February 3, 2017
Are you teaching about President Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court? Street Law has new resources for teaching about this specific nomination. Lead your students through an exploration of the process and have them take on a role as an adviser to a senator in preparation for the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing.
New! Student Handouts
2017 Supreme Court Nomination: Advising Senators Activity
Ways to Use This Activity:
- Have students learn about Judge Gorsuch’s background (using the first page of the Student Handouts or conduct independent research)
- Discuss the typical Supreme Court nomination process (see these useful infographics and this discussion of the current nomination process)
- Outline the types of statements and questions that senators often pose during confirmation hearings (See p. 11-13 of this Congressional Research Service Report for a description of the purpose of questions and types of questions asked)
- Assign students to play one of four roles:
- Adviser to Senator Grassley
- Adviser to Senator Graham
- Adviser to Senator Feinstein
- Adviser to Senator Franken
- Instruct students (either working alone or in small groups with other advisers to the same senator) to review that senator’s positions on issues and the nominee. Next, students should use the questions on the Student Handouts as a guide to provide advice to their senator and generate questions.
Adaptations and Extensions
- Assign students to be an adviser to one of your state’s senators. Have students conduct online research to learn more about your senators’ positions on issues and the nominee and proceed with the questions on the Handout.
- Instead of assigning students to advise a specific senator, ask them to advise a fictional senator (someone who likely favors or opposes the nominee, or someone with no firm position).
- Select a group of students to play Judge Gorsuch and his advisory team. Assign remaining students to play the senators on the Judiciary Committee and their advisers. Then conduct a simulation of the Senate Judiciary Committee by allowing each Senator to have 3-5 minutes to make a statement and then question the nominee. Allow the students playing senators and Judge Gorsuch to consult with their advisory teams as needed.
- Conclude by having students ghost-write an opinion article in the voice of their assigned senator, either supporting or opposing the nomination. Or, allow them to drop their assigned role and write an opinion about whether they personally believe the nominee should be confirmed.
Other Street Law Resources
(Reproduced with permission)
Supreme Court Summer Institute for Teachers
High School Law Course
SCOTUS in the Classroom
Teaching for Civic Engagement