PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs asked teens around the country ahead of Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Note: There are three additional videos to watch below. For the sake of time, choose the one that works best for your class. Given the sensitive nature of the issue, preview all videos before showing to your students.
1. How and when should adults be held accountable for their actions as children or teenagers?
2. Do young people think about the choices they make as teenagers and how they may have consequences for their adult lives?
3. Whose perspective did you agree with? Whose perspective did you disagree with? How do you relate what they said to what is happening in Congress and the Supreme Court?
4. Do you think some of the young people’s opinions may have shifted after they heard from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh as well as members of the Senate Judiciary Committee?
Directions: Read the summary below first, then watch the video and answer the discussion questions. To help students follow along, turn on the closed captions function marked “CC” or use the transcript.
You may also wish to watch parts of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Friday in which the Republican majority voted to move Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Senate on Saturday, Sept. 29th. The Committee also reacted to a surprise decision made by Republican Sen. Jeff Flake to support an FBI investigation into Blasey Ford’s allegations, although he did not say that he would not support Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
To learn more, read and discuss the two comments made by Republican and Democratic senators at Friday’s Judiciary Committee meeting. One by Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont who said: “It feels like Alice in Wonderland around here. … This Judiciary Committee is no longer and independent of government. … We are an arm, and a very weak arm, of the Trump White House.” And the other by Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah: “I know Judge Kavanaugh, I have known him a long time. It would be a crying shame to keep treating him as imposter or someone who can’t do this job.”
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will face a crucial vote Friday as a Senate panel will decide whether or not to move his nomination to the full Senate on Saturday with a full vote as early as next week. This comes a day after Kavanaugh adamantly denied sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford, who insisted she’s “100 percent” certain he did. High drama played out in a day-long hearing on the allegations against Kavanaugh. Ford offered her much-awaited testimony about the summer day in 1982 that she remembers being assaulted, while Kavanaugh defiantly called it a “political hit.”
For classroom resources since the start of the Supreme Court hearings, use NewsHour Extra’s Study guide: Supreme Court confirmation process of Brett Kavanaugh.
Discuss the essential question as a class or with a partner or craft a written response:
Essential question: After hearing Thursday’s testimony by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh, how has your understanding of the issue of sexual assault in America changed?
You may also want to watch the following NewsHour video which provides key moments from Thursday’s hearings: