Honors Course Reflections

Paxton Murphy: Blog 2

Paxton stands in front of the Supreme Court with his hands in his pockets.

Supreme Court

Day 7. It’s 5:55 in the morning, and our class is headed back to Dallas. In the next couple weeks, we will be synthesizing the vast amount of information we collected from the Justices’ papers. Overall, I was able to find a substantial amount of information about the Takings Clause and Rehnquist’s leadership. Although, one day I will need to come back once Justice Stevens and O’Connor’s papers are released because of the all the new information post-1994 that could be used.

Beyond research specific to my paper, I learned some really cool things on this trip. I learned about what exactly research is and how to go about it. Before this experience, research was really some abstract idea, but by actually getting my hands on physical copies of the Justices, I was put in the position where I was making my own ideas rather than using the ideas of others. Secondly, I have a better perspective on how the Supreme Court operates. I really had limited knowledge about all of the things that go into making the final decision that the public sees. By researching the papers, I saw all of the behind the scenes work: the memo’s to other Justices, the communication with the clerks, and the discussions on taking the case in the first place. Each of these provided me with an understanding that Justices take a lot more in account than the law. When making decisions they will often take into account their relationships with each other, the government, and the public. The facts and rules are certainty important in deciding law, but now I see that they really aren’t the only factors.

Exterior of the Supreme Court with bright sun and clouds in the background.

Supreme Court

Outside of the Library, the last couple days were really fun. I forgot my phone on the metro which led me and a couple other students into an hour long investigation that ended up with me finding the phone but losing other students in the process (sorry Grayson). Additionally, I had more opportunities to beat (and back stab) Professor Kobylka in the board game we played back at our hotel. Needless to say, the morale of my peers was very high.

We are all looking forward to coming back to Dallas, but our work has just begun.

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