Tuesday, May 2, 2017

US Supreme Court Oral Argument simulation in my SEEU Constitutional Law class -- special thanks UKIM for the use of courtroom!

Each semester that I teach US Constitutional Law I include a mock US Supreme Court Oral Argument simulation as a part of the course requirements.

When I teach this back home (at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg) we hold this simulation in one of the courtrooms at Stetson University College of Law or WMU Cooley Law School.

I was hoping that I could find an appellate courtroom here in Skopje that could be used for the simulation I was planning for my US Constitutional Law class at SEEU this semester. It is so much easier to get in to the role-playing when you are in the environment of a courtroom. 

When I was visiting the Constitutional Court (see blog post about visit to the Constitutional Court in March)one of the Justices mentioned that UKIM law school has courtrooms.

I reached out to a colleague at UKIM - Prof. Miso (whom I had met at a conference in Gdansk last summer, see blog post here) - who connected me with his colleague Prof. Gordana, a Constitutional Law scholar at UKIM (for more about my guest lecture see guest lecture at UKIM law faculty).  Prof. Gordana kindly arranged through the Dean's Office our use of one of the courtrooms during our class on May 2nd. THANKS so much to UKIM for the hospitality! It was wonderful for the students to have the chance to participate in the simulation in a courtroom!

I typically split my class in half, with each half doing a case, so that every student gets a good (active) role in the simulation.  Some students are the Justices, some students are attorneys arguing the case. (When I have larger enrollment, sometimes I also include amicus curiae and journalists and a Marshal or Clerk)

This semester, both of the cases were dealing with separation of powers issues. One involving the appointment process of a new Supreme Court Justice and the other about whether the President would need authorization from Congress to continue to take military action in Syria.  In both cases students were to make arguments based on the precedents that we covered in class. 

The students rose to the challenge, and I was proud of their work. Also, gratified when I read the anonymous Supreme Court Simulation Evaluations that I administer each semester. As is typically the case back home, none of the students had previously participated in a simulation.  (At USFSP if students have participated in a simulation before, it was in one of my other classes.)

I appreciated reading the students' comments about how much they learned from the process. "It was so good, and I will remember it forever."  I will remember you, and my time at SEEU forever as well. Thank you Fulbright!

the group from Case #2

the Justices from Case #2
the attorneys arguing on behalf of Members of Congress, that the President does need authorization from Congress to continue to take military action in Syria

the attorneys arguing on behalf of the President (the Solicitor General)
getting ready for the simulation
the attorneys from the Solicitor General's office

attorneys from Case #1

as we depart from the SEEU Skopje campus

just a short walk to UKIM
in the courtyard at UKIM, with Ss. Cyril and Methodius

at the entrance to the Law School
in the atrium of the building
the courtrooms are all newly equipped, including these chairs with the seal of the law school

Here is the UKIM website:  http://www.ukim.edu.mk/

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