Supreme Court Spring2011

As part of the political science course “Law, Politics and the Supreme Court,” students and Political Science Associate Professor Joe Kobylka are spending spring break 2011 in Washington, D.C. The students are conducting research on Supreme Court cases at the Library of Congress.

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Constitutional law: Behind the scenes

Kevin.jpg An update from Kevin, a junior majoring in political science, economics and public policy who is investigating the roots of the Rehnquist Court’s federalism revolution on questions of Congress’ commerce power and sovereign immunity claims under the Eleventh Amendment:

As the time for researching at the Library of Congress draws to a close, I have a great opportunity to look back at all that I have been able to accomplish this week. After three days of research, I have moved beyond the Eleventh Amendment and am now looking at cases decided on the commerce clause.

The justices’ papers that I have evaluated have really given me a behind-the-scenes picture of how the constitutional law that we read (and compose briefs for) is made. For example, yesterday, thanks to Ashley, I got a copy of a memo that was sent from Anthony Kennedy to Harry Blackmun when the Court was deciding Planned Parenthood v. Casey telling him that Roe v. Wade (which he authored) was not going to be overturned. This is just one of the many treasures that we have found in the papers.

Today, before we sat down for another day of awesome research adventures, we had the privilege of exploring the Supreme Court. OK, call me dorky, but my favorite part of this tour was when our guide let us stand at the podium where attorneys and the Solicitor General argue cases before the Justices. Since this is an ultimate dream career of mine, it was one of those moments that made my life (and hopefully is a precursor of things still to come).

After another full day of research, we all wanted to go sit down and just relax at a local restaurant. Tonight, our cuisine was to be found at Bullfeathers, which is a restaurant taking its name, at least in part, from President Roosevelt.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you and yours and may the luck of the Irish be with you!

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