And May It Please the Court

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Listening to U.S. Supreme Court Oral Arguments

Instructions for Teachers

  1. Prior to listening to oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court, have your students prepare by reading the facts of a case and looking at the issues that will be presented before the Court, which are available at SCOTUSblog. Click on the case title on that page for more information about the case.

  2. Each student should access the graphic organizer linked here and on the case page. Review the prompts on the organizer with your students prior to listening to the oral arguments to give them an idea of what to listen for. 
  3. You can also preview the format for them: First, the petitioner has two minutes to present their main arguments. Next, the justices ask questions in order of seniority (for two minutes apiece). The process lasts a total of 30 minutes. Then, the same process is repeated for the respondent. Finally, the petitioner has three minutes for rebuttal at the end.
  4. Using information from the case page, students should complete the top portion on the organizer for petitioner and respondent information. 
  5. While listening to the oral arguments from attorneys and questions from the justices, students should take notes using the graphic organizer.
  6.  After students listen to the oral arguments, debrief the case with them. Discuss how they would decide the case and why (the last section on the graphic organizer). Ask if they heard anything while listening to the oral arguments that helps them predict how a majority of the justices will vote in this case, either for the petitioner or for the respondent.

Past Cases

Chiafalo v. Washington — May 13, 2020, at 10:00 AM (ET)

Colorado Department of State v. Baca  — May 13, 2020, at 10:00 AM (ET)(following Chiafalo v. Washington)

Listen at PBS NewsHour.

Recorded Audio of Past Oral Arguments

Oyez  |  Supreme Court of the United States



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