OXFORD, Miss. – United States Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Elena Kagan offered advice Monday (Dec. 15) to law students at the University of Mississippi during a law school event at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.
The justices told the audience of nearly 1,000 about their days at Harvard Law School, their journey to the nation’s highest legal position and their decisions on some of their most interesting cases.
“The moment I arrived (at Harvard), I thought, ‘This was where I want to be,'” Kagan said.
Scalia added that though his time at Harvard wasn’t “warm and fuzzy,” he had a great experience.
“I probably learned as much from my classmates as I did from my professors,” he said.
Although the justices may have differences of opinion, there is no animosity on the court, Scalia said, adding that he and Kagan are good friends.
“If you can’t disagree on the law without taking it personally, find another day job,” he said.
This is the first time two Supreme Court justices have visited the Ole Miss campus together, said Matthew Hall, the law school’s senior associate dean.
“This is one of the branches of the federal government and it’s led by nine people,” Hall said. “Two of them are here at the University of Mississippi. That’s an extraordinary occasion for the university, particularly for the law students who want to hear constitutional law straight from the source.”
Learning about the justices’ personal experiences really resonated for Marie Wicks, an Ocean Springs native and former Miss Mississippi who is in her second year of law school.
“It’s just such an incredible opportunity,” Wicks said. “It was an illuminating experience to have two Supreme Court justices come and visit my school at the point when I’m halfway through law school. It’s one of those experiences that I will never forget.”
Third-year law student Davis Gates, of Byram, enjoyed learning the views the two justices have of the Constitution, as well as experiencing a little bit of their individual characters.
“I’m really happy that I got to see a different side of the justices,” he said. “It really humanized them.”
Gates added that when he arrived at Ole Miss in 2008, he had no idea that he would witness some of the events that have happened on campus.
“I’ve been all across the nation and to D.C. and never once even caught a glimpse of a justice,” he said. “I’ve been here since 2008, since the presidential debate, so in order to continue to be able to have these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities is definitely amazing.”