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The 2015 Harlan Institute-ConSource Virtual Supreme Court

Building on the success of the 2013 and 2014 Virtual Supreme Court project, the Harlan Institute has partnered with The Constitutional Sources Project to 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.

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

ResolvedIs the President’s recognition power subject to control by the Congress?

The Rules

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

Stage One: The Briefing

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, 2015. Completed briefs will be awarded the ConSource Badge. You can see the winning briefs from 2013 and 2014.


Stage Two: Oral Arguments

The Harlan Institute and ConSource will select the top briefs taking the affirmative position, and the top brief briefs taking the negative position, and seed them for oral arguments. 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.

  • The first round of oral arguments, the District court, will match up the top eight teams, in March of 2015.
  • The four teams that advance will meet up in the second round of oral arguments, the Court of Appeals, in April of 2015.
  • The top two teams that advance will meet in the final round of oral arguments, the Supreme Court, in May of 2015. These two teams will compete virtually in front of a panel of prominent appellate attorneys. You can see the video from the 2013 and 2014 competition. The winners will be crowned the Solicitors General of FantasySCOTUS, and win an amazing prize.

The Prizes

Grand Prize – The Solicitors General of FantasySCOTUS

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 2015. 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 2015, so long as he or she was in high school during the competition). 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.

Instructions

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.

 

Play FantasySCOTUS

Your students can play like the 10th Justice

FantasySCOTUS Scoreboard

The Harlan Institute

Learn more about the Harlan Institute.