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The 11th Annual Harlan Institute-Ashbrook Virtual Supreme Court

October 3, 2022
The Harlan Institute and Ashbrook are pleased to announce the Eleventh 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 Students for Fair Admission v. University of North Carolina.
The competition is endorsed by the Center for Civic Education's We The People Competition:
The Virtual Supreme Court Competition helps students gain the skills they need to understand, synthesize, and advocate for reasoned legal positions on timely and relevant constitutional issues, and in doing so deepens their commitment to the rule of law. The program directly supports the highest goals of the Center for Civic Education to develop enlightened and responsible members of our society, and it is a privilege to be a part of this important work. Christopher R. Riano President, The Center for Civic Education Member Board of Advisors, The Harlan Institute

The Question

Resolved:  
Is race conscious affirmative action consistent with the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution?

Tournament Instructions

Using historical materials related to the Fourteenth Amendment, and the precedents of the United States Supreme Court, teams of two high-school students will write an appellate brief, and present oral arguments, addressing this question:
  • Is race conscious affirmative action consistent with the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution?
Petitioners will argue that the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits state universities from using race conscious affirmative action. Respondents will argue that the Fourteenth Amendment does not prohibit states universities from using race conscious affirmative action.

Phase 1 - Research and Write Your Brief

Coaches can register their teams at the Institute for Competition Sciences. After registering, teachers should contact the Harlan Institute and Ashbrook at info@HarlanInstitute.org. We will assign teams to argue on behalf of the Petitioners or the Respondents. Teams will research and write their briefs. The brief must be a minimum of 2,000 words. Please download this template. The brief should have the following sections:
  1. Table of Cited Authorities: List all of the original sources, and other documents you cite in your brief.
  2. Summary of Argument: State your position succinctly in 250 words or less.
  3. Argument: Structure your argument based on at least five primary historical sources and at least three Supreme Court precedents. The more authorities you cite, the stronger your argument will be–and the more likely your team will advance.
  4. Conclusion: Summarize your argument, and argue how the Supreme Court should decide this issue.
Be sure to proofread your work. The work must be yours, and you may not seek help from anyone else–including attorneys or law students. Students who submit plagiarized briefs will be disqualified. Please review the winning submissions from previous years:

Phase 2 - Virtual Mentoring

Teams that register before November 1, 2022 will be invited to participate in a virtual mentoring session. These sessions will be hosted during the week of November 14, 2022. The Harlan Institute will match each class with a mentor from our network. These sessions will be helpful to finalize your briefs and prepare your preliminary round arguments.

Phase 3 - Preliminary Round

For the preliminary round, each team must prepare a YouTube video. The argument must be at least 15 minutes in length. Coaches will ask their students the following ten questions:
  1. Does the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibit race-conscious affirmative action?
  2. How does legislation enacted by Congress in the 1860s and 1870s affect your answer to question #1?
  3. Let's assume that the Framers of the Fourteenth Amendment concluded that race-conscious legislation was constitutional in the 1860s and 1870s. Would that argument still work more than 150 years later in a very different society?
  4. Let's assume that the Framers of the Fourteenth Amendment thought that people of African descent deserve certain race-conscious privileges due to the unique context of slavery. Would the Framers have argued that members of other races, such as Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans, could receive similar privileges?
  5. What would the Framers of the Fourteenth Amendment have thought about affirmative action policies that benefit people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity?
  6. Does Brown v. Board of Education (1954) prohibit race-conscious affirmative action? In your answer, please address Bakke and Grutter.
  7. In 2003, Grutter observed that "25 years [after this case], the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today." Will there ever be a point in time in which racial preferences are no longer needed? If not, should the Court allow racial preferences to go on forever?
  8. Should Grutter v. Bollinger be overruled? Please address the Supreme Court's recent discussion of stare decisis in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.
  9. If the Court declines to overrule Grutter, can the Plaintiffs prevail?
  10. If the Court overrules Grutter, will the military have difficulty recruiting a diverse armed service?
Teams will upload a PDF of their brief, as well as a link to their YouTube video to the Institute of Competition Sciences. The deadline for the preliminary round will be December 16, 2022. The brief and preliminary round video will be scored based on this rubric.

Phase 4 - Virtual Rounds

We will hold the Virtual Rounds over Zoom:
  • 2/13/23 and 2/15/23: Semifinal Round
  • 2/27/23 and 4/1/23: Round of 8
  • 3/27/23 and 3/29/23: Round of 4
The virtual rounds will be scored based on this rubric. This video offers five tips to prepare for oral argument:

Phase 5 - Championship Round Rounds

The top teams will receive a free trip to Washington, D.C. to argue the championship round before federal judges on April 24, 2023. Good luck! And register today.

The Prizes

Grand Prize - The Solicitors General of FantasySCOTUS

The members of top Petitioner and Respondent teams will be invited to attend the Ashbrook Academy on the Supreme Court and the Constitution in June 2023. Ashbrook will cover reasonable travel costs to the academy. Members of the winning team will each receive a $500 Amazon gift card. Members of the runner-up team will each receive a $250 Amazon.com gift card.

Semifinalists

Members of the and third-place and fourth-place finalist teams will each receive a $100 Amazon.com gift card.

Instructions

Coaches can register their teams at the Institute of Competition Sciences. Read the problem, and get started! Good luck. Please send any questions to info@harlaninstitute.org.

Harlan Institute-Ashbrook Virtual Supreme Court Championship Round

June 17, 2022
The topic for the 10th Annual Harlan Institute-Ashbrook Virtual Supreme Court competition was NYS Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. On April 25, 2022, the top two teams presented argument at the Georgetown Supreme Court Institute. Presiding were Judge Neomi Rao (U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit), Judge Gregory Maggs (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces), and Judge Stephen S. Schwartz (U.S. Court of Federal Claims). Representing the Petitioners were Campbell Collins & Gabriella Lovins from Austin, Texas. Representing the Respondents were Arjun Kishore & Nicole Orlofsky from Greenwich, Connecticut. After a well-argued match, the Petitioners narrowly prevailed, and Campbell Collins was selected as best oralist. The students are truly phenomenal, and could participate in any law school moot court competition. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoGApULpQfM Congratulations to all of the the students, coaches, and parents, who participated. After the argument, we took pictures outside the Supreme Court--thankfully before the barricades went up. We plan to launch next year's tournament in August. The topic will be the Harvard and UNC affirmative action cases.

Harlan Institute-Ashbrook Virtual Supreme Court Round of 8

February 28, 2022
The topic for the 10th Annual Harlan Institute-Ashbrook Virtual Supreme Court competition is NYS Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. This past weekend, the top eight teams of high school students presented oral arguments. Truly, these high school students could compete in any law school moot court competition, and in some federal courts of appeals. The Round of 4 will be held in two weeks.

Round of 8 Match #1

Team 8882 v. Team 8889 [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7HZJtneC6Y[/embed]   Round of 8 Match #2 Team 8478 v. Team 9135 [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgQdcruNLG8[/embed]   Round of 8 Match #3 Team 8955 v. Team 9129 [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7J4qnvL2dI[/embed]   Round of 8 Match #4

Team 8673 v. Team 8886

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14LhDoLaszE[/embed]  

Harlan Institute-Ashbrook Virtual Supreme Court Semifinalists

February 14, 2022
The topic for the 10th Annual Harlan Institute-Ashbrook Virtual Supreme Court competition is NYS Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. This past weekend, twenty-five teams of high school students presented oral arguments in the semifinal round. The teams were superb. Truly, these high school students could compete in any law school moot court competition. The Round of 8 will be held in two weeks.

Semifinal Match #1

Team #8821 v. Team #8716

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUGjw_Wr8io[/embed] Semifinal Match #2 Team #8715 v. Team #8977 [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGCXQ2qD-yU[/embed] (more…)

The 10th Annual Harlan Institute-Ashbrook Virtual Supreme Court

October 4, 2021

The Harlan Institute and Ashbrook are pleased to announce the Tenth 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 New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc v. Bruen.

The competition is endorsed by the Center for Civic Education's We The People Competition:

The Virtual Supreme Court Competition helps students gain the skills they need to understand, synthesize, and advocate for reasoned legal positions on timely and relevant constitutional issues, and in doing so deepens their commitment to the rule of law. The program directly supports the highest goals of the Center for Civic Education to develop enlightened and responsible members of our society, and it is a privilege to be a part of this important work

-.Christopher R. Riano
President, The Center for Civic Education Member
Board of Advisors, The Harlan Institute

 

The Question

Resolved:  

Whether the Second Amendment allows the government to prohibit a law-abiding person from carrying handguns outside the home for self-defense

Tournament Instructions

Using historical materials related to the Second Amendment, and the precedents of the United States Supreme Court, teams of two high-school students will write an appellate brief, and present oral arguments, addressing this question:

  • Does the Second Amendment allow the government to prohibit a law-abiding person from carrying handguns outside the home for self-defense?

Petitioners will argue that the Second Amendment prohibits states from denying a law-abiding person a license to carry a handgun outside the home.

Respondents will argue that the Second Amendment does not prohibit states from denying a law-abiding person a license to carry a handgun outside the home.

Phase 1 - Research and Write Your Brief

Coaches can register their teams at the Institute of Competition Sciences. After registering, teachers should contact the Harlan Institute and Ashbrook at info@HarlanInstitute.org. We will assign teams to argue on behalf of the Petitioners or the Respondents.

Teams will research and write their briefs. The brief must be a minimum of 2,000 words. Please download this template. The brief should have the following sections:

  1. Table of Cited Authorities: List all of the original sources, and other documents you cite in your brief.
  2. Summary of Argument: State your position succinctly in 250 words or less.
  3. Argument: Structure your argument based on at least five primary historical sources and at least three Supreme Court precedents. The more authorities you cite, the stronger your argument will be–and the more likely your team will advance.
  4. Conclusion: Summarize your argument, and argue how the Supreme Court should decide this issue.

Be sure to proofread your work. The work must be yours, and you may not seek help from anyone else–including attorneys or law students. Students who submit plagiarized briefs will be disqualified.

Please review the winning submissions from previous years:

Phase 2 - Virtual Mentoring

Teams that register before November 1, 2021 will be invited to participate in a virtual mentoring session. These sessions will be hosted during the week of November 15, 2021. The Harlan Institute will match each class with a mentor from our network. These sessions will be helpful to finalize your briefs and prepare your preliminary round arguments.

Phase 3 - Preliminary Round

For the preliminary round, each team must prepare a YouTube video. The argument must be at least 15 minutes in length. Coaches will ask their students the following ten questions:

  1. What does the Second Amendment protect?
  2. Why did the Framers include the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights?
  3. What are the limits of the Second Amendment's protection?
  4. What weapons does the term "arms" include?
  5. What is the difference, if any, between the verbs "keep" and "bear"?
  6. What is a militia and why did the Framers refer to it in the Second Amendment?
  7. How should courts determine if a gun control regulation is considered "long standing"?
  8. What is strict scrutiny? Intermediate scrutiny? Rational-basis review?
  9. Is there a difference between openly-carrying a firearm, and conceal-carrying a firearm?
  10. How should the Court consider the public safety implications of licenses to carry firearms?

Teams will upload a PDF of their brief, as well as a link to their YouTube video to the Institute of Competition Sciences. The deadline for the preliminary round will be December 15, 2021.

Phase 4 - Virtual Rounds

We will hold the Virtual Rounds over Zoom:

  • 2/12/22 and 2/13/22: Semifinal Round
  • 3/5/22 and 3/6/22: Round of 8
  • 3/19/22 and 3/20/22: Round of 4

This video offers five tips to prepare for oral argument:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtxQ8b1bwfM

Phase 5 - Championship Round Rounds

The top teams will receive a free trip to Washington, D.C. to argue the championship round before federal judges on April 25-26, 2022.Good luck! And register today.

[gallery size="medium" ids="8133205,8133210,8133206,8133201,8133204,8133207,8133208,8133209,8133211"]

The Prizes

Grand Prize - The Solicitors General of FantasySCOTUS

The members of top Petitioner and Respondent teams will be invited to attend the Ashbrook Academy on the Supreme Court and the Constitution in June 2022. Ashbrook will cover reasonable travel costs to the academy. Members of the winning team will each receive a $500 Amazon gift card. Members of the runner-up team will each receive a $250 Amazon.com gift card.

Semifinalists

Members of the four finalist teams will each receive a $100 Amazon.com gift card.

Instructions

Coaches can register their teams at the Institute of Competition Sciences. Read the problem, and get started! Good luck. Please send any questions to info@harlaninstitute.org.

The 2020 Harlan Institute-Ashbrook Virtual Supreme Court Championship Round

June 14, 2021
In April, we hosted the semifinal rounds for the Harlan Institute-Ashbrook Virtual Supreme Court competition. And in May, we hosted the Elite 8 Round. These higher-schoolers are remarkable. They could compete, and win, a law school moot court competition. And they could out-argue most attorneys before the courts of appeals. Today, we hosted the championship round. We had an all-Ohio panel in honor of our partnership with Ashbrook. Presiding over the match were Judges Batchelder and Readler from the Sixth Circuit, and Justice Fischer from the Ohio Supreme Court. The winning team was from Frisco CTE Center in Frisco, Texas (Anita Ashok and Kashish Bastola). And the runner-up team was from BASIS Peoria in Peoria, Arizona (Senou Kounouho and Ayaan Siddiqui). Picking a winner was really tough. The scores were very close, and there was a split decision. Further praise is warranted for Senou, who was the best oralist. Watching these bright young students gives me hope for the future of our republic. We hope to launch the next competition earlier than usual, in August or September. If you are interested in volunteering, please reach out to me.

The 2020 Harlan Institute-Ashbrook Virtual Supreme Court Elite 8 Round

May 2, 2021
Last month, we hosted the semifinal rounds for the Harlan Institute-Ashbrook Virtual Supreme Court competition. And this past weekend, we hosted the Elite 8 Round. These higher-schoolers are remarkable. They could compete, and win, a law school moot court competition. And they could out-argue most attorneys before the courts of appeals. I am deeply grateful to our stellar roster of judges. Presiding over the first match was Deputy Solicitor General Rebecca Taibleson, who argued Torres, and prevailed. Chris Riano, the President of the Center for Civic Education, presided over the third and fourth matches. And we had a cadre of five law professors rounding out the benches. I judged, along with my colleagues from the South Texas College of Law Houston, Geoff Corn and Amanda Peters. And we were lucky to have Professor Josh Kastenberg from the University of New Mexico and Rachel VanLandingham from Southwestern. All of these judges (present company excluded) were former prosecutors/and or defense attorneys. They brought their considerable experience to the tournament. And the students faced red-hot benches. We had four matches. And as fate would have it, the Petitioner and Respondent teams from Match #1 have both advanced to the championship round. And these teams also faced off against each other in the semifinal round. In total, they will compete against each other three times. Congratulations to Senou Kounouho and Ayaan Siddiqui from BASIS Peoria in Arizona and Anita Ashok and Kashish Bastola from Frisco CTE Center in Texas. We will have more details about the final match shortly. Here are the videos from the rounds.

Match #1

Petitioner: Team 7872

Respondent: Team 7852

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjMje-tS-lE&feature=youtu.be&ab_channel=JoshBlackman[/embed]

Match #2

Petitioner: Team 7857

Respondent: Team 7976

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnYPXr3bvKA&ab_channel=JoshBlackman[/embed] (more…)

The 2020 Harlan Institute-Ashbrook Virtual Supreme Court Semifinal Rounds

April 12, 2021
This past weekend, we hosted the semifinal rounds for the Harlan Institute-Ashbrook Virtual Supreme Court competition. The teams were superb. Truly, these high school students could compete in any law school moot court competition. We will announce the advancing teams shortly. Here, I would like to thank all of the judges who volunteered their time: John Sparks, Ryan Brown, Christopher Riaño, Jen Deibel, Samantha Vajskop, Curtis Herbert, and Rebecca Taibleson. We are especially grateful to Deputy SG Taibleson, who argued Torres, and prevailed!

Match #1

Petitioner: Team 8006

  • School: West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North
  • Students: Rithika Iyengar and Siddharth Satish
  • Location: Plainsboro Township, New Jersey
  • Petitioner Brief
  • Preliminary Round

Respondent: Team 7860

 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bOmHHkxb9Y&ab_channel=JoshBlackman  

Match #2

Petitioner: Team 7872

Respondent: Team 7852

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2KJQo2sj3M&ab_channel=JoshBlackman (more…)

The Top 12 Respondent Teams in The 2020 Harlan Institute-Ashbrook Virtual Supreme Court

April 2, 2021

In October, the Harlan Institute and Ashbrook announced the Eighth 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 Torres v. Madrid.
We are proud to announce the top 12 respondent teams that will advance to the next round. Here are their preliminary oral argument videos, and their briefs. We announced the top 12 petitioner teams here.

Team 7476

  • School: Pine Crest School
  • Students: Pedro Ribeiro and Yuvraj Tuli
  • Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • Respondent Brief
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihuBNEAQIvA

Team 7810

  • School: Eastside Catholic High School
  • Students: Sam Niehl and Ruoya Huang
  • Location: Sammamish, Washington
  • Respondent Brief
[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jIVAEMFQGc&ab_channel=SharonHuang[/embed] (more…)

The Top 12 Petitioner Teams in The 2020 Harlan Institute-Ashbrook Virtual Supreme Court

April 2, 2021
In October, the Harlan Institute and Ashbrook announced the Eighth 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 Torres v. Madrid. We are proud to announce the top 12 petitioner teams that will advance to the next round. Here are their preliminary oral argument videos, and their briefs. We will announce the top 12 respondent teams in another post.

Team 7847

  • School: The Founders Academy
  • Students: Francesca Vesey and James Inamorati
  • Location: Manchester, New Hampshire
  • Petitioner Brief
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-vR-yJ7Hbs&ab_channel=F.M.Vesey

Team 7855

  • School: Creekview High School
  • Students: Jaqueline Aleman and Daniel Sawyers
  • Location: Carrolton, Texas
  • Petitioner Brief
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tzU1AVDkMY&ab_channel=JonathanRay (more…)