Discussion/activity: The strategy
on Ashcroft confirmation
Editor's note: If you are planning to use the news story that this discussion/activity is based on for a homework assignment, please write the URL on the board and have your students copy it. CNNfyi.com updates the site in the early evening, so students may have difficulty finding it without the URL. You can find the lesson plan by going to the Subject Areas page and clicking PREVIOUS in the square for Today's Lesson Plan.
After students read the CNNfyi.com article "Strategists seek to bolster Ashcroft's chances for confirmation in Senate," ask the following:
1. According to George W. Bush's presidential transition team, what is its first order of business? Why do you think that this is priority? According to the article, whose support has the Bush team confirmed? Why do U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, and others oppose attorney general nominee John Ashcroft? How many Democrats are expected to support the Ashcroft nomination? What has encouraged them? What criticism has Ashcroft received in the past regarding his voting record? Explain the issues. Is the Bush team expecting all Republican senators to support the nomination? Why or why not?
2. Direct students to find out more about the oversight function of the Senate for presidential appointments: What is the confirmation process? Who must approve these and other high-ranking appointments? What happens if the Senate rejects a nominee? Have students share their findings and discuss the role the Senate plays in the system of checks and balances. Why might the closeness of the 2000 election force the new president to re-think some of his possible Cabinet appointees?
3. Have students review a copy of the U.S. Constitution. Direct them to Article II, Section 2, to read about the presidential power of appointment. What positions can be filled by presidential appointment? What is advice and consent? How is advice and consent a limit on the presidential power of appointment? After a brief discussion, students can conduct research to find other times when presidential appointments have been held up or even rejected by the Senate. Allow them time to present their findings, including a brief description of the political climate between the legislative and executive branches at the time each nominee was considered. How can political disagreements affect the Senate confirmation process? Discuss how advice and consent is an important component in the system of checks and balances.
U.S. Constitution and amendments
American Civil Liberties Union on John Ashcroft
Senate voting record
Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia: The American presidency
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