Centre students meet with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito

Posted by Centre News in News, Politics 28 Sep 2015

AlitoCentre College students have a wealth of opportunities to gain real-world experience in and out of the classroom, and recently students interested in studying law had the exceptional opportunity to meet with United States Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

A breakfast hosted by the University of Kentucky Law School gathered students and their pre-law advisors from several Kentucky colleges and universities to speak with Alito, gaining an insider’s view of the judicial process at the Supreme Court level. Topics included how the justices decide what cases to accept for review, how they work with their clerks and how they interact with each other to produce a collective decision. Centre students also had a separate, more in-depth discussion with Alito.

Centre Professor of Politics and Law and Pre-Law Advisor Daniel Stroup said it provided unique insight into the workings of the Supreme Court.

“Even more importantly, I think, we learned that justices can have real disagreement over very fundamental questions and still respect, even genuinely like, each other,” he said. “It was truly refreshing in an age of polarized politics.”

The three Centre students chosen to attend the event via a lottery were excited for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Gray Whitsett ’16 was eager to get a behind-the-scenes look at the UK Law School Program as well as speak to Alito. He plans to study law after teaching for a few years post-graduation.

“It’s has always been an interest of mine, but having taken Dr. Stroup’s Civil Liberties course, I was totally hooked,” Whitsett said.

Alisha Russell ’16, who has been fascinated with the judicial branch since she learned about it in the third grade, was particularly thrilled to get a peek into who Alito is as a person—she even had the opportunity to talk baseball with him, as they’re both huge fans of the sport.

“As politics majors, we study Supreme Court cases and the justices on a regular basis, and to have the opportunity to meet someone we read about in textbooks, who has such a profound impact on our country, is surreal,” she said. “I think too often we forget that the men and women running our country are individuals.”

Sydney Preston ’17 plans to apply for law school to study real estate law after interning with Centre alumnus Charlie Jones ’87 at McNamara and Jones in Frankfort, Ky. She enjoyed the chance to meet with the law school’s head of admissions, pre-law advisors and professors, along with hearing Alito’s words of wisdom.

“He talked about real life issues, like whether or not going to law school is right for us,” she explained. “He said that you have to understand the commitment if law is something you want to pursue.”

Overall, Preston said the experience was a wonderful opportunity.

“I had a really great time, and I’m glad I got to go with such a great group of students and a great professor.”

Pictured (left to right): Gray Whisett ’16, Sydney Preston ’17, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, Alisha Russell ’16 and Professor of Politics Daniel Stroup.

by Elise L. Murrell
Sept. 28, 2015

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