By Grace Dunn
Last Friday, we had the opportunity to visit the highest federal court in the United States, the Supreme Court. For many of us, this was our first time in the historic building. Sarah Schroeder, sophomore strategic political communications major, was blown away by how massive the Supreme Court was, but realized none of it felt over the top. While other students studied the exhibits and bought souvenirs at the gift shop, Sarah had the chance to explore the top floor alone for a while. She noticed the small details within the courtroom, such as, the height differences in the custom made chairs for each Justice, and the busts of previous Chief Justices spread throughout the upstairs.
In our nightly group meetings we seem to always find ourselves discussing political discourse. Our discussions of political discourse started on the first day of academic sessions. We watched a documentary by Julie Winakur, titled “Bring it to the Table.” The film focused on discussions between people who do not share the same political ideologies and listening to each other’s points of view. This concept of civility is especially important on the Supreme Court. A great example of political discourse on the Court comes from Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the late Antonin Scalia. Their political beliefs differed greatly, but after Scalia’s passing RBG stated in an NBC news article that, “they disagreed now and then, but were best buddies.” While standing outside the courtroom, Sarah and I discussed how amazing it was that they could be best friends even though their career required them to disagree every day. It is a sad reality that we are amazed by civility.
During the past election we saw very polarized parties which led to name calling, disrespect, and occasionally violence at rallies and other campaign sites. We as a nation need to learn from RBG, Scalia, and the Supreme Court’s actions. We should follow their example of political discourse. The Supreme Court would never come to a decision in a case without political discourse, and similarly, we as a nation can’t do our job when we argue with each other and refuse to see the other side’s point of view.
Between the present vacancy on the Court and the possibility of future openings, Trump could alter the dynamic of the Supreme Court entirely. Will the current civility within the Supreme Court remain? Time will only tell, but Sarah believes “as long as the Senate approves someone who is committed to the Court and willing to work with others, they will do whatever they need to do in order to get things done.”