Preserving the Bill of Rights

Preserving the Bill of Rights teaches students Constitutional principles by examining primary source documents and significant Supreme Court cases. In addition, each unit features expanded classroom activities engaging students with the Bill of Rights and the responsibilities of citizenship. Students will understand the connection between current events and the Bill of Rights when they participate in activities such as writing letters to their elected representatives; serving in a mock jury; creating public service announcements; and writing model laws.

Teaching Constitutional Principles

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The Bill of Rights and The Founders

Provides an introduction and overview of the Bill of Rights, including the Founders’ understanding of the “rights of Englishmen,” British law, and natural rights philosophy. This unit also examines the Federalist and Anti-Federalist debate about a bill of rights.

Lesson: What Are the Origins of the Bill of Rights?

Lesson: Why A Bill of Rights? What Impact Does It Have?

The Bill of Rights and Religion

Explores the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause, including studies of the Founders’ understanding of both. The unit explores the constitutionality of government action relating to religion as well as the relationship between the government and religious institutions. The unit also investigates instances where “free exercise” and “establishment” might conflict.

Lesson: The Establishment Clause — How Separate Are Church and State?

Lesson: What Is the Significance of the Free Exercise Clause?

The Bill of Rights and Free Speech

Focuses on First Amendment protection of free speech, free assembly, and petition of government. The unit also examines the evolution of the definitions of protected expression in speech, petition, assembly, art, and demonstration.

Lesson: Why is Free Speech Essential to Self-Government?

Lesson: How Has Speech Been Both Limited and Expanded, and How Does it Apply to You and Your School?

The Bill of Rights and Freedoms of the Press - Assembly - and Petition

First Amendment freedoms like press, assembly, and petition are essential to self-government. The Founders saw these freedoms as a bulwark of free, republican government and a means of assuring justice.

Lesson: Why Does a Free Press Matter?

Lesson: Why Are the Rights to Assembly and Petition Important to Liberty?

The Bill of Rights and Property

Spotlights safeguards to property in the Bill of Rights, explores various types of property, and examines the concepts of takings, just compensation, and eminent domain.

Lesson: What is Property? Why Protect It?

Lesson: How Does the Fifth Amendment Protect Property?

The Bill of Rights and Due Process

Covers search and seizure, rights of the accused, due process of law, jury trials, and protection from cruel and unusual punishment guaranteed in the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments.

Lesson: How Do Due Process Protections for the Accused Protect Us All?

Lesson: What Is a Reasonable Expectation of Privacy?

Lesson: Who Should Protect Our Fundamental Freedoms?

The Bill of Rights and Liberty

Explores the unenumerated rights reserved to the people with reference to the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments, with a focus on rights including travel, political affiliation, and privacy. Probes the ways the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments have been used to claim rights to personal liberty.

Lesson: How Does the Constitution Protect Liberty?

Lesson: What is the Scope of the Bill of Rights?

The Bill of Rights and Federalism

Explores the powers reserved to the states as provided by the Tenth Amendment. Explains the Founders’ understanding of a federalist system and the expansion and contraction of the federal government’s power.

Lesson: What is a Federal Republic?

Lesson: What is the Commerce Clause?

The Bill of Rights and Guns

Explores the origins of the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms. Also explores relevant Supreme Court decisions and engages students in the current debate over gun regulation.

Lesson: What Are the Origins and Interpretations of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms?

Lesson: How Has the Second Amendment Been Interpreted?

The Bill of Rights and Incorporation

Explores incorporation of the Bill of Rights against the states as provided for in the Fourteenth Amendment. Highlights the controversies about incorporation as well as significant incorporation cases.

Lesson: What is Incorporation?

Lesson: Who Should Protect Our Fundamental Freedoms?

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