By Joe Stangle
Social Studies Teacher
The Kimball Area High School ninth-grade civics classes have spent the last two weeks preparing to re-create the U.S. Supreme Court case, Illinois v. Wardlow. This case involved whether or not running from the mere sight of a police officer, and to determine if "reasonable suspicion" is adequate for stopping a suspect. Both classes had students learning about not only the case, but about how Justices at the highest level in our national government are selected.
We first started with the appointment of class members who sat in front of the class, telling us their opinions on issues that are shaping the society we live in today. Students declared their views based on various topics such as the death penalty, abortion, and censorship to name a few. Each class then voted to see which appointment would actually represent their class views as one of the nine Justices in the mock court activity.
The first-hour class Justices were represented by Cassie Morris, Dylan Boxell, Logan Bartholomew, Allie Seth, Kyleigh Eisenbraun, Torey Rohloff, Davion Vestal, Alex Harter and Chief Justice Janessa Dahle. Representing the State of Illinois lawyers were Travis Wills, Sam Werner and Raheem Leach, appointed for the Wardlow side, Ashley Angier, Tim Konz, and Connor Wittenberg. In sixth hour, the justices selected were Cole Denn, Alissa Jones, Camen Markgraf, Austin Roerick, Brad Mies, Paiten Schreiner, Nicole Johnson, Savannah Tuthill, and Chief Justice Tyler Dockery. Lawyers for Illinois were Kenzie Traurig, Ashley Bogatski, Jon Massmann and Austyn Schlueter, with Kaylee Petty, Hannah Zipoy, Raelynn Callander, Breane Meierhofer, and Lane Blanchard representing Wardlow. Justices and lawyer teams met together over a couple of different class periods to discuss statements and research their position on this case.
All students were given information regarding the case and each group had different tasks to complete. Students who did not choose to be justices or lawyers, were assigned to be journalists. Their main task was to write about the actions going on, leading up to and during our mock case. Justices met and each Chief Justice did a great job carrying out the steps of preparing to hear the lawyers and organizing the tasks to be able to present themselves in the activity. Justices even wore robes during the re-enactment to help give the feel of the real chamber of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Each class came up with different decisions from the nine Justices after hearing lawyers from both sides speak their positions for Illinois or Wardlow. In first hour, justices sided six to two in favor of Wardlow, whereas sixth hour decided the other way, eight to zero for Illinois. Each class had one justice not present, which created the total of eight instead of the usual nine. In the real U.S. Supreme Court case heard originally in 1999, the Court decided in favor of the State of Illinois, stating that police officers should be allowed to use "reasonable suspicion" of possible wrondoing. All students did a great job with the presentation and reporting when it comes to learning about how our U.S. Supreme Court works.