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Justice Alito to lead law seminar

Samuel Alito, associate justice on the United States Supreme Court, will be teaching a week-long seminar at the School of Law, officials announced Friday.

Alito, who was nominated by former President George W. Bush in 2005, has served on the Supreme Court since 2006, and has ties to Duke. He and David Levi, dean of the School of Law, worked together when they both served as chairs of federal rules committees. Alito’s son, Philip, is currently a first-year law student.

“The School of Law extended the invitation to teach a short seminar for our students and he was gracious enough to accept,” said Tia Barnes, assistant dean for academic affairs. “We often have justices come and give short lectures and presentations, but it is truly an honor for one to make himself available to teach the course.”

The course, entitled “Current Issues in Constitutional Interpretation,” will last the week of Sept. 20, with daily one-hour sessions Sunday through Friday and two one-hour sessions on Saturday.

Students in the class will discuss issues raised by recent Supreme Court cases, as well as the various constitutional amendments, according to the course description.

Twenty-five students applied for the seminar, which only had 15 spots available, Barnes said. She added that despite the low numbers, the application process was difficult, requiring students to submit a resume, transcript and a personal statement on why they were interested in taking the class.

“With it being such a discrete topic, it was really going to apply to students who were interested in constitutional law and wanted to pursue a career in academia or the judicial system,” Barnes said.

Law School officials decided not to allow first-year law students to enroll in the class, leaving many of them disappointed.

“I wish we weren’t excluded,” said first-year student Loni Schutte, noting that there are a lot of classes at the Law School first-year students are not allowed to take. “[Alito] has a wealth of knowledge.”

Barnes said she understands how some of the younger students feel and that the Law School hopes to foster future opportunities for them when they are upperclassmen.


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