Lesson Plan: 2020-2021 Supreme Court Oral Arguments

Supreme Court Oral Arguments

The justices of the Supreme Court discuss the process and importance of the oral arguments during a Supreme Court case.

Description

The Supreme Court has the power to interpret the Constitution. Its rulings on cases determine the meaning of laws and acts of Congress and the president. During oral arguments, attorneys for each side of a case present their positions to the Court and respond to questions from the Justices. Prior to the oral arguments, each side submits a legal brief which are reviewed by the Justices so they have complete understanding of the facts of the case and the positions of each party. In this lesson students will examine both sides of a 2020-2021 Supreme Court case and determine its significance to the U.S. Culminating activities may include a mock trial or moot court.

Procedures

  • STEP 1.

    As a class, view the videos below to learn about the process and importance of oral arguments during a Supreme Court case.

    Video Clip: Supreme Court Oral Arguments (7:42)

    • How long are the oral arguments for most cases in the Supreme Court? Why are they limited to this time?

    • What is most time during an oral argument spent on? Why do you think this is the case?

    • Explain at least three key points that the justices or attorneys shared about the questioning period. What similarities and differences do you notice from these views?

    • Do you think the oral argument process is effective? Explain why it is or how it could be more effective.
  • Video Clip: How the Teleconference Supreme Court Oral Arguments will Work

    • How will teleconferencing oral arguments work?

    • Describe how these new procedures differ from traditional oral arguments.
  • STEP 2.

    Select a Supreme Court case from below and complete the chart as you listen to the oral arguments. The list of oral arguments will be updated as the Supreme Court term continues.

  • RESOURCES

  • VIDEO

    October 5, 2020 Texas v. New Mexico (1:15:06)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on SCOTUSblog.org):

    • Whether the River Master correctly allocated evaporation losses under the Pecos River Compact.
  • VIDEO

    October 5, 2020 Carney v. Adams ( 1:05:24)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does a state law that effectively limits judicial service to members of the Democratic and Republican parties violate the First Amendment?
  • VIDEO

    October 6, 2020 Rutledge, Attorney General of Arkansas v. Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (1:12:12)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does ERISA preempt an Arkansas law regulating pharmacy benefit managers’ drug-reimbursement rates?
  • VIDEO

    October 6, 2020 Tanzin v. Tanvir (1:01:06)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb, permit lawsuits seeking money damages against individual federal employees?
  • VIDEO

    October 7, 2020 Google v. Oracle America

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does copyright protection extend to a software interface?
    • If so, does the petitioner’s use of a software interface in the context of creating a new computer program constitute fair use?
  • VIDEO

    October 7, 2020 Ford Motor Company Consolidated (1:04:30)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • May a state court, consistent with the Due Process Clause, exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant when none of the defendant’s contacts with that state caused the plaintiff’s claims?
  • VIDEO

    October 13, 2020 City of Chicago v. Fulton (1:21:54)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does the Bankruptcy Code’s automatic stay provision, 11 U.S.C § 362, require that an entity that is passively retaining possession of property in which a bankruptcy estate has an interest return that property to the debtor or trustee immediately upon the filing of the bankruptcy petition?
  • VIDEO

    October 14, 2020 Torres v. Madrid (1:17:42)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Must physical force used to detain a suspect be successful to constitute a “seizure” under the Fourth Amendment?
  • VIDEO

    October 14, 2020 Pereida v. Barr (1:04:30)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does a criminal conviction bar a noncitizen from applying for relief from removal when the record of conviction is ambiguous as to whether it corresponds to an offense listed in the Immigration and Nationality Act?
  • VIDEO

    November 2, 2020 Salinas v. United States Railroad Retirement Board (1:03:12)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does a decision by the Railroad Retirement Board denying a request to reopen a prior benefits claim constitute a “final decision” subject to judicial review?
  • VIDEO

    November 2, 2020 U.S. Fish and Game Service v. Sierra Club, Inc (1:10:36)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does Exemption 5 of the Freedom of Information Act, by incorporating the deliberative process privilege, protect against compelled disclosure of a federal agency’s draft documents that were prepared as part of a formal interagency consultation process under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and that concerned a proposed agency action that was later modified in the consultation process?
  • VIDEO

    November 3, 2020 Borden v. United States (1:12:12)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does the “use of force” clause in the Armed Career Criminal Act encompass crimes with an intent requirement of mere recklessness?
  • VIDEO

    November 3, 2020 Jones v. Mississippi (1:28:09)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does the Eighth Amendment require a sentencing authority to find that a juvenile is permanently incorrigible before it may impose a sentence of life without the possibility of parole?
  • VIDEO

    November 4, 2020 Fulton v. City of Philadelphia (1:52:09)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    1. To succeed on their free exercise claim, must plaintiffs prove that the government would allow the same conduct by someone who held different religious views, or only provide sufficient evidence that a law is not neutral and generally applicable?

    2. Should the Court revisit its decision in Employment Division v. Smith?

    3. Does the government violate the First Amendment by conditioning a religious agency’s ability to participate in the foster care system on taking actions and making statements that directly contradict the agency’s religious beliefs?
  • VIDEO

    November 9, 2020 Brownback v. King (1:03:48)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does the judgment bar provision of the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) prevent a plaintiff whose FTCA claim against the government failed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction from filing another action, against the same defendants and arising from the same set of facts and injuries, under Bivens?
  • VIDEO

    November 9, 2020 Niz-Chavez v. Barr, Attorney General (1:10:12)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Under Section 1229(a), must the government serve a specific document that includes all required information, or may the government serve that information over the course of multiple documents?
  • VIDEO

    November 10, 2020 California v. Texas (2:01:23)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Is the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which now has a penalty of zero for not buying health insurance, now unconstitutional?

    • If the individual mandate is unconstitutional, is it severable from the remainder of the ACA?
  • VIDEO

    November 30, 2020 Trump v. New York (1:34:24)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does a group of states and local governments have standing under Article III of the Constitution to challenge a July 21, 2020, memorandum by President Donald Trump instructing the secretary of commerce to include in his report on the 2020 census information enabling the president to exclude noncitizens from the base population number for purposes of apportioning seats in the House of Representatives?

    • Is the memorandum is a permissible exercise of the President’s discretion under the provisions of law governing congressional apportionment?
  • VIDEO

    November 30, 2020 Van Buren v. United States (1:06:32)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does a person who is authorized to access information on a computer for certain purposes violate Section 1030(a)(2) of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act if he accesses that information for an improper purpose?
  • VIDEO

    December 1, 2020 Alien Tort Statute Consolidated (1:28:42)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • May an aiding and abetting claim against a domestic corporation brought under the Alien Tort Statute overcome the extraterritoriality bar where the claim is based on allegations of general corporate activity in the United States and where the plaintiffs cannot trace the alleged harms, which occurred abroad at the hands of unidentified foreign actors, to that activity?

    • Does the judiciary have the authority under the Alien Tort Statute to impose liability on domestic corporations?
  • VIDEO

    December 1, 2020 CIC Services, LLC v. IRS (1:03:00)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does the Anti-Injunction Act’s bar on lawsuits for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of taxes also bar challenges to unlawful regulatory mandates that are not taxes?
  • VIDEO

    December 2, 2020 Edwards v. Vannoy (1:26:45)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does the Court’s decision in Ramos v. Louisiana, holding that the Sixth Amendment establishes a right to a unanimous jury in both federal and state courts, apply retroactively to cases on federal collateral review?
  • VIDEO

    December 7, 2020 Germany v. Philipp (1:28:13)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does the “expropriation exception” of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act provide jurisdiction over claims that a foreign sovereign has violated international human-rights law when taking property from its own national within its own borders?

    • Does the doctrine of international comity preclude the exercise of jurisdiction in this case?
  • VIDEO

    December 7, 2020 Hungary v. Simon (1:21:18)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Was it proper for the district court to abstain from exercising jurisdiction under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act for reasons of international comity, because the plaintiffs made no attempt to exhaust local Hungarian remedies?
  • VIDEO

    December 8, 2020 Henry Schein Inc. v. Archer and White Sales Inc. (1:09:54)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does an arbitration agreement that exempts certain claims from arbitration negate an otherwise clear and unmistakable delegation of questions of arbitrability to an arbitrator?
  • VIDEO

    December 8, 2020 Facebook, Inc. v. Duguid (1:23:52)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does the definition of an "automatic telephone dialing system" in the Telephone and Consumer Protection Act of 1991 encompass any device that can “store” and “automatically dial” telephone numbers, even if the device does not “use a random or sequential number generator”?
  • VIDEO

    December 9, 2020 Collins v. Mnuchin (1:42:08)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) structure violate the separation of powers?

    • If so, what is the proper remedy for a final agency action that FHFA took when it was unconstitutionally structured?
  • VIDEO

    January 11, 2021 Pham v. Chavez (1:05:54)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Are the respondents—who were subject to reinstated removal orders, but with pending claims for withholding of removal—detained under 8 U.S.C. § 1226 or under 8 U.S.C. § 1231?
  • VIDEO

    January 12, 2021 Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski (1:33:06)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Is a constitutional challenge to a school policy that seeks nominal damages rendered moot if the unconstitutional policy is revised during litigation?
  • VIDEO

    January 12, 2021 AMG Capital Management, LLC v. FTC (1:07:24)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does Section 13(b) of the FTC Act authorize the FTC to demand monetary relief such as restitution?
  • VIDEO

    January 19, 2021 BP, P.L.C. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore (1:15:12)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does federal law permit a court of appeals to review any issue included in a district court’s order remanding a case to state court, or only the ground for removal?
  • VIDEO

    January 19, 2021 Telecommunications Act of 1996 Consolidated (1:21:31)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Did the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit err in vacating as arbitrary and capricious the FCC’s orders that substantially changed its approach to regulation of broadcast media ownership?
  • VIDEO

    February 22, 2021 Florida v. Georgia (1:36:38)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Is Florida is entitled to equitable apportionment of the waters of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin and appropriate injunctive relief against Georgia to sustain an adequate flow of fresh water into the Apalachicola Region?
  • VIDEO

    February 23, 2021 Wilkinson v. Dai (1:35:54)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Can a court of appeals presume that an immigrant’s testimony is credible and true if an immigration judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals did not specifically find that he was not credible?
  • VIDEO

    February 24, 2021 Lange v. California (1:53:53)

    Key Question in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does the exigent circumstances exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement apply when police are pursuing a suspect whom they believe committed a misdemeanor?
  • VIDEO

    March 1, 2021 United States v. Arthrex, Inc. (1:30:00)

    Key Questions in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Are administrative patent judges principal officers who must be appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, or inferior officers who may be appointed by a department head?

    • If they are principal officers, can they be rendered inferior officers by severing the portion of the Patent Act restricting their removal?
  • VIDEO

    March 2, 2021 Brnovich v. DNC (1:55:11)

    Key Questions in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does Arizona’s out-of-precinct policy violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act?

    • Does Arizona’s H.B. 2023 violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act or the Fifteenth Amendment?
  • VIDEO

    March 3, 2021 Carr v. Saul (1:02:18)

    Key Questions in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does a person seeking disability benefits under the Social Security Act forfeit their ability to challenge the appointment of an administrative law judge under the Appointments Clause if they fail to present that challenge during administrative proceedings?
  • VIDEO

    March 22, 2021 Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid (1:09:30)

    Key Questions in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does the uncompensated appropriation of an easement that is limited in time constitutes a per se physical taking under the Fifth Amendment?
  • VIDEO

    March 23, 2021 United States v. Cooley (1:09:30)

    Key Questions in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • May a police officer for a Native American tribe detain and search a non-tribe member within a reservation on suspicion of violating a state or federal law?
  • VIDEO

    March 24, 2021 Caniglia v. Strom (1:42:56)

    Key Questions in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does the “community caretaking” exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement extend to the home?
  • VIDEO

    March 29, 2021 Goldman Sachs Group v. Arkansas Teacher Retirement System (1:24:00)

    Key Questions in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • May a defendant in a securities class action rebut the presumption of classwide reliance recognized in Basic Inc. v. Levinson by pointing to the generic nature of the alleged misstatements in showing that the statements had no impact on the price of the security?

    • Does a defendant seeking to rebut the Basic presumption have only a burden of production or also the ultimate burden of persuasion?
  • VIDEO

    March 30, 2021 Transunion LLC v. Ramirez (1:31:00)

    Key Questions in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does either Article III of the Constitution or Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 permit a damages class action when the majority of the class did not suffer an injury comparable to that of the class representative?
  • VIDEO

    March 31, 2021 Student-Athlete Compensation Consolidated (1:34:25)

    Key Questions in Case (as listed on Oyez.org):

    • Does the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)’s prohibition on compensation for college athletes violate federal antitrust law?
  • STEP 3.

    As a class, discuss the main arguments on both sides in the case, and explain its significance to the U.S.

  • STEP 4.

    Choose an activity from C-SPAN Classroom's Deliberations site to engage in a structured student-centered analysis of the case.

Additional Resources

Vocabulary

  • Cases
  • Judicial Branch
  • Justices
  • Oral Argument

Topics

Judicial BranchSupreme Court Cases

Grades

High SchoolUniversity