Environmental law students visit U.S. Supreme Court
Public Relations - Published: December 16, 2009

From left, students Reena Pushpangadan, Nicholas Jajko, Richard Scott, Jongbin Lee, Associate Professor Kenneth T. Kristl, student Marie Hobson, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, student Matthew Burdalski, Professor James R. May, student Jonathon Spadea, Mary Jacobson, executive director of the Mid Atlantic Environmental Law Center, which is housed at Widener Law, students Dawn Kurtz Crompton and Rita Assetto, Associate Professor D. Benjamin Barros, students Chris McCann, Catherine Emmett and Keith Salador.

A group of 12 Delaware-campus law students recently traveled to the U.S. Supreme Court, where they heard arguments in a high-profile case involving beachfront property rights and had a private meeting with one of the justices.

The students, all enrolled in the Environmental & Natural Resources Law Clinic, were accompanied on the Dec. 2 excursion by clinic Director and Associate Professor Kenneth T. Kristl and Professor James R. May, who is associate director of Widener’s Environmental Law Center. Associate Professor D. Benjamin Barros, who teaches on Widener’s Harrisburg campus and specializes in property law, also joined them.

The group met privately with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the court’s lawyers lounge after hearing oral arguments in Stop the Beach Renourishment v. Florida Department of Environmental Protection. They also made a stop at the Department of the Interior, where they toured the mural room later in the day.

The case they heard involved questions of beachfront property owners’ rights and whether state beach replenishment projects turn those sections of land into public-access beaches.

Student Rita Assetto, who was part of the group, said the experience gave her a renewed appreciation for the law.

“Being in that courtroom and hearing the argument was a great reminder of the history and importance of the system, which was nice to have right before finals and heading into the bar exam in a few months,” she said.

It marked the third consecutive year Kristl has organized a trip to the court for environmental clinic students. Those who went this year included: Rita Assetto, Matthew Burdalski, Dawn Kurtz Crompton, Catherine Emmett, Marie Hobson, Nicholas Jajko, Jongbin Lee, Chris McCann, Reena Pushpangadan, Keith Salador, Richard Scott, and Jonathon Spadea.