Exploring the Supreme Court of the United States Nomination Process

This week, Justice Stephen Breyer announced his departure from the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) at the end of this term. While the announcement was not totally unexpected given the political realities of the midterm elections, some court watchers were surprised by the timing.

This SCOTUS vacancy is a teachable moment to meet the pedagogical requirements of the middle and high school civics course requirements

  • Educators can provide classroom instruction on democratic institutions to help students understand the importance of SCOTUS and its role in the separation of powers in the federal government, and its oversight of state and local governments in our system of federalism and judicial review.
  • Students can engage in a current and societal issue discussion on the qualities they would look for in the next justice or other proposed SCOTUS reforms such as term limits and changing the size of the court.
  • Students can participate in a simulation of a democratic process and hold their own mock confirmation hearings to understand the process.
  • Students can take informed action through service learning by contacting their senators to advocate their position on the new nominee or other policy proposals related to the courts. Students can also interact with candidates for the US Senate to seek out their stand on issues related to SCOTUS.

To facilitate the activities listed above, here are some resources you can use to meet this teachable moment.

What resources do you use to teach about the judicial branch? How are you addressing the pending SCOTUS vacancy? Please describe below. Together, we can prepare ALL students for college, career, and civic life.