Teaching about the SCOTUS Confirmation Hearings
Confirmation hearings to deliberate the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden’s nominee for associate justice to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), are set to begin next week. Judge Jackson’s nomination marks a historical first as the first black female to be selected to sit on the nation’s highest court, a fitting event for the close of Women’s History Month.
The Senate Confirmation Hearings are a teachable moment for civics and history classrooms to engage in inquiry around essential questions about power, justice, rule of law, separation of powers, and judicial review. The Educating for American Democracy Roadmap (EAD) Theme 5, Institutional and Social Transformation offer several questions to frame this inquiry.
- How and why has the United States transformed its basic political, legal, economic, and social arrangements over time?
- How do laws and social structures change?
- How can the Constitution be changed formally and informally? (and how can your state constitution or other charter be changed?)
Several of the EAD Champion organizations have published resources to help students understand the path to becoming a member of SCOTUS. Here are some for your consideration.
- Street Law has wonderful resources for law-related education. For this moment, you might be interested in their lessons around Supreme Court Procedures that include:
- Advising Senators Activity
- An Explainer of Supreme Court Vacancies
- How well do you know SCOTUS?
- How do judges interpret the Constitution?
- iCivics has resources for both middle and high school classrooms to understand the courts.
- Use games like Court Quest, Argument Wars, and Branches of Power to help students understand the important role of the courts and how they interact with other branches of government.
- Review the curriculum units for middle and high school that help students explore the judicial branch. Check out the lesson on Supreme Court Nominations
- For a quick primer on the Supreme Court nomination process, use this brief article and video clip, from USA Today
- The American Bar Association Division of Public Education has lessons on Judicial Independence that explore topics like, What Makes a Good Judge? Qualities of Judges and Will the Supreme Court Hear this Case?
- Retro Report has a documentary, How Supreme Court Confirmations Became So Bitter: From Bork To Kavanaugh.
- The Bill of Rights Institute has an e-lesson on The Constitution and Supreme Court Nominations, as well as a plethora of resources on the history and precedents of the Court.
- C-Span Classroom has lesson plans and bell-ringer activities to support inquiry into the U.S Supreme Court.
- Annenberg Classroom has video clips and lesson plans to help students understand the Supreme Court.
- Civics 101 Podcast has a Judicial Branch Starter Kit along with episodes highlighting important SCOTUS decisions.