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By swifta
On July 10, 2018

Lesson Plan: Wisconsin v. Yoder

Government, Religion, and the Courts: Historical Relationship

Arlin Adams a former United States Court of Appeals Judge speak about freedom of religion.


The Advanced Placement College Board requires students to compare required Supreme Court cases with other cases not included on the required list. Students are asked to explain how information from the required case is relevant to that in other cases. To help students prepare for this task, this lesson compares the required Supreme Court case of Wisconsin v. Yoder to three non-required Supreme Court cases. Those cases include Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Reynolds v. The United States, and Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. The city of Hialeah.


  • Step 1.

    Introduce the class to freedom of religion cases in the Supreme Court by showing this video clip from Former U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Arlin Adams.

    VIDEO CLIP: Government, Religion, and the Courts: Historical Relationship (2:51)

  • Step 2.

    Divide the class into four groups. Each group will investigate one of the Supreme Court cases relating to the free exercise of religion clause. Additional groups can be added to provide multiple viewpoints or to cover additional cases the teacher selects. Assign each group one of the following cases:

    • Wisconsin v. Yoder

    • Reynolds v. The United States

    • Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. The City of Hialeah.

    • Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission
  • Step 3

    Instruct each group to become experts in their case so they can inform other members of the class. Each student should complete the Supreme Court Cases Graphic Organizer (Google Doc) as they research their assigned case.

    Each group should view the video clip associated with their case:

  • VIDEO CLIP: Wisconsin v. Yoder (0:57)

  • VIDEO CLIP: Reynolds v. United States (2:16)

  • Step 4.

    After viewing the C-SPAN clips that introduce each case, students will research their case on the Oyez website. The students can gather research to complete the Supreme Court Cases Graphic Organizer. On the back of each students' graphic organizer, they should draw a political cartoon that illustrates the court case they were responsible for researching.

  • Step 5.

    Using a jigsaw format, restructure the groups to form new groups that contain an expert on one of the four Supreme Court cases. Each expert will share information about the case for which they were responsible. The other students should record the information on each of the cases on their graphic organizer.

  • Step 6.

    Before leaving the class, students should produce an exit pass. On a note card, students will describe how the provisions of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights are continually being interpreted to balance the power of the government and the civil liberties of individuals. Students should include examples for the four Supreme Court cases reviewed in the lesson to explain the government’s attempts to balance civil liberties.

Additional Resources


  • 1st Amendment
  • Constitution
  • Establishment Clause
  • First Amendment
  • Freedom Of Religion
  • Supreme Court


AP U.S. Government Key TermsCivil Rights & Civil LibertiesSupreme Court CasesU.S. History


High School