SCDBQ Plessy v. Ferguson
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Supreme Court DBQ: Equal Protection and Affirmative ActionThe curriculum, Supreme Court DBQs, was made possible by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities through its We the People program.
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Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies
8. Delineate and evaluate the reasoning in seminal U.S. texts, including the application of constitutional principles and use of legal reasoning (e.g., in U.S. Supreme Court majority opinions and dissents) and the premises, purposes, and arguments in works of public advocacy (e.g., The Federalist, presidential addresses).
Supreme Court in Real Life: Supreme Court Myths/Truths
Identifying and Teaching against Misconceptions: Six Common Mistakes about the Supreme Court by Professor Diana E. Hess, pp. vii-xiii
Supreme Court True/False Challenge1. People in America have a generally positive attitude about the Supreme Court. 2. More people can name two of Snow Whites dwarfs than can name two Supreme Court justices.
3. The Constitutions limits apply to actions by anyone, such as a private organizationor an employer. 4. The Supreme Courts primary function is to liberate people from the heavy hand of a discriminatory majority. 5. The role of the Court is to correct errors when lower courts have made mistakes.
6. It is common for the Court to accept cases filed by poor people in prison.
7. When the Supreme Court rules on a case, it has established the final right answer.8. The Courts judgment is not influenced by individuals or interest groups. 9. Teaching facts such as these might lessen students respect for the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court True/False Challenge1. People in America have a generally positive attitude about the Supreme Court. TRUE 2. More people can name two of Snow Whites dwarfs than can name two Supreme TRUE80% v. 37% Court justices.
3. The Constitutions limits apply to actions by anyone, such as a private organization FALSEConstitution applies only to actions by a federal, state, or localgovernment actor 4. The Supreme Courts primary function is to liberate people the federal judiciaryof a FALSEprimary function is to ensure uniformity in from the heavy hand discriminatory majority. FALSEensure uniformity 5. The role of the Court is to correct errors when lower courts have made mistakes. FALSEone-tenth of to percent of filed by petitions were granted 6. It is common for the Courtoneaccept casespauperspoor people in prison. review FALSE: We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only 7. When the Supreme Court rules on a case, it has established the final right answer. because we are final. Justice Robert Jackson 8.FALSE people interested in a case may file amicus briefs, on which the Court The Courts judgment is not influenced by individuals or interest groups. often relies. 9. Teaching facts such as these might lessen students respect for the Supreme Court. TRUE-- But true respect is much more powerful when it comes from a strong knowledge base. Diana Hess, xiii or an employer.
Elements of The Bill of Rights Institute DBQ approach: Each unit includes a scholarly essay to set the stage.
Within each Landmark Case DBQ Case Background Summary: introduces historical background for case Key Question: focuses attention on constitutional impact Documents: historical case precedents case documents case related material Each document has a scaffolding focus question. Promotes teacher choice and flexibility in design and use of materials.
Equal Protection and Affirmative Action: Related CasesPlessy v. Ferguson, 1896, p. 41 Brown v. Board of Education, 1954, p. 53 Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 1978 p. 63 Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger, 2003, p. 75
Equal Protection and Affirmative Action, Warner Winborne, Ph.D. pp. 37-39Equality is self-evidentnot governments job Civil War Amendments made it governments job to promote equality What is equal protection?legal & political, not social & economic Plessy established separate but equal as the rule for social interactions. However, several decisions endorsed legal & political equality. 1954Brown v. Board of Education was the real turning point. 1978Regents of the University of California v. Bakke established that affirmative action lives, but that the Equal Protection Clause prohibits reverse discrimination. 2003Gratz v. Bollinger & Grutter v. Bollinger, cases from University of Michigan, established that affirmative action still lives, but must be narrowly tailored.
According to the Supreme Courts ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson, what was the basic flaw in Plessys argument? Plessy was wrong to argue that 1. social prejudices could be overcome without legislation.2. separation of the races meant that one race was inferior.
he should not have been subject to Louisianas segregation law.the Fourteenth Amendment did not apply to his case. Not sure
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)1896-Plessy v. Ferguson was one of the key cases that started the U.S. on the long road to Equal Protection. Read the Case Background on p. 41.
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)Tools for Understanding: Key Question Enduring Significance
Key Question for Plessy v. Ferguson, p. 42
Evaluate thedegree to which each of the following informed the ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson: custom, precedent, and understanding of federalism.14
Sala Capitular, room in New Orleans where the Louisiana Supreme Court heard Plessy v. Ferguson in 1892; photo ca. 1903
Teaching the DBQ Lesson Planfor AP US HistoryOverview/Outside Infowhat you know before you look at the documents Information about Information about Plessys position Fergusons position Evidence Source Evidence Source
Teaching the DBQ Lesson PlanKey Question,P. 42
Plessy: Evaluate the degree to which each of the following informed the ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson: custom, precedent, and understanding of federalism.Analyze the prompt What do we mean by custom? Precedent? Federalism? How did each of these elements relate to the issue of equal protection in Homer Plessys case?
Document Analysis Plessy v. FergusonAnalysis of Evidence
In 4 groups--skim documents A-IFavors Plessy Favors Ferguson
Custom (tradition)Precedent (formaldocument or official procedure)
Federalism(division of power between national & state levels)
Place document letters in the appropriate cell(s) in graphic organizer.
Group AssignmentsGroup 1: Documents A, C, D Group 2: Documents B, E Group 3: Documents F, G Group 4: Documents H, I
Favors FergusonPlace document letters in the appropriate cell(s) in graphic organizer.
Documents A, C, D, pages 43-44Founding Documents A. Declaration of Independence: reflects Founders belief in the ideal of equality of rights. C. Constitution, Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3: Enslaved individuals are persons, not property. Nevertheless, they are counted unequally for purposes of determining representation and taxation. D. Tenth Amendment: affirms powers of the states and of the people.
Documents B & E, pages 43-44Jeffersons views regarding racial equality B. Blacks may be inferior with respect to reason and imagination, according to Jefferson. However, Jefferson does not say they are not entitled to equal rights. E. Jefferson hopes he is wrong about inferiority. However, even if they are inferior in understanding, they still have equal rights.
Documents F & G, pages 45-46Appeals to the promise of Founding Documents F. Adams argues for freedom for the Africans captured from the Amistad by citing the Constitution, which recognizes them as persons, and by citing the Declaration, which asserts that all persons have rights. G. The artist uses symbolism to illustrate the Declarations promise of freedom and equality.21
Documents H & I, page 47The Meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment H. The Fourteenth Amendment clearly prohibits states from denying to any person the equal protection of the law. I. In the Civil Rights Cases of 1883, the Supreme Court ruled that it would be absurd to believe that the Fourteenth Amendment means what it says.22
Suggested Responses: Document Analysis Favors Plessy Favors Ferguson B, E, G, I I
Custom (tradition)Precedent(formal document or official procedure)
A,E, F, G
Separate but equal is OK favored Ferguson.
Federalism(division of power between national & state levels)
C, D, H
C, D, I
How did the Supreme Court rule in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)?
Additional DocumentsJ. Final Judgment, 1896 M. At the bus station, 1940 Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
Louisiana Supreme Court decision was affirmed; Plessy lost at both levels.
Segregation, separate but equal, was institutionalized for decades to come.
In 1954, the Court invalidated the principle of separate but equal because of its effects, making th