Week 4: Religion: Context and Application


Inside/Outside discussion

  • Freedom of Expression cases
  • Establishment Clause cases

Tuesday & Wednesday

What can modern history tell us about religion in America? We’ll be watching God in America: On God and Caesar and completing a viewing guide.

Discussion of the documentary. How does this history help us understand Supreme Court decisions? Issues that arise as a result of the intersection of public life and religion.

Texas State Caitol

Thursday & Friday

1. US Supreme Court Syllabus for Van Orden v. Perry

2. Split Ruling on Ten Commandments Displays

3. Van Orden v. Perry (2004)…from Oyez

4. Why Breyers was wrong in Van Orden

5. Supreme Court on a Shoestring

Listen to oral arguments for Van Orden 


Week 3: Role of Religion in Public Life


1. Writing sample. JQ. What are you initial reactions to religion in society? What are the various perspectives that you know about?

2. Where are the pressing and controversial issues?

  1. Prayers in government schools? (foxnews.com)
  2. Is teaching yoga in schools too religious? (channel3000.com)
  3. Sultaana Lakiana Myke Freeman case, 2006
  4. SCOTUS hears Religious Freedom Case  (wsj.com)


1. Understanding the Court Systems

  1. US Courts of Appeals and US Federal District Courts System Map
  2. Wisconsin Court System and map
  3. How a case gets to the Wisconsin Supreme Court | Wisconsin Circuit Courts
    • concern a significant constitutional (federal or state) question;
    • or once decided, will develop, clarify, or harmonize existing law(s);
    • or have not been decided by the Court before; or
      are of statewide importance;
    • or present a question of law that will likely reoccur unless resolved by the Court;
    • or have resulted in conflicting decisions in the lower courts;
    • or although previously decided, may be ripe for reexamination due to changing times
      and circumstances.
  4. Comparison of the federal vs. Wisconsin court systems

2. Create outline for essay on religion in public life. Due Wednesday.


Take the Pew Religion in Public Life Quiz.

1. Upcoming religious issues in the SCOTUS.

2. What do the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses say?

3. How might to Court rule on the upcoming case Town of Greece v. Galloway?


1. Discussion on preliminary position papers.

2. Continue discussion and readings about Town of Greece v Galloway. Read this summary.

Thursday/Friday (in LMC)

1. Gather details on significant court cases involving religion in public life (uva.edu)

2. Use the Oyez project to read the actual opinions.

Week 2: Argument Frameworks


1. Learn about the Toulmin model of argumentation

2. Read Leaving a Tip: A Custom on Need of Changing? (nytimes.com) Complete text mark-up (symbol/color coded for claim, support, and warrant) and vocabulary (fabulous or unclear). Due Wednesday 9/11.


1. Look through a wide variety of web sites and cull together possible social issues for processing this semester. Each group of students (by last name) will be reviewing different sites. Try not to duplicate…we want to cast a really big net.

2. For the social issues you find, write out a possible policy claim that could be made while processing that issue.

3. The list of sites to look through is here.


1. Sort through the possible social issues you found Tuesday. We’ll be organizing and categorizing these in small groups. What are some possible policy claims?

2.Discuss the “Leaving a Tip” article. What were its claims? supports? warrants?

3. Write a persuasive paragraph indicating your position on the tipping issue.

4. What are the strongest supports for two different claims on tipping?


1. Upcoming religious issues in the SCOTUS.

2. Prayers in government schools? (foxnews.com)

9/4-9/6 Course Introduction


Image from Village Voice Story on HONY

Who are the people behind the “social?”

1. What is “Social?” Why should we care about social issues? Who are we caring about?

2. What is a Social Issue?

  • Aired, fairly considered, critically evaluated, significant, contemporary and unresolved
  • What’s your take on inequality? Hans Rosling: 200 years

3. Course Syllabus


University of Michigan Law Library

A great place to spend a summer debate camp!

1. Sustained growth in these 4 areas:

  • Ability to include and explain multiple perspectives
  • Substantive (multiple texts and formats on a range of issues)
  • Thoughtful, reflective, and analytically flexible
  • Confident in both written and public discourse

We will be recording individual monologues that document these areas.

2. My path to discussion & social Issues

About learners…

a. Describe a perfect day outside of school.

b. Describe your past experience in social studies classes. What has been a thrill? a challenge? engaging?

c. How can I help you grow as a learner?

d. Explain your own experience with discussions and public speaking?

e. How do you approach controversy in your life with friends? With family?

3. Common Ground. Where is our group at with respect to speaking and controversy as we begin our semester? (Venn diagram.) How are your ideas about argument and common ground similar to or different from those of your classmates?


1. What is MMSD Board policy on studying controversial issues?

2. Anti-War teach-in Squashed Madison Capital Times, December 3, 2002.