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Mendez v. Westminster, Federal Appellate Court (1947)
Online Student Instructions 

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In Westminster, a city in Orange County, Gonzalo Mendez and other parents of Mexican American students sued school throughout Orange County because they felt that these school districts were segregating their children into certain schools for “Mexican” students. Rather than sue in California courts, the parents brought their suit into federal courts since they felt this segregation violated their children’s rights under the 14th amendment to the United States Constitution.

For this activity, there will be at least three groups. All students with read the Mendez v. Westminster final decision of the court. From that decision, the plaintiff's team(s) will try to determine what arguments Mendez and the other parents made in suing the court decision. Likewise, the defendant’s team(s) will try to determine what arguments the school districts used to defend their actions. The third group will take the role of the judges and develop a list of questions for the plaintiffs and the defendants. The questions should be designed to help them make their decision. Each team should complete the appropriate part of the Court Case Decisions - Student Research Form.

When each group has finished, the judges will ask those questions of the plaintiff and defendants. The teams will respond based on their understanding of arguments used in 1947. After hearing these answers, the judges will explain if they would rule in the same way as the Federal Appellate Court did in 1947.

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