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Connecticut Students Win the National Harlan Institute – ConSource Virtual Supreme Court Competition for High School Students; Oregon Team Places Second

On May 18, 2017, The Harlan Institute and The Constitutional Sources Project (ConSource) hosted the championship round of the fifth annual National Virtual Supreme Court Competition for high school students. The competition was hosted in the Supreme Court Institute Moot Court Room at Georgetown University Law Center, where two teams of talented high school students argued the case of Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer in front of a panel of nine judges in a small-scale replica of the courtroom at the United States Supreme Court.
Lucy Mini and Arjun Ahuja from Greenwich High School in Greenwich, Connecticut, argued on behalf of the petitioners, and Jacklin Chang and Emma Austin from Lake Oswego High School in Lake Oswego, Oregon argued on behalf of the respondents. To reach the championship round, these outstanding students had to compete against dozens of teams from all corners of the continental United States. Ahuha and Mini and Chang and Austin not only submitted the best-written appellate briefs, but also proved to be the most able oral advocates in the preliminary oral argument rounds.

 

Their skills were put to the test during the championship round where, during oral argument in front of a lively panel of nine distinguished judges, the students had to respond to rapid fire and complex legal questions. The competition was judged by Honorable Andre Davis, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; Honorable Meg Ryan, United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces; Honorable Royce Lamberth, United States District Court for the District of Columbia; Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute; Elizabeth Wydra, President of the Constitutional Accountability Center; Shon Hopwood, Georgetown University Law Center; Gregory Lipper, Clinton Brook & Peed; Josh Blackman, President of the Harlan Institute; and Julie Silverbrook, Executive Director of The Constitutional Sources Project.
The competition was fierce, but Lucy Mini and Arjun Ahuja from Greenwich High School prevailed in the end and were named the champions of the Virtual Supreme Court Competition.

Their coach, Aaron Hull, a model civic educator, shared how his students prepared for the competition: “Lucy prepared for the competition in the middle of AP Exams, and Arjun had graduated, moved on to Senior Internship, and could have mailed it in. Instead, both dug deep to develop Petitioners’ argument at a substantive and nuanced level, attempting, as we often strive to find in our Republic, a balance between the safety of all of our citizens and excessive governmental entanglement in the religious beliefs of a sect of them. After we arrived in DC, settled in, had our dinner, and toured the monuments, they then continued to work into the night to deepen their understanding of the facts of the case. What a pair of citizen scholars.”
Arjun Ahuja said of the Virtual Supreme Court Competition: “There are few time periods in US history where it would be more important to be constitutionally literate than right now. I find the law and the legal field to be interesting so it’s easy, but things like the Virtual Supreme Court keep the flame alive. I hope to continue with events like this to help advance the ideals that the Constitution represents.”

His teammate, Lucy Mini, added: “The Constitution is no where near as black and white as it may seem in a traditional classroom setting. Taking a stand on what those broad words mean, and then being battered by judges looking for any cracks in your argument, that is what the Founders intended when they wrote the Constitution, which is exactly what this competition provides for.”

Ilya Shapiro, one of this year’s judges, said of the competition: “Constitutional education is so important and it’s heartening to see such a high level of constitutional facility from high schoolers. I would love to see this program become a standard part of social-science classes nationwide.”

Julie Silverbrook, Executive Director of ConSource, said of the student competitors: “These students represent the very best of America. They are a testament to what can be achieved when thought leaders, public officials, schools, teachers, and parents invest in the civic education of our young people!”

Reflecting on how the competition has grown over the last five years, Harlan Institute President, Josh Blackman, shared: “The top two teams were absolutely amazing. They fielded difficult and probing questions from a panel of nine judges with poise and sophistication. Watching these students’ impressive performance gives me faith for the future of the Republic. In less than five years, the Harlan Institute-ConSource Virtual Supreme Court grew from an idea Julie and I hatched to, what I hope, will remain as a venerable institution for many years to come. I am grateful for everyone involved, and can’t wait to see how the tournament flourishes next year.”
Coach Aaron Hull expressed his appreciation for the Virtual Supreme Court Competition: “What [The Harlan Institute and ConSource] have achieved has motivated my students [by] placing a rigorous, demanding, achievable, and open-ended goal in front of [them] that will propel them to find their excellence, within themselves. Thank you for motivating and inspiring- its the core of education more broadly, and the key to inspiring the civic engagement our Constitutional Republic so desperately needs. My students will pay it forward, I can assure you.”
Gerrit Koepping, who coached second place finalists Jacklin Chang and Emma Austin, and has participated in the Virtual Supreme Court Competition for three years, added “This competition provides students with meaningful insight into how the courts work and how our constitution is interpreted. It is hard not to be inspired by the work and dedication of these students.”


If you are interested in registering your students for next year’s competition, please email info@harlaninstitute.org or info@consource.org to get on the mailing list for next year’s competition, which will be announced in the fall.

The Harlan Institute and ConSource Host the Championship Round of the National Virtual Supreme Court Competition for High School Student on May 18 at Georgetown University Law Center

On May 18, 2017, The Harlan Institute and The Constitutional Sources Project (ConSource) will host the championship round of the fifth annual National Virtual Supreme Court Competition for high school students. The championship will be hosted from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Supreme Court Institute Moot Court Room at Georgetown University Law Center, allowing these talented high school students to argue their case in a replica of the United States Supreme Court.

The Virtual Supreme Court 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’s competition focuses on Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer.

The top two teams, who were selected after two preliminary rounds, will have the opportunity to argue their side of the case in front of a distinguished panel of nine judges, including: Honorable Andre Davis, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; Honorable Meg Ryan, United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces; Honorable Royce Lamberth, United States District Court for the District of Columbia​; Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute; Elizabeth Wydra, President of the Constitutional Accountability Center​; Shon Hopwood, Georgetown University Law Center; Gregory Lipper, Clinton Brook & Peed​; Josh Blackman, President of the Harlan Institute; and Julie Silverbrook, Executive Director of The Constitutional Sources Project.

​Lucy Mini and Arjun Ahuja from Greenwich High School in Greenwich, Connecticut, will argue on behalf of the petitioners.

Jacklin Chang and Emma Austin from Lake Oswego High School in Lake Oswego, Oregon will argue on behalf of the respondents.

Julie Silverbrook, Executive Director of ConSource, said of the students: “They represent the very best of America.  They are informed, engaged and passionate. If you’re available on the morning of May 18 to see these young students in action, you will undoubtedly walk away with a renewed faith in the future of the American republic!”

One of the winners of the 2016 Virtual Supreme Court Competition, Tanya Reyna, an exceptional young woman from an impoverished, high crime area in Texas, shared that her experience with the competition last year “eased [her] apprehension” about the future. She said that meeting students, lawyers, professors and judges willing to take time out of their busy schedules “to inform younger generations of citizens about our legal system,” demonstrated to her that “as long as there are citizens like them, America will continue to hold a bright future.”

Josh Blackman, President of the Harlan Institute, explained that the “phenomenal students and teachers involved in this tournament restore my faith in the future of our Republic.” He added that now the teams will have to “face a bench of nine Judges, just like at the actual Supreme Court”

If you are interested in attending the championship round to cheer on this year’s finalists, please email info@consource.org or info@harlaninstitute.org. This event is open to the public.

Congratulations to the Finalists of the Harlan Institute-ConSource OT 2016 Virtual Supreme Court Competition

The Harlan Institute and ConSource are proud to announce the top two teams that will advance to the final round of the OT 2016 Virtual Supreme Court Competition. We received a record-number of submissions of the highest caliber yet.

Petitioner: Luci Mini and Arjun Ahuja (Greenwich HS), coached by Aaron Hull

Respondent: Jacklin Chang and Emma Austin (Lake Oswego HS), coached by Gerrit Koepping

Congratulations to all of the other teams that competed in the semifinals, and entered submissions.

Here are the videos of the semifinal rounds. (For some reason, YouTube did not record the third match).

Congratulations to the Top Eight Teams of the Harlan Institute-ConSource OT 2016 Virtual Supreme Court Competition

The Harlan Institute and ConSource are proud to announce the top eight teams that will advance to the next round of the OT 2016 Virtual Supreme Court Competition. We received a record-number of submissions, with the highest caliber yet.

This year, teams of two high school students were randomly assigned to represent either the petitioner or respondent in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley. Below we have linked to the briefs, and embededded the oral argument preliminary rounds. Over the weekend, we will host four rounds of oral arguments over Google Hangout. The top-two scoring teams will advance to the Championship Round in Philadelphia next month. The winning team, and their teacher, will be rewarded with a trip to Washington, D.C. for Constitution Day 2017.

We are very proud of all of the participants. Good luck!

Petitioners

Lucy Mini and Arjun Ahuja (Greenwich High School, Connecticut)

Sarah Kwartler and Anika Todt (Lake Oswego High School, Oregon)


Kate Smitherman and Joanna Boyer (Creekview High School, Texas)

SaraJane Griffiths and Siobhán Nolan (Lake Oswego HS, Oregon)

 

Respondents

Mahak Merchant and Simon Pena (Creekview HS, Texas)

Jacklin Chang Emma Austin  (Lake Oswego HS, Oregon)

Riley Tribble and John Fregonara (Elkins HS, West Virginia)

Grace Reily-Simmons and Tyanin Opdahl (Lake Oswego, HS)

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Support the Harlan Institute $16 of 2016 Campaign

By donating $16 before the end of 2016, you can help send the winners of our Virtual Supreme Court competition to Washington, D.C. to celebrate Constitution Day in September 2017.

Since 2010, through our innovative approach to online legal education with FantasySCOTUS, the Harlan Institute has taught thousands of high school students about our Constitution and the Supreme Court. This year, students can compete in the Fifth Annual Virtual Supreme Court. Through our collaboration with ConSource, students will write briefs and participate in oral arguments concerning the Establishment Clause issues in Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley.

Teams of two students choose each side of the issue, write appellate briefs, submit YouTube presentations, and engage in oral arguments against other students using Google+ Hangouts. During the moot court sessions, Harlan and ConSource judges ask the students questions, and challenge them on their briefs. Last term, the final round of oral arguments was held at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia before an esteemed panel of judges. The participants debated both sides of Fisher v. University of Texas, Austin.

You can see the winning briefs from 2013 (Fisher I), 2014 (Noel Canning), 2015 (Zivotofsky), and 2016 (Fisher II).

The grand prize for the top two students is a trip to Washington, D.C. to celebrate ConSource’s Constitution Day 2013. Members of the runner-up team will each receive an iPad.

I ask your help to support the prizes for these amazing students. 100% of your tax-deductible donation will be used to cover the costs of bringing the students to our nation’s capital.  The Harlan Institute has no salaried employees, and all of our overhead costs are covered by sponsorships.

Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

Josh Blackman
President, The Harlan Institute


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