Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
By Joe Stangle, social studies teacher
The freshman class at KAHS spent time investigating the U.S. Supreme Court case of Illinois v. Wardlow. In the real case, Sam Wardlow was stopped and frisked by police officers without what his lawyers said was "probable cause". After losing the initial case in Cook County court, the appeals process ended up bringing the case all the way to the highest court in the land. The U.S. Supreme Court heard the case that focused on two major questions. First, that just because you run when law enforcement appears, is that enough to say you are guilty of something? Secondly, that Wardlow was in what was considered to be a high crime area, do the police have the right to stop a person just because of the nature of an area?
After each class created a list of students who were interested in representing our nine current justice spots, they went on to give their opinions in class on current pressing issues. Some of the topics that were discussed included the economy, abortion, the death penalty and the environment, along with others. After they each stated their opinions, each class voted to approve which Justices that best aligned with their own thought process, just as the approval process goes with the real Justices. Each class then also selected two teams of lawyers to represent both the State of Illinois and the Wardlow sides. The remaining students picked up their pens and became reporters to keep track of the proceedings as the case moved forward.
All students received background information and handout overviews that helped them to understand the perspective of the case more completely. Chief Justices from three classes organized their Associate Justices to research the case and lawyer teams focused on presenting their case. In the background making notes, reporters gained an idea of which angles both the Justices and lawyers were preparing to take.
On Tuesday, Jan. 17, the first-, fifth- and sixth-hour courses held their separate classroom cases as room 168 turned into a makeshift U.S. Supreme Court chamber. Justices wore "throwback KAHS graduation" robes to try to help create an atmosphere of being in a Washington, D.C. Courtroom. In the case of our first-hour class, Chief Justice Jarred Merchant's Court listened attentively to the lawyers as they explained to the Justices why they felt their side should be victorious. After all was said and done, the Wardlow lawyers got the Justices final tally. Not to be outdone, fifth-hour's Chief Justice Kristina Kastanek and her Associate Justices had a tough decision that ended up siding in favor of the State of Illinois. During the sixth-hour presentation, Chief Justice Joey VonWahlde and his Justices had only one dissenting opinion, otherwise their decisions sided with Wardlow. These classes Justices, lawyers and reporters did an excellent job of re-creating this case. In the real case, Illinois had the case overturned by the Court. In a 5-4 decision, the real U.S. Supreme Court held that police may consider a suspect's unprovoked flight as one factor contributing to "reasonable suspicion" justifying an investigatory stop in the 2000 ruling.