For Grades 9-12 , week of Mar. 18, 2024


While the Supreme Court of the United States decides cases that have lasting impacts on all of us in the country, its approval ratings are near record lows currently. To combat this, two justices with opposing ideologies have joined together to share a message of civility and compromise. Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Sonia Sotomayor spoke in two public appearances, noting that they differ in their opinions and approaches to upholding the Constitution, but they disagree civilly and never raise their voices to one another. It’s the latest in the court’s efforts to uphold its legitimacy at a time when many Americans feel it has become politically motivated, rather than about upholding the law. Read some recent news coverage of Supreme Court decisions. Do you think what Barrett and Sotomayor said rings true with what you’ve read about the court? Does it change how you feel about the court’s legitimacy or illegitimacy in this political climate? Write at least a paragraph reflecting on the issue.


Two golf superstars, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, recently got into an unusual shouting match during a PGA Tour tournament. The two have tension that has been building after Spieth replaced McIlroy on the PGA Tour policy board last year; McIlroy even left a group chat of top players recently. On the day in question, McIlroy put two shots into the water, the first of which he determined crossed the fairway far enough to drop his ball at the beginning of the short grass closer to the green. Spieth lightly disagreed but wasn’t adamant about where McIlroy dropped his ball at that point. Note: If there isn’t a television angle to confirm a specific situation and communicate it to players, it’s up to players in the group that are traversing the course together to determine what happened and what should be done. Then, when McIlroy’s ball went into the water on a second hole, he went to take a one-stroke penalty and drop his ball where he thought was appropriate. Spieth spoke to some members of the media and an on-course reporter and told McIlroy that even though the shot wasn’t televised, the media folks saw it and he shouldn’t have dropped where it did. His and Spieth’s caddies weighed in, with one even referencing some nearby turtles and why he thought the ball crossed by them. It led to an awkward situation on the course, but McIlroy later said he thought Spieth was just trying to make sure he did the right thing and he wanted to do that as well. If you were able to interview the two golfers together for an on-camera interview or podcast, write down several questions you would ask them about this particular day on the course.


The famous Iditarod dog sled race in Alaska is once again faced with controversy and calls for the end of the annual event. The 1,000-mile race is meant to test the endurance of sled dog teams and their mushers, the humans who lead their dogs across the frozen terrain. It traces back to the Native people in Alaska who traveled by sled to migrate with the seasons. While snowmobiles have become a more popular method of travel across the snowy expanses of rural Alaska, the Iditarod was established in the early 1970s as a way to preserve dog sledding traditions and the Alaskan husky breed, which was bred for this purpose. This year, however, three dogs died during the race, in addition to the deaths of five during training leading up to the event, and many have renewed the call for the end of the race. Research the history of the Iditarod and the Alaskan Natives who originated the use of dog sledding as a means of survival, as well as the events of the most recent race. Then, write an opinion article on whether you think the race should continue, incorporating facts from reputable sources to support your argument.


All four criminal cases against former President Donald Trump are facing delays from their originally planned start dates. The hush money case he faces in New York was scheduled to move ahead soon, but a large batch of potential new evidence suddenly surfaced last week, making a postponement likely. In Florida, where he’s accused of mishandling classified documents at his Mar-A-Lago resort, the case has no start date set. The case in Georgia related to election interference charges in the aftermath of the 2020 race has already seen court battles play out over the involvement between the district attorney and a prosecutor; a judge recently ruled that the district attorney can remain on the case if the prosecutor steps down from it, but the battles over this issue have pushed the actual trial date on that case as well. Finally, in Washington, where Trump’s lawyers are preparing to argue to the Supreme Court on his claims of presidential immunity from federal criminal prosecution in regards to the 2020 election interference charges, the case won’t move forward until at least next month. Write a summary of the various cases and how they can affect the 2024 election if they go to trial before then.


The Wisconsin Supreme Court dealt a blow to religious tax exemptions last week when it decided that a Catholic charitable organization would not be exempt from paying the state’s unemployment tax. Religious entities are entitled to this exemption, but the court decided that because the non-profit organization’s on-the-ground operations aren’t primarily religious, they don’t qualify; it was a 4-3 split ruling that determined the organization’s work, though grounded in religious ideologies, is technically secular. Many churches have charity organizations, and this decision could have impacts across the country. The charity intends to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of the United States. Look up the rules surrounding what the requirements are for an organization to be considered a church and what the benefits are for attaining that status. Then, write a brief article that explains what you learned and how this recent case could impact that.