Do you think our system, where laws passed by state and federal legislatures can be overturned by decisions of the nine unelected Supreme Courts charged with determining the meaning of the Constitution, promotes “justice” (an ambiguous word by its very nature)? Justice Scalia, in his dissenting opinion in Obergefell (a 5-4 decision), suggested that the Court’s decision was undemocratic because the Court “consisted of only nine men and women, all successful lawyers who had studied at Harvard or Yale Law School. Four of the nine were natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in countries on both the East and West coasts. Only one came from the wide zone in between.” Seven years later, with a different composition of judges, the Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Six months thereafter, an election was held, which at least suggests that the Court’s decision did not reflect the majority view on the issue. Do you think our system adequately balances the “voice” of the people with the “liberties” and “rights” promised by the Constitution? Does electing judges to the U.S. Supreme Court, as we elect judges to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, help or hurt? (This can be answered using questions about fixed decisions – Lawrence on gay sodomy, Obergefell on gay marriage, Brown v. Board of Trustees on racial segregation)
You pass the bar exam and are asked to handle a jury trial as a first year associate. Your client is an Latino woman who lost her job who believes he is a victim of employment discrimination based on his race. During jury selection, there are three other Latinos in the jury pool. After one of the three Latinos is dismissed because he needs to care for his ailing spouse, opposing counsel uses two preemptory challenges to strike the remaining two Latinos possible jurors. Your client looks at you in dismay and asks if there’s anything you can do about the fact that now there are zero Latinos on the jury and you know your client thinks it is unfair for the other lawyer to be able to dismiss two Latinos in this way.
A. Do you think the opposing lawyer should be able to “strike” the two remaining possible jurors?
B. Do you think being able to “strike” a limited number of prospective jurors should remain a part of our legal system?
Before opening statements, the judge tells you that he knows the lawyer representing the defendant because his daughter and the lawyer’s daughter play on the same soccer team and they are both coaches for the team. Although the judge
Green River High School is located in a small town in Idaho with no much diversity. The high school has only 400 students, 95 percent of whom are Christian and white. There’s not much going on in Green River and the school is the “hub” of much social activity both during and after the school day. Community groups are allowed to use class rooms and the auditorium if they submit an application. Pastor Richard is the minister for the largest church and town and thinks that high school tend to get in trouble without activities and wants to promote family values. He asks the church to use the auditorium for what he calls “Celebration Nights” and soon a large percentage of the students, many of whom go the Pastor’s church are attending. Although the movies he shows are not overtly religious, they promote celibacy until marriage, marriage between men and women only, “the sacredness of the family unit” and the “greatness of OUR country”. After the film is over, many of the kids gets together and say grace with the Pastor over the post-film desserts provided by the church. Some kids stay longer and openly pray.
A small number of kids ask to use the auditorium to hold a “battle of the bands” where various “garage bands” can try out their music, which leans towards heavy metal and progressive rock. The school turns them down, several times, saying that “Celebration Nights” is very popular and is what most of the kids want to do. Finally, the school relents and says the bands can use the cafeteria once a month on Sunday nights.
The lead guitarist for one of the bands calls the ACLU, which promptly send a letter to the school saying Green River is violating the Constitution. Do you think the Constitution has been violated?
Kyle McGill is a struggling young lawyer in Albuquerque New Mexico. No matter how hard he tries, he cannot seem to get hired by companies and “good” clients. Desperate, Kyle comes up with a new plan. He places advertisements around town saying next Friday night will be “Better Dial Kyle” night and 500 “burner” (disposable) cell phones will be given out for free. He advertises in the part of town with drug users, prostitutes and others who live on the edge of legality and likely will need a lawyer at some point. Kyle’s advertisement also promises “first case free” because he thinks that if he does a good job on the first case, his new roster of clients will call him again the next time they get arrested.
Kyle’s idea works. A segment of the population which otherwise might have to rely on overworked public defenders when they get arrested now have representation by an energetic, enterprising young lawyer. However, the local Bar Association passes a rule banning lawyers from giving out free merchandise or services. Kyle fights back and files a case saying the rule violates the First Amendment. Do you think Kyle can get the rule struck down?
1. Do you think our system, where laws passed by state and federal legislatures
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