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Making the Court Come to Life: Developing Effective Judicial Politics Simulations
Unformatted Document Text:  In larger classes, however, a problem may arise. A large number of students allows the opportunity to conduct more complex simulations, but this will require more individualized work with students to ensure that each actor is adequately prepared to play their role. Alternatively, a large number of students may instead demand multiple simpler simulations, which necessarily requires more preparation of materials and students. For example, a number of public law scholars have found it necessary to conduct three or four simultaneous court simulations (Baker 1994, Hensley 1993, Fliter 2007) in order to allow all students to have an individual role. Multiple simultaneous simulations may lead to disorganized or fragemented presentation of information or from a student perspective (which will undermine one of the pedagogical advantages of simulations by not fully allowing for all students to interact with the simulation proceedings on a regular basis) or, at the very least, excessive time demands from a faculty perspective. There are, however, a unique set of challenges when students are asked to engage in a Supreme Court simulation, even in small classes. A court simulation using a specific case asks students to engage in legal analysis, and most cases pose difficult, obscure, or technical legal questions. For that reason, the judicial politics seminars that use simulations have tended toward civil liberties or civil rights cases that may be more familiar or intuitively interesting to the students (Baker 1994, Hensley 1993). 5 But ongoing or undecided civil liberties or civil rights cases tend to be among the most contentious, politically charged, and legally difficult cases on the court’s docket, which may lead to their own significant pedagogical limitations. First, undergraduates (or citizens, for that matter) will rarely have the legal training or rhetorical skill to effectively engage the questions raised by these cases. Second, there is a 5 Hensley (1993) allows students to choose from a list of cases he offers based upon four criteria, one of which is that the case “must be inherently interesting.”

Authors: Caufield, Rachel.
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In larger classes, however, a problem may arise. A large number of students allows the
opportunity to conduct more complex simulations, but this will require more individualized work
with students to ensure that each actor is adequately prepared to play their role. Alternatively, a
large number of students may instead demand multiple simpler simulations, which necessarily
requires more preparation of materials and students. For example, a number of public law
scholars have found it necessary to conduct three or four simultaneous court simulations (Baker
1994, Hensley 1993, Fliter 2007) in order to allow all students to have an individual role.
Multiple simultaneous simulations may lead to disorganized or fragemented presentation of
information or from a student perspective (which will undermine one of the pedagogical
advantages of simulations by not fully allowing for all students to interact with the simulation
proceedings on a regular basis) or, at the very least, excessive time demands from a faculty
perspective.
There are, however, a unique set of challenges when students are asked to engage in a
Supreme Court simulation, even in small classes. A court simulation using a specific case asks
students to engage in legal analysis, and most cases pose difficult, obscure, or technical legal
questions. For that reason, the judicial politics seminars that use simulations have tended toward
civil liberties or civil rights cases that may be more familiar or intuitively interesting to the
students (Baker 1994, Hensley 1993).
But ongoing or undecided civil liberties or civil rights
cases tend to be among the most contentious, politically charged, and legally difficult cases on
the court’s docket, which may lead to their own significant pedagogical limitations.
First, undergraduates (or citizens, for that matter) will rarely have the legal training or
rhetorical skill to effectively engage the questions raised by these cases. Second, there is a
5
Hensley (1993) allows students to choose from a list of cases he offers based upon four criteria, one of which is
that the case “must be inherently interesting.”


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