Our Supreme Court: A History with 14 Activities

Overview

This lively and comprehensive activity book teaches young readers everything they need to know about the nation's highest court. Organized around keystones of the Constitution—including free speech, freedom of religion, civil rights, criminal justice, and property rights—the book juxtaposes historical cases with similar current cases. Presented with opinions from both sides of the court cases, readers can make up their own minds on where they stand on the important issues ...

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Overview

This lively and comprehensive activity book teaches young readers everything they need to know about the nation's highest court. Organized around keystones of the Constitution—including free speech, freedom of religion, civil rights, criminal justice, and property rights—the book juxtaposes historical cases with similar current cases. Presented with opinions from both sides of the court cases, readers can make up their own minds on where they stand on the important issues that have evolved in the Court over the past 200 years. Interviews with prominent politicians, high-court lawyers, and those involved with landmark decisions—including Ralph Nader, Rudolph Giuliani, Mario Cuomo, and Arlen Specter—show the personal impact and far-reaching consequences of the decisions. Fourteen engaging classroom-oriented activities involving violations of civil rights, exercises of free speech, and selecting a classroom Supreme Court bring the issues and cases to life. The first 15 amendments to the Constitution and a glossary of legal terms are also included.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An outstanding foray into the workings of the Supreme Court."  —Nashville Parent

"Shares fascinating details about the early court."  —Positive Parenting

Positive Parenting
Shares fascinating details about the early court.
Children's Literature - Debbie Levy
With a mix of historical narrative, current events, case studies, and interviews, this wide-ranging volume just might inspire a new generation of constitutional lawyers. After dispatching with the basic institutional history of the Supreme Court, Panchyk gets to the meat of the book: chapters on subject matters such as free speech, freedom of religion, civil rights, criminal justice, and property rights. This could be heavy going, but under this author's adept hand, it is not. Panchyk presents important Supreme Court cases in language that is crisp and clear and pitched appropriately for high school readers. He supplements these case studies with interviews with political and legal leaders, such as Mario Cuomo, Michael Dukakis, Rudolph Giuliani, and Arlen Specter. But many readers are likely to find most interesting the author's interviews with the ordinary Americans whose legal disputes ended up as Supreme Court decisions. These include John Tinker, who was fifteen in 1965 when he got suspended from his high school for wearing a black armband with a peace symbol to protest the Vietnam War. His dispute became Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 1969, a leading precedent on students' free speech rights. Panchyk includes fourteen activities related to the text, mostly group activities suitable for the classroom. This oversized paperback is handsomely designed and features monochrome photographs and reproductions.
VOYA - Stephanie Petruso
This title is a worthwhile addition to classroom study of the Supreme Court. The actual history and development of the court as it exists today is spread throughout the book and explained with short stories of landmark cases. Instead of organizing the cases by year, Panchyk devotes chapters to multiple cases on subjects such as Free Speech, Religious Freedom, and Property Rights. This organization works to demonstrate how the tenets of freedom that Americans take for granted developed and changed over time. The author adds dozens of well-chosen interviews with important and recognizable people connected with the cases. They include Napster attorney David Boies talking about copyright issues in the technology age, as well as Kurt Vonnegut discussing the banning of his books in the 1960s and 1970s. This resource will be useful for any high school class that would like to study the Supreme Court in depth. The included activities are well suited to a classroom setting, such as practicing being a courtroom artist or studying the zoning of a neighborhood to better understand property rights. Although most available books concerning the Supreme Court are for adults or younger children, the text and tone of this book are clearly designed for older teenagers. Younger teens will have a difficult time with both the vocabulary and depth of coverage. High school libraries surely will want to purchase this title to support government and history classes.
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up
The history and evolution of the court and how it works are discussed in the first chapter. Thematic sections follow, covering such topics as free speech, privacy, and civil rights, with significant decisions included. The cases are arranged chronologically, giving readers a sense of how the court's opinions have changed over time. Throughout, interviews with a variety of people involved in Supreme Court cases add to the text. They include former attorneys general, politicians, lawyers, and litigants. Some of the interviews contribute a wider perspective on issues, while others give personal insight into the case and the time period. The variety and arrangement of photos, drawings, posters, and news clippings add interest and help to break up the text into manageable chunks. Some of the activities are of dubious value ("Be a Court Stenographer"—court cases are now recorded, not typed), and others may be too time-consuming for many of today's standards-based, high-stakes-testing classrooms (electing a class Supreme Court and holding mock trials). All in all, though, this a solid work that makes a complex and important subject accessible to students.
—Anthony C. DoyleCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556526077
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/1/2006
  • Series: For Kids Series
  • Pages: 208
  • Age range: 10 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.00 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Panchyk is the author of American Folk Art for Kids, Archaeology for Kids, Galileo for Kids, and World War II for Kids and the coauthor of Engineering the City. Senator John Kerry lives in Boston. James Baker III is a former Secretary of State.

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