Lesson Plan: Researching a Supreme Court Justice - How They Work

Granting Certiorari

Justices discuss the process of reviewing petitions and granting certiorari.

Description

The Supreme Court's powers are to interpret the Constitution through challenges to the Court and to hear cases in specific areas designated by the United States Constitution. But how do they do this? How does the Supreme Court decide what cases to hear and what is the process they go through in hearing a case? This student centered activity requires learners to identify and analyze the process of how the Supreme Court accepts, hears and rules on cases using digital media from C-SPAN's video library.

Procedures

  • NEEDED RESOURCES

  • Background Information (Suggested Activities)

    • Introductory Lecture on How a Case Works its way through the Supreme Court

    • Student reading in text and filling out a flow chart of How a Case Works its way through the Supreme Court

    • Vocabulary activity from textbook on section in book on How a Case Works its way through the Supreme Court
  • STEP 1.

    Each student will receive the handout “Supreme Court - How They Work Student Activity” (linked above).

  • STEP 2.

    Students view the clips of the Supreme Court justices and then answer the questions about the process of how they accept, hear and rule on cases. Students should record their answers on the handout.

  • VIDEO CLIP: Granting Certiorari (3:37)

    • What does it mean to "grant certiorari”?

    • How does “granting certiorari” fit into the process of hearing a case and why is it important?

    • Describe one specific point that was made by the Justice(s).
  • VIDEO CLIP: Oral Argument (7:40)

    • What are the characteristics of the “oral argument” at the Supreme Court?

    • How does the “oral argument” fit into the process of hearing a case?

    • Describe one specific point that was made by the Justice(s).
  • VIDEO CLIP: Justices Conference (4:59)

    • Describe the process of the “Justice Conference”.

    • Why is it important?

    • Describe one specific point that was made by the Justice(s).
  • VIDEO CLIP: Opinion Writing (10:54)

    • Explain the process of assigning and writing opinions.

    • Why is it important?

    • Describe one specific point that was made by the Justice(s).
  • Wrap Up/Assessment (Suggested Activities)

    • Quiz on How a Case Works its way through the Supreme Court

    • Create an infographic of the process of How a Case Works its way through the Supreme Court.
  • Extension (Suggested Activities)

    Find and create a clip of a justice talking about the Supreme Court process identifying the stages the case has gone through and the specific perspective of the justice.

    Research a current Supreme Court case identifying the stages the case has gone through in the Supreme Court hearing process and present to the class.

    Students analyze the use of media as a source using the following questions:

    • How does the information about How a Case Works its way through the Supreme Court in your textbook compare to the information in the video clips? What are some similarities and differences?

    • What are the advantages and disadvantages of the video clip in the information it provides about How a Case Works its way through the Supreme Court?

Additional Resource

Vocabulary

  • Certiorari
  • Chief Justice
  • Conference
  • Dissenting Opinion
  • Justices
  • Majority Opinion
  • Oral Argument
  • Petition
  • Supreme Court

Topics

Judicial Branch

Grades

Middle SchoolHigh School