September 24, 2009
University’s Office of the Provost presented “A Supreme Court Case
Debate: Know Your Rights, Know Your Future” in honor of
Constitution Day in the Little Theatre at its Queens campus on
September 17. As part of the student driven “Participate in ’09”
initiative, St. John’s University students debated Supreme Court
Cases regarding Constitutional amendments. The “Participate in
’09,” initiative is a collaborative effort represented by the
University’s College Democrats, College Republicans, Student
Government, Inc., student leaders, faculty, and University
administrators who are all committed to non-partisan voter
registration and increased civic education and engagement.
Michael A. Simons, Esq., Dean of St. John’s University’s School
of Law, opened up the forum by giving an introduction on the
foundation of the U.S. Constitution and how it applied to the
debates that were to take place among the St. John’s University
students. Sara Piali, Assistant to the Provost of St. John’s
University served as Master of Ceremonies for the event. Panelists
from the “Participate in ‘09” committee included: St. John’s
College Republicans James Pickel, President, Meaghan Mapes, Vice
President and Corey Fanelli, Member and St. John’s College
Democrats Thomas Olik, President, Nayyar Ali Waheed, Secretary and
Thomas Peterson, Member.
Constitution was first created its sole purpose was to provide the
framework for the organization of the U.S. government. It wasn’t
until after the Civil War that the Constitution was seen as a
document to protect individuals by certain actions of the
government. This protection later extended to States and other
institutions such as public schools.
“The Constitution is a depository of shared values which has
given rise to a system that allows us to resolve disputes of the
implementation of those fair values,” said Simons to a throng of
more than 150-plus in attendance from the University community.
Students from St. John’s College Republicans and College
Democrats then debated three separate Supreme Court Cases. Case I:
Morse v. Frederick, 551 U.S. 393 (2007), Case II: New Jersey
v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325 (1985) and Case III: Hazelwood School
District et al. v. Kuhlmeier et al. The College Republicans took
the affirmative position and the College Democrats took the
contested position. The presiding moderator of the debate was Dr.
Robert F. Pecorella, Professor of American Government and Politics
at St. John’s University.
Constitution Day debates were a huge success and were coordinated
on the heels of two equally informative Candidate Forums hosted by
the Participate in ’09 group and the Queens Courier newspapers. The
forums were open to the public and involved candidates from the NYC
Comptroller and Public Advocate races.
Constitution Day also proved to be a great success on St. John’s
Staten Island campus with attendance totaling 113. Dean Simon’s
introduction of the U.S. Constitution was webcast from the Queens
Campus and the student body discussed the U.S. Supreme Court and
its role in shaping and swaying the United States.
The student panelists included Amanda Wise, who spoke about the
history of the Supreme Court from the beginning of its existence to
1950. Aswini Periyasamy talked about the Supreme Court from 1950 to
present day. Joe Marciano explained the process by which a
case comes to the Supreme Court. Mitchell Zink addressed the
composition of the Supreme Court. Kevin James spoke about newly
appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Sonia Sotomayor
and Brandon Linker analyzed the political background of each
justice. Dr. William Bryne, Assistant Professor of Government and
Politics at St. John’s University, moderated this event and Crystal
Vera served as the Academic Coordinator.
The views expressed on the pages of the “Participate in ‘09” web
page, or those expressed at any of the events, DO NOT reflect, in
anyway, the opinions of St. John’s University, its administrators,
faculty and staff. The University is non-partisan and does not
support any political party affiliation.
For more information, please visit www.stjohns.edu/participatein09.
For media inquiries, please contact Dominic Scianna, Assistant Vice
President for Media Relations at St. John’s by calling (718)
990-6185, or my email to firstname.lastname@example.org.