Judicial Branch Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Use this lesson plan to help students examine the judicial branch of the government. Students will learn about the Supreme Court, its power of judicial review, and how it can determine whether laws are unconstitutional or not.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • explain the role of the judicial branch
  • discuss the power and responsibility of the judicial branch


  • 1 hour


  • Primary source documents - Current laws on the Supreme Court docket relating to the amendments (found with an internet search)

Key Vocabulary

  • Judicial branch
  • Supreme Court
  • Judicial review

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.1

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.2

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.3

Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.4

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.


  • Connect students to learning and engage with the topic by having them briefly review the First, Second, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments. Discuss and share prior knowledge.
  • Tell students they will be learning about how the judicial branch of the government works. Preview vocabulary, then start the video Judicial Branch of Government: Definition, Role & Power.
  • Pause at 00:49 and discuss:
    • What two roles does the judicial branch have?
    • What relationship does the judicial branch have to the executive and legislative branches?
    • How do checks and balances work?
  • Resume the lesson, pausing again at 2:05. Ask:
    • What is the main body of the judicial system?
    • What is the job of the Supreme Court? Does it have total power?
    • Explain the makeup of the Supreme Court.
    • How are Supreme Court judges chosen? Explain the process.
    • What is the role of the lower courts? Who is on the lower courts in your area?
  • Restart the lesson and pause again at 3:12. Ask students to turn and talk to a partner about checks and balances. Listen in to conversations to guide and ask questions, then review as a class.
  • Resume the lesson; pause at 4:32 and discuss:
    • How did the judicial branch's role become defined?
    • Explain how judicial review works.
    • How does the Supreme Court make decisions?
  • Play the Lesson Summary and answer any remaining questions.

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