United States Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito spent a full week in residence at Peking University School of Transnational Law this past week teaching a seminar on the U.S. Supreme Court to STL students and offering an extended and candid Q&A session for the entire STL community. Justice Alito was accompanied by Georgetown University Law Center Visiting Professor John Baker.
STL Dean Philip McConnaughay said, “Justice Alito’s visit provided an extraordinary opportunity for STL students to spend extensive in-person time every day for an entire week with a Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The seminar focused on the recent case of RJR Nabisco, Inc. v. European Community [579 U.S. ___ (2016)],with STL students ultimately preparing and presenting moot oral arguments to Justice Alito, just as if they were appearing before the Supreme Court. The week was extraordinary and we are deeply grateful to Justice Alito for providing STL students with such a historic opportunity.”
3L student Li Yidan said of her seminar experience, “To be able to spend five days with Justice Alito and Professor Baker is something beyond imagination. None of us would have expected to have this opportunity; but STL made it happen and it is the most honorable and exciting moment of my life…. The 5 minutes before Justice Alito speaking as an appellate attorney before the Supreme Court cast a spell on me. I gave a roadmap, carefully unfolded my first argument, watched every look on his face to adjust every sentence I said, and neatly answered the first question he asked. The 5-minute argument brought together everything STL has been teaching me — the analytical reasoning skills I develop in rounds and rounds of Socratic questioning, the English language skills I acquire in legal writing classes, and the argumentative skills I learn in participating in moot court competition.”
3L seminar student Zhu Liusheng said, “It was an amazing experience to argue before Justice Alito. I have listened to many Supreme Court oral arguments on audio, but this was the first time to have one of the Justices in front of me asking me questions. There was a moment that I even felt like I was in the U.S. Supreme Court! Justice Alito asked me very probing questions that went to the core of the legal issues, which opened a window for me to see how Justice Alito thinks. I am truly grateful for this wonderful educational opportunity.”
1L student Hu Yue asked Justice Alito a question during the community-wide Q&A. She said of her experience, “It was my great honor and a once in a lifetime opportunity to listen to and even talk to Justice Alito in person. For me it is an extremely unique experience to ask Justice Alito a question and have Justice Alito kindly reply to me with patience, which is a great inspiration for my law studying and career planning.”
2L student Qin Shijie said, “I was extremely excited to be picked out of the large, enthusiastic crowd and become the first one on such an extraordinary occasion to raise questions to Justice Alito. As he responded to me in such a thoughtful and gracious manner, with almost every word he articulated carved in my mind, I couldn’t help recalling the past year of burying myself in the casebooks, where I was frequently intrigued by the complexity and beauty of those novel legal questions. And now, a real Justice is standing in front of me, and speaking to me.”
4L seminar student Yu Yadian said, “Before law school, when I had almost zero knowledge about the Supreme Court of the United States, and just started to read The Nine, if someone had told me that one day I would argue a case in front of Justice Alito, and be grilled by his hard questions, I would definitely think that person is crazy. This experience will constantly remind me of how privileged I am as a law student, and reassure me in my future career — I argued my first Supreme Court case while I was still in law school, nothing should ever terrify me!”
4L seminar student Pei Yiliang said, “Everyone in the seminar was impressed by the humility and candidness of Justice Alito. Our discussions spanned a wide variety of topics and the experience has forged a bond between us.”
Justice Alito also met during his visit with Peking University Shenzhen Graduate School Chancellor, Professor Wu Yundong, with former Shenzhen Graduate School Chancellor and current Vice Chair of the Peking University Council, Professor Hai Wen, and with members of STL’s faculty.
2016 marks Justice Alito’s 10th year on the United States Supreme Court. He took his seat January 31, 2006, following his nomination by United States President George W. Bush and confirmation by the United States Senate. Justice Alito served previously as a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, as the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, and as an official of the United States Department of Justice.