This lesson designed for 11th grade is within a unit at the beginning of the year focusing on the foundations of the American political system, including the rights and liberties as outlined in the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States. This lesson specifically involves a mock trial covering the issue of religious freedom, or more specifically the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses of the First Amendment. This lesson will be taught after instruction on the foundations of the American political system, including the Bill of Rights and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.
11.3 Students analyze the role religion played in the founding of America, its lasting moral, social, and political impacts, and issues regarding religious liberty.
11.3.5 Describe the principles of religious liberty found in the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses of the First Amendment, including the debate on the issue of separation of church and state.
Common Core State Standards for ENGLISH LANGUAGE ART S & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects
College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing Grades 6-12
Text Types and Purposes
1. Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
*Students need to include at least three justifications for the law they are requesting their congressperson to write.
Hook: Project 2 images, one of an ordinary looking female and another of a woman wearing a burqa. Have students answer the following question on a piece of paper: Who would you feel most comfortable going to if you needed help in a clothing store? Depending on your level of comfort with your class, you can choose to have student volunteers share their answers (with some stipulations given first).
1. Tell students they will be discussing and participating in a current, ongoing case concerning the freedom of religion and the Free Exercise Clause.
2. Pass out “Sarcozy: France “Cannot Accept” Burqa” article to students. Read the article out loud with students. Have a general discussion with students about whether or not France can and should outlaw the burqa in order to maintain a secular state. Ensure part of the discussion concerns whether or not the wearing of a burqa is mandatory to the religion of Islam.
3. Read the article from the Telegraph U.K. about the origins of the burqa, including similar traditions in the Muslim faith and the quote from the Koran covering the same topic.
4. Tell students some general facts about the number of Muslims in America and the world.
5. Pass out Amin vs. Abercrombie and Fitch Fact Sheet to students and read the first page only out loud with them.
6. Give students a couple of minutes to think about the question on their own (silently).
7. Tell students that because of the economic crisis in America, the court system has been recruiting U.S. History students to decide some of the issues that have come to the Supreme Court. Each student will be one of the following roles: attorney representing Ada, attorney representing Abercrombie and Fitch, Press Enterprise reporter (local newspaper), or a Supreme Court Justice.
8. Explain how the Supreme Court works: Basically each lawyer gets an allotted time to make their case to the Supreme Court Justices. During their time, the judges can ask questions in which the attorney needs to respond. The other attorney then gets to make their case to the Supreme Court Justices following the same procedures. The attorneys will then have the opportunity to make a rebuttal argument. The Justices then discuss whether or not the law was broken and whether or not the law is constitutional. In the classroom court, after the rebuttals the judges will come to the front of the classroom and one by one give and explain their ruling to the class.
9. Group students according to their multiple intelligence, random grouping, or academic level. For a class of 35, there will be 7 groups. 7 students would be newspaper reporters, 14 students will be Supreme Court Justices, and the remaining 14 students will be attorneys. The attorneys will be further divided into two groups, one for Ada and one for Abercrombie & Fitch.
Supreme Court Justice
Supreme Court Justice
10. Have the Supreme Court Justices sit on one side of the room, the attorneys in the middle, and the newspaper reporters on the other side. Tell the attorneys which side they represent, and have them separate from the other attorneys. Have students get into groups of 3 or 4 with students who have the same role as themselves. Give them approximately 10-15 minutes to work on their specific assignments.
11. After students have worked for 10-15 minutes with their same-role groups, break groups up into the mini-courts. One way of doing this will be to number the students 1-7. Two judges will be given the number 1, 2, and so on. In the other groups made up of attorneys for each side and the reporters, each student will be numbered from 1 to 7. Have students complete the mini trial. Below is a suggested schedule:
12. After the attorneys have had a chance for rebuttals, have the Supreme Court judges come to the front of the classroom. Each judge will have to give their ruling and then give an explanation as to how they ruled. The teacher will keep a tally on the board for the decision.
13. Allow a few minutes to debrief the trial process, including the types of questions that were asked by the judges, which arguments helped students decide one way or another, and whether or not it was difficult to argue for something they didn’t necessarily agree with.
14. Tell students that the idea of religious liberty and free exercise is still not decided 100% in America today. Cite current examples such as reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools and school vouchers for private parochial schools. One of the ways to decide issues such as these are to write to the lawmakers with opinions and justifications. Tell students they will now be writing a letter to their congressperson explaining whether or not a law should be made in California protecting a person’s right to wear religious attire such as a burqa or hijab without discrimination in employment. They should draw upon arguments and details used in class during the trials, as well as the text of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights guaranteeing religious freedom.
Special Needs of students are considered in this lesson:
The lesson is already differentiated, through having students take on different roles according to their multiple intelligence and/or academic ability.
If time allows, conduct a mock civil trial instead of the shorter, small group Supreme Court Trial. In that trial, Ada can sue Abercrombie and Fitch for employment discrimination.
Materials and Resources Needed: