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Harlan Institute-ConSource OT 2018 Virtual Supreme Court Semifinals

The Harlan Institute and ConSource have completed the semifinal rounds for the OT 2018 Virtual Supreme Court Competition. This year, we received a record-number of submissions on Timbs v. Indiana. On May 13, 2019, we will hold the championship round at the Georgetown Supreme Court Institute.

Curtis Herbert & Sana Wazwaz from Lighthouse School (MN) will represent the petitioner (from Match 1). Will Foster & Declan Davis from Walter Payton College Prep (IL) will represent the Respondent (from Match 2). Congratulations to all of the teams that participated.

Here are the oral arguments of the twelve teams that advanced.


Match 1

Petitioner Brief: Curtis Herbert & Sana Wazwaz – Lighthouse School (MN)

Respondent: Elena Lee & Sydney Von Arx – Lake Oswego HS (OR)


Match #2

Petitioners: Rachel Lee & Cammie Liu – Lake Oswego (OR)

Respondents: Will Foster & Declan Davis – Walter Payton College Prep (IL)


Match #3

Petitioners: Henry McGannon & Matthew Myers – Greenwich HS (CT)

Respondents: Lane Duckett & Lena Dyal – Lake Oswego (OR)


Match #4

Petitioners: Makaylia Askew & Joanna Boyer – Creekview HS (CT)

Respondents: Maya Clydesdale & Danielle Nead-Work – Lake Oswego (OR)


Match #5

Petitioner: Lucinda Smith & Anushka Nair – Lake Oswego HS (OR)

Respondent:  Grace Cook & Emma Winter – Lake Oswego HS (OR)


Match #6

Petitioner: Max Franz & Larissa Chan- Lake Oswego HS (OR)

Respondent: Peter Di Re & Eric Snell – Lake Oswego HS (OR)




Congratulations to the Virtual SCOTUS Semifinalists

Congratulations to the 12 semifinalists in the Harlan Institute-ConSource Virtual Supreme Court competition. These teams will advance to the next round in the tournament.


(1) Curtis Herbert & Sana Wazwaz (Lighthouse HS, Minnesota)

(2) Rachel Lee & Cammie Liu (Lake Oswego HS, Oregon)

(3) Henry McGannon & Matthew Myers (Greenwich HS, CT)

(4) Lucinda Smith & Anushka Nair (Lake Oswego HS, OR)

(5) Makaylia Askew & Joanna Boyer (Creekview HS, TX)

(6) Max Franz & Larissa Chan (Lake Oswego HS, OR)

(1) Will Foster & Declan Davis (Walter Payton College Prep, IL)

(2) Peter Di Re & Eric Snell (Lake Oswego HS, Oregon)

(3) Elena Lee & Sydney Von Arx (Lake Oswego HS, OR)

(4) Lane Duckett & Lena Dyal (Lake Oswego HS, OR)

(5) Maya Clydesdale & Danielle Nead-Work (Lake Oswego HS, OR)

(6) Grace Cook & Emma Winter (Lake Oswego HS, OR)

The 2018 Harlan Institute-ConSource Virtual Supreme Court

The Harlan Institute and The Constitutional Sources Project (ConSource) announce their Seventh 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 Timbs v. State of Indiana.

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

The Question

Resolved:  Whether the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause is incorporated against the States under the Fourteenth Amendment?

The Rules

This competition has two stages, which mirror the process by which attorneys litigate cases. 

Stage One: The Briefing and Oral Arguments

A team of two students will be responsible for writing an appellate brief arguing for either the petitioner or the respondent, as well as completing an oral argument video. The brief and video will be due by February 22, 2019.You can see the winning briefs from 20132014201520162017, and 2018.

Stage Two: The Tournament

The Harlan Institute and ConSource will select the top teams supporting the Petitioner and Respondent, and seed them for the oral argument semifinals on March 23, 2019. All 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. You can see the video from the 20132014201520162017 and 2018 competitions.

The final round of the Virtual Supreme Court Competition will be held in Washington, D.C. (In 2017 and 2018, the tournament was hosted at the Georgetown University Law Center Supreme Court Institute). The Harlan Institute and ConSource will sponsor the top two teams, and their teachers, for a trip to Washington, D.C. in April 2019 to debate in front of a panel of expert judges, including lawyers, university level debate champions, and legal scholars.

The Prizes

Grand Prize – The Solicitors General of FantasySCOTUS

The members of grand-prize winning team, the Solicitors General of FantasySCOTUS, and their teacher, 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 2019. This offer is open to U.S. residents only.

Second Prize

Members of the runner-up team will each receive an iPad Mini.

Third Prize

Members of the third and fourth place teams will each receive a $100 Amazon.com Giftcard.


Ask your teacher to sign up your class on FantasySCOTUS (all High School students can participate), add an account, read the problem, and get started! Good luck.

Please send any questions to info@harlaninstitute.org or info@consource.org.


Texas Students Win the National Harlan Institute – ConSource Virtual Supreme Court Competition for High School Students

On April 26, 2018, ConSource and the Harlan Institute hosted the championship round of the sixth 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 Carpenter v. United States in front of a panel of three federal judges in a small-scale replica of the courtroom at the United States Supreme Court.

Zack Lori and Chris McDonnell, two juniors from Greenwich High School in Greenwich, Connecticut, argued on behalf of the petitioners, and Joanna Boyer, a junior, and Makaylia Askew, a freshman, from Creekview High School in Carrolton, Texas, 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. Lori and McDonnell and Boyer and Askew 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 three distinguished judges, the students had to respond to rapid fire and complex legal questions. The competition was judged by Honorable Brett Kavanaugh, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Honorable Meg Ryan, United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and Honorable Royce Lamberth, United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

The competition was fierce, but Joanna Boyer and Makaylia Askew from Creekview High School prevailed in the end and were named the champions of the Virtual Supreme Court Competition. All three judges found the students to be “knowledgeable, well prepared, and extremely poised.” “We were very impressed.”

Of their experience with the competition, the students shared –

“This competition is unlike any other I have participated in.  I particularly liked the judges, who asked the most probing questions I have ever received and gave me the most insight into how appellate courts actually work.” – Joanna Boyer

“I am so thankful to be able to travel to Washington D.C. and have the opportunity to compete in this tournament.  I can’t wait to compete again next year!” – Mikaylia Askew

Both Creekview students have previous moot court experience. Joanna Boyer, a junior, is active on color guard and the Moot Court Team.  She has won the University of Texas at El Paso’s Moot Court tournament (where she was also awarded Best Attorney), won the State Championship at YMCA’s Youth and Government competition and qualified for the National Tournament two years in a row, and competed at Moot Court tournaments at both Duke and Princeton.  She is also involved in her church youth group and Police Explorers outside of school.  After high school, Joanna plans on attending the Coast Guard Academy. Makaylia Askew is a freshman at Creekview High School where, in addition to Moot Court, she is active in both Orchestra and Volleyball.  This is only her second Moot Court tournament, having previously qualified for and advanced to states in the YMCA’s Youth and Government competition earlier this year.  Outside of school, Makaylia is a self-taught artist.

Of our second place finalists, their coach Aaron Hull shared: ”Chris and Zack showed phenomenal skill and effort this spring getting to the National Championship.  They met with me multiple times and met in the mornings with our We The People coaches in the mornings and on a Sunday before the competition. Most impressively, they engaged their peers, three other pairs that made the live rounds (Alexander Bound and Matthew Weindling, James Heavey and Nick Liu, and Jovita Li and Catherine Yang), in preparations and arguments for Nationals to sharpen their understanding and focus on the Carpenter case. The teamwork, collaboration, and dedication of the entire squad propelled Zack and Chris forward to a marvelous nationals performance. I’m incredibly proud of them!”

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 civics education of our young people!”

Reflecting on how the competition has grown over the last six 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. 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.”

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.

Harlan Institute-ConSource OT 2017 Virtual Supreme Court Semi-Finals

The Harlan Institute and ConSource have completed the semi-final rounds for the OT 2017 Virtual Supreme Court Competition. This year, we received a record-number of submissions on Carpenter v. United States. On Thursday, April 26, 2018, we will hold the championship round at the Georgetown Supreme Court Institute. Zack Lori and Chris McDonnell of Greenwich HS will represent the petitioner (from Match 1). Joanna Boyer and Makaylia Askew of Creekview HS will represent the Respondent (from Match 2). Congratulations to all of the teams that participate.

Here are the briefs and submissions of the twelve teams that advanced.

Match 1

Petitioner: Greenwich HS (Zack Lori and Chris McDonnell)

Respondent: Westover HS (Caroline Broude and Fangyi Wang)


Match 2

Petitioner: Friscoe CTE (Sasha Chuprakova and Nancy Trinh)
Respondent: Creekview HS (Joanna Boyer and Makaylia Askew)


Match 3

Petitioner: Greenwich High School (James Heavey and Nick Liu)
Respondent: Greenwich High School (Alexander Bound and Matthew Weindling)


Match 4

Petitioner: Walter Payton College Prep (Will Foster and Taylor Kass)
Respondent: Greenwich High School (Jovita Li and Catherine Yang)


Match 5

Petitioner: Creekview HS (Aileen Mai and Amena Tep)
Respondent: Lake Oswego HS (Laura Jiang and Alex Li)


Match 6

Petitioner: Creekview HS (Mahak Merchant and Simon Pena)
Respondent: Stuart HS (Matthew H. and Tiana L.)

The Harlan Institute

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