CongressLink Lesson Plan:
How a Bill Becomes Law: The Case of the Civil Rights Act of
American Government, American History, Civics
Objectives/Skills: How a Bill Becomes a Law:
The Case of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a student
guide through the legislative process. The general purpose
of this unit is to demonstrate to students the step-by-step
procedure of a bill becoming a law using the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 as a case study. Students will understand
how Congress makes laws and the role of congressional committees
in this process. This will help them understand key concepts
associated with the legislative process such as filibuster,
cloture, bipartisan, petition, and lobbying. Additionally,
they will also see how controversial social issues, such as
civil rights, greatly affect the process. More specific
instructional objectives to follow.
Reference Resource: The CongressLink online narrative
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the related historical
(Suggested Time Frame)
(click here for detailed information
about this taxonomy)
the steps a bill takes in becoming a law.
the primary political leaders involved in the debate over
the Civil Rights Act of 1964. What political party
did they belong to? What area of the country were
key civil rights leaders of the 1960s.
such terms as bipartisan, cloture, lobby, filibuster, petition,
committee, mark-up, quorum, draft, sponsor, ordering a bill
a chart detailing the people and
the process of a bill becoming a law.
the responsibilities of the House of
Representatives, the Senate, and the President in the
of a bill becoming a law.
the different steps the Civil Rights Act of 1964 took between
the House of Representatives and Senate.
the positions of the groups involved in the development
of the bill and relate these positions to the major politicians
the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to any applicable constitutional
a flow chart showing the process of
a bill becoming a law.
a table placing
responsibilities in table cells.
a separate chart
for each house of Congress.
students into groups and assign each
group a different
political position. The
students must find politicians associated
with their position and
report back to the class.
amendments that could
be related to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and
explain why they are related.
will recognize the importance of Everett
Dirksen’s An Idea Whose Time Has Come speech.
Dirksen’s speech and
elements of time, circumstance, and content
made this a key speech using the document
what events influenced John F. Kennedy to introduce this bill
how Representative Howard Smith influenced the fate of the
civil rights bill.
investigate the Civil Rights
which events they consider most important and why.
should refer to the civil
rights narrative .
will apply the dynamics of the legislative process of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 to a contemporary scenario.
an opinion about why southern Democrats opposed the bill's
the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a model, draft
a civil rights bill for gay & lesbian (or reasonable
Hypothesize its progress through today’s
parties would tend to support/oppose it?
What social groups or organizations would lobby
for or against it?
will prepare a speech against the Civil
Rights Act of 1964 based on the position of a
will select the one member of Congress they think was the
most influential in getting the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed
and justify their answer.
will select one governmental organization, individual,
or event they believe was the most critical in the drafting
and passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed and justify
discussion and debate.
will prepare a stand-up display project,
performance, or multi-media presentation
showing the importance
organization in the turning points of history.
will write a research paper using primary
Standards Addressed by Lesson (based on National
Standards for Civics and Government,
Center for Civic Education, 1994. Citation based on
section, subsection, standard
of the document.)
II.B. 4 Diversity in American Society
Standard II.B. 2 Character of American
Standard II D. 3. Fundamental values and
Standard II D. 4. Conflicts among values
and principals in American political and social life
Standard III B. 1 How institutions of
the national government are organized (legislative
and executive branch)
Bellows Free Academy
71 S. Main Street
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Christ’s Household of Faith School
355 Marshall Avenue, #301
St. Paul, MN 55102
Jones High School
801 South Rio Grande Avenue
Orlando, FL 32801
for Whitewashing History
Exploring Topics of Civil Rights from 1948-1964, a related