Lesson Plan: Landmark Supreme Court Case: Miranda v Arizona

Landmark Cases: Miranda v. Arizona - Introduction

Jeff Rosen and Paul Cassel introduced the Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona including the Constitutional issues and its historical and cultural significance.


The Supreme Court has the power to interpret the Constitution. Its rulings on cases determine the meaning of laws and acts of Congress and the president. Knowing the key decisions of the Supreme Court and the precedents they set is vital in understanding the meaning of laws, how our country has changed over time, and the direction the country is currently headed. In this lesson students will examine the case of Miranda v. Arizona.


  • STEP 1.

    As a class, view the following videos and answer the questions below to lay the foundation for students to understand this case:

    VIDEO CLIP: Miranda v. Arizona - Introduction I (1:03)

    VIDEO CLIP: Miranda v. Arizona - Introduction II (1:03)

    VIDEO CLIP: Background and History of Police Tactics (7:31)

    • Explain what the opening movie clips illustrate about the Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona.

    • Describe the history of policing tactics starting in the 1930s until Miranda v. Arizona.

    • Explain the background story of Ernesto Miranda and how it led to this case.

    • Describe the arrest of Ernesto Miranda and the following events according to officer Carroll Cooley.

    • Why was it considered a "perfect test case" for the Supreme Court on criminal rights?

    • Describe the main question this case tries to settle. In what way was this a "landmark" case?
  • STEP 2.

    Students can either work independently or in groups to view the following video clips. They should take notes using the handout below.

    Handout: Supreme Court Case: Miranda v. Arizona (Google Doc)

  • VIDEO CLIP: Path to the Supreme Court (2:58)

    • What happened to Ernesto Miranda in his initial criminal trials?

    • What did the Arizona Supreme Court decide on appeal? Explain its reasoning.

    • What was Ernesto Miranda's argument in this case? What was the rebuttal to this argument according to Paul Cassell?

    • Explain how the case made it to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • VIDEO CLIP: Questions before the Court (4:08)

    • Describe the questions before the Court in Miranda v. Arizona.

    • Explain the main arguments for both sides that were expressed during the oral arguments.
  • VIDEO CLIP: The Decision (1:44)

    • Explain the decision as written by Chief Justice Earl Warren.

    • According to Paul Cassel and Jeffrey Rosen, what was unique about this decision as compared to more recent Supreme Court decisions?
  • VIDEO CLIP: Effects of Miranda (2:48)

    • Explain the different effects this decision has had on law enforcement in this country according to Jeffrey Rosen and Paul Cassell.
  • STEP 3.

    As a class, discuss the significance of this case, the precedent it set, and its legacy.

  • STEP 4.

    Choose an activity from C-SPAN Classroom's Deliberations site to engage in a structured student-centered analysis of the case.

Additional Resource


  • 5th Amendment
  • 6th Amendment
  • Admissible
  • Appellate Court
  • Certiorari
  • Compel
  • Confession
  • Counsel
  • Crime Clearance Rate
  • Gideon V. Wainwright
  • Interrogation
  • Miranda Warning
  • Pragmatic
  • Self-incrimination
  • Third Degree
  • Totality Of Circumstances Test


Civil Rights & Civil LibertiesCriminal Law & JusticeJudicial BranchSupreme Court Cases


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