NOTE: Why This Matters is a special segment that appears on The Jeffrey Dean Show. Jeffrey provides this segment for parents to use as opportunities to integrate every day culturally relevant topics into your family conversations. Teaching our children to keep a pulse on what’s happening in the world around them is an important exercise parents can work to establish as routine within the family.
With the United States Supreme Court Confirmation Hearing presently underway for Brett Kavanaugh, this is the perfect opportunity for parents to have a Why This Matters moment with their kids.
Print this blog post about the Supreme Court and have a family discussion about why this matters!
The Process of a Nominee To Become a Justice
Do you know what the process is of a nominee being selected and eventually confirmed to become a United States Supreme Court justice? You can help your family understand this process by considering the journey of present nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
On July 9, 2018, President Donald Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose retirement took effect on July 31. The president’s decision has been lauded by many, and criticized by others, as the next justice could have an enormous impact on the future decisions to come out of the court, specifically when it comes to abortion rights.
However, no matter what your stance is when it comes to Trump’s pick, the process is as follows:
Kavanaugh was first referred to the United States Senate first, where the Senate Judiciary Committee holds hearings for the judge to provide testimony and answer questions from members of the panel. This process began on September 4, 2018.
The hearing took several days, and now that it is complete, the committee will then vote on Kavanaugh, and refer him to the full Senate for consideration.
The committee can report him:
– Or, without recommendation.
Finally, if he makes it that far along in the confirmation process, Kavanaugh will have to receive a simple majority of 51 votes of approval before his nomination becomes official.
There are currently 51 Republican senators and 49 Democrats who will have to weigh in on the judge. If the votes reach a tie, Vice President Mike Pence would be the deciding vote.
Facts About The Supreme Court
Number of Justices: 9
Youngest Justice Appointed: Joseph Story (age 32)
Oldest Justice Appointed: Horace Lurton (age 65)
Oldest Justice to Serve: Oliver Wendell Holmes (retired at age 90)
Shortest Term as Chief Justice: John Rutledge (4 months, 3 days chief justice)
Shortest Time in the Court: Thomas Johnson (5 months, 10 days associate justice)
Longest Term: William O. Douglas (36 years, 209 days)
First African-American justice: Thurgood Marshall
First woman justice: Sandra Day O’Connor
President to appoint the most justices: George Washington (11)
President to appoint the most justices in the 20th century: Franklin Roosevelt (9)
Interesting Questions About The Supreme Court
1. What year did Congress officially create the Supreme Court?
In 1789, Congress passed the act that officially created the federal judiciary system that included the Supreme Court and other federal courts. The Supreme Court itself was part of the Constitution. Article III said, “Judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court.” The details were left to Congress, which debated the Judiciary Act for several months and passed the final measure on September 24, 1789.
2. Where did the Supreme Court first meet?
The justices first met in the Old City Hall in Philadelphia. When they moved the Court to Washington, the Court then met in the Capitol building’s basement. The court was in various locations before the Civil War, and it was housed in the Old Senate Chamber from 1861 to 1935. And, in 1935 the Supreme Court Building was completed.
3. Two justices appeared on U.S. Currency. Who were the two justices and on what currency did they appear?
John Marshall, the 4thChief Justice was on the $500 bill.
Salmon P. Chase, the 6th Chief Justice was on the $10,000 bill.
Of course, neither bill is in circulation today.
4. Which President of the United States was the only President to become a Supreme Court Justice?
William Howard Taft, our 27thPresident, became the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and is the only President to have been both a President and a U.S. Chief Justice.
A Few More Facts About The Supreme Court
Justice Elena Kagan is the one who made it a reality to bring the first frozen-yogurt machine to the cafeteria of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court Building has seats for only 300 members of the public. The arguments can be attended on the basis of first come, first served.
Chief Justice Melville W. Fuller started this custom of the “conference handshake”. Before they take their seats at the bench, each justice shakes hands with the others.
Take some time this week to have a Why This Matters conversation with your family about this very important issue that will impact our nation, our laws, our families, and our future. As you discuss, here are the Fast Five Questions I mentioned on The Jeffrey Dean Show during Episode 11 (September 08, 2018):
Why is it important for me to know more about the process of how our nation nominates and approves a justice to the United States Supreme Court?
Do you have any suggestions on how you believe the process might work better?
Does the process seem fair? Unfair? Why or why not?
Being on a Court of 9 justices, there will be times when everyone doesn’t agree with everyone. So, how do people learn to work with others respectfully when their beliefs often differ?
If you could be a Supreme Court justice, what one thing would you want to accomplish during your time on the Court?