NewsHour Extra Feature Stories
NewsHour Extra features stories can help students identify and interpret
key issues in current events. This activity anticipates one class period,
but the follow-up essay might be assigned as homework, or in another period.
Warm Up: Use
initiating questions to introduce the topic and find out how much your
Have students read NewsHour Extra's feature story and answer the questions
on the reading comprehension handout.
Use discussion questions to encourage students to think about how the
issues outlined in the story affect their lives and express and debate
can write an 500-word editorial on the topic expressing their views and
send it to NewsHour Extra [firstname.lastname@example.org]
for possible publication.
Students are graded on their answers to reading comprehension questions
and/or their editorial.
Court Opens New Term with 48 Cases, 10/13/03
1. What does the
Supreme Court do?
2. Can you name some important Supreme Court cases in history?
3. How do Supreme Court decisions affect you?
Questions: (click here for printout)
1. When was the Supreme
Court founded? What term is it beginning?
The Supreme Court,
which was founded in 1789 has begun a new session, its 214th term.
2. What will probably
be the most high-profile case this term? Why is it important?
The most high-profile
case this season will probably be the court's ruling on the constitutionality
of a 2002 campaign finance law, also known as the McCain-Feingold law.
In the case, which officially opened last term but will be ruled on
this term, the court will focus on two aspects of the law: The banning
of certain contributions to national political parties, also called
"soft money" contributions; and the strict limits put on TV
and radio ads paid for by corporations or unions before an election.
3. Explain the terms
"writs of certiorari" and "writ of cert." Why are
certiorari" are requests to the Supreme Court to hear a certain
case. This term there are more 7,000 of them. The process of accepting
a case is called a "writ of cert."
Whether the court
does decide to take a case could have a major impact on the case and
its participants. Because the Supreme Court is the ultimate appeals
court, if the justices decided not to hear it, the ruling of the lower
court stands and the losers have to accept the verdict.
4. What is Locke v.
Davey? Explain in detail.
Locke v. Davey
is one case that is scheduled for opening arguments in December. It
considers the state of Washington's refusal to allow a college theology
major to receive a state-sponsored college scholarship. The case is
similar to a one argued two terms ago in which the court ruled in favor
of a family who wanted to use school vouchers -- paid for by the government
-- to pay for a parochial or private school.
5. What cases has
the Supreme Court thrown out? Why
So far in the
last week, the court has thrown out several cases, some filed by World
War II veterans who were forced to be slaves while they were prisoners
of war (POWs) in Japan. The court chose not to hear those cases because
it said a treaty between the United States and Japan, signed after the
war, prevents POWs from either side from seeking damages, such as payment,
(more research might be needed):
1. Do you think Americans know enough about what the Supreme Court does?
Why is it important to know what cases the Supreme Court is considering?
2. Should the Supreme
Court hear every case that petitions to be heard? Why or why not?
3. Research one of
the cases set to go before the Supreme Court this term. What is your opinion
of the case? How do you think the court will vote? Explain your reasoning.
Write a 300-500 word
essay on any of these topics providing clear examples. Send your completed
editorial to NewsHour Extra [email@example.com].
Exceptional essays might be published on our Web site.