Washington Experience Students Meet with Scalia and Sewell

Students in The Washington Experience, with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

Students in the Washington Experience had the opportunity to meet Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, center.

Students participating in UA’s summer political science internship, the Washington Experience, met with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and also Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL). Under the direction of Dr. Michael New, an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science, the Washington Experience annually brings students to Washington, D.C. to experience politics in action.

Justice Scalia gave two presentations to the students on how the checks and balances system in the U.S. Constitution gives real meaning to the Bill of Rights and how the media focuses on reporting on the outcomes of Supreme Court cases rather than the actual legal or constitutional issues involved.

Justice Scalia took questions on a range of topics, which included his views on the Socratic teaching method, his favorite Supreme Court justices from history, and his opinions on some Supreme Court decisions.

Cason Hightower, a junior at UA, said the Washington Experience afforded him amazing opportunities he would not have been able to receive if he were not in the program.

“I was able to meet with current University of Alabama students as well as alumni. This was especially beneficial because they had wonderful insights on what it is like to land a career in D.C.,” he said.

Two students, Adam Rawlins and Ryan Bonfiay had the opportunity to meet with Congresswoman Terri Sewell, where she told them her personal story of becoming a member of U.S. Congress.

Sewell grew up in Selma, and went to Princeton University, where she met Michele Obama, and Harvard Law School where she met current U.S. President Barack Obama. She worked as a securities lawyer on Wall Street before returning to Alabama to practice law in Birmingham. She then ran for the Congressional seat that was vacated by former Rep. Artur Davis.

According to New, Sewell emphasized her roots, saying that although she went to school and worked in other states she always considered herself from Alabama. She also said she credits the Selma community for much of her success.

Congresswoman Sewell answered a range of questions from the students and discussed her experiences as a freshman Congresswoman and of being the only Democrat in Alabama’s Congressional delegation.