Freedom of Assembly: The Right to Protest
This lesson from Annenberg Classroom will focus on freedom of assembly, as found in the First Amendment. Students will consider the importance of the right to assemble and protest by analyzing cases where First Amendment rights were in question. Using the case National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, students will consider if the government is ever allowed to control the ability to express ideas in public because viewpoints are controversial, offensive, or painful. Students will use primary sources and Supreme Court cases to consider whether the courts made the correct decision in the National Socialist Party v. Skokie case. Students will be able to form an opinion on the essential question: Is the government ever justified to restrict the freedom to assemble?
Students will be able to infer how the struggle to balance freedom of assembly and keeping the peace has been a constant challenge for the U.S. government throughout its history. Students will be able to evaluate the reasons for government restriction of freedom of assembly and use historical empathy in considering the opinions of citizens who fought against the rights of hate groups to assemble. Students will be able to analyze primary sources to identify the point of view, purpose, and audience of a source. They will also use primary sources to analyze historical arguments.
Students will be able to use historical thinking to analyze patterns and connections between historical events and developments. Students will be able to compare and contrast primary sources to determine similarities between key ideas and Supreme Court cases. Students will be able to support a position by using and applying primary sources to determine if the U.S. Supreme Court and Illinois Supreme Court made the correct decisions in the National Socialist Party v. Skokie case. Students will be able to evaluate the importance of freedom of assembly in helping social movements obtain their goals.
• Is the government ever justified to restrict the freedom of assembly?
• How has freedom of assembly assisted protest movements to communicate their message and push for change?
• Begin by writing this section of the First Amendment on the board. “Congress shall make no law... abridging...the right of the people peaceably to assemble...” – United States Constitution, First Amendment.
Ask students what “peaceably assemble” means to them? What are appropriate times and locations for groups to protest or promote issues? Continue the conversation with the following questions: Under what situations, if any, should the government be allowed to place reasonable restrictions on protests and demonstrations? Follow up by asking why they think the founders put freedom of assembly in the First Amendment.
• Hand out Worksheet #1 – The Importance of Freedom of Assembly and discuss with students. • Play the film “Freedom of Assembly: National Socialist Party v. Skokie” (29 minutes) • Explain to students that they are going to have a debate (or write an essay or opinion piece) on whether the courts made the correct decision in National Socialist Party v. Skokie. Divide students into two groups: one in favor of the courts’ decision and one against. • Students can either read the Supreme Court cases and Skokie primary sources for homework or at the start of the next class in their group if they will be having a debate.
Worksheet #2 consists of Supreme Court cases and Worksheet #3 includes primary sources dealing with the Skokie case. Worksheets can be used for both the debate and a student essay.
• Option #1 – Debate: Students will debate if the U.S. Supreme Court and Illinois Supreme Court made the right decision in the National Socialist Party v. Skokie case.
• Option #2 – Essay: Assign students to read the worksheet and write an essay on if they agree with the U.S. Supreme Court’s and Illinois Supreme Court’s decision in the National Socialist Party v. Skokie case. Students should use precedent (past cases) and the Skokie primary sources in their response.
OPTIONAL LESSON EXTENSION
Students can discuss their findings in the next class. Option for Extension Activity: Worksheet #4
• Students will be assigned a social movement to research individually or in group to create a presentation or report. Presentations/reports will focus on how social movements used the right to assemble as a means to unite, magnify their voice, and get their message across to the public and politicians.
9TH – 10th GRADE COMMON CORE STANDARDS CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.6 Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.8 Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claim. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.9 Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources. 11TH – 12TH GRADE COMMON
CORE STANDARDS CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas. CCSS.ELA-
LITERACY.RH.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem. CCSS.ELA-
LITERACY.RH.11-12.8 Evaluate an author's premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.9 Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.