This guide should be used to present the Constitution Day Slide Show available on the website of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, www.aclu-in.org/events/constitution-day. The slide show may be taught directly from the website if there is an Internet connection, or it may be downloaded in PDF format. Projecting the slide show onto a screen will provide the best viewing experience in a classroom setting. Presenters are urged to customize and personalize the presentation—which may be used for all ages—to their specific classroom or audience.
By now you have all studied the Pilgrims, and why they came to our country in the 1600s.
Q.-Can someone explain what the Pilgrims were looking for and why they came here?
Q.-Why did the people who formed the government believe there was a need to have a set of laws?
Source: Hoosiers and the American Story James H. Madison and Lee Ann Sandweiss. IHS press. 2014.
Q.-Who is responsible for making laws, enforcing laws and interpreting laws in Indiana?
You've learned about the American Civil War and the end of slavery in this country.
Q.-The Civil War ended slavery for 3.5 million African Americans in the Confederacy, and was the catalyst for what constitutional amendment? When was the amendment passed?
Q.-Can someone explain what a Constitution is?
Q.-What makes up the U.S. Constitution?
Q.-Does anyone know what we call the first 10 constitutional amendments?
Q.-Can anyone recite the beginning of the Preamble?
Q.- What did the authors of the Constitution mean by "We the people?"
Q.-Who authored the U.S. Constitution?
Q.-Who signed the U.S. Constitution?
Imagine for just a second that your classroom was all on its own. There is no teacher, no principal, no parents, and no rules.
Q.-What do you think having no rules would be like?
And at some point, some of you would probably decide to create a set of rules for the benefit of everyone in the class, and to protect those who are unable to protect themselves.
Constitutions are important because they give us those rules. The U.S. Constitution:
Q.-What are some of the rights that the Constitution protects?
The first one we'll talk about is freedom of religion in the First Amendment. It says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...."
Q.-Why is the freedom of religion so important?
A judge in Indiana stopped the city of Evansville from letting some people put up 31 six-foot-tall plastic crosses on city-owned property along the riverfront. The judge said the display violated the First Amendment. She said, "A display of that magnitude crosses the line into endorsement of a specific religion."
Q.-When does a religious display on public property cross a constitutional line?
Look at the First Amendment again. You'll notice that it doesn't just deal with religion. It also says that Congress shall make no law... "abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances." We'll talk about speech and the right to assemble and petition in this slide, and we'll talk about freedom of the press in the next slide.
Q.-What does this part of the First Amendment mean?
Q.-What was the free speech issue in question in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969), a landmark case in which the U.S. Supreme Court extended the First Amendment's right to freedom of expression to public school students?
Q.-Can you name a protest you have heard about?
In 2016, there was a petition to put a woman on the U.S. $20 bill.
Q.-If you could start your own petition, what would you petition the government to change?
Freedom of the Press is part of the First Amendment, and was included to protect printers and publishers from government interference in communication and expression. Freedom of the press means the government cannot stop the news media from reporting and publishing the news, and it keeps citizens informed of government actions. There are some countries (China and Turkey, for example) whose governments put reporters in jail.
Q.-Name an example of government interference with the news media.
Q.-Name the modern-day whistleblower who exposed illegal government surveillance programs:
Q.-Why is it important for news media to publish information without government interference?
The Fourth Amendment reads: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated." It also says that the government must have a reason to conduct a search and that this reason must be demonstrated by a "warrant" that is issued by a judge.
Q.-Without the U.S. Constitution, what would stop police officers from indiscriminately arresting and searching people?
Q.-When do you think it is OK for government officials to question people and search their personal possessions?
The U.S. Supreme Court has said that school officials may search a student or a student's property if they have a reasonable suspicion that the search might uncover evidence that the student violated a school rule.
Q.-What are some things you think the government doesn't have the right to search without a good reason?
The Fourteenth Amendment requires that States give everyone "equal protection of the laws," which means the government cannot practice discrimination.
Q.-What are some times when discrimination has been allowed or even endorsed in our society?
Q.-Where would women in sports be without equal protection of the laws and federal laws that have allowed women and girls to participate in school programs? (Title IX is a federal law that provides this protection.)
Without our Constitution, a girl in Winamac, Indiana would have been prohibited from even trying out for her school's football team. A judge decided the prohibition violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the case was dismissed. The girl was given the opportunity to try out for the team.
Q.-Can you think of some other examples of discrimination?
Periodic elections keep government officials accountable to the people they represent:
Q.-Why is it important to vote?
Q.-How old do you have to be in order to vote?
Q.-BONUS: Why would the Vietnam War be a catalyst to change the voting age?
James Madison, our fourth U.S. President, argued that the best way to limit government was to have "ambition counteract ambition."
Q.-What did President Madison mean by this statement?
Q.-Who can name a branch of government and what that branch does?
Consider for a moment the silliest thing you did today or yesterday.
Q.-Would you have done that silly thing if you had stopped and thought about it first?
Q.-Would you have done that silly thing if you had consulted your family, friends or teachers?
That's the beauty of slowing down the decision-making process and checking your actions with others!
In 2004, Congress passed a law mandating any school receiving federal funds of any kind provide educational programming on the significance of this event. It is important to celebrate Constitution Day to create an awareness and understanding of constitutional rights so that people can challenge violations of these rights.
Let's review some of what we've learned:
Q.-What makes our Constitution work?
What the Constitution really is...It's a tool we use to make all our lives better.
Q.-What is the Constitution?
Q.-BONUS: Does anyone know where the original Constitution of the United States currently is?
Q.-How do we limit government?
Q.-Why do we limit government?
Q.-Can anyone name the three branches of government?
Q.-Name some of the rights or amendments we discussed.
Q.-What are some rights and Amendments we didn't discuss?
Q.-How might the Constitution have looked different if different people had been involved in writing it?
Make every day Constitution Day by visiting this website often and continuing to learn about your rights!