The Role of the Courts in the 2020 Election

by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist
The 2020 Election continues to be a teachable moment for #CivicsInTheMiddle classrooms. As ballot-counting continues in several states to determine the victors of both the presidential and some congressional races, a flurry of lawsuits have been filed on behalf of President Trump to contest the election results to provide a path to a second term.

Last week’s webinar focused on helping classrooms process the election, both Catherine Hawke from the Division of Public Education at the American Bar Association and Dr. Steven D. Schwinn, Professor of Law at the UIC John Marshall Law School, made cameo appearances to provide brief comments on the role the courts may play in settling this contentious election and possible actions in the future.

With the passing of a week, demands on the courts to get involved in resolving the 2020 Presidential election have become clearer. In this week’s #Teach2020 webinar, Dr. Schwinn addressed the role judicial review might play in the 2020 election. Dr. Schwinn explored:
  • Election administration issues before the election
  • Emerging election administration issues post-election
  • The impact of these lingering issues on the presidential transition
  • President Trump team’s litigation efforts
  • Presidential pardon power
If you missed this webinar, you can access a recording on our Vimeo page or on the Webinar Archive at

We asked our Regional Civics Instructional Coach, Heather Monson, from East Moline to share resources she recommends classrooms use to process the results of the 2020 election. Here are her recommendations.
  • Centrell has some great bell ringers for government including one on When the Fat Lady Sings-Wrapping up the Election. You may have to make a free teacher account but they have several items of great interest including e-books on government, email of daily bell ringers (that include a quiz question), and other support materials.
  • Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities provides several options to approach post-election time. Topics include Legal Considerations and History with some great ideas to use the election of 1876 as a comparison.
  • Minnesota Civic Youth offers great reflective questions to consider for journaling or discussions.
  • Teaching Tolerance has a helpful lesson plan for teaching about elections. This is a list of ways to help students understand bias, find opportunities to work within their community on political issues, and develop future voters.
  • Facing History and Ourselves is hosting an upcoming webinar and engaging lesson plan on teaching after the election.
  • Now that the election is finished consider a discussion on what a concession speech is supposed to be with
  • Civics educator Larry Ferlazzo’s popular blog shares resources to help process the election.
For even more resources to support students in processing the results of the 2020 Election, visit the Post Election Resources.

What are you doing to address the role of the courts in this 2020 election season? Please comment below. Together, we can prepare all students for college, career, and civic life in traditional, remote, and hybrid classrooms.


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