School Library: Constitutional Issues

Constitutional Issues / We the People

There are a lot of wonderful websites to help you do this project -- but don't forget that there are also a LOT of books you can check out from the library as well.  Reading a book will help you see the big picture about the questions you're answering; please don't forget about them!  The vast majority of the books you'll want will be in the 320 or 340 sections.  You can look up specific titles in the library catalog (here).  You can also find some key resources on Ms. B's book cart; just ask to see them!

Databases are going to be incredibly useful for this project, and we have quite a few that will work for you.  Start with the Infotrac databases: U.S. History in Context, the Ciminal Justice Collection, the U.S. History Collection, Opposing Viewpoints, and Popular Magazines and Newspapers will all be helpful. 

If I were you all, I would start with the Reference section to get a general overview of your topic, then follow that up with the Newspapers, Magazines, and Academic Journals when you're ready for more specific, in-depth information.

Facts on File also has a history databse, where you can go for more information.

Remember, everything in these databases is guaranteed to be from a reliable source! 




We the People's Recommended Links
Without a doubt, this is the absolute first place you should go.  WTP has an extensive collection of links that cover everything you'll be working on for the competition.  I cannot stress enough how much this should be the FIRST internet resource you use.  Truthfully, you might not need anything else.  Instead of Googling, do yourself a favor and let WTP give you a helping hand with this list.

The Writing of the Constitution:

Chronology of the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers
This isn't the most flashy and attractive website ever, but it is a very handy look at how the Federalist and Anti-Federalist debate happened. 

The Constitutional Convention
A comprehensive look at who was there and what they did.  Then check out...

... what happened after.

Court Case Websites:

The Oyez Project
By far, the coolest thing about Oyez is that you can actually hear audio files of the oral arguments.  The site also gives a quick background on the case and the decision, and a nice visual of which justices voted which way.

Landmark Cases
One major strength here is that each case page has links to the full text of the majority and dissenting opinions.  This is something you should be reading, so make sure to check it out.  Not all of your cases will be featured here (Engel, Vernonia, and Morse), but it’s a great stop for those who are.

Cornell University: Legal Information Institute
Cornell also has a great database of SCOTUS information, including Morse v. Frederick (which is hard to find on some of the other websites).  There's some background, and then the full text of all of the opinions.

FedWorld Supreme Court Database
There’s no background information here, but the entire text of each court case (the majority and dissenting opinions).  This is definitely heavy stuff, and a lot of the legal terminology might not make sense to you, but it’s still absolutely worth reading.

The ‘Lectric Law Library
Get it?  Like "electric" – as in, digital.  This website sets itself apart from the competition by being not only informative and easy to search, but also funny.  Make sure you read all of the non-law related asides by Rolf the Librarian; they are much funnier than anything else you’ll find on law websites.

Branches of Government:

The American Presidency Project
By far, this is the most complete and helpful collection of public records about the presidents on the internet.  Every executive order, signing statement, major speech, State of the Union address, and even some press conferences are housed here. 

The Congressional Record
The Congressional Record keeps records of all of the proceedings of Congress -- so, every day that Congress is in session, the CR publishes a record of all the motions that were made, votes that were taken, speeches that were made, etc etc etc.  It is incredibly thorough, and it might be too much information to just browse though.  But if you want to see the debate that happened the day the Civil Rights Act was passed, you can -- and I think that's worthwhile.

Roll Call
Roll Call is actually a newspaper, put out by the Congressional Quarterly.  Tehy cover the daily doings on Capital Hill, with a neutral agenda.  Because they really are a paper for Washington insiders, the information is very in-depth -- this is a place to go after you've got a good grasp on the subject already.

Issues Websites:
These websites are designed for debaters (which is sort of what you're doing) -- so they'll give you a good overview of both sides of the issues you're working with.  They'll also give you good examples of, say, the Bill of Rights in action.


Multnomah County Library's Social Issues Pathfinder
By far, one of the best collections of social issues websites I've ever seen.  The focus is definitely on social issues as opposed to Constitutional issues, but there's still a lot to work with on that front.

ProPublica's tagline is "Journalism in the public interest".  Their stories generally focus on social issues, without spin, and with serious investigative work.  They're relatively new to the field, so you won't be able to look up articles on Roe v. Wade from the 1970s, but you can find comprehensive, unbiased work on more recent events.

General History Websites:

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Prep has updated classrooms, labs and athletic facilities
Prep has updated classrooms, labs and athletic facilities