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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D.C. withdrawals

Catherine.jpg An update from Catherine, a junior English and public policy major, who is investigating the development of various forms of scrutiny and case analysis over time in the Supreme Court pertaining to the civil rights of African-Americans, women and homosexuals:

Well, it helps a little to know that I am not the only one having D.C. withdrawals now that we have returned to Dallas. The last few days were hectic, hilarious and unforgettable. It is hard to believe I was able to cram so many Supreme Court cases into so few days. There was a lot of photocopying, fast typing, and some divine inspiration involved in that, I’m sure.

One cool discovery was the abundant amount of correspondence from average American citizens found in the Bowers v. Hardwick (a 1986 case upholding the constitutionality of the criminalization of homosexual sex acts) papers of Justice Harry Blackmun. I am convinced that there were more letters written for this case than any of the other cases I reviewed combined. (Except maybe Brown v. Board). Although some were vulgar and mean, I still felt pride in the American people for taking a stand for what they believe in.

Most importantly, though, the last few days provided some of the most memorable bonding experiences for our group. Although I won’t go into details about all of what we went through together, or even necessarily about what we learned about each other (some of my other classmates have already done a great job of that) I will say that I have never been a part of such a cohesive group. Everyone brings something unique – laughter, insight, intelligence, wisdom, quirks, maturity, and often a combination of all of these. I made new friends – honestly with everyone – and look forward to the rest of this semester as well as to future classes and other endeavors (shout out to Kevin – Oxford 2011!). The rest of this semester will not be easy – Dr. Kobylka has already warned us that we have just begun. However, the knowledge and experience gained in Washington D.C. has left me excited and ready to tackle the heart of my research question.

Finally, a huge thank-you to Dr. Kobylka for all he has done for us. Aside from the clear fact that he is both a wonderful professor and mentor, he also whipped us into shape trekking up muddy hills in Alexandria every day and has an impressive eye for delicious food. What else could you ask for in a professor?

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