The Constitution of the United States grants the President the power to appoint people to a variety of positions throughout the government. These appointments require careful thought and consideration since the people in these positions can have a great impact on the lives of many Americans during that President’s term. Some appointments need even greater thought and consideration, and those are to the federal judicial system and more importantly, to the Supreme Court of the United States. Justices of the Supreme Court (and other federal courts) serve lifetime appointments and will still be sitting on the bench long after the President that appointed them has left the White House. The rulings of these Justices as they interpret the Constitution, and other situations as outlined in Article III of the Constitution, can have far reaching effects on the entire nation for generations to come. With this awesome power to appoint comes an equally awesome responsibility to make sure that the individuals appointed are the best people for the job and for the nation.
In this lesson, students will examine the appointment of one particular Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, who was also the first female Justice in the 191-year history of the Court to that point in time. Students will examine the process by which a President makes the appointment selection and the steps that lead to that person being confirmed by the Senate (or not).