Adam Nelson ’15 – Copy Editor
The gavel sounds, lawyers take the stand, and the judges prepare to hear the case. But today, the Supreme Court is presiding at Romeo High School. The students of Mrs. Ferrington’s AP Government class held a mock Supreme Court, an activity that gave students the opportunity to act as one of the participants in a real court case currently under review. Some were chosen as the justices, who listened to the case made by the lawyers, and were responsible for making a verdict. A few were the actual lawyers, who argued in support of their clients. Others represented the amicus curiae, special interest groups who tried to have the court rule in their favor. Mrs. Ferrington, who teaches AP government, thought the project would be a good way to introduce the inner workings of the court system.
“I always strive to provide my students with learning experiences that are authentic and thoughtful,” Ferrington said. “When studying the Supreme Court, I specifically wanted students to be able to examine and think critically about relevant constitutional issues. By holding our own Supreme Court in class, and hearing cases prepared by students that reflect issues in the Court today, students could have the chance to examine both sides of controversial issues without knowing how the Court had ruled.”
Above Colin McKinney(11) pleads his case to the AP Government mock supreme court.
After students were assigned their position, they studied their case and read over the real briefings presented in court. The justices each represented a real Supreme Court member, and did a short presentation about them. Each lawyer had to write a brief about the case, which explained how the proceedings went in the lower courts before reaching the supreme court.
Jacob Staller (11) was a lawyer for the losing side in one of the two cases.
“It was a rush emotion, there was joy and sorrow. Happiness and grief. We shouldn’t have lost that case, but the swing vote didn’t swing our way. Looks like justice wasn’t served today, but if the issue is ever rekindled, I will be there fighting for the forces of justice, sovereignty, and equality,” Staller said.
The voting was done by 9 students chosen to represent the Supreme Court. After listening to both arguments being presented by the lawyer teams, they deliberated before coming to a final resolution.
Olivia Becker (11) was the Chief Justice for one of the cases.
“I found the Mock Supreme Court trial to be beneficial because I am interested in law. Representing the Chief Justice had a little more pressure than the others, but not much other than presenting the verdict. Overall, I really liked this project because it let us experience first-hand (in a way) what goes on during Supreme Court trials,” Becker said.
As in the real Supreme Court, interest groups were present to push the ruling one way or another. These were the remaining students who were tasked with writing persuasive briefs, presented to the justices before the hearing.
PJ Butcher (12) was one such group.
“I represented the NRA. The mock court activity went well, my classmates Charles Roth and Adam Nelson did a great job winning the case,” Butcher said.
Overall, Mrs. Ferrington was very enthusiastic about the project, and was impressed with the work her students did.
“I think it went extremely well. I thought that the students were engaged and excited to be participating in something that was an authentic replication of the real thing. There was plenty of research that had to go into preparing to have the Court and I really think that the students did an excellent job in learning the issues of their cases but also examining previous cases that way have had similar issues,” Ferrington said.