A Midterm Update on Voting Rights and Election Laws with Dr. Steven D. Schwinn
This winter, the Illinois Civics Hub (ICH) is partnering with our civic learning partners to provide professional development opportunities to use the midterm elections as a teachable moment for civic learning and media literacy. Last month, Dr. Shawn Healy, Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy at iCivics, joined educators to provide an overview of the races to watch in the state of Illinois and the nation at large, the effects of redistricting, gerrymandering, and the possible impact of new state legislation on voting and elections.
This month, Dr. Steve D. Schwinn, Professor of Law at the University of Illinois at Chicago, joined the ICH to provide an update on how the courts at both the state and federal levels are dealing with issues around voting rights and election laws for the upcoming midterm elections. Recent decisions from the Supreme Court of the United States regarding voting districts in Alabama as well as pending cases have brought these issues to the forefront of many classrooms.
The Educating for American Democracy Roadmap explores how social arrangements and conflicts have combined with political institutions to shape American life from the earliest colonial period to the present, investigates which moments of change have most defined the country, and builds understanding of how American political and social institutions change. Dr. Schwinn’s presentation explored this theme of “Social and Institutional Transformation” by examining how various factions are using the courts to address essential questions related to rule of law, justice, and power. Some of the cases Dr. Schwinn referenced included:
- Crawford v. Marion County (2008)
- Shelby County v. Holder (2013)
- Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee (2021)
- Rucho vs. Common Cause (2019)
- Purcell v. Gonzalez (2006)
If you missed the webinar, you can view a recording on the ICH Webinar Archive. The Illinois Civics Hub also has toolkits aligned to the proven practices of civic education outlined in the middle and high school course mandates to help teachers use this teachable moment in the classroom.
- The Elections and Voting Toolkit provides lesson plans and resources to help students understand the democratic institution of voting.
- The Civil, Brave, and Reflective Classroom Toolkit can help engage student voice to create classroom norms to discuss essential questions posed by this SCOTUS term as well as tools to reflect on learning,
- The Direct Instruction on Democratic Institutions Toolkit provides resources to learn more about the institution of the U.S. Supreme Court and the role of the courts in the separation of powers and checks and balances.
- The Current and Societal Issue Discussion Toolkit provides resources for classroom discussion as well as reliable background information to ground discussions.
- The Simulations of Democratic Processes Toolkit provides resources to conduct your own Moot Court to explore the concept of judicial review as content and practice.
The Illinois Civics Hub and Democracy Schools Network are hosting free after-school PD this spring to support rigorous and relevant civic learning aligned to the middle and high school course requirements and revised social science standards. A description for each webinar and information to register for professional development credits is available on the Illinois Civics Hub Professional Development Calendar.