Welcome to FantasySCOTUS, the Internet’s Premier Fantasy Supreme Court League. FantasySCOTUS challenges students to make predictions about pending Supreme Court cases and write analytical blog posts exploring the different constitutional issues in the cases.
Who Can Play?
FantasySCOTUS is designed for high school government, civics, history, political science, social studies, and even writing classes. Advanced middle school students are welcome to play. Teachers should sign up their classes, and add or invite their students to join. Additionally, extra-curricular clubs, such as debate teams, mock trial teams, and other organizations, are able to join. Just ask your faculty advisor sign up your group.
How to Play?
The goal of FantasySCOTUS is simple. It encourages students to learn about cases pending before the Supreme Court. Students will write analytical blog posts exploring the constitutional issues in these cases, and based on this knowledge, make predictions about how each of the nine Justices will vote. Blog posts can be written by individual students, groups of students, or by the entire class. One set of predictions will be submitted based on the class consensus, though individual students can submit predictions that will not be used in the scoring process.
All predictions and blog posts will be due by January 31, 2010. The winner will be announced at the conclusion of the October 2010 Supreme Court term when all of the cases have been decided.
The Harlan Institute has selected five cases of interest for students that are currently pending before the United States Supreme Cour, and created lesson plans for each case:
- Snyder v. Phelps – Does the First Amendment protect the right of protestors to display signs containing offensive messages about gay people near funerals of fallen military service members?
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration v. Nelson – Does the government violate a prospective contract employee’s right to “informational privacy” if they ask whether he or she has had counseling or treatment for illegal drug?
- Connick v. Thompson – A Defendant, who was convicted of a murder, was later released from prison after his attorneys found exculpatory evidence that the government did not show him. Can the defendant sue the district attorney’s office for failing to properly train prosecutors to properly disclose exculpatory evidence?
- Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Media Association – Does the First Amendment bar California from restricting the sale of violent video games to children?
- Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Candelaria – A federal law says that States cannot impose sanctions on employers who hire illegal aliens. Arizona passed the Legal Arizona Workers Act, which says that companies that hire illegal aliens can have their business licenses revoked. Does the federal law trump the state law?
Each plan will provide a plain English explanation of the parties involved, the question presented, the background of the case, the opinion of the lower court, and the competing arguments of the Petitioner and the Respondent. Following this background information, the lesson plan will discuss all relevant constitutional provisions, statutes, precedents, and other relevant information needed to understand the case pending before the Supreme Court.
Predictions and Points
For each case, your class will predict how each of the nine Justices of the Supreme Court will vote. A Justice can either vote to AFFIRM, REVERSE the lower court, or RECUSE from the case and not cast a vote. For each correct guess, you will receive 10 points.If your class correctly guesses the votes all nine Justices, you will receive a 10-point bonus, for a perfect score of 100 points.
For example, in Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Media Association, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found that statute barring the sale of violent video games to children was unconstitutional. Your class predict that Justices Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito will vote to reverse the Ninth Circuit, and that Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan will vote to affirm, or agree with the Ninth Circuit. Assume your class’ predictions are correct, except for Justice Kennedy, who in fact voted to affirm the lower court.
In this case your class will receive a total of 80 points because you correctly predicted 8 out of the 9 Justices (you failed to correctly predict the vote of Justice Kennedy).
If your class correctly predicts all five cases, you will receive a perfect score of 500 points.
Blogs Posts and Badges
In addition to making predictions, each class will write a series of analytical blog posts for each case. By signing up your class, you will automatically receive a free WordPress blog hosted at the Harlan Institute. Each case will have approximately five blog posts. Here are some possible topics:
- Write a post summarizing the facts of the case
- Pretend your class is the Supreme Court and write your own opinions, including concurring and dissenting opinions
- Explain why the First Amendment guarantee of Free Speech should prevent censorship of violent video games, but permit the criminalization of certain types of “hate speech.”
Please visit the sample blog, Harlan High School, for examples of what the blog posts should look like.
For each submitted blog post, your class will be awarded a FantasySCOTUS Badge. Each badge will have a corresponding number of points, based on the level of difficulty of the assignment. The more badges you receive, the more points you score!
View all of the badges available here.
The winner of FantasySCOTUS will be determined based on the class with the most points.
All classes are placed into leagues based on the geographic location of the Circuit Court of Appeals of the United States.
* While the District of Columbia is in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, for the purposes of this competition, the D.C. will be placed in the 4th Circuit.
The team with the most points in each Circuit will be awarded the “Chief Judge” Prize. There will be one “Chief Judge” per grade for each Circuit. The top class in the United States will be awarded the “Chief Justice” Prize. Awards for the Chief Judge and Chief Justice will be determined later in the year.