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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From students to scholars

Amanda.jpg An update from Amanda, a junior majoring in Spanish, international studies, political science and anthropology who is investigating the incorporation of the Bill of Rights to the states through the 14th Amendment:

Our last days at the library were fabulous and frenzied. After turning around my research topic, I had a whole new list of cases to investigate, not to mention new justices’ handwriting to get used to. I have to admit, though – Brennan’s handwriting is WAY easier to decipher than Justice Miller’s letters from the 1870s that were written with a quill. Handwriting aside, I had started to feel like I could finally keep my head above water sometime on Friday.

Saturday morning we woke up as early as we had all week to pack up and trek one last time to the metro, this time hauling our luggage right up to the Library of Congress. After some difficulty at security (apparently people don’t usually bring suitcases to the library) we made it in for three final hours of call slips, boxes of papers and frantic Xeroxing. It was during those last hours that I realized how awesome it really was for us to be there. We were surrounded all week by serious scholars working on various projects, and for this week, we got to join their ranks.

I praised my classmates in the last blog, but I feel like they deserve even more credit. I marvel at the amount of focus I was able to maintain for our hours in the library, but part of that was because my classmates were doing the same thing. I would not have developed the same enthusiasm for the things we were looking at without the excitement and humor that my classmates shared with me. I know laughing hysterically about “Raoul Burger, the chief justice that wasn’t” and other Supreme Court jokes isn’t “normal.” But if that’s the case, I am SO glad I was surrounded by a group of Supreme Court nerds all week.

Digging through precious documents, eating massive amounts of food (which I regret not describing in more detail) and trotting off after library hours to glimpse the monuments and the White House were definitely the highlights of the course. Now comes the hard – but equally as rewarding – part. We have the responsibility to use this research to create something worthy of the experience. We aren’t just nerds who love the justices – we are actually scholars of the Court. How cool is it that we get to say that? After one day of rest it’s time to tackle my massive stack of copies from the library and do my best to make SMU (and Professor Kobylka) proud. Wish me luck!!

P.S. April got to make an announcement for our class over the PA on the airplane back to Dallas. I think that’s what Kobylka would call a “bloggable” event.

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