The Judical Nomination Process

What is the nomination process for Supreme Court justices and federal judges? Find out in a multimedia package of educational resources geared to high school students, their teachers, and interested adults. What do judges promise in the judicial oath of office? What is the role of justices and judges? What kinds of information are nominees asked to share during the nomination process? What do judges, themselves, say about what it means to be impartial?

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12

Court Shorts: Separation of Powers

In a five-minute video, federal judges offer insights into their thinking about the separation of powers and describe how healthy tensions among the branches have a stabilizing effect on democracy. The judges also share their respect for and commitment to this founding principle, which has an impact on everyday American life.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Pathways to the Bench

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank, of Minnesota, is featured in the latest installment of the Pathways to the Bench video series produced by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to inspire and inform the public about the human face of the federal judiciary. In the series, individual judges talk about the personal, character-building challenges that have prepared them to serve on the bench. In this brief video, Judge Frank says that adversity has made him a better person and a better jurist.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

FAQs: Juries

Eleven short videos feature constitutional experts, lawyers and judges who discuss juries and jury service, including the English and American histories of juries, what to expect as a juror, how a trial works, how grand juries work, and insights from judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers.

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Dialogue on the Fourteenth Amendment

The American Bar Association Dialogue program provides lawyers, judges and teachers with the resources they need to engage students and community members in a discussion of fundamental American legal principles and civic traditions. This Dialogue on the Fourteenth Amendment is composed of three parts:
Part 1: Equal Protection and Civil Rights – Participants discuss the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment and consider how Congress, through federal legislation, has worked to help realize its constitutional promise.
Part 2: Incorporating the Bill of Rights examines the concept of incorporation. Using a case study of Gitlow v. New York, this section provides a guide to how courts have applied the Bill of Rights, selectively, to the states using the 14th Amendment.
Part 3: Ensuring Equality and Liberty explores how the 14th Amendment has been interpreted by courts to protect fundamental freedoms, including individuals’ right to marry.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans, Timelines
  • Subject: Foundations of Democracy
  • Grades: 10, 11, 12

Moments in History: Remembering Thurgood Marshall

Few people know the legal mind of justices or judges as well as the law clerks who have worked with them. Justice Thurgood Marshall’s former law clerks offer unique insights into the character, values, and thought processes of the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States.  In this 8.5-minute video called “Moments in History:  Remembering Thurgood Marshall,” prominent lawyers reminisce about the examples of compassion and courage they saw in the life and work of this legal legend.  

  • Resource Type: Video
  • Subject:
  • Grades: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

What Makes a Good Judge?

This lesson focuses on the costs and benefits of various judicial selection methods. Students will list characteristics they think essential or valuable to being a good judge, and then see which system of judicial selection – appointment, merit, or election – obtains the highest quality judges. In discussing each method, students will understand the tradeoffs between accountability and independence in judicial selection.

  • Resource Type: Lesson Plans
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 6, 7, 8

The Constitutional Convention: Should Judges Judge Laws?

History is the chronicle of choices made by actors/agents/protagonists in specific contexts. This simulation places students at the Constitutional Convention and asks them to engage with a problematic question: Who should have the final say in deciding whether a law or executive action is constitutional? Students will explore this in theoretical, practical, and political contexts. If one branch has the final say, does that negate the separation of powers? But if no branch has the final say, how are inter-branch disputes to be settled? If unelected justices of the Supreme Court can nullify legislative and executive measures, does that fly in the face of popular sovereignty? On the other hand, if constitutional interpretation is left to “the people,” how might that work, and might that lead to political turmoil?

  • Resource Type: Interactives, Lesson Plans, Modules (Teaching Unit), Primary Sources
  • Subject: Judicial Branch/Supreme Court
  • Grades: 9, 10, 11, 12