Fuller Court Press

Everybody who is anybody knows the U.S. Supreme Court currently has 9 members. But it doesn’t have to be that size. What is the largest the U.S. Supreme Court has ever been?

  1. What the what!?!?!

  2. How inaccurate was your prediction?

  3. If you asked 100 people (not at a political science convention but in the mall) how big the Supreme Court was at its largest, how many do you predict would get the right answer?

  4. What most surprised you about this data?

  5. What is the smallest the Supreme Court has ever been?

  6. What is the big story this chart tells?

  7. Article III, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution states that, “The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” Does that say anything about the number of members of the Supreme Court?

  8. List one question you have about this chart.

  9. The size of the Supreme Court is not fixed by the Constitution. It is determined by Congress. The original Judiciary Act of 1789 set the number of justices at six. What branch then, gets to determine the size of the U.S. Supreme Court?

  10. Why has the number of justices changed over the years?

  11. What is one consequence of a changing Supreme Court size?

  12. Could the current Congress legally change the size of the SCOTUS?

  13. Do you think they should?

  14. During Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Presidency, many of his New Deal plans were blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court. Why didn’t Roosevelt just fire the Justices who consistently voted against him?

  15. Tired of losing in the Court, President Roosevelt proposed the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 (known as the "court-packing plan") which gave the President power to appoint an additional Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, up to a maximum of six. How would this “court packing” allow the president to more likely get what he wanted through the Supreme Court?

  16. Many Democrats are now convinced that if a Democrat wins the presidency in 2020 (a big if), the Supreme Court (which is majority Republican) should be enlarged. Why would Democrats want to enlarge the size of the Supreme Court under a Democratic president?

  17. Explain whether divided government would make a court packing plan more or less likely to succeed.

  18. FDR’s court packing scheme was opposed by a coalition of Democrats and Republicans. Why do you think they worked together to stop the POTUS from enlarging the court?

  19. Explain your opinion on whether you think Supreme Court Justices should serve for life.

  20. How likely is it that one of your class members stands up in the middle of this class and sings The Star Spangled Banner. It would be disruptive, but it would be very patriotic. Think about it. How likely is it?

Visual Extension


Learning Extension

Unless you like rated-R movies, whatever you do do NOT read this super-short and fun-fun-fun, hilarious and heartwarming story that will certainly be made into a Rom-Com one day: Structural Reforms to the Federal Judiciary. Really, don’t- you’ll hate it!

Action Extension

These are the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Republican members

Democratic members

Cats In Hats Extension

Yes they did! Cats in Melon Hats!

American Race

Whites are no longer the majority (more than half) racial group in California. In what year will Whites cease to be the majority racial group in the entire U.S.?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about the data from the chart?

  3. If demographic trends continue, at some point, American will become (like California is now) minority-majority. In other words, Whites will still be the biggest group (plurality) but they will not longer be more than half of the population (majority). Approximately what year will this happen?

  4. What's the big story this chart tells?

  5. List two causes of the changes reflected in the chart?

  6. List two consequences of the changes reflected in the chart?

  7. How does the information in the chart impact the following linkage institutions: elections, mass media, political parties, interest groups?

  8. Explain whether the changes reflected in the chart is good news or bad news?

  9. In what way are the changes expressed in the chart reflected in your own life?

  10. Jot down one question you have about this chart?

  11. Make a prediction for what this chart will look like in 2080 America (if there is a 2080 America):

  12. My student, Esméralda, said that a direct consequence of the data in the chart was the election of Barack Obama and the election of Donald Trump. Explain how both those things could be true.

  13. How do you think the demographic changes reflected in this chart impacted the 2016 election?

  14. Explain how the projected American racial changes will impact overall American political culture and values?

  15. In the comments section, write about how the changes reflected in the chart are impacting politics in the US today.

  16. In Letter From Birmingham Jail, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. defends the use of civil disobedience to fight for civil rights. Based on his letter, explain Dr. King’s position on fighting for equal rights today.

  17. Imagine you were a political party leader. Describe one step you would take regarding this data.

  18. Explain how you think the following people would respond to this chart and explain why:

  • Liberals

  • Conservatives

  • Republicans

  • Democrats

  • Dr. Martin Luther King

  • James “Tiny” Madison

  • Donald Trump

  • Your grandparents

Visual Extension


Learning Extension

Check out these 10 charts on the changing face of America.

Learning Extension Extension

Do yourself a favor and dive into the 1619 Project from the NYTimes. And you can find curriculums, guides and activities for students developed by the Pulitzer Center at pulitzercenter.org/1619.

CONVO Extension

Join in dialogue with your class on the topic of race. Here’s how CONVO works.

Action Extension

Find out the demographics of your county or city and make a comparison of your local data with the national data. Make a post comparing your hometown to the nation at large on social media with the hashtag #changingamerica

Presidential Incumbents

When Presidents run for reelection do they usually win or lose?*

*Obama was reelected in 2012 (after this chart was created)

*Obama was reelected in 2012 (after this chart was created)

  1. How accurate was you prediction?

  2. What story does the data tell about incumbent presidents getting reelected?

  3. Why do you think that is?

  4. What is a consequence of this?

  5. Make a claim, based solely on the data from the chart above, about the odds of President Trump being reelected.

  6. Now make a claim, based NOT on the data from the chart above, but based on your knowledge of the current Presidential administration, public opinion, the economy, and the general mood of the country, about the odds of President Trump being reelected.

  7. Compare the presidents from the reelected column (left) of the chart above to those who were not reelected (right). Describe which side the most successful and positively judged presidents generally fall on.*

  8. As you know, Congressional incumbents win at a much higher rate (almost 90%) than presidential incumbents. Why do you think that is?

  9. In Federalist 70, Alexander Hamilton (Alexander Hamilton. My name is Alexander Hamilton
    And there's a million things I haven't done
    But just you wait, just you wait...
    ) writes that “Energy in the Executive is a leading character in the definition of good government. It is essential to the protection of the community against foreign attacks; it is not less essential to the steady administration of the laws; to the protection of property against those irregular and high-handed combinations which sometimes interrupt the ordinary course of justice; to the security of liberty against the enterprises and assaults of ambition, of faction, and of anarchy.” In what way is the “energy” Hamilton writes about a good thing?

  10. In what way is the “energy” Hamilton writes about a bad thing?

  11. In Federalist No. 51 James Madison (James Freaking Madison. My names is James Freaking Madison. And there’s a second presidency I have won. Of United States, United States…) wrote that “ambition must be made to counteract ambition…In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” What system did Madison create to limit the government?

  12. The Congress is currently battling the POTUS. What would Madison think about all this checking and balancing that is currently happening?

  13. Would are some powers Madison placed in the U.S. Constitution to check the Presidency and keep it from becoming too powerful.

  14. Describe a formal power the President has that make them more likely to be reelected.*

  15. Describe an informal power the President has that make them more likely to be reelected.*

  16. Although he could have been POTUS for life, George Washington presented his Farewell Address in a newspaper article September 17, 1796 announcing his decision not to seek a third term as President. Do you agree with this First President precedent?

  17. In 1951 the 22nd Amendment limited presidents to two terms in office. Considering that Barack Obama would probably be in the middle of his third presidential term were it not for the 22nd Amendment, make a claim about whether this constitutional limit was a good idea.

  18. Explain whether you would support a 28th Amendment limiting presidents to one term.

Visual Extension*

% supporting Trump impeachment

% supporting Trump impeachment

Trump Approval Rating

Trump Approval Rating

Hot Hot Hot

Hot Hot Hot

Learning Extension

Read this article on Presidential Incumbents by Yale University political science professor and professional juggler David Mayhew.

Action Extension

Register to vote. If you are not old enough to register to vote then register someone who is old enough. In the next presidential election vote or convince someone who is old enough to vote to do your bidding at the ballot box.

Random Data


Cats Ringing Bells for Treats…but with a Twist!

Hey there sports fans. Why don’t you click on that pretty little red heart just to the bottom right hand below to show how much you love two term presidents!

Tax The Poor

Who pays a higher tax rate in the U.S., the lowest or the highest paid Americans?



The overall tax rate on the richest 400 households last year was only 23 percent, meaning that their combined tax payments equaled less than one quarter of their total income.



  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What story does this chart tell about tax rates in America today?

  3. How does the tax rate for the rich and the poor compare today?

  4. Why do you think that is?

  5. What is one consequence of this?

  6. How has the tax rate for the rich changed over the past half century?

  7. Why do you think that is?

  8. What is one consequence of this tax rate change for the rich?

  9. If you were one of the 400 richest households in the U.S. would you want your tax rate lowered?

  10. Warren buffet, America’s 3rd wealthiest person (net worth: $82 billion) famously pays less in taxes than his secretary. Make a claim about the fairness of this.

  11. In what way are the following branches of government involved in making tax policy: Legislative, executive, judicial.

  12. What would the following people say about the tax rate for the richest Americans: Socialist, liberal, conservative, Libertarian, the current POTUS.

  13. By the middle of the 20th century, The United States had arguably the world’s most progressive tax code, with a top income-tax rate of 91 percent and a corporate tax rate above 50 percent. What would a government with higher tax rates have more of?

  14. In the mid-20th century the U.S. government spent a large part of their tax revenue on things like the interstate highway program, fighting WWII, landing on the moon, Medicare and other programs. Was that a good investment in our nation?

  15. The justification for lowering top income-tax rates was usually that the economy as a whole would benefit. This justification was known by various names such as supply-side economics or the trickle-down theory. The justification turned out to be wrong. The wealthy, and only the wealthy, have done fantastically well over the last several decades. G.D.P. growth has been disappointing, and middle-class income growth even worse. Explain whether you think the U.S. will reverse course and raise taxes on the richest Americans?

  16. let’s say that your crazy uncle said that the data from the chart was fake. What would be three steps you could take to find out if this data were reliable?

  17. if the overall tax rate on the richest 1 percent roughly doubled, to about 60 percent. The tax increases would bring in about $750 billion a year, or 4 percent of G.D.P. List the top three ways you would spend (or save) that revenue:

  18. Imagine that you were a candidate for president and you ran on a platform of raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. How do you think the average American would like that plan?

  19. What could average Americans do to support such a plan?

  20. How do you think the wealthiest Americans would like that plan to raise taxes on them?

  21. What could wealthy Americans do to oppose a plan they did not like?

  22. Do you think a candidate in 2020 with a plan to raise taxes on the wealthiest would most likely win election?

Learning Extension

Read Pulitzer Prize winning author David Leonhardt’s op-ed about American tax rates.

Action Extension

Find out about the tax plan of any 2020 candidate for President and share the plan and your opinion of it online or in class.

Visual Extension

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Midterm Turn Up!


How did 2018 midterm election turnout compare to all other midterm elections over the past century?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. How often do you get these predictions right, anyway?

  3. What most surprised you about this data?

  4. What question do you have about this data?

  5. How did 2018 midterm election turnout compare to all other midterm elections over the past century?

  6. Why do you think that is?

  7. What is a consequence of that?

  8. In general, how would you characterize midterm election turnout in the U.S.?

  9. Based on your knowledge of U.S. politics and U.S. history, how do you explain that?

  10. What usually happens to the party of the president when there is high midterm turnout?*

  11. If you had to bet, what do you think midterm voter turnout would look like over the next decade?

  12. What has been the average midterm turnout over the past century?

  13. How does midterm turnout compare to presidential election turnout?*

  14. How do you explain that difference?

  15. In the highest U.S. midterm election turnout of the whole entire century, less than half of the people who could have voted (Voting Eligible Population or VEP), did. How do you think that compares to other countries?*

  16. As the U.S. House has begun an impeachment inquiry this has energized the Republican and the Democratic base. How do you think this will impact voter turnout in 2020?

  17. What states have the highest voter turnout?*

  18. What was the percentage of voter turnout for 18-29 year-olds in the last midterm elections?*

Visual Extension*

AP U.S. Government and Politics

AP U.S. Government and Politics

Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 10.45.36 AM.png

Learning Extension

Read College Student Voting Doubled In 2018. What It Could Mean For 2020.

Action Extension

Register to vote!!!! In many states, you don't even have to be 18 to register, you just have to be 18 by election day: Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

Animal Extension

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