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The Civil Rights Litigation Schoolhouse

Drawing on real cases and their documents, this website posts teaching materials for lessons that localize constitutional law and practice, communicating to students that they and people like them are key participants in developing and contesting civil rights norms relating to equality, fairness, and liberty.

Curriculum

The curricular materials posted here aim to teach about the U.S. Constitution “on the ground.” They highlight civil rights now, not historically, and civil rights struggles all around us—in our neighborhoods, school, workplaces—not just in Washington D.C.

The materials use a variety of instructional strategies—including trial and negotiation and debate role-plays—for teaching about modern civil rights. The materials presented have been developed by the Schoolhouse project of the University of Michigan Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse. Teachers from grades 8 through college can use the materials for lessons that localize constitutional law and practice, communicating to students that they and people like them are participants in developing and contesting civil rights norms.

Approach

Civil Rights

  • “Civil rights” means something current, not merely historical.
  • Civil rights claims are contests about what justice requires.
  • Civil rights struggles happen in your neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces.
  • Civil rights litigation takes place not only in the U.S. Supreme Court, in Washington DC, but in hundreds of courthouses far closer to home.
  • Landmark cases are joined by smaller-scale contests involving people like you.

Law/Litigation

  • Civil lawsuits are one way we resolve disputes.
  • Topics include both the content of what the law requires, and whether the defendant is complying.
  • Litigation includes a variety of procedural protections, designed to implement fair and equal adjudication.
  • Most cases settle: attempts to negotiate an out-of-court resolution are key parts of nearly every lawsuit.

Instructional Strategies

  • Role play: Mock trial, mock argument, negotiation, regulation drafting, debate
  • Guided non-fiction text reading/analysis: Varied (but authentic) document types: articles, court filings, regulations, etc.