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Making the Court Come to Life: Developing Effective Judicial Politics Simulations
Unformatted Document Text:  of 6.5 (on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being “complete confidence”) on the first day of class to an average of 8.2 on the last day of class. On the first day survey, students’ most common explanations for their lack of confidence were some variant of “because they are human,” “no system is perfect,” or “lifetime tenure is a bad thing.” On the final survey, their responses tended to be a variant of “politics is involved, but the justices are kept in check,” or “justices should be more isolated from the public to ensure fairness.” Although I personally have no firm basis of comparison, I have seen no previous treatment of judicial simulations that makes a claim that the class experience results in a shift in student thinking about the role and function of the judiciary or the confidence students have in the judicial system. These results seem to substantiate my belief that the choice of cases makes a difference in that it can reinforce course objectives and lead to a greater willingness to engage broad questions about the nature of the judiciary within a democratic system of government. This, in turn, leads me to conclude that there is an important benefit to using cases that directly engage questions about the nature and structure of the judicial branches of government.

Authors: Caufield, Rachel.
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of 6.5 (on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being “complete confidence”) on the first day of class to an
average of 8.2 on the last day of class. On the first day survey, students’ most common
explanations for their lack of confidence were some variant of “because they are human,” “no
system is perfect,” or “lifetime tenure is a bad thing.” On the final survey, their responses tended
to be a variant of “politics is involved, but the justices are kept in check,” or “justices should be
more isolated from the public to ensure fairness.”
Although I personally have no firm basis of comparison, I have seen no previous
treatment of judicial simulations that makes a claim that the class experience results in a shift in
student thinking about the role and function of the judiciary or the confidence students have in
the judicial system. These results seem to substantiate my belief that the choice of cases makes a
difference in that it can reinforce course objectives and lead to a greater willingness to engage
broad questions about the nature of the judiciary within a democratic system of government.
This, in turn, leads me to conclude that there is an important benefit to using cases that directly
engage questions about the nature and structure of the judicial branches of government.


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