Bill of Rights Day 2021
December 15 is Bill of Rights Day, celebrating the day that the Constitution's first 10 Amendments were ratified in 1791. Courts around the country celebrate this important milestone throughout the month of December.
You're invited to join the Second Annual Bill of Rights Day Contest for Students and Teachers. The entry period for this year’s Bill of Rights Day contest officially opens on Constitution Day and runs through the deadline of October 31. Students in grades 3-12 are invited to submit art and essays about the Bill of Rights to compete for the grand prize of $500! Participating teachers will be entered into a drawing for gift cards. Complete rules, entry form, and flyer can be found HERE on the Judicial Learning Center’s website. A summary of last year's contest and event can be found HERE on the U.S. Courts website.
Constitution Day 2021
September 17 marks the anniversary of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution and is designated as Constitution Day by the United States government. By Congressional mandate, “Each educational institution that receives federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United States Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students served by the educational institution.”
Ideas for meeting this requirement:
Learn about the U.S. Constitution and complete a 6-question quiz on the Judicial Learning Center’s website.
Use the text of the U.S. Constitution to lead a lesson on the qualifications of office for leaders of each of the three branches of government.
Ponder the Promises of the Preamble using videos produced by the U.S. Courts.
Law Day 2021
In 1961, Congress passed a joint resolution designating May 1 as the national day set aside to celebrate the rule of law. Law Day underscores how law and the legal process contribute to the freedeoms that all Americans share. The 2021 theme, Advancing the Rule of Law Now, reminds all of us that we the people share the responsibility to promote the rule of law, defend liberty, and pursue justice.
Teachers, students, and members of the public are encouraged to use the collection of activities found on the Law Day webpage of the Judicial Learning Center. Activities include:
- "Defining the Rule of Law"
- "Exploring the Rule of Law using case studies" (a U.S. Courts activity package)
- Video Activities on "The Rule of Law" and "Judicial Independence"
- "Comparing State and Federal Courts" - A new video unit created through a partnership between the Judicial Learning Center in St. Louis, the Civic Education Committee of the Supreme Court of Missouri, and the Department of Citizenship Education of the Missouri Bar. The unit includes a video conversation between two judges, and corresponding student activities and teacher resource materials.
- The Online Learning Resources page of the Judicial Learning Center includes many federal-court focused activities that can be used in-person and through distance learning.
Constitution Day 2020 - Nineteenth Amendment Centennial
September 17 marks the anniversary of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. By Congressional mandate, "Each educational institution that receives Federal funds for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United States Constitution on September 17." The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the constitutional amendment securing the right to vote for women. The following resources have been collected for teachers, students, and the public.
The Suffrage Project by artist Mary Kline-Misol
This collection of 19 portraits highlights women who worked to secure the right to vote for all. The artist has generously allowed her work to be used here for the following educational activities. For information on the original works, see the websites of GalleryMKM and Artisan Gallery 218 in Des Moines, Iowa.
- Activity Suggestions:
- Download a set of 19 printable bookmarks below.
- Create your own bookmark using this template. Your bookmark might feature a famous suffragist from your home state, someone you admire as a modern-day hero, or yourself and what you can do to support voting rights for all.
- Research one of the featured suffragists and create a short presentation or video.
- Use the portraits to complete these lessons from the National Portrait Gallery or EDSITEment from NEH.
Mock Trial: The Trial of Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony was arrested for registering and voting in the 1872 presidential election. Below you will find everything you need to recreate this famous trial with your class. The script is not the exact trial transcipt; it is adapted to take about 20 minutes, plus 5-10 minutes for jury deliberation. It is appropriate for grades 6 and up. Exhibits for both sides are provided, as are discussion questions. Virtual backgrounds are provided for online classes.
- Mock trial script and discussion questions
- Government's exhibits: Exhibit 1, Exhibit 2, Exhibit 3
- Defendant's exhibits: Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C, Exhibit D, Exhibit E
- Virtual backgrounds for each role: Judge, Court Clerk, Plaintiff's Attorney, Defendant's Attorney, Plaintiff's Witnesses, Defendant's Witnesses, Defendant, Jurors, Jurors v2, Bailiff (optional)
- For advanced and AP students, see U.S. v. Susan B. Anthony: The Fight for Women's Suffrage from the Federal Judicial Center's "Famous Federal Trials" project.
Reading and Discussion Activities
- Grades K-5 - "The Voice that Won the Vote: How One Woman's Words Made History" by Elisa Boxer
- Grades 6-8 - "The Woman's Hour: Our Fight for the Right to Vote" adapted for young readers, by Elaine Weiss
- Adult and Grades 9-12 - "The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote" by Elaine Weiss
- Book discussion questions for The Woman's Hour
- Suggested discussion questions for students
- Suggested activites for students
- The Great Unfinished Fight - Video conversation with author Elaine Weiss and Judge M. Margaret McKeown of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Learn the gripping story of how women won the right to vote and opened the door to future battles for civil rights.
Video Activity: From Suffragist Sashes to Antiwar Armbands
In this video produced by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, an unlikely connection is made between two rights activists from different eras. Suffragist Virginia Minor and Vietnam war protester Mary Beth Tinker were separated by 100 years, but their passions came together in the legal history of St. Louis, where they worked through the courts to seek social change. Both lost their appeals in St. Louis but went on to the Supreme Court of the United States.
- Read more about the video and find related activities from the U.S. Courts HERE and HERE
- Student Activity Sheet for the video
- Student WebQuest Activity to follow the video
- Learn more about Virginia Minor from the National Park Service.
- Reenact Virginia Minor's trial with this mock trial script from the National Park Service.
- Find teaching resources for the Tinker case from Mary Beth Tinker's website.
- Women's Suffrage timeline from the American Bar Association
- Nineteenth Amendment teaching resources, from the Civics Renewal Network
- The 19th Amendment: A Woman's Right to Vote video and lesson plan, from Annenberg Classroom
- Women's Suffrage in the United States lesson module, from the Center for American Women and Politics, Rutgers University
- 19 for the 19th Challenge, from the Girl Scouts of San Diego and the American Bar Association
- Rightfully Hers online exhibits from the National Archives
Courthouse Tours. To schedule a customized courthouse tour of the Eagleton Courthouse in St. Louis, click here to submit a tour request email.
Judicial Learning Center. The highlight of every visit to the Thomas F. Eagleton Courthouse is the Judicial Learning Center. Visit the Learning Center's website to learn more about the federal courts, even if you can’t schedule a tour at this time.
For Teachers. For lesson plans, pre/post visit suggestions, or further information, contact our Public Education and Community Outreach Administrator – Rachel_Marshall@ca8.uscourts.gov or (314) 244-2410
For Scouts. For help meeting badge requirements, contact our Public Education and Community Outreach Administrator - Rachel_Marshall@ca8.uscourts.gov or (314) 244-2410. More information can be found here.
Judicial Speakers Bureau. To schedule a speaker for your organization, or for more information, click here.
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