Understanding the Minnesota Judiciary: Legislators and Judges are Different

Lesson Duration

Author: JoEllen Ambrose, Bill Bauman, Heather Loeschke, Filiz Yargici

Students will learn that judges and legislators have different roles to play in our system of government by analyzing a case study that describes the development and application of the (Ted Foss) Minnesota Move Over traffic law, which requires that drivers move over a lane when approaching a squad car involved in a traffic stop. Students will storyboard the steps taken as the law moves from the legislature through the three levels of the court system and then back to the legislature. Lesson includes a student reading and comparison chart.


1. The students will describe the differences between judges and legislators and the functions each performs.
2. The students will understand how laws are developed by the legislature and applied and interpreted by the courts.
3. The students will understand the difficulty of writing laws that are clearly understood.
4. The students will understand the difficulty of interpreting laws that can be given different interpretations.



Materials Needed



This lesson plan was developed as part of a curriculum-development workshop that was sponsored by the Minnesota Supreme Court Historical Society, with the assistance of the Minnesota Supreme Court, the Minnesota State Bar Association Civic Education Committee, and the Learning Law and Democracy Foundation. Lesson development was supported in part with funds from the Minnesota Legacy Amendment Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.


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