Supreme Court Nomination 2018

CLP Current Event: October 2, 2018

Our government is structured around the idea of co-equal branches checking each other. The confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice demonstrates that principle. To Be Continued…

Brought to teachers by Susie Marcus, CLP consultant, with CLP staff.

News Sources

Jeff Flake explains his last-minute shift on Kavanaugh, by Li Zhou, Vox, September 28, 2018
“I wanted to support him. I’m a conservative; he’s a conservative judge. But I want a process we can be proud of. I think the country needs to be behind it. We need a more bipartisan process.”

Trump Agrees To Open ‘Limited’ F.B.I. Investigation Into Accusations Against Kavanaugh, by Nicholas Fandos and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, The New York Times, September 28, 2018
“Mr. Trump, who had hoped Judge Kavanaugh would be sworn in by the time the Supreme Court opens its next term on Monday, said he was ordering the F.B.I. to conduct what he called a “supplemental” investigation that he said “must be limited in scope and completed in less than a week,” as the Republican Senate leadership had asked for.”

The FBI Is Going To Investigate Kavanaugh After All. What Does That Mean?, by Philip Ewing, NPR, September 28, 2018
“The FBI is unlikely to open a criminal investigation. Instead, its investigators are expected to pursue the same kind of background inquiry they have conducted on Kavanaugh in the past, focused on the new allegations.”

Analysis: Sen. Chris Coons’ reputation for bipartisanship pays off spectacularly, by Matthew Albright, Delaware Online, September 28, 2018
“He almost always tries to work with Republicans. He’s gotten GOP cosponsors on his bill to protect the Mueller investigation and has worked with them on issues from immigration to foreign policy.”
CLP: Opinion

American Bar Association and Yale Law School Urge F.B.I. Inquiry Into Kavanaugh, by Austin Ramzy and Christine Hauser, The New York Times, September 28, 2018
“The dean of Yale Law School, Judge Kavanaugh’s alma mater, echoed the A.B.A.’s call. ‘Proceeding with the confirmation process without further investigation is not in the best interest of the Court or our profession,’ Dean Heather K. Gerken said in a statement on Friday.”

Kavanaugh opening statement: ‘Effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out’, by Trish Turner, Eyewitness News, September 28, 2018
“In his prepared opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, released a day before Thursday’s expected dramatic showdown with one of his accusers, Brett Kavanaugh says ‘this effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out.’”

Your Kavanaugh-Ford hearing questions answered, by Jon Greenberg, Louis Jacobson, John Kruzel, Manuela Tobias, Politifact, September 27, 2018
“PolitiFact is following the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and answering your questions. If you have a question you want our team of researchers to look into, email us at [email protected].”

Before Kavanaugh Hearing, New Accusations and Doubts Emerge, by Nicholas Fando and Michael D. Shear, The New York Times, September 26, 2018
“Yet even as he prepared his defense, Judge Kavanaugh and his allies found themselves fending off more charges of sexual misconduct from other women on Wednesday, with perhaps the most explosive accusations coming from a woman represented by Michael Avenatti, the firebrand lawyer who already represents Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film actress who has said she had an affair with Mr. Trump.”

Collins privately raises concerns about new allegations, lack of subpoena for Kavanaugh friend, by Phil Mattingly and Manju Raju, CNN, September 26, 2018
“Multiple sources familiar with the private Wednesday meeting told CNN that Collins appeared unnerved by the latest allegation, citing in particular that it was a sworn statement sent to the panel, which carries with it the possibility of perjury for lying to Congress.”

Rachel Mitchell, Arizona sex crimes prosecutor, will question Brett Kavanaugh, Ford during hearing, by Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Ronald Hansen, USA Today, September 25, 2018
“Mitchell will take the lead for Republicans in questioning Christine Blasey Ford on Thursday about her allegations that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, groped her and tried to remove her clothes at a party in the early 1980s when she was 15 and he was 17. Democrats still intend to ask questions of Ford.”

Questions to Consider

  • Should federal judges and Supreme Court justices have term limits?
  • What does it mean to be qualified to be a Supreme Court justice?
  • What does “good behavior” mean? Once they are appointed, federal judges remain in office during “good behavior.” In effect, most federal judges serve a life term (since the Constitution does not state a time limit or number of years). 
  • Who is Brett Kavanaugh? How do concerns about his nomination affect the process? What is the role of the media?
  • What is civic duty? Was it displayed in the Kavanaugh hearings?
  • What role does the Senate play in confirmation hearings for a Supreme Court justice? What are the rules of the Senate with regard to confirmation hearings?
  • What are the options to interview a potential justice? How does this resemble a job interview? What questions and answers are most helpful? What is the responsibility of the Senate Judiciary Committee?
  • What is “fair process” in handling accusations against a Supreme Court nominee?
  • How do partisan divisions in the Senate and throughout our government affect nomination hearings and confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice nominee?
  • How could the hearings process be less divisive?
  • What role will an investigation by the FBI play? Will a decision be easier after such an investigation? What does a week delay mean to the process?
  • What does it take to be a judge? Is there such a thing as judicial temperament?
  • Is this nomination interwoven with the “Me Too” movement? Are women significant to the way the Senate works? +Are the women in the Senate playing an important role in resolving this issue?
  • What did the choice of a women prosecutor to ask questions mean? Are women throughout the country playing an important role? Is this more than a man/women conflict? Is this a question about the viability of our system of government?
  • What is the selection and confirmation process for judges in Oregon?
  • Why is this nomination to the Supreme Court and the hearing process an important landmark on the road to a healthy thriving democracy?
  • Should juvenile bad choices affect decisions about adults seeking judgeships or other positions?

Background and More

Why do Supreme Court justices have lifetime appointments?, by Molly Callahan, News at Northeastern

3 Questions To Ask While Watching the Kavanaugh/Ford Hearings Today, by Nick Gillespie, Reason, September 27, 2018

What does it mean to be qualified to be a Supreme Court justice?, by David Schultz, The Hill, September 21, 2018
CLP: Opinion

Of the 113 Supreme Court justices in US history, all but 6 have been men, by Jessica Campisi and Brandon Griggs, CNN, September 5, 2018

Why Senator Mazie Hirono asked a crucial question at the Kavanaugh hearing, by Osita Nwanevu, The New Yorker, September 24, 2018

There are key differences between the possible Brett Kavanaugh showdown with accuser Christine Blasey Ford and the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas saga, by Dan Mangan, CNBC, Septeber 18, 2018

Read Jeff Flake’s speech on Kavanaugh hearing: ‘We must do our best, seek the truth, in good faith’, Arizona Republic, September 26, 2018

Lesson Plans

Study Guide: #MeToo and the Supreme Court confirmation process, PBS Newshour Extra, September 18, 2018
CLP: High School

Supreme Court Activity, United States Courts
CLP: Middle and High School

Judge Chats, Constitution Center
CLP: 6th, 8th, 12th

Constitutional and Legal Connections

Article III and the Courts, Judicial Learning Center

What does the Constitution say about picking Supreme Court justices? Not much, by Eric Black, MinnPost, February 17, 2016

Article III: Judicial Branch, Constitution Center

Oregon Connections

Judicial selection in Oregon, Ballotpedia

Merkley files lawsuit to halt Kavanaugh’s confirmation, by KOIN 6 News Staff, KOIN 6, September 26, 2018

Oregon State Social Science Standards

8.8 Evaluate information from a variety of sources and perspectives.
8.14 Explain rights and responsibilities of citizens.
8.26 Examine a controversial event, issue, or problem from more than one perspective.
HS.28 Evaluate how governments interact at the local, state, tribal, national, and global levels.
HS.33 Explain the role of government in various current events.
HS.59 Demonstrate the skills and dispositions needed to be a critical consumer of information.
HS.60. Analyze an event, issue, problem, or phenomenon from varied or opposing perspectives or points of view.

We the People Lesson Connections

Middle School, Level 2

  • Unit 6, Lesson 29: What are the rights and responsibilities of citizenship?
  • Unit 6, Lesson 30: How might citizens participate in civic affairs?

High School, Level 3

  • Unit 4, Lesson 21: What is the Role of Congress in American Constitutional democracy?
  • Unit 4, Lesson 25: What Is the Role of the Supreme Court in the American Constitutional System?
  • Unit 6, Lesson 33: What does it mean to be a citizen?
  • Unit 6, Lesson 34: What is the importance of civic engagement to American constitutional democracy?