Civics & Economicsby Matthew Caggia

Unit 2: The Constitution

Chapters 3 & 4

In this unit we will focus on the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and other Amendments directly relating to Civil Rights and Liberties. Our focus will be on the important ideas and concepts of government included in the document as well as the individual parts from the Preamble through the Amendments. To support this we will also examine a few Supreme Court Cases that have helped to define the meaning of the Constitution over time.

Study Tools

Online Textbook Resources

These pages contain the links to the online content for student practice. It includes Chapter Overviews, Web Activities, Self-Check Quizzes, ePuzzles and Games, Vocabulary Flashcards, Charts in Motion (to accompany diagrams in the textbook), and Interactive Graphic Organizers.


Link to Quizlet! Vocabulary is the key to understanding any subject. Once you can break down the barrier of language the ideas and concepts are wide open. Here you can find the vocabulary for the unit to practice by using online flash cards and by practicing online generated vocabulary quizzes.

Goals & Principles in the Constitution

While the Constitution may have been a bundle of compromises, it holds some lofty goals and embodies some very important principles, all of which make the US Constitution a model for government around the world. It is a model, not because it is a perfect government, far from it, but because of the way it sets out to protect the people and the way it creates a system by which the people can hold the power.

The Bill of Rights

Our most basic rights and liberties were added to the Constitution after it was ratified as a compromise by the Federalists in order to get the Anti-Federalists (Democratic Republicans) to support the document.

Extending the Bill of Rights

While the Bill of Rights protects people's most basic rights in a democratic society, not all of those protection were realized by all segments of the population. Over the course of 220 years the ideas embodied in the first ten Amendments have been extended to ensure more inclusion into our democratic society.


Bad Romance: Women's Suffrage

This parody of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" entertains while it teaches about the struggle for Women's Suffrage and the 19th Amendment. If you like Lady Gaga's music, then this will be a special treat! Enjoy!

Schoolhouse Rock: The Preamble

"The first part of the Constitution is called 'The Preamble' and tells what the founding fathers set out to do." And with a cute jingle this video briefly illustrates and explains each of the six goals of the Constitution.

Schoolhouse Rock: Three-Ring Government

This video illustrates the idea of Separation of Power in the United States. It shows how our government has three branches, each with distinct duties, including the task of watching over the the other two - checks and balances.

Crash Course #23: Civil Rights and Liberties

From the publisher:
Craig is going to give you an overview of civil rights and civil liberties. Often these terms are used interchangeably, but they are actually very different. Our civil liberties, contained in the Bill of Rights, once only protected us from the federal government, but slowly these liberties have been incorporated to protect us from the states. We’ll take a look at how this has happened and the supreme court cases that got us here.

Crash Course #24: Freedom of Religion

From the publisher:
Craig is going to take a look at the First Amendment and your right to freedom of religion. We’ll examine some significant Supreme Court decisions and talk about how they’ve affected our interpretations of the law with respect to stuff like animal sacrifice and prayer in schools. As you’ll see, there aren’t always clearly defined, or bright-line, rules in approaching legal questions. Sometimes tests have to be developed to account for the ever-changing nature of the law and it’s applications - so we’re talk about some of those too.

Crash Course #25: Freedom of Speech

From the publisher:
Craig is going to talk about Free Speech! Now, free speech is so important because it not only allows you to critique the government, but it also protects you from the government. But it's essential to remember that not ALL speech is protected equally under the First Amendment, and just because you have a right to free speech doesn't mean your employer, for instance, can't fire you for something you say (unless your work for the government and then things get a bit more complicated). So we'll take a look at a couple significant Supreme Court cases that have gotten us to our current definition of free speech, and we'll also discuss some of the more controversial aspects of free speech - like hate speech.

Crash Course #26: Freedom of the Press

From the publisher:
Craig is going to finish up our discussion of the First Amendment with freedom of the press. Like an individual's right to free speech, the press has a right, and arguably responsibility, to tell the public what the government is doing. But of course there are some complications in doing so, like if that information will compromise national security or wrongfully discredit an individual. When considering Edward Snowden's NSA disclosures or Julian Assange's Wikileaks, it's just as important as ever to understand the role of the press in informing the public as well as our role as citizens in staying informed.

Crash Course #27: Search and Seizure

From the publisher:
Craig talks about police searches and seizures. Now, the fourth amendment says that you have the right to be protected against "unreasonable searches and seizures" but what exactly does this mean? Well, it's complicated. The police often need warrants issued with proof of probable cause, but this isn't always the case - such as when you're pulled over for a moving violation. We'll finish up with the limitations of these protections and discuss one group of people in particular that aren't protected equally - students.

Crash Course #28: Due Process of Law

From the publisher:
Craig is going to continue our discussion of due process. Technically, we started last week with the 4th amendment and search and seizure, but this week we’re going to look at the 5th and 6th amendments and how they ensure a fair trial. We’ll talk about some stuff you tend to hear a lot on tv, like your right to an attorney and a jury of your peers and also terms like “double jeopardy” and “pleading the fifth”. Now, this stuff can get pretty complicated, which is where lawyers come in handy, but it’s important to know your liberties to keep the police and other judicial officers in check.

Crash Course #29: Equal Protection

From the publisher:
Craig is going to talk about the most important part of the Constitution - the Fourteenth Amendment. In particular, we're going to discuss the "equal protection" clause and how it relates to our civil rights. So we've spent the last few episodes talking about civil liberties , or our protections from the government, but civil rights are different as they involve how some groups of citizens are able to treat other groups (usually minorities) under existing laws. We'll talk about the process the Supreme Court follows in equal protection cases, called strict scrutiny, and look at one landmark case, Brown v Board of Education, and explain its role in starting the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

Crash Course #30: Sex Discrimination

From the publisher:
Craig is going to talk about employment discrimination, and we're going to focus primarily on women in the workforce. Discrimination against women tends to be handled somewhat differently in the courts as they are not a minority. Even so, the courts need a method for challenging issues to help further important government interests - this is called intermediate scrutiny. (If you'll remember, strict scrutiny is the most rigorous form of judicial review and rational basis review is the least rigorous.) So we'll talk about things like disparate impact and sexual harassment in the workplace and how these cases are handled in the courts.


Copyright M. Caggia 2015