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Our Future is a Constitutional Right! How to use our rights to defend what we love (6-8)

200 minutes
Approximately 200 minutes: interactive activities supported by PowerPoint slides.
Primary subjects: 
Civics and Government
Grade: 
6, 7, 8
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Lesson 6 explores a game-changing action in real time: How to use our constitutional rights to limit the power of a centralized government, drawing on real examples from the youth-driven, game-changing climate cases in federal and state courts. Students explore: (1) constitutional rights cases, trial proceedings, and legal concepts like standing; (2) climate justice as constitutional rights cases, how the court recognizes new fundamental rights, and the Public Trust Doctrine; (3) remedies in constitutional rights cases and how youth might engage in local climate recovery actions to support their peers; and (4) how these constitutional rights cases proceed through the U.S. judicial system. Students gain an understanding of how values, law, science, and politics interface when addressing complex public problems with multiple perspectives.

Key objectives for students
Describe constitutional rights cases as claims of personal harm from government actions that have violated fundamental rights.
Explain elements of a court case, including parts that occur before and after trial and “standing” as the ability to proceed to trial.
Describe fundamental rights as either deeply rooted in our nation’s history or central to our order of society.
Describe the Public Trust Doctrine as law with a special trust relationship, under which governments have a fiduciary duty of care for certain natural and cultural resources and citizens have rights; give examples of public trust resources.
Describe remedies for harm in constitutional rights cases as court declarations of harm, rights, or duties and court orders to government to create and put into effect plans to obey laws, or to do or stop doing specific activities; give specific example
Explain that the responsibility for taking care of resources critical for human survival rests with everyone—federal, state, and local governments; courts, businesses, and home owners; schools, adults, youth, and themselves.
Explain constitutional rights cases as game changers that establish new or protect existing constitutional rights and change the way we think and act in society.
Describe how court system is organized in three levels and how civil rights cases proceed through the system.
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