The following is a guest post from Super Lawyers contributor and freelance journalist Martin Kuz, detailing his experience as a fellow at the Peter Jennings Project for Journalists and the Constitution.

Last month I had the good fortune to attend the Peter Jennings Project for Journalists and the Constitution, a three-day fellowship program devoted to examining that hoary document’s sustained influence on every aspect of American life. Held in Philadelphia at the National Constitution Center, a few blocks from where the founding fathers drafted the U.S. Constitution in 1787, the program brought together three dozen journalists from across the industry and around the world. Far from a passive, sit-and-listen experience, the weekend proved to be at once immersive and invigorating.

The Project provided us a chance to probe sundry constitutional issues with a distinguished roster of legal scholars, attorneys, judges and political figures, among them Michael Chertoff, former head of the Department of Homeland Security; former U.S. Senator Arlen Specter; Theodore McKee, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; Marjorie Rendell, McKee’s Third Circuit colleague and the former First Lady of Pennsylvania; and Carter Phillips, a Washington, D.C., attorney who has argued more than 70 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, the most of any private lawyer practicing today.

The program agenda included workshop sessions that examined recent or ongoing federal court cases rife with constitutional consequences; a moot court that delved into issues of Miranda rights and public safety; and panel discussions on U.S. Supreme Court nominations and new state immigration laws. A few highlights:

— Rendell led my workshop group, which included ABC News digital reporter Ariane de Vogue and Tony Bartelme, an investigative reporter with The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C. We discussed a case that involves a relatively new federal law that enables authorities to collect DNA samples from criminal suspects before they’re convicted, a law that has been challenged as a breach of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches. As it happens, Rendell and her Third Circuit cohorts heard the case on appeal in February. Their decision is expected in the coming months—and, no, she didn’t reveal which way she’s leaning.

— For the moot court, Phillips and Kannon Shanmugam, another D.C. attorney and familiar face to the Supreme Court, argued a case in front of nine faux Supremes, among them Rendell, Chertoff and McKee. Since we were in Philly, listening to the judges pummel both lawyers with questions brought to mind Rocky Balboa punching frozen meat carcasses. Better still, after they ruled in Phillips’s favor—as the real Supremes often do—the judges let us hit them with questions during an informal Q&A.

— During the Project’s gala dinner, I found myself seated near Phillips. I didn’t grill him like the faux Supremes had earlier in the day, asking instead for stories about the real Supreme justices. He obliged with a litany of anecdotes that were entertaining, enlightening—and, alas for you, off the record. But keep your fingers crossed—he says he might write a memoir one of these years.

Click here to listen to a recent podcast in which Kuz discusses pertinent constitutional issues.

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