Daily Video

September 18, 2018

Study guide: #MeToo and the Supreme Court confirmation process




Teachers’ note: There are different ways you may choose to teach about the recent developments of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Keep your principal and department chair in the loop–share that you will be discussing the subject of sexual harassment and assault as part of the conversation. Consider inviting the school counselor to your class, as you discuss the news updates with your students. Most importantly, let your students know what counseling services are available at your school and the importance of talking to a parent or adult they trust, if they should feel the need to do so.


1. Before watching the video, read the latest update on the hearings using the article, Kavanaugh denies 2nd claim of sexual misconduct. Be sure to pre-read all sensitive material before using it with your students.


2. Read the summary below first, and then watch the NewsHour interview with The New York Times Magazine’s Emily Bazelon and NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan, Sexual assault survivors share stories with #WhyIDidntReportAfter Dr. Christine Blasey Ford accused Supreme Court nominee Judge Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high school, President Donald Trump tweeted to ask for official filings. This sparked a movement on Twitter in which women shared stories of why they did not report sexual assault using #WhyIDidntReportAs always, preview all sensitive material before using it with your students.


3.  Watch the video below pertaining to the sexual assault allegation made by Christine Blasey Ford against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh (see transcript.). Depending on time, you may wish to watch additional videos and answer the questions below about Kavanaugh’s career and from four days of Senate Judiciary Committee hearings.





The confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has been delayed due to recent allegations that when Kavanaugh was in high school in the early 1980s, he allegedly sexually assaulted another teenager, Christine Blasey Ford, at a party. On Sunday, a second woman came forward to make an allegation against Kavanaugh, which dates back to 1983-84, when the woman and Kavanaugh were students at Yale University.


Prior to this development, lawmakers spent four days asking questions about the professional background of Kavanaugh, including prior court rulings he made throughout his career on the bench and working in the George W. Bush administration. Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy, the retiring judge. Kavanaugh was a top official in the Ken Starr investigation of President Clinton and currently holds a seat on the powerful D.C. circuit court of appeals.


Having a long political career in Washington D.C. comes with both strengths and challenges for Kavanaugh. Support for the candidate has fallen along party lines: Republicans support him and most Democrats oppose his nomination.


Discuss questions as a class or with a partner or craft a written response.


1. Essential question: Why do Americans tend to hold those seeking high-level government positions to a higher standard?


2. How might allegations of sexual assault from when a person was young affect their chances of one day holding highly-held government positions?


3. Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, ‘struggled’ with the decision to go public, according to Washington Post reporter Emma Brown. The majority of women and men who have experienced sexual harassment or assault echo Ford’s sentiment and most decide not to report the incident to authorities or sometimes even to friends or family. Why do you think this is the case? How might lawmakers and members of the public react to the allegations?


4. What do you know about the #MeToo movement? How did it get started? If you’re not sure, how could you find out?


5. In the U.S., people are presumed innocent until proven guilty. You often see the word “alleged” in front of news about sexual harassment or assault. How do you think the allegations will affect Kavanaugh’s confirmation?


6. Why do Supreme Court hearings often become heated along party lines?


7. How long do Supreme Court justices serve? How much should a Supreme Court nominee’s prior court decisions and work experience affect their confirmation? What about personal choices they may have made?


This is a recap of all four days of the Supreme Court hearings (in less than 15 minutes!):



Next, watch this video about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s career:


And if you want to delve further, check out a few minutes from Day 4 of the hearings: WATCH LIVE: Day 4 of Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings and the full coverage of the Kavanaugh nomination.


Dig deeper:


Watch highlights from Day 3 of the hearings, Release of emails and documents rock Day 3 of Kavanaugh hearing and read along with the transcriptAsk your students:


1. What did the emails and documents reveal about Kavanaugh’s stances on the issues? Do you agree with the actions Democratic Sen. Cory Booker took on Thursday? Why or why not?


2. To watch highlights from Day 2 of the hearings, watch the video, What Kavanaugh said about abortion, guns and presidential pardons, and read along with the transcript. Ask your students:


  • Should seats for members of the public at the Supreme Court hearings be reduced to half their original number? Explain.


  • Should members of the public have been cleared from the room on Wednesday for 45 minutes? Explain.


  • Why were these decisions made?

For 45 minutes on Wednesday, members of the public were cleared from the Senate Judiciary hearing for Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court. The seats were cleared after repeated outbursts from protesters had disrupted the hearing multiple times. Seating for the public on Wednesday was reduced by half, to 22, on Wednesday after outbursts delayed the hearings on the day before. Photo by Lisa Desjardins

Police remove a protester during U.S. Supreme Court nominee judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie


To watch highlights from Day 1 of the hearings, watch the video, In hearing showdown, Democrats push for Kavanaugh documents, and read along with the transcript.  Then answer the following questions:


1. Why did members of the public choose to protest in the manner they did on Tuesday? Do you agree with their actions? Why or why not?


2. During the hearings, why did Democratic lawmakers interrupt Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the judiciary committees? Do you think this method was effective? Explain. What was the reaction of Republican legislators to the interruptions?


3. Should Supreme Court nominations be used as a political tool during presidential campaigns? Explain your response.


4. Should Supreme Court justices serve for life? Why or why not?


Extension activities


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