Eighth Graders Take On Dred Scott Trial

Eighth grade social studies teacher Neal Biskar regularly reminds his students that they know more about the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. form of government than the majority of Americans. That knowledge was put to the test this week as eighth graders participated in a simulation of the famous Dred Scott case that was heard by the Supreme Court in 1857. Students were assigned roles as witnesses, lawyers, and justices; and, using information presented to them in class and other outside research, they enacted the trial, focusing on two of the main legal issues of the case: Was Dred Scott a citizen of the United States and therefore entitled to bring a lawsuit into federal courts? And, if the answer to the first question is yes, then was Scott free as a result of having lived in a free state where slavery was outlawed?
Says Mr. Biskar, “By reenacting the Dred Scott trial, the students have the opportunity to apply their knowledge of the Constitution—specifically, the power of Congress to pass laws affecting territories, the Constitution’s definition or lack thereof of citizenship, the Fifth Amendment guarantee that the government cannot take one’s property without due process, and the ‘full faith and credit’ clause.” MORE PHOTOS