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7th Amendment: Lesson for Kids

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Instructor
Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Expert Contributor
Lesley Chapel

Lesley has taught American and World History at the university level for the past seven years. She has a Master's degree in History.

Investigate the 7th Amendment to the US Constitution. Discover when it was included as part of the constitution, what the amendment says, how it protects US citizens, and why it was written. Finally, explore court cases involving the 7th Amendment. Updated: 12/27/2021

What Is the 7th Amendment?

You might know that if someone is arrested for a crime, like robbery, they may have a trial in court. A group of people called a jury hear the facts and decide whether that person is guilty or not guilty. Their decision can even decide if the robber goes to jail. But criminals aren't the only ones who have the right to a trial by jury.

Imagine getting a scooter for your birthday that can do all kinds of tricks. A friend asks if they can try it, but when they get on, they take off too fast and crash it into a tree. It's completely broken and doesn't work anymore, so you ask them to replace it, but they don't want to.

If you were an adult and this was a car crash, the 7th Amendment says you can take them to federal court and have a jury decide if they are guilty and how much they have to pay, even though they aren't a criminal.

The 7th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says that civil cases, or lawsuits based on disagreements between people or businesses, have a right to be decided by a jury in federal court. The amount of the lawsuit must be more than $20, and after a jury settles the case, it shouldn't go back to trial again.

When the 7th Amendment was approved in December 1791, $20 dollars was a huge amount of money. Federal courts today won't hear a case if the lawsuit is less than $75,000.

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  • 0:04 What Is the 7th Amendment?
  • 1:30 7th Amendment Addition
  • 2:07 Examples of Civil Cases
  • 2:56 Lesson Summary
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7th Amendment Addition

After the Revolutionary War, when the Constitution was written, the Bill of Rights was added to protect the freedoms and rights of the people. The Bill of Rights is made up of the first ten amendments (changes or additions) to the Constitution.

James Madison, who became the 4th president, wrote the 7th Amendment. He did this because people were worried that judges would have too much power and wouldn't always be fair if they were the only ones making decisions in legal cases. Many felt like juries would protect the people from bad laws and be fairer when deciding a case.

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Additional Activities

Prompts About the 7th Amendment for Kids:

Definitions Prompt:

In your own words, provide the definitions of the terms that are in bold from the lesson (jury, 7th Amendment, civil cases). Each definition should be about one to two sentences in length.

Example: Civil cases are non-criminal lawsuits.

Speech Prompt:

Pretend you are James Madison. Write a one- to three-minute speech that describes why the 7th Amendment is needed in the Bill of Rights. You can even dress up like James Madison when you give your speech (refer to the portrait in the lesson for his look!).

Example: The 7th Amendment makes sure that judges will not have too much power.

Poster Prompt:

Make an informational poster that briefly explains the history of the 7th Amendment and explains what it does in today's society.

Example: Today, the 7th Amendment states that civil suits can be brought to federal courts if they are over $75,000.

Scenario Prompt:

In at least one to two paragraphs, write about a scenario that involves the 7th Amendment. Describe the details of the lawsuit and what happened, what amount of money is at stake, and who will hear the case. You can refer to the lesson for ideas, but be creative when writing your scenario.

Example: You were running a successful lemonade stand, but then your jealous neighbor started spreading rumors that the lemonade you were selling contained poison. This severely hurt your business, so you decided to bring a civil case against your neighbor.

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