Daily Video

September 22, 2020

A Supreme Court vacancy adds a new dimension to the presidential race

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Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. To read the transcript of the video above, click here

Summary: In the video above, NPR’s Tamara Keith and Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report join Judy Woodruff to discuss the latest political news, including the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, how it affects the presidential race and the power dynamics at play in the Senate around the battle for her replacement.

  • President Donald Trump has promised to nominate a candidate for the Supreme Court vacancy on Saturday, shortly after Justice Ginsburg’s memorial service.
  • There may be a Senate vote for confirmation by the end of October, before the presidential election.
  • Political observers expect the confirmation hearing to draw attention away from other voter concerns such as the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and healthcare.
  1. Have your students identify the 5Ws and an H:
    • Who is the story about?
    • What is the Supreme Court and what important role does it serve in US law?
    • When and where are decisions being made about the vacancy?
    • Why is the Supreme Court so important to politicians?
    • How might the the confirmation of a new Supreme Court Justice change the presidential race?

Then have students share with the class or through a Learning Management System (LMS).

2. Focus question: Why do you think Supreme Court nominations have become contentious political spectacles?

3. Media literacy: What do you think are the consequences of the media portraying the filling of the court vacancy as a contest between two political parties?

Dig deeper: Want to learn more about the ways the Supreme Court nominating process works? Use this resource from iCivics to learn more about the politics involved, the president’s role and the Senate’s role. Note: You’ll need to register for a free iCivics account in order to access the lesson plan. In this lesson, students will learn:

  • Identify ways in which the nomination of Supreme Court justices is and is not political
  • Evaluate the effect of politics on the nomination process
  • Compare judicial philosophies
  • Research and analyze the nominations and confirmation processes of Robert Bork, Harriet Miers, Clarence Thomas and Merrick Garland

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