Weekly Activities for May 18th- 22nd 

Electoral College: The Constitution established the electoral college but is it the best way to elect a president. Watch the video below and study the graphics and tell me what you think. 

How the Electoral College Works 
The Trouble with the Electoral College 

Is the electoral college fair? - Washington Post
Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National ...
States that Elect the President

Fictional Case # 2

Lincoln School District v. Joe Stayley

Question:Did Lincoln High Schools dismissal of Joe Stayley for wearing attire against school rules violate his 1st and 14th Amendment right of symbolic speech?


Schools rule:   Students may be suspended or excluded from attending classes when, in the opinion of the building principal, the student wears clothing that disrupts the educational purpose. (Rule in student handbook)

Joe Stayleys’ attire: A shirt with the large letters on back “RELIGION = WAR”


Mr. Joe Stayley, a 15-year-old sophomore at Lincoln Public High School, wore a shirt (described above) to his public high school.  Most of Mr. Joe Stayley’s classmates are Christians. However, Mr. Joe Stayley and his parents are atheists.  Mr. B.Z., Lincoln’s principal, asked Joe Stayley to go home and change the shirt (noon).  Joe Stayley put his jacket over it.


Mr. B.Z. saw Joe Stayley with the same shirt on two weeks later at lunch time and called Joe Stayley into his office after one student complained about the shirt.  Mr. Joe Stayley was then suspended from school and suspended for 3 days.  Mr. B.Z. claimed that the shirt could have caused a disruption among students.  Joe Stayley’s teachers testified in lower court that they were not aware of any disruptions at the school and that there were no disruptions in their classroom when Joe Stayley wore the shirt to class. Mr. B.Z. testified that he was concerned for Mr. Joe Stayley’s safety.


Nebraska’s Supreme Court heard the appeal and ruled that the school rules were constitutional and they were protecting the educational atmosphere.  Mr. B.Z. testified that one student came to him and complained that the t-shirt offended him. Therefore, the court ruled that symbolic speech of the T-shirt could have interfered with the education of others.


The Federal Court of Appeals overturned the State’s ruling stating that Joe Stayley’s constitutional rights were violated when asked to take off the shirt and then suspended.  Ruling: The shirt was symbolic speech protected by the 1st and 14thAmendments. The school rule is too vague when giving restrictions based upon the principles “opinion”.  They also ruled that religious speech and political speech are protected in the public schools, which would include Joe Stayley’s shirt. The assumption of the disruption of “educational purpose” went too far.


U.S Supreme Court agreed to hear the case:


Joe Stayley: Argue that the 1st and 14th protects a student’s freedom of symbolic speech.  You may also argue that the “rule” violates student’s rights because it is too vague and gives too much constitutional overreach to the principal’s religious views.


Lincoln School District: Argue that the school/educational system has an obligation to the student and the educational purpose along with the atmosphere of learning.  Joe Stayley’s shirt could cause harm to him and cause other students to be distracted.

Fictional Case #4

Virginia v. T.J.


Does the death penalty sentence given to T.J. violate his constitutional rights? Pick a side and explain


18-year-old T.J. and 30-year-old Justin Willing had entered the mini-mart in Virginia at 1:00 p.m.   Justin Willing was holding the gun and made all of the demands.  When Walter, the store owner, refused to give him the money and items Justin shot him.  While Justin was cleaning out the cash register a 4-year-old girl in the store was screaming out of control.  Justin told T.J. to shut the girl up.  Justin then gave another gun to T.J.    T.J. took the gun, but held his hand over the girl’s mouth in an attempt to shut her up.  The girl bit T.J.’s hand.  He removed his hand and the girl started to scream.  Justin swung around, with the gun in his hand, and yelled that T.J. would shut her up.  T.J. shot the girl.  The police responded and detained Justin and T.J.   The ambulance was called, but the girl could not be saved.   

Justin was given life in prison, without the chance of parole, in exchange for his testimony against T.J. The prosecution in the case felt that more witnesses were needed to put the death penalty on the table.

Walter Shillman, the store owner, survived and also testified that he saw T.J. shoot the girl among 5 other witnesses.

T.J. was sentenced to 1st degree murder and sentenced to death for shooting the girl.   A two-stage approach and all current court procedures were followed by the State.

T.J. has an I.Q. of 72.  He has been in special education classes all of his life and repeated I.Q. tests in the past has shown his I.Q. to be between 70-72.

T.J. lost an appeal at the State Supreme Court. He appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals overturned the State decision and believed that the death penalty was cruel and unusual under the 8th and 14th amendments. 

Virginia appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case. (Granted Writ of Cert)


T.J. – Against the execution(8th and 14th amendments). 

NOTE:  May argue completely against the death penalty, just in the case of T.J., and/or that the I.Q. standard should be changed for all individuals.  MUST LET THE OPPOSING SIDE KNOW WHICH POSITION YOU WILL TAKE.

Virginia – Argue for the death penalty; especially in the case of T.J.

Weekly Activities for May 11th- 15th 

Judicial Branch: See if you can put the process of a Supreme Court Trail in order by completing How the Supreme Court Works WS located below
Executive Branch: Review the Powers of the President by re-reading/ skimming Chapter 14 and answer the questions. All documents located below
Legislative Branch: Write a letter to your local Representative about your concerns on how the Federal Government is handling an issue that is important to you.

Sample Letter to Representative or Senator:


Your Name
Your Address
Your City, State, Zipcode Your E-mail
Your Phone Number

The Honorable_________________________ House of Representatives or United States Senate Office Address of Representative or Senator

Dear Representative/Senator ____________________,

(In your first paragraph include personal information) I am very fortunate to have been provided with an excellent education that prepared me for the future. I currently have children in both elementary and middle school. Recently, I have become very concerned about legislative impact on education. As a parent yourself, I am sure that you share many of these concerns.

(Include facts) Research has shown that schools with strong school library media programs have better rates of success. For example, in Alaska it was found that schools with a full time librarian scored higher on standardized tests than schools with only part time librarians. These schools were able to have longer hours of operation, leading to higher rates of circulation, thus impacting student achievement. Similar findings have been made in many other states across our country.

(State what you are asking for) I ask that you support (Insert name of bill here). In supporting this bill funding will be provided that will support school library media programs. This is a very small price to invest in the futures of our nations children. All children should have the opportunity to achieve and develop skills necessary for the future. I believe that in supporting this bill you will impact the lives of countless children.

Sincerely, (Signature) Your Name

Weekly Activities for May 4th-8th 

First Amendment Case Study Two: 

Case study 2:

Matt's friend was running for a class President, and Matt agreed to make a speech in support of his friend in front of the school's 600 students at an assembly. During his speech, Matt referred to his friend, as the Supreme Court later put it, "in terms of an elaborate, graphic, and explicit sexual metaphor."

The next morning, the assistant principal called Matt into her office and asked about the speech. Matt admitted that he had made it. The assistant principal suspended Matt for three days.

Matt appealed his suspension to the School Board, but lost. Claiming that his speech was protected by the First Amendment, Matt sued the School Board. The case eventually found its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Was Matt’s rights violated? Explain.

Watch the speech here:

First Amendment Case Study Three:

A New Jersey high school teacher discovered a 14-year-old freshman, whom the courts later referred to by her initials, T.L.O., smoking in a school bathroom. Since smoking was a violation of school rules, T.L.O. was taken to the vice-principal’s office. When questioned by the vice principal, T.L.O. denied that she had been smoking. The vice principal then searched her purse. There he found a pack of cigarettes along with rolling papers commonly used for smoking marijuana. He then searched the purse more thoroughly and found marijuana, a pipe, plastic bags, a large amount of money, an index card listing students who owed T.L.O. money, and two letter that implicated T.L.O. in marijuana dealing.  The vice principal notified the girl’s mother and turned the evidence of drug dealing over to the police. T.L.O was charged, as a juvenile, with criminal activity. T.L.O., in turn, claimed the evidence of drug dealing found in her purse could not be used in court as evidence because it had been obtained through an illegal search and seizure. T.L.O’s attorneys claimed that the Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable search and seizure. They maintained that the Fourth Amendment requirements for a warrant and probable cause applied to T.L.O. while in high school as a student. After appeals in lower courts, the case eventually reached the United States Supreme Court.
Questions to Answer: 

Why did the Court give school officials more freedom than the police to conduct searches?
Do you think that vice principal search was reasonable? Explain your answer. 
Under the Court’s ruling, do you think a school official has the right to search a student any time he or she wishes? Give reasons for your answer.


28th Amendment:Create a T-Chart that compares the process of amending the US Constitution with the process of amendment the State of Iowa Constitution. Then you are going to design a constitutional amendment for an issue or topic that you think needs to be addressed and changed. First, you will need to explain and defend the need for this new amendment (Why this amendment now). Then, create a billboard (flyer) supporting the ratification of your newly proposed amendment. It should include a catchy slogan and a symbol or illustration. 

Name That Violation: 

Weekly Activities For April 27th- May 1st: 
Federalism: Try to complete the Federalism Diagram in the document container with out using any of you notes. Email a picture or share with me you answers. 
Federalism Power Game: This is a link to game similar to what we played in class "Who has the Power?" Take a screen shot of your certificate and share it with me. Power Play Game
States v. Federal Government: Federalism is the sharing of governmental duties between the states and the Federal Government. Recently its been debated on who should lead the charge on combatting Covid-19. In your opinion who should be in charge of leading the fight against Covid-19 the states or the Federal government explain your answer? Use these links to or other articles to support your claim. 

Theories of Democracy: Answer the following questions based on the Theories of Democracy we talked about in unit one. 
  1. Which theory of representative democracy promotes people voting directly for or against laws that affect them?
  2. Which theory of representative democracy believes that interest groups compete so well that no specific viewpoint dominates?
  3. Which theory of representative democracy maintains that there is an inequity in the spread of power among the populace and that the wealthiest/most powerful dominate?
  4. Which theory of representative democracy is modeled of Athens?

First Amendment Rights:

Case study 1:

John and Chris were High School students in Iowa during the Vietnam War. John's sister, Mary, was a Junior High student. To show their opposition to the war, the three students decided to wear black armbands to school. The principals caught wind of the idea, and announced the schools' new policy: Any student caught wearing a black armband would be asked to remove it. If the student refused, he or she would be suspended from school indefinitely until he or she returned without the armband. 

Undaunted by their principals' pronouncement, the three came to school the next day wearing their armbands. When they refused to remove them, the three were suspended. 

The students sued, claiming that their rights to free speech had been violated. The school officials steadfastly held to their position that the ban was necessary "in order to prevent disturbance of school discipline." The case eventually found its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Were the students’ rights violated? Explain

Government Activities: April 20th-24th

  1. Think back to when we talked about the Preamble to the Constitution can you name its 7 main points? According to the Preamble and these main points what is the purpose of our Government? During these unprecedented times is the government holding up their end of the social contract? Have a discussion about this with other classmates via technology or with family members. What are their thoughts about the government today?
  2.  View the Failed Amendment document in the Document Container at the bottom of the page 
  3. List the 27 amendments in order.
  4. Read this Vanity Fair article about The Top 27 Debated Constitutional Amendments. What surprised you most about this article? What amendment would you like to edit (change) if you had the chance?
  5. Interesting look at the Bill of Rights
  6. A music video to help you remember all 27 Amendments