BHSEC Students Take On the Supreme Court

Camilla Bianchi ‘19

On the morning of Sunday, March 18th, a group of tired but determined BHSEC students met in front of the 34th Street Megabus stop to board their 10 o’clock bus to D.C. The group consisted of Y1s and Y2s taking Dr. Mazie’s Supreme Court class and of two 10th graders who were invited by Dr. Mazie on the trip.

After a four-hour bus ride, the group finally arrived in D.C. On their twenty-minute walk from the bus stop to the hotel, they caught their first glimpse of the next day’s destination: the Supreme Court. However, they opted to take a picture the next day because, frankly, they did not look completely presentable after the commute. After arriving at the hotel, they got ready for an afternoon of walking and sightseeing on a sunny day in the nation’s capital.

The first destination was the National Air and Space Museum, where the group got to learn about the first aircrafts to ever fly, while bringing out their 5-year-old sides by eating freeze-dried ice cream. After all the learning and ice cream, the group made their way to the National Portrait Gallery. As they entered, they were greeted by a portrait of the Supremes, aka the female justices appointed to the Supreme Court, and took a necessary selfie with all four of them. They then went their separate ways around the museum, checking out the most famous portraits, like the ones of Michelle and Barack Obama. When they left the gallery, it was already time for dinner, so the group walked to District Taco, and then to 7/11 for some much-needed late-night snacks. After their sugar rushes had calmed down a little, the students went to sleep, preparing for the big day ahead of them.

The big day started a little earlier for half of the students in the group because they had to line up in front of the Court at 5 AM, then wait until 6:30 AM for the next group to take their place. This strategic plan was in place because the group only had reserved seats for half of the students, which forced the other half to line up for public seats. After an early morning filled with lines, fancy clothes, and continental breakfasts, the whole group made it inside of the Supreme Court. The students walked around the Court, exploring its history, looking at the statues of past chief justices, and getting excited about what came next. Finally, at around 9:30 AM, they were let into the Courtroom, and until the oral argument (which was scheduled for 10:00 AM) began, they took it all in. They were finally in the room that they had been studying since the beginning of the semester. At 10:00 AM, the much-awaited moment came: the justices walked in the room. Some of the students had to repress gasps, or even yells, when they saw their favorite justice walk in (aka RBG). They attended the oral argument for the case Sveen v. Melin, which, in a few words, regards the Contract Clause of the Constitution in relation to a life insurance issue in an ugly divorce. After the hour-long mind-blowing experience of hearing oral argument in the highest court of the country, the students walked out of the Court and towards the cafeteria, where they enjoyed a great lunch, though without the promised froyo (thanks Gorsuch). They then hit the gift shop, where they spent a questionable amount of money on questionably-necessary Supreme Court gadgets. Finally, to end the day, the students attended a lecture about the Supreme Court and a Q&A session with two of RBG’s clerks and one of Justice Kennedy’s clerks.

After the long day, they rushed to the hotel and then to the bus station, where they boarded the 5 PM bus, leaving Dr. Mazie behind in D.C. to attend a case the next day. Overall, the students had an amazing time on the trip and got to experience what really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

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