Political Science in Washington, 2013

As part of the University Honors Program political science course “Law, Politics and the Supreme Court,” students and Political Science Associate Professor Joe Kobylka are spending spring break 2013 in Washington, D.C. The students are conducting research on Supreme Court cases at the Library of Congress.

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Homecoming with a mission

An update from Julianna, a sophomore majoring in business who is conducting research on the exclusionary rule:

We’ve just finished up our third day on The Hill and I can’t believe it’s Wednesday night already!

After our 6:30 a.m., Monday morning flight out of DFW, our class touched down in Washington DC at about 9:30 a.m. local time. There we were, the 13 of us plus Kobylka, loitering in the Reagan International Airport terminal disoriented, excited, groggy, and in much need of caffeine.

I stepped off that plane and was immediately smacked in the face with sweet, sweet nostalgia.

This was welcoming. This was familiarity. This was home.

In December of 2012, my family and I packed up our home of 12 years and moved from the D.C. metropolitan area to Fort Worth, TX. I never would have guessed that all it’d take was a grimy Metro ride to remind me just how much I’ve missed being here! The D.C. that I arrived at on Monday was both overwhelmingly familiar and extraordinarily novel. But I wasn’t back in the northeast to go back to the ‘burbs of MoCo. I came here with a new group of great people, and we came with a mission.

After navigating through some minor public transportation blunders and checking into our hotel, the herd of us made our way to the Capital to get our official Library of Congress Researcher cards! We had arrived. And to top it all off, because of our brand-spankin’-new library cards, we got to march our way into the Library of Congress’ Jefferson building and peruse its collection! Not only is the sheer volume of material housed within its walls awe-inspiring, but the architecture of the building itself is breathtaking. D.C. knows how to stay classy, ow ow ;)       

Tuesday was when the party really started. And boy did it start early. After a brief orientation, our research began. You really don’t fully know what to expect until you find yourself suddenly thrown into the Manuscript Reading Room. I was elbow deep in the manuscripts of Justice Brennan and Blackmun sifting through cases dealing with the exclusionary rule. I’ll spare y’all the nitty gritty details, but my research analyzes why the Nixon and Reagan years didn’t bring about the extinction of the exclusionary rule, even though the two presidents had successfully stocked a conservative leaning Supreme Court with their appointments. Today, I was so into my cases that I could hardly believe I’d been at it for about eight hours!

Besides how much I appreciate this rare opportunity to do this level of research, I’m really happy to have gotten to know this energized group of people! Between Starbucks runs, ice cream runs, dinners and emergency runs to Payless to buy me a new pair of shoes (a mishap on the Metro led to the death of my only pair of flats,) I’ve really enjoyed getting to know everyone better than I would have if we were all just in class together back in Dallas.

We’re halfway through now. I can’t wait for our tour of the Supreme Court tomorrow!

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