Building on the success of the 2013 and 2014 Virtual Supreme Court project, the Harlan Institute and The Constitutional Sources Project (ConSource) will host the third annual Virtual Supreme Court competition. This competition offers teams of two high school students the opportunity to research cutting-edge constitutional law, write persuasive appellate briefs, argue against other students through video chats, and try to persuade a panel of esteemed attorneys during oral argument that their side is correct. This year the competition focuses on Zivotofsky v. Kerry, exploring whether the President’s power to diplomatically recognize foreign nations is subject to control by Congress.
The competition is endorsed by the Center for Civic Education’s We The People Program. Robert Leming, Director of the We the People Program found that the “Competition is relevant for high school students studying the Constitution and Bill of Rights.”
ConSource Executive Director Julie Silverbrook believes “the Competition is an excellent opportunity for high school students to develop core civic and constitutional literacy skills. Students are required to read the text of the Constitution, explore the history behind a contemporary constitutional dispute, and construct persuasive arguments. We know that experiences like the Virtual Supreme Court Competition leave a lifelong impression on participating students and encourages them to stay informed and engaged throughout their lives.”
The members of the grand-prize winning team, the Solicitors General of FantasySCOTUS, will receive a free trip, including airfare and one night of hotel accommodations, to Washington, D.C. to attend the ConSource Constitution Day celebration in September 2015. Winners must be at least 18 years old at the time of the trip (it is no problem if the student has already graduated high school in September of 2015, so long as he or she was in high school during the competition). This offer is open to U.S. residents only. Members of the runner-up team will each receive an iPad Mini. Members of the third and fourth place teams will each receive a $100 Amazon.com Gift card.
Josh Blackman, President of the Harlan Institute, champions the Virtual Supreme Court, which provides an “unprecedented opportunity for high school students to engage in the highest level of appellate advocacy. They research the issues, write briefs, and make oral arguments before our judges. The strong caliber of the winning teams last year really impressed us. We can’t wait to see how the teams perform this year!”
We are honored to announce the winners of the 2014 Harlan Institute-ConSource Virtual Supreme Court competition. This year, the students were asked to write briefs, and participate in oral arguments for the case of NLRB v. Noel Canning. The question, was: “Resolved: What is the scope of the President’s recess appointment power?“
We received over 100 excellent submissions from high school students across the country. We were able to narrow down our brackets to four teams. Each team participated in oral arguments over Google+ Hangouts. Our engaged judges asked the students tough and challenging questions, and they had to think on their feet. In the end, we were extremely impressed with all of the winners.
Here are the final standings of the teams:
Congratulations to all the students. Also, congratulations to their excellent teachers. Ben Ewald at Frisco CTE, Christina Murray at Wicomico High School, and Michael Cunningham at Del Valle HS. We are so proud of these educators who inspire their students to accomplish great things.
Also, we extend our deepest thanks to our excellent judges who graciously volunteered their time to help judge the competition: Bryan Gividen, Timothy Huffstutter, Carl Cecere, and Lawrence Dietz. And always, my deepest thanks to my colleague and friend, Julie Silverbrook, the Executive Director of Consource for her tireless work in promoting constitutional education.
If you like our programs, please consider supporting the Harlan Institute and ConSource. We offer all of these programs to students at no cost, and rely on generation donations to cover our costs, and the students’ prizes.
You can watch the video of the semifinals, involving the teams from Wicomoco, Del Valle, and Frisco.
The video of the championship round (broken into two segments) between Wicomoco and Frisco is here:
Uma Chatterjee was born in Queens, NY and lived there until she was 11. She has lived in the North Dallas area for seven 7 years. She sings competitively. She is considering going to school at American University of the University of Texas at Dallas, and wants to double-major in political science and psychology. Uma wants to work as an attorney focusing on civil liberties, ideally with the ACLU.
Michelle McEvoy was born in Livingston, New Jersey. She plans on attending New York University, majoring in Political science with a minor in international affairs. She is a member of the French club, Future Farmers of America, and the enjoys photography, volunteering.
Uma Chatterjee (left) and Michelle McEvoy and (right).
Second Prize - Dante Barnes and Peter Kim, Wicomico HS, Wicomico, MD.
Dante Barnes is a sophomore at Wicomico High School in Salisbury, Maryland. He is currently enrolled in AP government. He plans on joining the Army after high school.
Peter Kim is a sophomore who attends Wicomico High School in Salisbury, Maryland. He was born in South Korea and likes to play must. He plans on going to college to become a doctor after high school.
Building on the success of the 2013 Virtual Supreme Court project, the Harlan Institute has partnered with The Constitutional Sources Project (ConSource) to host the second annual Virtual Supreme Court competition. This competition offers teams of two high school students the opportunity to research cutting-edge constitutional law, write persuasive appellate briefs, argue against other students through video chats, and try to persuade a panel of esteemed attorneys during oral argument that their side is correct. This year the competition focuses on National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning Corporation.
The competition is endorsed by the Center for Civic Education’s We The People Competition:
“The Center for Civic Education is excited to endorse the Virtual Supreme Court Competition. The Competition is relevant for high school students studying the Constitution and Bill of Rights.”
-Robert Leming, Director, We the People Programs, Center for Civic Education
This competition has two stages, which mirror the process by which attorneys litigate cases.
A team of two students will be responsible for writing an appellate brief arguing for one side of the topic. This brief will be posted on their class’s FantasySCOTUS. Blog posts will be due by February 28, 2014. Completed briefs will be awarded the ConSource Badge. You can see the winning briefs from 2013 here.
The Harlan Institute and ConSource will select the top four briefs taking the affirmative position, and the top brief briefs taking the negative position, and seed them for oral arguments. All eight teams will compete in a virtual oral argument session over Google+ Hangout judged by staff members at the Harlan Institute and ConSource. Only teams that submit briefs that fully comply with all of the rules will be considered for oral argument.
The members of grand-prize winning team, the Solicitors General of FantasySCOTUS, will receive a free trip, including airfare and one night of hotel accommodations, to Washington, D.C. to attend the ConSource Constitution Day celebration in September 2014. Winners must be at least 18 years at the time of the trip (it is no problem if the student has already graduated high school in September of 2014, so long as he or she was in high school during the competition). This offer is open to U.S. residents only.
Members of the runner-up team will each receive an iPad.
Members of the third and fourth place teams will each receive a $100 Amazon.com Giftcard.
Today the Dallas Morning News Blog featured the winners of the inaugural Harlan Institute-Consource Virtual Supreme Court Competition.
Anderson, of Centennial, and Parsons, of Liberty, won the nationwide Harlan Institute’s Virtual Supreme Court competition in which they had to write appellate briefs and argue against other student teams via online video chats presented before a panel of professional attorneys.
This year the case argued by the students was Fisher v. University of Texas, which is currently pending before the United States Supreme Court concerning an affirmative action admissions policy at the University of Texas at Austin.
Congratulations to the two winners from Frisco, Texas, D.J. Anderson and Jason Parsons, who won a trip to ConSource’s Fifth Annual Capital City Constitution Day program.
Here is a video of the event:
On Monday, October 1, 2012, The Constitutional Sources Project (ConSource) and The Harlan Institute kicked off their inaugural Virtual Supreme Court Competition. The competition offered participating high school students the opportunity to research a contemporary constitutional issue – this year, affirmative action, craft appellate briefs, and present convincing legal arguments in our virtual courtroom using Google+ Video Hangouts.
Students from around the country submitted appellate briefs aimed at addressing the constitutional question – Is the Fourteenth Amendment color-blind? From the impressive briefs submitted as blog posts on the Harlan Institute’s FantasySCOTUS page (http://harlaninstitute.org/
On Monday, April 22, 2013, students from the Frisco Career and Technical Education Center in Frisco, Texas competed in the championship oral argument round in front of a virtual bench of esteemed legal professionals. The judges included: Julie Silverbrook, Executive Director of ConSource; Josh Blackman, Harlan Institute President and South Texas College of Law professor; Tom Krattenmaker, former William & Mary Law School dean and clerk to Justice Harlan; and Matthew Fitzgerald, associate at McGuireWoods LLP and clerk to Justice Thomas.
The competing Frisco teams included seniors DJ Anderson and Jason Parson, as well as Derani Wiggins and Sarah Sietmann. Although the scores were incredibly close, the grand prize winners of the championship round were DJ Anderson and Jason Parson. Anderson and Parson will be flown to Washington, D.C. to participate in ConSource’s Fifth Annual Capital City Constitution Day program.
A video of the championship round is available here: http://youtu.be/rZl4yQ-2zlQ. Both teams of students should be commended for their excellent historical and legal research, writing, and oral argument skills.
Later in the day, another team of students from Frisco, as well as a team of students from Sioux Central High School in Sioux, Iowa competed in a non-advancing runner-up round. Again, the competition was very close, but the students from Frisco, Texas were able to prevail over their colleagues from Sioux Central High in Iowa.
All of the students and teachers who participated in the program should be applauded for their hard work and dedication. Mr. Benjamin Ewald of the Frisco CTE Center and Ms. Erin Olson of Sioux Central High School should be saluted for going above and beyond to prepare their students for the competition. Please join us in congratulating the participants and their wonderful teachers.
Information about the Inaugural Virtual Supreme Court Competition is available at: http://harlaninstitute.
Interested in coaching a team of students for the 2014 Virtual Supreme Court Competition? Email ConSource Executive Director Julie Silverbrook at