Students Don Judicial Robes in a Lively Discussion With a Supreme Court Justice

Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. (right,center) discusses the American legal system with a group of Susquehanna students during his visit to campus this fall.

Susquehanna students engaged in a roundtable discussion with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. as part of a daylong event this fall to mark the rededication of the Arlin M. Adams Center for Law and Society and the opening of the Neysa C. Adams Pro Se Assistance and Mediation Clinic.

The event, which was organized by Allan Sobel, director of the Adams Center, gave students an opportunity to ask questions of Alito, who took his seat on the Supreme Court in 2006, replacing retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

The nine students, who represent a variety of majors, participated in a lively debate about the American legal system. They focused primarily on the application of foreign law in domestic decisions, an issue that has caused controversy among courts.

Some students argued that because our culture may be drastically different from others, it would not make sense to cite foreign law in domestic decisions.

Others, like Andrew Jarzyk ’09 of Hamilton, N.J., argued that it would make sense to look to other nations as a reference instead of just our Constitution, which may reflect an outdated society.

Historically, Alito explained, the United States has seen itself as different from the rest of the world, and some tend to resist the idea that we should go along with international trends.

In a time of increased globalization, it’s natural that our decisions are going to be shaped by international law, Alito added.

The students ultimately agreed to disagree, realizing that the issue was complex.

“I realize now how much more I need to know,” said James Hendershot ’10 of Harrisburg, Pa. “There are so many facets to this question.”

Professor of Accounting Richard Davis, a member of the Adams Center Steering Committee and moderator of the discussion, said the students at the roundtable discussion represented a “diversity of thought and opinion, yet they fully respect the ways in which we disagree. “Most importantly,” he said, “they know how to use diversity of opinion to maximize their education.”


Contributing writers to the People & Places section are Stephanie Beazley ’10, Jenny Ruth Hawbaker ’04 and Julie Buckingham ’09.

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