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Students meet with U.S. Supreme Court justices

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Four students recently met two U.S. Supreme Court justices—Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia M. Sotomayor—in Washington, D.C., as part of the students’ interdisciplinary research about oral arguments presented before the court. All sophomores, Garrett Lutz is a musical theatre major; Erin Martin, an English literature major; Madeline Moton, a philosophy and political science major; and Stewart Charles, an economics and finance major. They studied their topic from a different perspective and were able to benefit from an 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 “performed” 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. A grant funded through the College’s Richter Independent Study Fellowship program covered expenses to Washington. Students were accompanied by Thomas Cavenagh, Schneller Sisters Professor of Leadership, Ethics and Values and professor of business law and conflict resolution, 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 North Central graduate. The four will present their findings at the College's May 18 Rall Symposium for Undergraduate Research. Photo, l. to r.: Garrett Lutz, Erin Martin, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Thomas Cavenagh, Madeline Moton and Stewart Charles.