This still does not feel real. Today the class had a private tour of the Supreme Court and a meeting with the Clerk of the Court. We went beyond the rope of the Courtroom door and sat where members of the Supreme Court Bar sit during oral argument. Prior to our meeting with the Clerk, we saw the Supreme Court library, the ceremonial conference rooms, the portraits of all Supreme Court justices, and the turtles that represent the slow nature of the law. Sitting with the Clerk, we learned about the process of case selection and had the opportunity to ask him questions like what his role is during oral argument. It was fascinating to sit down with a man who has the unique experience of hearing every case argued before the Court. To think of the landmark cases he gets to hear! Obergefell v. Hodges. National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius. Walking around the halls and courtroom really emphasized the importance and magnitude of the work conducted in that room. It made the work we were doing in the Library that much more amazing and important.
This week so far has been a rollercoaster of emotions. The first day of began with slight exhaustion from the early flight and progressed upward with our tour of the US Capital from my cousin Grace, sightseeing on the Mall, and fabulous pizza from We, the Pizza. Our first day in the Library was a range of emotions from confusion, stress, and the overwhelming nature of the research at the beginning to relaxation, confidence in our research and preparation. We all slowly figured out what is useful and what is not and got comfortable with the process of selecting and calling for boxes to look through. Tuesday and Wednesday seemed to fly by as we chugged along in the Library working through the papers. I managed to make it through Justice Blackmun’s files on several important abortion cases like Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, Akron I, Simopoulos, and Planned Parenthood v. Ashcroft. I have to say that holding original conference notes for deciding Roe v. Wade is unlike anything else and caused a major nerd alert moment. This case created a right for women that transformed their lives and caused societal backlash that remains prevalent today. This was the moment had been waiting for since freshman year when I decided I wanted to take this class. To see the opinion drafts, the bargaining and accommodation process, and the internal communications that I had heard so much about in my classes shed a light on how major, landmark cases like Roe come into being.
This is the first time any of us have step into the shoes of a researcher and dived into the original work. I have a new found appreciation for the scholars and researchers that spend countless hours shifting through the papers and developing their own questions and answers. I am still having a hard time believing that we will be able to call ourselves a part of the group.
Tomorrow begins another day of research bright and early as become a part of the DC metro morning commuters. I never know what I will find the next day but I know I am excited about the possibilities.