Landmark United States Court Cases Activities for High School

Instructor: Heather Jenkins

Heather has a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in special education. She was a public school teacher and administrator for 11 years.

While students learn about the judicial branch of the United States government, consider using these activities to help them identify landmark court cases and understand their importance in American history.

Case Closed

Sometimes the sound of a judge's gavel just means the end of a case. Other times, the end of a case can bring about a drastic change in the history of the United States.

When students study landmark court cases, they can learn how the judicial process has brought forth changes in the government, society, and culture of the United States throughout the years. Consider using these activities to help students identify and connect with landmark court cases in the United States.

Outcome Match

Students will engage in a matching game to connect landmark cases to their outcomes.


  • Index cards
  • Marker

Teacher Directions


  • Create sets of index cards that contain cards listing landmark court cases in the United States and cards with their corresponding case outcomes.
  • Consider using cases such as:
    • Marbury v. Madison
    • Gibbons v. Ogden
    • Brown v. Board of Education
    • Dred Scott v. Sanford
    • Plessy v. Ferguson
    • Near v. Minnesota
    • Roe v. Wade
    • Miranda v. Arizona


  • Introduce the landmark court cases you included in the sets of index cards. Have students discuss each case and the outcome.
  • Divide students into groups and provide each group with a set of the index cards you created.
  • Groups should match the landmark court case to its correct outcome.
  • Students should discuss how each case impacted the history of the United States and the daily lives of Americans.

Discussion Questions

  • How did these landmark court cases change United States history?
  • Which case do you think had the most impact on Americans' lives? Why?

ABCs of a Case

Students will come up with words/phrases, starting with each letter of the alphabet, to describe a landmark case.


  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • Access to print/online resources

Teacher Directions

  • Review important landmark court cases, like the ones in the 'Outcome Match' activity, with the students.
  • Divide the class into small groups and provide each group with chart paper and markers.
  • Assign each group one of the landmark court cases. Have students use print/online resources to further research the case.
  • Each group will create a list of words/phrases having to do their case. Groups should try to come up with a word/phrase for each letter of the alphabet. For example, students assigned Miranda v. Arizona, might have the following words: 'Arrest, Bringing him in for questioning, Circumstantial evidence‚Ķ'
  • When students are finished, have them share their ABC lists with the class.

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