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Protecting Individual Rights

Essential Purpose

People need to know and understand how the judicial system protects individual rights. These rights include due process protections of habeas corpus, presumption of innocence, impartial tribunal, speedy and public trials, right to counsel, trial by jury, right against self-incrimination, protection against double jeopardy, and right of appeal.

Symbol of Justice
This module will provide students with the opportunity to analyze these rights and their application in real life situations. They will examine real-life historic judicial appeals and participate in role-playing activities that demonstrate the application of these concepts through the appellate court system. Students will also have the opportunity to explore how these concepts of individual rights are presently being implemented in the United States.

They will use this information to analyze a situation in which these rights need to be protected. The case study will be used to see how individual rights can change circumstances for individuals and society.

National Civics Standards

Grades 5-8

E. What is the place of law in the American constitutional system?

3. Judicial Protection of the Rights of Individuals

Students should be able to evaluate, take, and defend positions on current issues regarding judicial protection of individual rights.

State/Local Standards

States should align these modules to their own state/local standards as appropriate.

Essential Questions

  1. How does due process protect the rights of individuals?
  2. Why is the appeals process important to the protection of individual rights?
  3. How do due process and the appeals process apply to current issues?

Essential Content

Due Process Protections of Individual Rights:

  • Habeas Corpus
  • Right Against Self-Incrimination
  • Right to Counsel
  • Presumption of Innocence
  • Fair Notice
  • Speedy and Public Trials
  • Trial by Jury
    • Impartial Tribunal
  • Double Jeopardy
  • Right of Appeal

The Appellate Court System:

  • The Appeals Process

Essential Skills

  • Defining concepts
  • Use of primary and secondary sources.
  • Organizing processes and events
  • Investigation
  • Establishing the relationship between historic and current events
  • Problem-Solving

Summative Assessment

This summative assessment and scoring guide should be reviewed with students prior to using the activities in the module. Students should do the assessment after the activities have been completed.

Essential Questions Addressed by the Summative Assessment:

  1. How does due process protect the rights of individuals?
  2. Why is the appeals process important to the protection of individual rights?
  3. How do due process and the appeals process apply to real-life situations?

Printable Student View

Prior Knowledge
Criteria for an Exemplary Response
You have learned the due process protection of individual rights, the importance of the appeals process, and how the protection of individual rights and the appeals process work in real-life situations.

Now you are ready to think about why these rights need to be protected and how individual rights can change circumstances for individuals and society.

The policy at the local middle school reads that a student may be suspended if the principal feels it is deserved. However, if a student is suspended without due process, his/her individual rights will be violated. Some teachers are worried that the school district may be charged with violating students’ civil rights. They also feel it is only fair that a student be able to meet with the school’s principal before a decision about suspension is made.

Moreover, before these changes can be made to the student handbook, the changes must be approved by the board of education. However, the school district is in a crisis. There has been a recent increase in fights between students as well as an increase in thefts and vandalism. Because of this, it may be difficult for the board of education to see the importance of due process and the protection of students’ individual rights.

You are the new principal of this middle school. You talk to the Superintendent of Schools and tell her your concerns. She suggests that you write some new rules about student suspensions and bring these to the next school board meeting. You want to write rules that will not take away students’ due process rights. You also want to convince the school board that it is important that policies about student suspension protect the individual rights of students.

Write the new rules dealing with suspension. Be sure the new rules consider:

  • Reasons why a student might be suspended.
  • The steps that must be followed before a student can be suspended.
  • How a student may appeal suspension or another disciplinary decision.
  • Facts from Goss v Lopez, which you will research on the web, to support your rules.

In your presentation to the school board (your class), be sure you:

  • Provide facts from Goss v Lopez and any other resource about the individual rights of students and tell where you found these facts.
  • Use a PowerPoint presentation, a short video clip, or a poster to illustrate important ideas or information
  • Explain how the new rules:
  • Protect the individual rights of students.
  • Allow the district to use school suspension as a form of discipline without taking away the individual rights of students protected by the Constitution.

Scoring Guide

Updated December 31, 2019 10:15am