Uncovering Turmoil and Triumph at the Supreme Court - With Mentor Matthew Jennings

The United States Senate is endowed with a number of powers, one of which is the duty
to advise and consent. This responsibility has been increasingly wielded in the spotlight, namely
with the confirmation hearings of a few controversial (for some) and history-making (for others)
Supreme Court Justices. But what exactly is the job of a Supreme Court Justice, and why should
we care about who gets to consent to their appointment?

This question – one elusive in traditional high school curriculum – is what set my mentee
on her path to Curious Cardinals. Laila, a bright and zealous high school sophomore, understood
the frenzy of judicial nominations to indicate something of deeper substance. This analysis was
emboldened by her curiosity towards developing a nuanced understanding of the society
constructed around us all. Over the course of nine weeks during this past summer, Laila turned
towards the intersection of constitutional law and current events to find an answer to this
question. In doing so, Laila was able to develop her own appetite for meaningful engagement
with the questions underwriting her life. And thus, my introductory constitutional law course
found its match.

To better understand the issue at hand, Laila and I worked to find a light at the end of the
tunnel: she would distill her findings into a 10-minute presentation, underscoring what she would
determine to be the most compelling social and legal questions of the era. To begin, Laila and I
reviewed a breadth of cases spanning centuries and thousands of miles.

While reading Marbury v. Madison (1803), we discovered the origins of judicial review
and the beginning of a Court that would shape a nation. In Miranda v. Arizona (1966), Laila and
I discussed the origin of the popular Miranda warning and its constitutional grounding. Then we
wondered: how large of an impact does the Supreme Court have on other criminal and social
justice issues? Kyllo v. United States (2001) presented us with a novel question: should police
officers be allowed to use thermal imaging without a warrant to detect heat patterns consistent
with drug production? According to the Court, the Fourth Amendment seems to say, “no.”
Turning towards today, we examined the Court’s rulings in their most recent term. What exactly
did Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (2022) change about the reproductive rights
landscape in America? Where does the Court go from here?

One thing is certain: there are an abundance of questions to answer. The Supreme Court,
once an institution shrouded in relative secrecy, is increasingly being dragged into the media
spotlight. Through diligent engagement with these themes, Laila has better empowered herself
and her community to confront an ever-changing world. In sum, Laila is preparing herself to
greet the Justices at the Marble Palace, ask these critical questions, and uncover a history of
turmoil and triumph.
 
Below are slides from Laila's final presentation:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Below are sample slides from Matthew's lessons:
 
 
 

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