Drew Musto

Class of 2019

Hometown: Newtown, PA

What is your College Scholar project?
My project aims to discover what it means to be a judicial conservative on the Supreme Court of the United States. 

Anyone who follows the Court is likely aware of the neat shorthand terms used to divide the
bench into ideological blocs — the "conservative" bloc and the "liberal" bloc (and, of course, the
lonely but powerful Kennedy bloc). Yet when we actually examine these blocs — the
"conservative" bloc in particular — tremendous differences in judicial ideology and method
appear. For example, in a case about the constitutionality of a California ban on violent video
games, Justice Scalia, a "conservative" mentioned at oral argument that there is no special First
Amendment exception for violent speech; it's protected like most other kinds of speech. An
example of speech that isn't protected is obscene speech, and that was known to the founders,
Justice Scalia implied. So if California could regulate a new genre of speech — violent speech
— what other kinds of speech could the government regulate, Scalia asked. Then comes the
bench slap: Justice Alito, also a "conservative" said, "I think what Justice Scalia wants to know
is what James Madison thought about video games. Did he enjoy them?" Justice Alito's comment
did more than just momentarily lighten the mood; it implicitly rebuked Justice Scalia's originalist
approach. Still, the label "conservative" applies to both of these justices, and I doubt anyone
would deny that.

So, it'd be fairly easy to dismiss that label as imprecise, reflecting nothing more than the
outcomes these justices reach. But my project aims to do the opposite. My goal is to find what
unifies the jurisprudence of these "conservative" justices. The scope of my project will almost
certainly be narrowed to the Roberts Court, and it may be narrowed by topic (e.g. statutory
interpretation, free exercise, equal protection, etc.) as well.

What are your most important extra-curricular activities? 
My most important extra-curricular activity is being a senior editor and reporter for The Cornell
Daily Sun. I've also served as a RA on North Campus. Both have been very challenging and very
rewarding.

Talk about any summer internships or programs you’ve attended.
Two summers ago, I interned for my Congressman in Washington, D.C. I met great people there
and had a fun summer, and I'd recommend the D.C. intern experience to anyone. The best part,
though, was being in D.C. at the end of the Supreme Court's term ending in October 2016,
especially because I had the pleasure and honor of being in the courtroom on the justices; last
sitting (the Court announced three cases that day, including the landmark abortion case, Whole
Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt). There is only one other experience in my life that compares to
the awesomeness I felt in that courtroom: a Billy Joel concert.

What do you dream of doing after graduation? 
Short Term: Attending law school
Long Term: Becoming an Article III judge