Liberty and Security in Modern Times

Due Process and Fair Trials

Clock 180-240 minutes

In this lesson, students will evaluate contradictory viewpoints concerning liberty and security. They will evaluate Supreme Court decisions regarding fair trail, due process, and the war on terror and evaluate whether the Constitution takes on different meanings during wartime.

Founding Principles

Inalienable / Natural Rights image

Inalienable / Natural Rights

Freedoms which belong to us by nature and can only be justly taken away through due process.

Liberty image

Liberty

Except where authorized by citizens through the Constitution, the government does not have the authority to limit freedom.

Limited Government image

Limited Government

Citizens are best able to pursue happiness when government is confined to those powers which protect their life, liberty, and property.

Overview

After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the U.S. led an international effort against al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, resulting in deployment of America’s armed forces to Afghanistan, Iraq, and other areas. Military operations led to the battlefield capture of enemy combatants and suspected terrorists, most of whom were detained in a prison facility at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba. To what extent are these individuals protected by the U.S. Constitution’s due process and fair trial guarantees? What branch of government does the Constitution designate to decide how it applies in such questions?

Objectives

  • Students evaluate contradictory viewpoints concerning liberty and security.
  • Students evaluate Supreme Court decisions regarding fair trial, due process, and the war on terror.
  • Students analyze components of a fair trial.
  • Students evaluate whether the Constitution takes on different meanings during wartime.

Materials

  • Handout A: Constitutional Provisions Related to Due Process and Fair Trial
  • Handout B: Background Essay—Due Process and Military Justice
  • Handout C: Glossary
  • Handout D: Case # 1— Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004) Background and Facts
  • Handout E: Case # 2— Rasul v. Bush (2004) Background and Facts
  • Handout F: Case # 3— Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006) Background and Facts
  • Handout G: Case # 4— Boumediene v. Bush (2008) Background and Facts
  • Handout H: Case # 1— Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004) Supreme Court Decision
  • Handout I: Case # 2— Rasul v. Bush (2004) Supreme Court Decision
  • Handout J: Case # 3— Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006) Supreme Court Decision
  • Handout K: Case # 4— Boumediene v. Bush (2008) Supreme Court Decision
  • Handout L: Case # 5— U.S. v. Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, et al. Military Commission Proceedings 2011-2015
  • Handout M: Timeline— Military Justice during the War on Terror
  • Handout N: Comparing Supreme Court Decisions

Background

  1. Provide students with Handout B: Background Essay—Due Process and Military Justice and Handout C: Glossary and have them read the background essay, using the glossary as needed. Conduct a whole-class discussion to ensure student familiarity with the historical background.
  2. Have students work in pairs or small groups. Provide each small group with a copy of Handout A: Constitutional Provisions Related to Due Process and Fair Trial. Students should paraphrase each constitutional provision and answer the questions at the bottom of the page. Then conduct a whole-class discussion of student responses.

Activities

Activity I

  1. Divide the class into four groups. Give each group one of the Case Background and Facts Handouts:
    1. Handout D: Case # 1—Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, June 28, 2004 Background and Facts
    2. Handout E: Case # 2—Rasul v. Bush, June 28, 2004 Background and Facts
    3. Handout F: Case # 3—Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, June 29, 2006 Background and Facts
    4. Handout G: Case # 4—Boumediene v. Bush, June 12, 2008 Background and Facts

    Each group should analyze the case assigned and decide how the Supreme Court should rule on the constitutional questions.

  2. Have each group report to the whole class how it would have decided the assigned case, including the reasoning it used. If the group’s decision was not unanimous, be sure to have dissenters report their reasoning as well.
  3. Provide each group with its respective Supreme Court Decision Handout, and give students time to read the decision excerpts.
    1. Handout H: Case # 1—Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, June 28, 2004 Supreme Court Decision
    2. Handout I: Case # 2—Rasul v. Bush, June 28, 2004 Supreme Court Decision
    3. Handout J: Case # 3—Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, June 29, 2006 Supreme Court Decision
    4. Handout K: Case # 4—Boumediene v. Bush, June 12, 2008 Supreme Court Decision
  4. Have each group report/summarize the Court’s majority and dissenting opinions to the class. Encourage discussion after each report by asking the following questions:
    1. How do the Justices’ opinions illustrate differing viewpoints concerning liberty and security?
    2. After reading the excerpts of the Court’s opinions, did any members in your group change their minds regarding constitutional principles of fair trial and due process?
    3. What components of a fair trial figured most prominently in the Justices’ reasoning?
    4. To what extent and in what ways does your group believe the Constitution takes on different meanings during wartime?

Activity II

  1. Distribute Handout L: Case # 5—U.S. v. Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, et al. Military Commission Proceedings 2011- 2015, and have students work with their groups to answer the questions provided.

Extensions

  1. Distribute Handout M: Timeline—Military Justice during the War on Terror. Have students work alone or in their groups, depending on which best meets the needs of your class.
    1. Summarize the historical significance of each event.
    2. Use color coding to indicate whether they agree with (green) each U.S. action or disagree(red).
    3. Answer the questions and complete the activities at the end of the timeline.
  2. Distribute Handout N: Comparing Supreme Court Decisions. Students will use the table to compare and contrast Supreme Court decisions related to habeas corpus and other due process protections. Then, they will evaluate the Hamilton quote from Federalist No. 8.

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