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ERIC Number: EJ1228837
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0037-7724
Exploring Controversies through Supreme Court Cases: Appealing to Reason
Ruffing, Cathy; Arbetman, Lee
Social Education, v82 n6 p343-347 Nov-Dec 2018
Students feel strongly about the controversial topics elevated by recent and historic Supreme Court cases. Supreme Court cases provide materials for teaching about contested public issues in relevant and meaningful ways that help students develop critical decision-making skills, gain civic content knowledge, improve communication skills, and develop empathy and tolerance for the viewpoints of others. Readily available resources also encourage case use in the classroom: briefs detailing arguments for petitioners and respondents; amicus briefs providing insight from non-litigants; audio recordings and written transcripts of oral arguments; and ultimately written opinions from the majority, dissenting, and often concurring viewpoints. Given our adversarial system of justice, the cases are already structured in a "pro" -versus- "con" format that makes them classroom-ready for a variety of teaching techniques. To facilitate the use of these cases in secondary-school classrooms, Street Law--a nonprofit organization that develops programs and teaching materials to educate people about law and government--creates case summaries written specifically for middle and high school students. They are all available free of charge in the Street Law Resource Library. This article begins by providing some context about how the Supreme Court conducts its work. Elements of a case are then defined. Lastly, descriptions of Street Law's seven teaching strategies, from most basic to most complex, are provided.
National Council for the Social Studies. 8555 Sixteenth Street #500, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Tel: 800-683-0812; Tel: 301-588-1800; Fax: 301-588-2049; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Secondary Education; Junior High Schools; Middle Schools; High Schools
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A