Judicial Activity

November 30, 2009

Associate Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito taught a week-long seminar in constitutional interpretation at Duke Law School before the court's session began this fall. This is the justice's second trip to Duke in as many years; Alito judged the final round of the Dean's Cup Moot Court Competition at the law school in 2008.

The seminar was an examination of various challenging—and often controversial—issues that have arisen in recent Supreme Court cases. Among these are issues relating to the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, the Sixth Amendment rights to counsel and trial by jury, the Eighth Amendment right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment, and the right to petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Fifteen upper-year students had the chance to study with Alito.

"I don't try to convince students to view any of these issues in any particular way," he says. "I want them to think through these problems and make good arguments for whatever position they favor. If all the discussion is going in one direction, I'll try to raise the arguments on the other side."

Alito has taught regularly since he first became a federal appeals court judge. Related courses from the fall semester include "Supreme Court Litigation," taught by former U.S. Deputy Solicitor General Donald Ayer, and the Appellate Litigation Clinic, taught by John S. Bradway Professor of the practice of law James Coleman Jr. and Senior Lecturing Fellow Sean Andrussier.