Students are given:
Facts + Issue + Precedents + Arguments
About: This strategy encourages students to evaluate and weigh all the facts, precedents, and arguments of a case and decide which party should prevail. Once they determine which side they support, they will be guided through the process of writing a judicial opinion.
You can access hundreds of free case summaries in the Street Law store
. Download the case summary as a Word file. Prepare a student handout containing the case facts, issue, precedents, and arguments of the selected case. Delete the decision and opinion(s). Assign half of the class, divided into small groups of 3–5 students, the task of writing the Court’s opinion with the petitioner winning (i.e., the party that is listed first and that lost in the court of appeals). Instruct the other half of the class to write the Court’s opinion with the respondent winning (i.e., the side that won in the court of appeals). Students should use the “You are the Justice: Judicial Opinion Writing” handout to help construct opinions that apply the constitutional provisions, statutes, and/or precedents and provide a reasoned basis for the opinion. Have groups “hand down” their decisions by reading their opinion to the class.
How it’s done online:
Post a case summary with decisions and opinions deleted. Provide students with the handout “You are the Justice: Judiciarl Opinion Writing by posting, emailing, or including in a mailed packet. Students should write their opinion individually or in small groups using breakout rooms or Google Docs. Instruct students to post their opinions in a discussion board and concur or dissent with other students’ opinions in the comments. You might also use FlipGrid
or a similar app to have students record their decision announcements and post. After students have submitted or posted their opinions, if the case is recent play the recording or send students the link to the real opinion announcement at Oyez.org
. Instruct students to compare and contrast their opinions with those of the Supreme Court.