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The Constitution and Supreme Court Nominations

Introduction : On September 18, 2020, Americans were saddened to hear of the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her death has led to the beginning of an important constitutional procedure—the nomination and confirmation of a new member of the Supreme Court. In this eLesson, students will examine the process of selecting a new Justice and form their own ideas on what makes an ideal candidate for the highest court of the land.

Handout A: U.S. Constitution

Handout B: President Obama Announces Supreme Court Nominee

Handout C: President Trump Announces Supreme Court Nominee


Have students read Article II Section 2 of Handout A: U.S. Constitution. Then ask them to answer the following questions.

  1. What is the responsibility of the president in regards to filling vacancies on the Supreme Court?
  2. What is the responsibility of the Senate in regards to filling vacancies on the Supreme Court?
  3. Why do you think two different branches of government are involved in this process?
  4. What qualifications does the Constitution list for Supreme Court nominees?

Next, have students read Article III Sections 1 and 2 of Handout A. Then have them watch Handout B up to the 6:13 mark and Handout C from the 3:39—8:30 marks. Afterwards, lead a class discussion using the questions below.

  1. What are some of the qualifications that President Obama and President Trump list as essential for a Supreme Court justice to have? Do you agree?
  2. What do President Obama and President Trump say the role of the Supreme Court is in our country? Do they agree or disagree with each other?
  3. How similar are the two press conferences? What differences, if any, stand out?
  4. Why do you think the presidents held a press conference to announce their nominations?