America's founders wrote the Constitution to establish how the new government would work.

They designed a system of laws written and enforced by elected officials and set up courts to resolve disputes about those laws. In theory, this framework was the foundation of a just society. But America’s relationship with justice has always been a work in progress. Which parts of our government work well? Which fall short of our highest ideals?

Exhibit Topics & Activities


The Rule of Law

Visit the center to learn the concept of the Rule of Law and why that foundational concept is so critical to a just society.


The Constitution

Come explore how the framework of our government is rooted in the Constitution.


Branches of Government

Learn how, while the judicial branch is important, it’s only one of the three branches that make up the government of the United States. Through a hands-on “balancing” activity, visitors can explore the three branches of government and how each provides checks and balances on the others.


State vs. Federal Governments

Visitors learn the difference between state, federal, and tribal laws and gain an appreciation for why America has a federalist system. They also learn about the relationship between state and federal courts, including why state laws sometimes get reviewed by federal courts.


Types of Court Cases

Learn the distinction between criminal cases – where crimes are actions that a government believes hurt not just individuals, but society as a whole – and civil cases – when a person, group of people, or company believes that they were harmed by the actions of another person, group of people, or company.


The Bill of Rights & The Criminal Justice Process

Discover how the Constitution protects your rights during a trial – the right to privacy, to remain silent, to not be charged with the same crime twice, to an impartial jury, to confront a witness, and to legal representation – and why each of these rights is so important.


Appellate Courts

Through reliving appeals that have shaped American society, visitors will learn about the opportunities and challenges of the appeals process, why appeals are a necessary part of our justice system, the structure of the appellate courts, and how state cases fit into the system.

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