Little Rock. This conversation starter uses a letter from President Eisenhower to Senator John Stennis (D-MS), October 7, 1957, in which the President explains the role of the Executive branch.

Understanding Separation of Powers

This lesson uses news articles highlighting separation of powers issues from multiple news articles to illustrate and discuss the meaning of separation of powers. Articles are not supplied, which leaves room for teachers to curate custom sources, or allow students to curate. 

What is the Judicial Branch?

This lesson exposes students to the judicial branch and the power of judicial review. They will read about an actual Supreme Court case, Torcaso v. Watkins, to see how the judicial branch used its power of judicial review to strike down an unconstitutional state law.