Sunday, March 29, 2009

Moving on in the Bill of Rights

The 5th and 6th Amendments

This week I will continue my discussion on teaching the Bill of Rights and the Supreme Court cases we should review in the process. If you have been following the last few weeks, I have listed a plethora of cases...probably too many in fact for the kids to truly remember. We have to be careful to give the students the background to answer tough Free Response Questions that call for case recall and recognition without overloading them. That is a fine line, and one I attempt to balance with each individual group on a yearly basis. Good luck.

This week let's review the 5th and 6th Amendments. From the 5th Amendment which includes Grand Juries (never incorporated), double jeopardy (the kids have seen the movie with the same name which messes up their concept of the principle), self-incrimination (the big one in AP World), due process, and eminent domain I spend the greatest amount of energy on self-incrimination. A short discussion on the difficulty, impracticality, and inconvenience of states conducting grand juries for each crime can be one slide on a power point discussion. Double jeopardy needs only a quick discussion with no case history and for eminent domain we discuss local examples and the 2005 Kelo v. City of New London case (primarily for the humorous aspect when Justice Souter had his homestead threatened following the decision).

Self-incrimination has three cases I discuss, one of which is a BIG ONE in AP World. The first case, Ashcraft v. Tennessee, was a case that put limits on police giving the "5th degree" interrogations. Miranda v. Arizona was the Warren case that you need to focus on. Most of us know the story and the irony (the man who later murdered Miranda was read his Miranda rights) and we need to be sure the students are up on this one. Miranda is always a possible Free Response Question as well as a Multiple Choice option. I also like to give the students the NY v. Quarles case that allows police to interrogate suspects in emergency situations that concerns public safety.

The 6th Amendment is of course the trial procedures amendment including witnesses, speedy trial, impartial jury, venue, indictment, and the BIG ONE...the right to counsel for defense. The Batson v. Kentucky case deals with impartial juries made up of peers. This is the only case I cover on the topic and I have yet to ever see this on an Exam. Speedy trial has a couple of interesting cases (see Hippocampus) but I have yet to see these specifically on an Exam.

The right to counsel is the one to focus on here. The cases for this are as follows:

Powell v. Alabama (the famous Scottsboro Boys Case dealing with lawyers in capital cases)
Betts v. Brady (said states should provide lawyers for mentally challenged, mentally ill, illiterate, and other special circumstances)
Gideon v. Wainwright (incorporated the right to a lawyer during the trial phase...the real Gideon is pictured above)
Escobedo v. Illinios (extended the right to a lawyer during questioning)

I use the Gideon's Trumpet film for this concept and really pound the case into the students. This case can appear on Free Response Questions as well as Multiple Choice. Put a large emphasis right here. If your students have had APUSH they will remember the Scottsboro Boys, but a quick review is in order. I would not dwell too long on the Scottsboro case, just the significance. If you use the movie Gideon's Trumpet, the Betts case is discussed very thoroughly.

Ok, I am almost done. Next week I will discuss the 8th,9th, and 10th Amendments and then we are done with the Bill of Rights. I know this has been a long and somewhat arduous discussion stretched over several weeks, but this is so critical to the AP Exam. On the other hand, the Bill of Rights and it's meaning today is a controversy that is at the heart of the conservative/liberal split in this nation. The students need to understand these issues thoroughly to make their decisions on their personal political philosophies. One way or the other, it is time well spent. Until next time...

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