The Harrisburg campus held its Second Annual Supreme Court Day on Tuesday, October 5, 2010. Five selected professors spoke on various topics pertaining to Supreme Court Justice Elana Kagan during the hour-long program held in room A180.
Dean Linda L. Ammons
opened the program and Harrisburg Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development Robert C. Power
introduced the professors who spoke.
Speaking first, Associate Professor Michael R. Dimino
articulated the strategies a President uses in appointing Supreme Court Justices, and pointed out strategies that the President may use to persuade the Senate to approve his appointee. He explained that a President looks to the neutral issue of competence of the nominee, the appeal to the Senators, geographic diversity, religious diversity, and an element – ideology – that is very influential today.
Professor Greg Randall Lee
spoke on the how each of the Supreme Court nominees are from elite law schools and therefore ultimately judged on his or her LSAT score. He used Harriet Meirs as an example to explain how she was not appointed because she went to Southern Methodist Law School instead of an elite Texas Law School. If Meirs had scored a bit higher on her LSAT’s then she would have gotten into one of the more elite schools and she would have been considered “smart enough” to become a Supreme Court Justice. Professor Lee pointed out that statistics show that a student’s grades in law school are more determinative as to whether they succeed than which law school they attended. He emphasized that schools do not indicate success and that the Senate should not disregard nominees because they did not attend an elite law school.
Legal Methods Professor Jennifer M. Lear
spoke on Justice Kagan’s history as a law clerk for Justice Thurgood Marshall and how she was criticized for it. During Kagan’s confirmation hearings many of the Senators questioned her intentions because of her previous affiliation with Justice Marshall. In fact, Justice Marshall’s name came up in the hearing 35 times in the first day alone.
Vice Dean Robyn L. Meadows
spoke on the three current female Supreme Court Justices. It took 191 years before a woman was appointed onto the Supreme Court. Vice Dean Meadows explained that each of the justices is different. Justice Sonia Sotomayor is Puerto Rican and Spanish was her primary language. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is Jewish and had a child before she went to law school. Justice Kagan was the daughter of an attorney and grew up on the Upper East Side. Coincidentally, all three Justices are from New York City. Two of them were law professors, two of them were appellate court judges, and a Democratic President nominated all three of them.
Professor Juliet M. Moringiello
spoke on the diversity among the Supreme Court justices. She indicated that the Justices don’t have any experience on what real lawyers do. Many of the justices went right into academia or politics after law school. The Supreme Court decides what lawyers do on the ground yet they have not had any of the experience that everyday lawyers do. She expressed a desire to see a Justice in the future that is more like the average lawyer.