Civics Students Take On The United States Court of Appeals

Civics students pose in the courthouse.

Social Studies Teacher Eric Oddo brought Civics Classes to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on Nov. 7, where they witnessed oral arguments in appellate court cases and took a tour of the Dirksen Federal building. 

The Court of Appeals has the highest level of appellate jurisdiction for this region of the United States, second domestically to the Supreme Court. Students observed oral arguments for six cases where three federal judges questioned attorneys about the laws concerning their cases.

In their unit on the judicial branch of the federal government, students had the opportunity to see federalism in action. “Watching these high-level cases go down and see how the judges and attorneys dispute the cases. It taught me how judicial power is important and how it affects the court cases and how it turns out decisions,” sophomore Hamza Kothawale said.  

Students recognized the unique opportunity they had and how that advanced their learning. “It helped us see how the court system worked, with multiple different judges, and how proceedings went. Being there was probably one of the coolest things we could’ve done because it’s so hard to get in there and do the stuff that we did,” sophomore Aidan O’Connor said. 

Students witnessed personal moments in interesting cases, such as immigration. “It gave me a first-person view of what happened in the court and what the lawyers do. We saw some people get citizenship and it was actually fun seeing them become citizens,” senior Kevin Alcaraz said

Students had fun outside of the courtroom by visiting Millenium Park and the Daley Center. Oddo organized these activities in order to illustrate the concept of federalism and the importance that public parks play in our communities. “My favorite part of the field trip was afterward walking around the city and going to the bean,” sophomore Jacob Castro said.

Oddo feels that the field trip was a success and hopes that students learned from it.

 “This is the first time I have done this field trip and I’m glad I did. It worked out well for the students. They seemed to have a good time. The most memorable moments were when students thanked me and told me how much they learned that day and how much fun they were having. Also one of the students said “that will be me in the future” referring to sitting in one of the judges’ chairs. I told her that it was definitely possible and she could do it. It was cool to see the student so motivated,” Oddo said.