How History Affects Supreme Court Decisions and Supreme Court Decisions Affect History: A Look at the Fourteenth Amendment

Lesson Duration

By Judy Zimmer, Street Law, Inc.

Why were the promises made by the post-Civil War amendments so important? This lesson incorporates Episode 2 of the PBS series THE SUPREME COURT. Students will analyze and compare important Supreme Court decisions involving the Fourteenth Amendment and civil rights. Students will also study how the Court applied the Fourteenth Amendment to questions involving the liberty of contract and protections for working people. Through a series of interactive and reflective activities, students will trace the evolution of the Fourteenth Amendment from the late 1800s through the New Deal.


* describe the Fourteenth Amendment and how it is associated with due process and equal protection

* identify examples and analyze the importance of dissent in Supreme Court decisions involving the Fourteenth Amendment

* describe important changes in the interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment that reflected the changes happening in the United States in the second half of the 19th century

* describe and analyze the impact of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Supreme Court on workers’ rights in the beginning of the 20th century

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