North Central College - Naperville, IL

North Central College students meet U.S. Supreme Court justices

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Contact: Ted Slowik, Director of PR and Media Relations, 630-637-5307,

May 11, 2010—Four North Central College sophomores recently met two U.S. Supreme Court justices as part of their studies in Washington, D.C.

The four met justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia M. Sotomayor while they were conducting interdisciplinary research about oral arguments presented before the Supreme Court.

The students are Garrett Lutz, a musical theatre major from Aurora; Erin Martin, an English literature major/secondary education minor from Dubuque, Iowa; Madeline Moton, a philosophy and political science major from Castle Rock, Colo.; and Stewart Charles, an economics and finance major from Batavia.

They were accompanied to the nation’s capital by Thomas Cavenagh, Schneller Sisters Professor of Leadership, Ethics and Values and professor of business law and conflict resolution at North Central, who is advisor for their research about law and popular culture. While in Washington, D.C., they also met with U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Nebraska. Johanns’ director of constituent services—T.J. Birkel—is a 2004 graduate of North Central College.

The four received grant funding through the College’s Richter Independent Study Fellowship program to cover their expenses to Washington. Since each of the four studied their topic from a different perspective, they were all able to benefit from the interdisciplinary approach.

Charles examined his theory that the majority of the decisions made that go to court are economic/finance-related and whether the current economic situation affected the oral arguments. As a theatre major, Lutz witnessed how the attorneys and justices “perform” during the oral arguments. Martin evaluated Aristotle’s view of political reasoning through the attorneys’ use of past, present and future tense. And Moton scrutinized the philosophy of utilitarianism and how the theory affected the oral arguments and decisions.

They will collectively share their findings in the presentation, “Observing Legal Oral Arguments from Multiple Perspectives: A Relevant Experience Through an Interdisciplinary Lens” May 18 at the College’s 13th annual Rall Symposium for Undergraduate Research, part of the annual Honors Day celebration at North Central College.

Founded in 1861, North Central College is an independent, comprehensive college of the liberal arts and sciences that offers more than 55 undergraduate majors and graduate programming in six areas. Located in Naperville, Ill., North Central is recognized as one of “America’s Best Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report, which cites it as one of the top six schools in the Midwest for “Strong Commitment to Undergraduate Teaching”; as “a college for high-achieving students” by Peterson’s Competitive Colleges; and as one of “America’s Best Colleges” by Forbes. For more information about North Central College visit