Supreme Court Simulation Seminar


Course Code:
LAW 7044
Law Honors/Pass/Restrd Cr/Fail


(Formerly Law 606) This seminar provides students with the opportunity to analyze, argue, hear oral arguments and draft opinions in cases that are currently pending before the Supreme Court of the United States. Professor Lawrence Marshall will serve as the instructor in the seminar, and several of the Law School's esteemed group of Supreme Court litigators are expected to participate in one or more of the sessions. The 18 students in the seminar will be divided into two courts. During each sitting, one of the courts will hear arguments in a case currently pending before the Supreme Court, while two of the students from the court not sitting that week will present oral arguments. The cases chosen will provide a mix of constitutional and statutory issues, as well as a mix between criminal and civil cases. Each student will be assigned the role of a particular Justice for the entire quarter. Each student's task while sitting on cases is to do his or her best to understand that particular justice, based on that justice's prior opinions and judicial philosophy. In this sense, the seminar is also intended to help promote insight into the role of judicial personality and philosophy within the decisional process. The weekly seminars will proceed as follows: In preparation for each week's session, all students (whether they are the two students arguing that week, the nine students judging that week, or the seven students observing that week) will read the lower courts' decisions, the briefs (the party briefs and selected amicus briefs) and the major precedents implicated. During the first portion of each week's session (approximately one hour), two of the students (who are members of the Court that is not sitting that week) will present oral arguments to the nine "justices" sitting that week. The arguments will be based on the briefs that were actually filed in the case. During the second segment of each week's session (approximately 45 minutes), the "justices" who are sitting that week will "conference" the case while the other non-sitting students, students who argued, instructors and guests will observe. Again, each student will be in the role of a particular justice. At the end of the "conference," the opinion-writing will be assigned to one "justice" in the majority and one "justice" in the dissent. During the final portion of each session (approximately one hour), the instructors, guests and students will engage in a broad discussion of what they just observed. This may include analysis of the briefing, discussion about the oral argument, reflections on the "conference," and, more generally, a discussion about the case and its significance. After each class, the student assigned to draft the majority opinion will have two weeks to circulate a draft to the "Court." The student writing the dissent will then have two weeks to circulate his or her opinion. The other sitting "justices" can join one of these opinions, request some changes as a condition of joining, or decide to write separately. Over the course of the Quarter, then, each student will argue one case, sit on four or five cases, and draft at least one opinion. Special instructions: 1. Because this is a simulation with assigned roles, students who are accepted into the seminar may not drop without permission of the instructor. 2. Because of the nature of the writing projects (with extensive interaction with other students), the normal deadline for Winter Quarter papers is waived and final papers must be submitted by the Spring Quarter deadline. Elements used in grading: Students will be graded based on the quality of their participation as justices, their oral argument, and their written opinions.

Past Offerings

2016-2017 Winter

Supreme Court Simulation Seminar LAW 7044 Section 01 Class #31293

  • 3 Units
  • Enrollment Limitations: Lottery 16
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