U.S. Courts of Appeals and Their Impact on Your Life – Lesson Plan

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WASHINGTON/BEIRUT, Feb 5 (Reuters) – A U.S. appeal court late on Saturday denied a request from the U.S. Department of Justice to immediately restore a immigration order from President Donald Trump barring citizens from seven mainly Muslim countries and temporarily banning refugees.

The court ruling dealt a further setback to Trump, who has denounced the judge in the state of Washington who blocked his executive order on Friday. In tweets and comments to reporters, the president has insisted he will get the ban reinstated.

Trump says the temporary immigration restrictions on citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and on all refugees, are necessary to protect the United States from Islamist militants. Critics say they are unjustified and discriminatory.

The judge’s order and the appeal ruling have created what may be a short-lived opportunity for travelers from the seven affected countries to get into the United States while the legal uncertainty continues.

In a brief order, the appeals court said the government’s request for an immediate administrative stay on the Washington judge’s decision had been denied. It was awaiting further submissions from Washington and Minnesota states on Sunday, and from the government on Monday.

The government’s appeal says the decision by judge James Robart in Washington poses an immediate harm to the public, thwarts enforcement of an executive order and “second-guesses the president’s national security judgment about the quantum of risk posed by the admission of certain classes of (non-citizens) and the best means of minimizing that risk.”

Trump denounced the “so-called” judge in a series of tweets on Saturday and told reporters: “We’ll win. For the safety of the country, we’ll win.”

This current sitatiou would be a great idea to introduce the lesson plan below and perhaps foster a child future leadership role.

U.S. Courts of Appeals and Their Impact on Your Life

What are the Courts of Appeals and what is their role?


What happens when the Supreme Court denies review of a case decided by one of the 13 Circuit Courts of Appeals? What happens when there is a vacancy on the Supreme Court and the eight justices come to a 4-4 decision on a case? The simple answer to both questions is that the decision made by the particular Court of Appeals stands.

The Supreme Court annually hears about 100 cases and rejects about 7,000 requests for review.  The decisions made by the Courts of Appeals in many of those cases are the last word. In light of that, Courts of Appeals have a major impact on the everyday life of law-abiding citizens, including teens. However, the Courts of Appeals aren’t as visible as the Supreme Court and they are not as widely known or understood.

This courtroom or classroom activity gives every student the opportunity to serve as an appellate judge and as an appellate lawyer to gain a working knowledge of these vital appellate courts. Use the teen-relevant cases decided by Courts of Appeals and the supporting resources to discover more about the U.S. Courts of Appeals’ place in the federal court system.


What’s Different About This Activity?

·         Need-to-Know Information

·         Every Learning Style is Involved

·         Teen-Relevant Cases

·         Flexible Approach to Activities


Activity Resources

·         The Evarts Act:  Creating the Modern Appellate Courts

·         The U.S. Courts of Appeals: What You Should Know

·         The Last Word: Court of Appeals Cases You Should Know


Related  Content

·         Courts of Appeals Cases Related to Miranda v. U.S.


In Advance of the Activity

·         Teachers prepare students for the activity by covering the material in: the Evarts Act:  Creating the Modern Appellate Courts and the U.S. Courts of Appeals: What You Should Know.


Activity Overview — Each Three, Teach Three

Students are organized into teams of three members for a round robin of modified, appellate court oral arguments. All students prepare and present as lawyers.  All students have the opportunity to serve on three-judge panels, just like the Courts of Appeals.

Round #1

Each Three-Person Team:

·         Prepares arguments for a case they choose from the provided list;

·         Anticipates and prepares questions (and answers) that the student-judges might use during the oral arguments.

Round #2

Each Three-Person Team

·         In Round #2, students switch roles and repeat the exercise with the lawyers serving as judges and the judges serving as lawyers.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

In the Courtroom or Classroom

Teams. To begin the activity, students form three-person teams. Teams stay together for the duration of the activity, and all team members have the opportunity to be judges and lawyers.

From the provided list, teams select one of the real-life cases of interest to them. They collect information about their case by doing Internet research. Once they organize and analyze the research, student-attorneys work with volunteer, adult attorneys to write talking points and questions and answers for the oral arguments. The same, three-person team develops arguments and questions for both sides of the issue.


Phase I

Student-Attorney Roles.  Student Attorney #1 prepares arguments to present on behalf of the government’s position.  Student-Attorney #2 prepares arguments to present on behalf of the defendant’s position. Attorney #3 anticipates and writes the questions and answers the three-judge panel can use or modify when addressing each side during the hearing.

Written Arguments/Briefs. Panels make a copy of their talking points and Q/A sheets and give their folders to the facilitator. Student-attorneys keep their originals. The facilitator redistributes the materials to student-judges sitting on three-judge panels who will hear the arguments


Phase II

Student-Judge Roles.  Student judges prepare for oral arguments by reading the student-attorney briefs distributed to them. They are to do no outside research or reading about the case in order to base their decision on their review of the  record that is put before them.

Student-Attorney Preparation. First, each team prepares to be attorneys who present their selected case to a  three-judge peer panel. For both sides of their case, the student attorneys 1) develop talking points for arguments; and 2) write questions and answers.

            1.         Oral Arguments.  Each three-person, student-attorney team presents arguments                           to its assigned, three-judge panel. The judges ask questions. They may use the                               questions drafted by the arguing team and/or add their own questions.

2.         Conference.  The three-judge panels go into conference and decide which side      prevails. They return to the courtroom.  Each panel announces its decision and the   rationale for it.


3.         Wrap Up.  The judge joins the students and conducts a mutual Q/A session with   the students on the exercise and any topic of interest to the students. The question  period is followed by informal socializing with the judge and the volunteer  attorney.












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