The Catholic University of America

 

 

 Professor Suzette Malveaux speaks to students from Villanova University on May 17th.

 

Meet the Supremes

 

Despite the intense media attention paid to the United States Supreme Court, especially when a new nominee such as Elena Kagan is put forth for it, many Americans have little understanding of how the high court operates and how its decisions affect the nation.
 
One study of the matter arrived at a not-very-flattering conclusion: more Americans can name two of Snow White’s seven dwarves than can name two justices on the Supreme Court.
 
In an effort to combat that kind of civic inattention, the Columbus School of Law has for several years offered a review of the Supreme Court’s most recent term to interested undergraduates.
 
The practice was begun by former CUA law professor Bo Rutledge and is continued today by Professor Suzette Malveaux, who spent an hour on May 17 explaining court doings to about 20 political science majors from Villanova University. The students were in town for several days for their Washington, D.C. “mini-mester,” and a stop at the law school has quickly become a tradition.  
 
Professor Malveaux began with the basics, outlining how the federal trial and appellate courts are set up, and how attorneys must file certiorari petitions in an effort to get their cause or client a date with the nation’s high court.
 
Malveaux explained that the court accepts only about 80 cases each year of the 8,000 that are petitioned for, and it almost never gives a reason for declining to hear a case.
 
She discussed the criteria the justices use in deciding which cases to accept and recounted her own experiences as an attorney on at least two cases that eventually made it before the Supreme Court.
 
The students appeared alert and interested, asking questions about such things as why Miranda warning language is not uniform, but varies a bit by jurisdiction.
 
This year, Malveaux is offering her presentation twice. The law school hosts students from Stonehill College in Massachusetts on May 21.