The Staff
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Speaks to MSMS Students
By: Ciara King

On Tuesday, April 2, 2002, MSMS held its bi-annual humanities day. Students listened to speakers about the justice system of Mississippi. They also listened to a compelling and well-spoken United States Supreme Court justice.

The anticipated speaker of the day was US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Justice Scalia presented a compelling speech on the constitution and its place in the American society. Justice Scalia emphasized how the constitution was and is the foundation of the United States. According to Justice Scalia, no other country in the world has a constitution like the United States’. He even stated that the US constitution has been the framework of this nation for longer than some countries have even been countries. Justice Scalia then emphasized the two views on the constitution, originalist and proponents of the living constitution. He then expanded on this issue describing the subtle differences in each. Originalists believe in strictly following what is written in the constitution while proponents of the living constitution believe everything can be found in the constitution and if you feel strongly enough about it, it should be included in the constitution. He then began addressing questions of the audience, which ranged from making one month paid vacations a law to the constitution in relation to genetic engineering.

Beginning at 12:45 P.M. students at MSMS gathered at the Pohl Physical Education Building at the campus of the Mississippi University for Women to listen to talks about the justice system of Mississippi. The first speaker was Lenard Vincent who spoke on the penal system of Mississippi the past and the present systems. He also talked about the correctional facilities in Mississippi. Some of the issues mentioned included free college education for inmates, inmate privileges, and programs to rehabilitate inmates.

The next speaker was Justice Kay Cobb, a member of the Mississippi Supreme Court, who discussed the Supreme Court’s role in justice. She addressed the routine followed by the Supreme Court in hearing a case. Justice Cobb said in deciding to hear a case they look at whether the constitution was followed, rights protected, etc. Usually the court meets in panels of three, said Justice Cobb, but with death penalty cases they all meet. Justice Cobb also gave an overview of the trial procedures and even pointed out that oral arguments can be seen live on the internet. With justice Cobb being the only female on the Supreme Court, Vision was itching to know how she felt being the only female on the Supreme Court. In response she said, “sometimes it’s a little lonesome,” because of the nonsocial interaction. When asked by a Vision reporter whether or not she felt her opinions were overlooked because she was a female , she replied, “ I don’t and I’m really glad I can say that.”

MSMS students then heard from US Magistrate Jerry Davis. Magistrate Davis, who has served in this role for 18 years, discussed the role of the US Magistrate. Magistrates hear both civil and criminal cases. They try 2-4% on the civil side. When civil cases arise, they are assigned either a magistrate or district judge. In criminal cases only magistrates are assigned. In these, magistrates handle anything that does not expose the case. Magistrate Davis says they try to resolve cases without going to trial, which can be very expensive. On the civil side they handle items such as habeas corpus. On the criminal side they issue search warrants, arrest warrants, etc.

Overall, the students at MSMS got an in-depth look at the state justice system and the US justice system. All of the speakers presented different forms of the justice system and contributed to some new views and different understandings of the justice system as a whole.





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A publication from MSMS
Last Updated November, 2000