Students ‘eat, sleep, breathe law and justice’ while preparing for Supreme Court panel


Sean Quinn, Staff Reporter

Every year, CWU hosts the Symposium of University Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE) event in the SURC. The showcase provides students and faculty an opportunity to exhibit their work in a university-wide forum. One of the panels at SOURCE was the Law and Justice Panel, specifically focusing on recent United States Supreme Court cases. R. Shaffer Claridge, lecturer in the law and justice department, believes SOURCE provides students the chance to get a deep look at law without being in his major.

“This is also a great opportunity for these students and any [CWU] student to take what they’ve learned in the classroom and present an academic level presentation on it. I think that’s unique to [CWU], that we give students that opportunity,” Claridge said.

At this year’s event, law and justice and political science majors presented their studies of six different Supreme Court cases at the panel in the SURC Theater. The group of students covered recent cases that not only have state-by-state consequences but also affect the nation as a whole.

“The Supreme Court gets to choose [the cases] they take and they only take issues of national importance,” Claridge said. “So all of these cases could presumably have implications on [CWU] student lives.”

Several of the cases during the panel focused on the legality of numerous state laws, like Wisconsin’s implied consent law in Jahkari Aujla-Singh’s presentation on Mitchell v. Wisconsin. Another focused on Christianna Hopson’s feature on gerrymandering in Maryland. The panel discussed how decisions by the Supreme Court on state cases set a precedent that affects all United States citizens.

Specifically, Aujla-Singh’s case revolved around the Fourth Amendment regarding privacy. The petitioner of the case Gerald P. Mitchell, had blood drawn without consent by police after being arrested for DUI. The case, which could set a precedent for how law enforcement interacts with citizens as well as the privacy of our bodies, is still pending.

“I think it’s important because it doesn’t just affect everybody around the nation but students here in Ellensburg should be able to know the rights that they have…to be able to protect themselves and not have to commit to giving things such as bodily fluids if they don’t want to,” Aujla-Singh said.

There were other cases discussed at the panel including Ronnie Burris’ presentation on the protections of indigenous people’s rights and their land, Megan Fore’s production regarding the Eighth Amendment and the death penalty, Katelyn Griffith’s lecture on the fabrication of evidence, statute of limitations and the right to a fair trial. The panel ended with a delivery from Breanna Wilson talking about the separation of powers and the United State’s Attorney General’s role in the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

Preparing for the presentation was important for these students. Hopson described how much of her preparation came in terms of meeting with her professors, making edits to her slides and practicing her speech.

“It’s like eat, sleep, breathe law and justice,” Hopson said. “I feel as if doing this presentation up there is letting me teach other people while still being an undergraduate.”

Presentations at SOURCE came from a variety of departments on campus.The American Sign Language program demonstrated storytelling with nonverbal sign language. Students from the College of the Sciences held poster sessions demonstrating their findings in experiments done over the course of the school year. Guests from other universities also came to CWU to give presentations such as Rashad Norris from Highline College.