Birthright Citizenship

US Government and Politics

How many countries guarantee *birthright citizenship?

*Automatic citizenship to anyone born in that country

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about the state of birthright citizenship in the world?

  3. What patterns do you see in the map?

  4. What is the big story this map tells?

  5. What is one consequence of a country not offering birthright citizenship?

  6. What criteria for citizenship should our nation have?

  7. Do you believe that the US should continue to offer birthright citizenship?

  8. Are there any restrictions you would place on birthright citizenship?

  9. The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees citizenship to all natural born Americans. Do you think the XIV Amendment should be repealed?

  10. Let's say that the POTUS wanted to end birthright citizenship. What steps could they take to make that happen?

Learning Extension

Learn more about the birthright citizenship battle at Vox.

Action Extension

Contact your U.S. Senator and let them know what you think about birthright citizenship.

Popular Amendments

Since 1999, what has been the most common subject of proposed Constitutional amendments?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. Based on the table above, what category of proposal is the most common?

  3. Why do you think that is?

  4. Do the types of proposals listed above tend to expand or diminish individual rights?


  6. Which of the amendment proposals above were ACTUALLY passed by Congress and then ratified by the states, becoming part of the U.S. Constitution?

  7. Explain Why so many Amendments are proposed, when they are very unlikely to be passed and ratified?

  8. Describe the connection between federalism and the Amendment process.

  9. How do you think the frequency of Amendment proposals varies by political party?*

  10. Why are Conservatives more likely to try to Amend the ConstituTion than Democrats?

  11. The U.S. Constitution is famously difficult to amend: It takes a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate, then ratification by three-quarters of the states. Of the roughly 12,000 amendments proposed since the Constitutional Convention, only 33 have gone to the states for ratification, and just 27 have made it all the way into the Constitution. EXPLAIN WHETHER THE DIFFICULTY OF THE AMENDMENT PROCESS MEANS THAT THE FRAMERS WERE MORE INTERESTED IN A PLURALIST SYSTEM OR AN ELITE SYSTEM.

  12. Take ten seconds and draw the process of Amending the Constitution. I know, I know: you aren’t an artist, this isn’t AP Studio Art, You’re hangry. I get it. But really, this will really, Really, Really help you remember the The process of Amending the Constitution - I promise. Take ten seconds and draw The Amending the Constitution. Don’t worry, I’m not going to take this up for a grade, Tweet it to all your Enemies. Just draw: It can be stick figures, blocks and shapes, or total abstraction - it doesn’t matter. Once you complete your drawing, take a second and look at your masterpiece. That’s it. Really. Now you’ve got The The Amendment process in Your long term memory - right where we ant it! Thank you for playing.

Learning ExtenSion

Read the Pew report on recent attempts to Amend the Constitution.

Action Extension

Your classroom is the U.S. Congress - whoot. Take the proposed Amendment above that you think is most likely to be passed by Congress and vote on it in your class. If it passes Congress (2/3), then your class becomes the states - whoot! Vote again and see if the proposed Amendment IS ratified by the states (3/5).

Visual Extension

Politicians separated at Birth Extension

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AP US Government & Politics

Since 1999, how many amendments to the Constitution have been sponsored in the U.S. Congress?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this data?

  3. What story does this chart tell?

  4. Why do you think that is?

  5. What is a political consequence of this information?

  6. Which party proposed the most amendments?

  7. Why do you think that is?

  8. How many of these proposals received the 2/3 Congressional approval necessary to send them to the next step in the Amendment process?

  9. Why do you think these lawmakers are proposing amendments to the constitution instead of just passing a law?

  10. What topic do you think most of those Amendment proposals were about?*

  11. The last time a proposed amendment gained the necessary two-thirds support in both the House and Senate was 1978, when a measure giving District of Columbia residents voting representation in Congress was sent to the states for ratification. Only 16 states had ratified it when the seven-year time limit expired. When was the last time the U.S. Constitution was amended?

  12. Some would say it is too difficult to amend the Constitution? Explain your opinion of this:

  13. Just for kicks, let's just say you were planning to amend the Constitution. What method would you use to amend it?

  14. If you were to propose an amendment to the Constitution what would you propose?** Submit your proposal in the comments section below. The winner will get a certificate of achievement and will alter the US Constitution!

*Bonus Chart!!!!

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Learning Extension

Learn more about this with the good folks at Pew.

Action Extension

Contact your congressional representative and ask them to propose your amendment** to the Constitution.

Average Length of Service of Supreme Court Justices

How long does the average justice stay on the Supreme Court bench?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What is the big story the chart tells?

  3. Overall, what is one trend you see in the chart?

  4. What is a cause of this trend?

  5. What is a consequence of this trend?

  6. Do you think it's a good thing that the average Supreme Court Justice serves on the Court for 1/4 of a century?

  7. Imagine a scenario in which a current Judicial appointment is approved by the Senate, and their tenure of office follows the average, what is the last year they would serve on the Court?*

  8. The average age of the current Supreme Court is over 70. Do you think that it's a good thing that people the age of your grandparents are making decisions about hings like digital privacy rights, same-sex-marriage, and affirmative action?

  9. Given recent trends, what do you think the average term length of a supreme court justice will be like 40 years from now?

  10. Currently, Justices serve for life. In the comments section, explain whether you think there should be a Constitutional Amendment limiting Justices' terms:

Action Extension

Article III of the United States Constitution outlines Congress's power to oversee the judiciary. Contact Senator Charles Grassley, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and share your thoughts on whether Supreme Court Justices should serve for life:

Learning Extension

Read this fascinating Atlantic article about limiting the tenure of Justices to 18 years.


Supreme Court No Vacancy

Conservative Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia died this weekend setting off a battle about President Obama's plan to nominate new Supreme Court justice during his last year in office.

¿Has the President ever appointed a Supreme Court Justice in the last year of his term of office?

NYTimes. See more of the interactive below

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What story does the chart tell?

  3. What does The U.S. Constitution Article II Section 2* say about how and when Supreme Court appointment can be made?

  4. What chamber of Congress gets to approve nominations of Supreme Court Justices?

  5. What has Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said about whether the Senate will approve any Obama nomination in the last year of his presidency?

  6. Since President Nixon's first term in 1968, what president named the most Supreme Court Justices?

  7. Justice Antonin Scalia served on the Supreme Court during how many different presidential administrations?

  8. In the comments section, explain whether you think President Obama should nominate someone to fill the vacancy left by the death of Antonin Scalia:

Action Extension

Contact either Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or President Barack Obama and share your opinion about whether the Senate should approve an Obama nominee for the Supreme Court:

Learning Extension

Read more about Scalia's death, the confirmation process, and where we might be headed.

*[The President] shall nominate, and, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.