2015 Day at the Court

On January 12, 2015, twelve students from Prof. Arkes's American Constitution class at Amherst were treated to a full day of events structured around the workings of the Supreme Court. The day started with oral argument in the cases of Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Ariz. and  Oneonk Inc. v. Learjet Inc. Following the two cases, our friends at Hillsdale College's Kirby Center hosted the students for lunch where they heard from one current clerk on the Court and one recent former clerk about their experience working for the justices. After lunch, students returned to the Court  for a private discussion with Justice Antonin Scalia in the Court's Lawyers Lounge. The students asked wide-ranging questions about subjects such as the 1st amendment and the federal government's power to tax, while Prof. Arkes facilitated discussion. From the Court, the group traveled to the offices of Alliance Defending Freedom for a conversation with David Cortman, lead counsel in the Reed case from earlier in the day. Mr. Cortman explained his team's legal strategy, which gave the students a full picture of what they witnessed in the morning during oral argument. The day concluded with a celebratory gathering of former students of Prof. Arkes who have gone on to careers in the legal world. Joining us at dinner was Gregory Katsas, a former official at the Justice Department in the Bush Administration and clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas. Over dessert, Mr. Katsas provided a detailed summary of two legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and fielded questions. From the immediate reactions of the students, it was once again a worthwhile and memorable experience.