A U.S. Supreme Court justice will be making an appearance as a Distinguished Guest Jurist at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law’s Florence/Rome/Siena program this summer.
Associate Justice Antonin Scalia will teach a course about the separation of powers, Penn State School of Law Professor Louis Del Duca said. The program has a long history of attracting Supreme Court justices, and this isn’t Scalia’s first time with the program, Del Duca said.
Late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, retired justice Sandra Day O’Connor, current Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Samuel Alito and Ruth Bader Ginsburg have also taught in the program.
“We’re very fortunate to have Justice Scalia with us,” Del Duca said. “They always bring a very rich perspective — a unique perspective that the students really appreciate.”
The four-week program from June 16 to July 12 is open to students from law schools around the country and sometimes draws a few international students and lawyers, Del Duca said.
The program is unique in many ways, Del Duca said. Students have the opportunity to study with a member of the court and get insight into the thinking used by the court to reach its decisions, he said.
Scalia relates “beautifully” to students both in and out of the classroom, Del Duca said.
“He’s a very stimulating person,” Del Duca said. “He’s very controversial, but very distinguished, very bright, very available to students.”
People who are “diametrically opposed” to Scalia’s conservative politics still engage with him because of his brilliance, Cindy Simmons, senior lecturer in the College of Communications and a lawyer in Washington, said.
But he is also “reviled” by many liberals, Simmons said.
“He has cultivated a personally abrasive style, which I suspect is a form of humor much of the time, but it’s offensive to many,” Simmons said.
The Supreme Court is known for its courtesy and decorum, and Scalia speaks with “vitriol” when he feels his colleagues are wrong or cowardly, Simmons said.
Students can expect to Scalia to offer a well-thought-out, conservative approach to law, Simmons said.
“If they are ever before the court, and they want to make an argument that will carry the day with conservatives, he would be one to speak to,” Simmons said.
The program is based at the University of Florence School of Law, Del Duca said. Students also visit the University of Siena, the Italian Constitutional Court and UNIDROIT, the French acronym for the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law, he said.
Robert Rains, a Penn State Dickinson School of Law professor, will teach a class on international and comparative family law. The program will be “fabulous and wonderful,” he said.