Subject(s) Social Studies --Civics --Current Events --History ----U.S. History
John Roberts was confirmed as the new chief justice of the Supreme Court by a Senate vote of 78 to 22.
Before reading, ask students to agree or disagree with each of the statements below.
Introduce these words before students read the article:
Read the News
Click for a printable version of this week's news story New Supreme Court Justice Sworn In.
More Facts to Share
You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this week's news story.
John Roberts, age 50, was confirmed as the new chief justice of the Supreme Court by a U.S. Senate vote of 78 to 22. All 55 Republicans in the Senate voted for Roberts. Senate Democrats were evenly split, 22 for and 22 against.
In accepting the nomination, Roberts thanked President Bush by saying, "There is no way to repay the confidence you have shown in me other than to do the best job I possibly can do, and I'll try to do that every day."
Roberts was born in Buffalo, New York (1955) and grew up in Indiana. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1979. He worked as a clerk for Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. As a lawyer, he has argued 39 cases before the Supreme Court.
About the Supreme Court
The United States Supreme Court is the highest court in the nation. The U.S. Constitution (Article III) created the court to make sure all parts of the government follow the laws of the Constitution.
The United States has two court systems. The federal court system governs cases that involve powers granted by the Constitution to the federal government. The state courts govern laws set by the states.
If a party is not happy with a decision of a lower court, that party can "appeal" the case (bring it to a higher court). If the case is a state case, it is appealed in an appellate court. If it is a federal case, it is appealed to a United States District Court or the United States Courts of Appeals. If those higher courts disagree with the lower court rulings, the decision of the higher court prevails. If the higher courts agree with the lower courts, the losing party may ask that the case be presented to the Supreme Court so long as the case involves federal or Constitutional law.
About 7,000 "petitions" are presented to the Supreme Court each year. Court clerks review most cases and provide memorandums to the justices. About 70 percent of the petitions go no farther; the justices decide at the memorandum stage that
Revisit the Anticipation Guide at the top of this lesson; ask students to respond again to the statements in it.
You might follow-up that activity with some of these questions:
Think About the News
Discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students' news page.
News follow-up. All 55 Republicans were united in their support of John Roberts nomination as chief justice. They were joined by 22 Democrats and one independent senator. Twenty-two Democrats voted no. Have students use newspapers or other resources to determine how your state's two senators voted on the Roberts nomination. The CNN News resource Democrats on Roberts Vote will provide the information for you.
History. The Supreme Court is made up of nine justices. When the Supreme Court was first convened -- on February 1, 1790 in New York City -- it was made up of six justices who were appointed by George Washington. The number of justices has been nine -- eight associate justices and one chief justice -- since 1869. Throughout its history, a total of 16 chief justices and 108 associate justices have served on the Supreme Court. Share the resource below with students:
Math challenge. Chief Justice John Roberts is only 50 years old. He could easily be on the Supreme Court for 20 or 30 years or more. Justice William O. Douglas, who retired in 1975, served on the Supreme Court for the longest period of any justice. He served for 36 years. Have students use the resource Members of the Supreme Court of the United States to figure out how many justices have served 30 years or more. (fifteen justices, including current Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, have served 30 years or more)
Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News question on the news story page.
Lesson Plan SourceEducation World
National StandardsNational Standards
SOCIAL SCIENCES: Civics
GRADES K - 4
NSS-C.K-4.1 What Is Government?
NSS-C.K-4.3 Principles of Democracy
GRADES 5 - 8
NSS-C.5-8.1 Civic Life, Politics, and Government
NSS-C.5-8.2 Foundations of the American Political System
NSS-C.5-8.3 Principles of Democracy
GRADES 9 - 12
NSS-C.9-12.1 Civic Life, Politics, and Government
NSS-C.9-12.2 Foundations of the Political System
NSS-C.9-12.3 Principles of Democracy
SOCIAL SCIENCES: U.S. History
GRADES K - 4
NSS-USH.K-4.3 The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic, and Political Heritage
GRADES 5 - 12
See recent news stories in Education World's News Story of the Week Archive.
Article by Gary Hopkins
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