SHC Students Argue Supreme Court Cases
More than 100 Spring Hill College students, faculty, staff, and dignitaries attended Tuesday evening’s Supreme Court Simulation in Byrne Memorial Hall. SHC assistant professor, Dr. Mathew Baugh, S.J., organized the event, which was hosted by the Spring Hill College Political Science and International Studies Club.
Spring Hill College students argued two cases, McCullen v. Coakley and Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. McCullen v. Coakley, a case currently pending before the Supreme Court, asks if a 35-foot buffer zone around the entrance to abortion clinics is a violation of the 1st Amendment right to free speech.
The second case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, was recently heard before the nation’s highest court, with a 7-1 opinion issued in favor of UT Austin in June of 2013. Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin addresses the issue of affirmative action, and asks if the consideration of race in college admissions violates the 14th Amendment right to equal protection of the laws. The case will be heard in lower courts for further proceedings.
Dr. Baugh, who teaches both political science and law classes at Spring Hill College, acted as the silent chief justice, and was accompanied by three student justices. Guests of honor included Spring Hill College alumna Hon. Sonja F. Bivens, a United States Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of Alabama, and Joseph Babington, a Mobile, Ala. attorney who successfully argued for the petitioners before the Supreme Court in Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137 (1999). Mobile attorneys Clay Rossi, who attended Spring Hill College as a freshman, and Blade Thompson rounded out the panel of experts.
The audience was allowed to text in votes after students argued both cases. In the first case, the woman challenging the constitutionality of Massachusetts’ law (McCullen) won by 43 votes to 13. In the second case (Fisher), there was a perfect tie, 16 to 16, on the question of whether race may be used in admissions decisions.
“Simulating Supreme Court proceedings not only gives the students first-hand experience of the complex arguments involved in these cases, it also makes them into teachers themselves--helping the broader Spring Hill community understand the issues at a more profound level,” says Dr. Baugh. “And the students know their stuff. They have prepared briefs worthy of a law school course.”
Dr. Baugh plans to make the Spring Hill College Supreme Court Simulation an annual event for the campus and community.
SHC Student Justices
Gabriella del Gandio
To listen to the podcasts from Tuesday night's event, click below: