Northeastern students meet U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Courtesy photo
Surreal. Surprising. Impressive.
Those are some of the words professor Dan Urman’s students used to describe their recent field trip to the Harvard Marshall Forum, where they met current U.S. Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer and Neil Gorsuch.
“It was an honor to meet two members of the highest court in the land and to chat at length with Justice Gorsuch,” said Reilly McGreen, who took Urman’s “Introduction to Law” course. “The most surreal part of the conference was being able to ask Justice Gorsuch—standing shoulder to shoulder with him—about what it’s like to serve, now as a colleague, with Justice Kennedy, for whom he served as a law clerk on the Supreme Court nearly 25 years ago.”
Most of the students who attended the June 2 conference for the 70th Anniversary of the Marshall Plan, have taken Urman’s “Understanding the Supreme Court” class, where they learned about the role of the Supreme Court and each individual justice, as well as “Introduction to Law,” during which they studied several landmark Supreme Court cases.
“This was a wonderful opportunity for them to meet and speak with the very topic of our course: justices on the Supreme Court,” said Urman, director of SPPUA’s minor in law and public policy, adding that he is planning to take his students to Washington, D.C. during the 2017-18 academic year to meet with lawyers and judges.
Jaguar Ashtiani, a student in the minor in law and public policy, took “Understanding the Supreme Court” in the spring and wrote a paper about Justice Breyer. He got to meet and chat with Breyer at the conference.
“We learned about these two men—Justices Breyer and Gorsuch—and spent a fair time discussing and reading works by them for class,” Ashtiani said. “After spending so much time learning about these people, to finally meet them was very neat.”
Laura Shannon, another student in the minor in law and public policy, kept in mind a crucial lesson she learned in “Understanding the Supreme Court:” to view the justices as people as opposed to “nine black robes who make hugely important decisions.”
“We were able to mingle, get to know former scholars, and learn about their educational/professional background,” she said. “At one point, I was standing between a law professor from the University of Chicago and a Columbia philosophy professor, listening to them argue about an article the law professor had published recently.”
Last year, Urman took students on a daylong field trip to the American Museum of Tort Law in Winsted, Conn., where they learned about the law of wrongful injury and the role it plays in protecting personal freedom, health and safety through the civil justice system. In addition to field trips, students participate in court observation assignments and moot courts in front of practicing judges and lawyers, said Urman.
Click here to learn more about the minor in law and public policy, housed in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs.
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