Product Review of SCOTUSblog
SCOTUSblog is a website that covers the U.S. Supreme Court. “SCOTUS” stands for “Supreme Court of the United States.” Lawyers, law professors, and law learners write regular articles about all of the petitions and cases that come before the Court. The articles cover arguments, decisions, and other topics related to the Court. Resources available on the site include Plain English, with simplified articles about key cases; the Glossary, with an extensive list of legal definitions; and Procedure Materials, which uses an imaginary Supreme Court case to illustrate complex terms and concepts. In addition, links to statistics, videos, and special features provide in-depth content on a range of cases and legal topics. The search tool has current and archived cases as far back as 2005.
The best fit for SCOTUSblog in the classroom is as a resource for teachers and learners who are learning about Supreme Court cases or the Supreme Court justices. Due to the complex legal topics it covers, teachers will need to gauge what is and isn’t accessible to their learners and create appropriate assignments. The Glossary, the Procedure Materials, and the Justice Biographies can all be used to help learners learn background information about the workings of the Supreme Court. The site can be used to research how a specific issue has been addressed or to follow the process of a case going through the Court. The articles and multimedia resources would also be especially valuable for a class that is participating in a mock court activity.
While not created for classroom use, SCOTUSblog definitely has educational value at the high school level. The daily blog posts can be used to stay current on Supreme Court news, the Plain English articles can help learners understand developments in a specific case, and the entire site can be a recommended reference for research projects. Overall, the content on the site will be difficult for learners to grasp unless they have vocabulary support and guided assignments. You could use some of the videos to supplement the text-based content and engage classroom discussions on important issues that come before the Court. For example, Ruth Bader Ginsburg shares her opinion on the Roe v. Wade decision, and various politicians respond to the same-sex marriage decision.
Overall User Consensus About the App
SCOTUSblog is perfect for classes studying the Supreme Court or learners fascinated by Constitutional issues. The content is written at a high level, and learners may lose interest or disengage without teacher direction.
Curriculum and Instruction
Teachers will need to develop lessons that provide background information to support student understanding of complex legal issues and terms discussed in the articles. The Plain English articles are more accessible for high school learners.
While the site is well-organized, users may feel overwhelmed by the abundance of content. The About page explains the site’s purpose and has helpful info about how to navigate the blog.