Scalia, Kagan Provide Collegial Commentary at Law School Event

Justices Antonin Scalia and Elena Kagan at the Ford Center.  Photo by University Communications.

Justices Antonin Scalia and Elena Kagan at the Ford Center. Photo by University Communications.

By: Christina Steube

OXFORD,Miss.–United States Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Elena Kagan offered advice to law students at the University of Mississippi Monday during a law school event at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Ole Miss Associate Dean for Faculty Development Jack Wade Nowlin moderated the event, asking questions from law students.

Scalia and Kagan told the audience of nearly 1,000 about their days at Harvard Law School, their journey to the highest legal position in the nation and their decision on some of their most interesting cases.

“The moment I arrived (at Harvard), I thought this was where I want to be,” Kagan said.

Scalia added that though his time at Harvard wasn’t “warm and fuzzy,” he had a great experience.
“I probably learned as much from my classmates as I did from my professors,” he said.

Although the Justices may have a difference of opinion, Scalia said there is no animosity on the court and he and Kagan are good friends.

“If you can’t disagree on the law without taking it personally, find another day job.”

Senior Associate Dean of the School of Law Matthew Hall said this is the first time two Supreme Court Justices have visited the Ole Miss campus together.

“This is one of the branches of the federal government and it’s led by nine people. Two of them are here at the University of Mississippi,” Hall said. “That’s an extraordinary occasion for the university, particularly for the law students who want to hear constitutional law straight from the source.”

Ocean Springs, Miss. native and former Miss Mississippi Marie Wicks is in her second year of law school and she said learning about the justices’ own personal experiences really resonated with her.

“It’s just such an incredible opportunity,” Wicks said. “It was an illuminating experience to have two Supreme Court Justices come and visit my school at the point when I’m halfway through law school. It’s one of those experiences that I will never forget.”

As a third-year law student Davis Gates of Byram, Miss. enjoyed learning the views the two justices have of the constitution, as well as experiencing a little bit of their individual character.

“I’m really happy that I got to see a different side of the justices. It really humanized them,” Gates said.

He added that when he arrived at Ole Miss in 2008, he had no idea he would witness some of the events that have passed through this campus.

“ I’ve been all across the nation and to D.C. and never once even caught a glimpse of a justice,” he said. “I’ve been here since 2008 since the Presidential debate so in order to continue to be able to have these once in a lifetime opportunities is definitely amazing.”

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