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How Does the Constitution Protect Liberty?

75 min


  • Students will identify some enumerated and implied rights.
  • Students will summarize why the Founders included the Ninth Amendment in the Bill of Rights.
  • Students will understand the impact of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments on liberty.
  • Students will analyze how an invasion of privacy affects an individual.
  • Students will evaluate liberty cases in the courts.
  • Students will evaluate the balancing of the right of personal liberty with public policy.

Have students read Handout B: Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925) Brief and answer the questions that follow.

(20-30 minutes class time, 20 minutes research time)

  1. Review the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments.
  2. Divide students into four groups.
    • Group 1: The Society of Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary
    • Group 2: Hill Military Academy
    • Group 3: Representatives for the Governor Pierce, the attorney general, and the county district attorney.
    • Group 4: The Supreme Court
  3. Using Handout B and any other research materials available, have students research the case. (Note: The teacher may want to print the arguments from for the students to use in while researching.)
    1. Groups 1-3 should research the arguments for their sides.
    2. Group 4 should research the case as a whole and determine which argument makes the most sense.
      1. The students should base their arguments on the Constitution or Bill of Rights.
    3. Have Groups 1-3 share their arguments with Group 4.
      1. Group 4 should make its decision based on the arguments and the constitutionality of the law. Its members should announce their decision to the group.
  4. Have students read Handout C: Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925) Unanimous Opinion.
    1. Have a class discussion about the opinion. Ask these questions:
      1. Did the Courts’ ruling match Group 4’s decision? How was the ruling similar? How was it different?
      2. Do you think the Court’s decision was correct? Why or why not?

  1. Have students complete Handout D: Newspaper Story Guideline in which they will write a newspaper article about the Ninth Amendment.
  2. Students should design a security policy for their school that protects public and private property, students’ safety, and also protects the rights of the population of the school.
    1. What problems do they encounter while writing the policy?
    2. Do they make any sacrifices of security or rights in the final policy?
    3. Have the students discuss answers to the questions above in small groups or as a class.

Student Handouts

Next Lesson

What is the Scope of the Bill of Rights?