Lesson Plan: Civil Liberties and the Coronavirus

10th Amendment and Balance of Power

National Constitution Center's Jeffrey Rosen talked about the 10th Amendment, the relationship between the federal and state governments and citizens.


The U.S. Constitution provides for a balance of power between the federal and state governments while protecting the rights of citizens. Securing those rights during a time of crisis can be challenging. With the stay-at-home orders that have been enacted in states across the country during this time, people are discussing the impacts on their lives. In this lesson, students will explore the powers granted to the federal and state governments and how they relate to specific constitutional amendments.




    You can post links to videos along with the related questions in this lesson and have students share their responses on a discussion board or learning management system.

    You can save and share the accompanying Google document and have students complete them as they view the related videos.

    Google Handout: Civil Liberties and the Coronavirus

    Have students review the 10th Amendment to distinguish the roles of the federal and state governments and the rights of U.S. citizens.

    Amendment 10: Powers of the States and People

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    Ask students to view the following video clip and respond to the accompanying questions.

    VIDEO CLIP 1: 10th Amendment and Balance of Power (2:42)

    National Constitution Center’s Jeffrey Rosen talked about the 10th Amendment, the relationship between the federal and state governments and citizens.

    • Explain the concern between Federalists and Anti-Federalists at the time the Constitution was written.

    • Explain the concept of dual sovereignty that James Madison discussed in Federalist No. 39 as Jeffrey Rosen describes.

    View the following video clips to learn about the relationship between the current stay-at-home orders and the Constitution. Take notes on the accompanying handout.

    Amendment 1 – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    VIDEO CLIP 2: Religious Gatherings and the 1st Amendment (3:28)

    CBN News' David Brody talked about religious gatherings and the state guidelines that have been put in place during the coronavirus.

    • Describe the issue that is being debated regarding religious institutions and the 1st Amendment.

    • According to David Brody, how are some communities responding to the restrictions?
  • Amendment 4 - Search and Seizure

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    VIDEO CLIP 3: Coronavirus Contact Tracing Technology and 4th Amendment Concerns (5:25)

    Brent Skorup, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, talked about contact tracing technology to identify and contain the coronavirus outbreak. He also discussed the privacy concerns and how this might conflict with the 4th Amendment of the Constitution.

    • According to Brent Skroup, what is the goal of contact tracing technology?

    • Describe the process involved with developing an App to gather this data.

    • Explain the constitutional issues involved with developing an App to conduct contact tracing.
  • Amendment 14 - Citizenship Rights

    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    VIDEO CLIP 4: 14th Amendment and the Balance of Power (3:03)

    National Constitution Center’s Jeffrey Rosen talked about the distribution of power between the national and state governments as it relates to the 1st and 14th Amendments. He discusses how it applies to citizens, particularly during a crisis.

    • Explain the origin of the 14th Amendment.

    • Describe the significance of the 14th Amendment as it relates to states' powers and the coronavirus.

    View the following videos and determine which amendment is being referenced in each clip.

    VIDEO CLIP 5: Governor Burgum on Technology to Trace COVID-19 Cases (3:13)

    Governor Doug Burgum (R-ND) talked about the state’s free mobile app that will help state residents voluntarily track where they’ve been to help health officials slow the spread of the coronavirus.

    VIDEO CLIP 6: Michigan Protest of COVID-19 Orders (:52)

    Images of the protest near the Capitol building in Lansing, MI is shown.

    VIDEO CLIP 7: Freedom of Assembly (1:24)

    National Constitution Center’s Jeffrey Rosen talked about the Constitution and the right of freedom of assembly during the coronavirus quarantine.


    Use the National Governors Association Website to research how your state has responded to the COVID-19 virus.

    National Governors Association Website

    Consider the steps your state has taken with respect to the stay-at-home orders including businesses, schools, social distancing, etc.

    • In your own words, explain the stay-at-home orders in your state.

    • Do you agree with the orders that have been put in place? Explain your position.

    • What would you propose as a solution?

    Using the National Governors Association Website, compare the orders in your state with those in another state. Discuss the similarities and differences between the state orders. Explain the impact they have on neighboring states.

    Visit C-SPAN's Coronavirus Website and scroll down to the STATE AND INTERNATIONAL RESPONSES section. Select a video to watch and summarize the update that is presented by the elected official. Explain how it affects specific civil liberties.

Additional Resources


  • Anti-federalist
  • Commerce
  • Consolidate
  • Delegated
  • Demarcation
  • Enumerated Power
  • Evangelical
  • Federalism
  • Federalist
  • Habeas Corpus. Federalist 39
  • Mandate
  • Regulate
  • Sovereignty


Civil Rights & Civil LibertiesConstitutional Foundation


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