Legal MindsGAMBIER, Ohio (July 14, 2011)
The U.S. Senate filibuster is more than just talk to Thomas Huelskoetter '12. "The use of what used to be an institutional quirk has skyrocketed in the past decade and is having a real impact on the legislation that passes—or doesn't pass—the Senate," said Huelskoetter, a political science major from Yorktown, Virginia.
As one of six students in the John W. Adams Summer Scholars Program in Socio-legal Studies, Huelskoetter is delving into the rise of the obstructionist tactic and its effect on the function of the Senate. "It has an enormous impact on the ability of Congress to do its job, yet it flies so far under the public radar," he said. "That's one of the reasons why this research is so important."
In its fourth year, the program awards a $3,000 fellowship and on-campus housing to students who collaborate with Kenyon professors on law-related research projects. "It gives us a valuable opportunity to take an idea we are interested in and really dig into it with a level of research that's not always possible during the school year," Huelskoetter said. Projects this year address topics such as wide-ranging as immigration, sexual misconduct and environmental justice.
Robert Bosilovic '13 is using part of his stipend to finance travel to and from the U.S. District Court in New Orleans, where he is interviewing some of the principals involved in the consolidation of a number of lawsuits brought over Chinese-made drywall installed in U.S. homes. The focus of his research is multidistrict litigation, a federal proceeding designed to speed the handling of civil actions with common questions of fact. "It is said to be the future of litigation in our country because so many civil actions, such as air disaster and product liability cases, tend to be bigger and more complex than in the past," said Bosilovic, of Pittsburgh, a political science major with a law concentration.
A highlight of the program is a two-week residency at the University of Oxford in England, where the scholars attend seminars and engage in sightseeing and cultural entertainment. The trip fosters camaraderie among the scholars, who live and work together and share opinions and advice. The program played a role in Bosilovic's decision to attend Kenyon. "None of the other colleges I looked at offered anything like this in the legal area," he said.
Brittany Grabel '12 of Lexington, Massachusetts, is examining legal issues related to the resettlement in Columbus, Ohio, of refugees from the Republic of Mauritania in western Africa. It continues research she started last year during a study-abroad program in the Republic of Senegal, neighboring Mauritania. "This is a pretty unusual chance—especially for an undergraduate—to tackle a relevant and important subject in relation to a people who haven't been studied much," she said. "The program helped me fulfill a promise I made to the Mauritanians I met in Senegal to continue to study their situation."
The 2011 legal scholars and fellows in the Oxford program and their topics are:
Christian Martinez-Canchola '12, Hypothetically, What If I Were Undocumented?
Gill Gualtieri '12, Writing Sexual Misconduct: Articulation, Enforcement and Revision Patterns for Sexual Misconduct Policies in GLCA Institutions as Related to State Laws
Robert Bosilovic '13, The Effectiveness of Multidistrict Legislation: A Case Study Involving Chinese Drywall
Brittany Grabel '12, Nothing but Resettlement: The Legal Integration and Collective Experiences of Mauritanian Refugees in Ohio
Thomas Huelskoetter '12, Bound by Tradition: The Filibuster in the U.S. Senate
Jack Whitacre '12, Environmental Justice: Issues in Cleveland and near Marietta