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2015 Harlan Institute-ConSource Virtual Supreme Court Competition: Round 1

May 16, 2015
Check your brackets! The 2015 Harlan Institute-ConSource Virtual Supreme Court Competition is underway. This year our students have submitted briefs and made oral arguments concerning Zivotofsky v. Kerry. We are currently judging Round 1, featuring the top 16 teams in the country--8 Petitioner teams and 8 Respondent teams. The top 8 teams from this round will advance to the next round, and get one step closer to winning the entire tournament.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 Check out the videos and briefs from the students below, and tell us what you think! Brackets-5-16

1st Circuit

Petitioner #1: Diana O & Mitchell M (OR) 

Respondent #1:  Emily D. & Camryn C. (MD)

Petitioner #2: Jered J. & Taylor H. (TX)

Respondent #2:  Katie B. & Jung O. (MD) 

2nd Circuit

Petitioner #3: Victoria M. & Hayley B. (MD)

Respondent #3: Emily K. & Evan M. (OR)

Petitioner #4: David E. & Nick P. (MD)

Respondent #4: Jacob S. & Danielle T. (TX)

3rd Circuit

Petitioner #5: Azhar A. & Blake V. (TX)

Respondent #5: Briana B. & Apeksha G. (MD)

Petitioner #6: Zohar H. & Sarah T. (OR)

Respondent #6: Rachel B. & Steve L. (MD)

4th Circuit

Petitioner #7: Kole H. & Matt W. (WV)

Respondent #7: Connor R. & Brandon J. (TX)

Petitioner #8: Brendan O. & Dominique P. (TX)

Respondent #8: Ammas T. & Max G. (OR)

 

Announcing the Third Annual Harlan Institute – ConSource Virtual Supreme Court Competition for High School Students

September 2, 2014

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!”

 Teachers interested in participating should sign up at www.HarlanInstitute.org, add an account, read the problem, and get started!

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

Congratulations to the Winners of the Harlan Institute-ConSource Virtual Supreme Court Competition

June 3, 2014
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: "ResolvedWhat is the scope of the President’s recess appointment power?" Uma1 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:
  • Grand Prize - Michelle McEvoy and Uma Chatterjee, Frisco CTE, Frisco, TX. Here is their brief supporting the Respondent. Michelle and Uma won a free trip to Washington, D.C. to attend ConSource's 2014 Constitution Day celebration.
  • Second Prize - Dante Barnes and Peter Kim, Wicomico HS, Wicomico, MD. Here is their brief supporting the Petitioner. Dante and Peter each won an iPad.
  • Third Prize - Luke Segovia and Jacob Shaw, Del Valle HS, Del Valle, HS. Here is their brief supporting the Petitioner. Luke and Jacob each won a $100 Amazon Gift Card.
  • Honorable Mention - Jennifer Gomez and Jason Cano, Del Valle HS, Del Valle, HS. Here is their brief supporting the Respondent.
michelle1Congratulations 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. Dante1   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:

Grand Prize - Frisco CTE, Frisco, TX

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. image (1)

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. Dante

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.

peter-kim

Announcing the 2014 Harlan Institute-ConSource Virtual Supreme Court Competition

October 6, 2013

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

The Question

Resolved: What is the scope of the President's recess appointment power?

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

Stage Two: Oral Arguments

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 first round of oral arguments, the District court, will match up the top eight teams, in March of 2014.
  • The four teams that advance will meet up in the second round of oral arguments, the Court of Appeals, in April of 2014.
  • The top two teams that advance will meet in the final round of oral arguments, the Supreme Court, in May of 2014. These two teams will compete virtually in front of a panel of prominent appellate attorneys. You can see the video from the 2013 Competition here. 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 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.

Second Prize

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

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.  

Dallas Morning News Covers Harlan Institute-ConSource Virtual Supreme Court Competition

May 8, 2013
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: More coverage from Frisco ISD, ConSource, and the Storm Lake Pilot Tribune.

Texas High School Students Win 2013 ConSource-Harlan Institute Virtual Supreme Court Competition

April 24, 2013
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/scoreboard/), legal experts at ConSource and the Harlan Institute selected the top brief-writing teams to participate in the oral argument round of the competition. 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.org/contests/virtual-supreme-court/, http://harlaninstitute.org/2013/04/22/live-the-2013-harlan-institute-consource-virtual-supreme-court-competition-fisher-v-university-of-texas-austin/ Interested in coaching a team of students for the 2014 Virtual Supreme Court Competition? Email ConSource Executive Director Julie Silverbrook at Julie.Silverbrook@consource.org or Harlan Institute President Josh Blackman atJBlackman@harlaninstitute.org.

Live: The 2013 Harlan Institute – ConSource Virtual Supreme Court Competition: Fisher v. University of Texas, Austin

April 22, 2013

The Harlan Institute-ConSource Virtual Supreme Court Competition

The Harlan Institute has partnered with The Constitutional Sources Project (ConSource) to host the inaugural 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 Fisher v. University of Texas.

Resolved: Is the Fourteenth Amendment Color-Blind?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Introduction: 10:15-11:20 EDT

Josh Blackman, The Harlan Institute

Championship Round: 10:20-1045

Team 1 (Petitioner - Fisher) v. Team 2 (Respondent - Texas)

Team 1 (Petitioner): DJ Anderson & Jason Parson (Frisco CTE Center, Frisco, Texas)

Team 2 (Respondent): Sarah Sietmann, Konnor Rodriguez (Frisco CTE Center, Frisco, Texas)

Judges:

  • Petitioner-Anderson (5 minutes)

  • Respondent-Sietmann (5 minutes)

  • Petitioner-Parson, Rebuttal (3 minutes)

  • Respondent- Rodriguez, Rebuttal (3 minutes)

Runner-Up Round:10:45-11:10

Team 1 (Petitioner - Fisher) v. Team 2 (Respondent - Texas)

Team 1 (Petitioner): Katie Gibson, Amber Decker (Sioux Central High School, Sioux Rapids, Iowa)

Team 2 (Respondent): Baylee Hammonds and D. Wiggins (Frisco CTE Center, Frisco, Texas)

Judges:

 
  • Petitioner 1 (5 minutes)

  • Respondent-Hammonds (5 minutes)

  • Petitioner 2 (3 minutes)

  • Respondent-Wiggins (3 minutes)

 

Concluding Remarks: 11:10-11:15

Julie Silverbrook, ConSource

The October 2012 Season of FantasySCOTUS Starts Today – Grand Prize: All-Expenses Paid Trip to Washington, D.C. for Constitution Day 2013

October 1, 2012
In honor of the start of the Supreme Court's term today (the First Monday in October!), the Harlan Institute's OT 2012 season begins today. We are offering offering three contests this season: Fantasy Predictions, Fantasy Blogs & Badges, and our Virtual Supreme Court--the grand prize is an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. for Constitution Day 2013 for the winning team. Teachers--sign up today for our free programs.

Fantasy Predictions

FantasySCOTUS Predictions challenges students to make predictions about pending Supreme Court cases and write analytical blog posts exploring the different constitutional issues in the cases. After studying cases currently pending before the Court with these lesson plans, students will make predictions about how each of the nine Justices will vote. Based on the individual student predictions, each class will submit a set of group predictions for each case. All predictions will be due by March, 31, 2012.    

Fantasy Blogs & Badges

In addition to making predictions, each class will write a series of analytical blog posts for each case.  By signing up your class for FantasySCOTUS, you will automatically receive a free WordPress blog hosted at the Harlan Institute. All Blog posts will be due by March 31, 2013. The winner of the FantasySCOTUS Blogs & Badges Contest will be determined based on the class with the most points from badges on May 15, 2015. The top class in the United States will be awarded the “Chief Justice” Prize, an iPad.  

Virtual Supreme Court

The Harlan Institute has partnered with The Constitutional Sources Project (ConSource) to host the inaugural 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 Fisher v. University of Texas.

ResolvedIs the Fourteenth Amendment Color-Blind?

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 on September 17, 2013.

 

Nate Silver Writes on New York Times Blog About The Wise High Schoolers Who Predicted On FantasySCOTUS

June 30, 2012
Who came out looking better than the pundits? Interestingly, it may be high school students. High school students participating in a Supreme Court “fantasy league”sponsored by the nonprofit Harlan Institute had been about evenly divided in predicting the court’s decision, with 57 percent thinking the mandate would be overturned and 43 percent saying it would be upheld. Nor did the oral arguments in the case, which substantially affected the conventional wisdom, alter the students’ opinions much. Instead, they had seen the case as a tossup from the beginning. I suspect these students would have been wise enough to avoid some of the counterintuitive speculation about the decision’s political effects that you will now be seeing on television.
Read more at 538 Blog.

Final FantasySCOTUS.net Predictions for Health Care Cases #SCOTUS

June 28, 2012
In approximately twelve hours, the Supreme Court will decide the consolidated Health Care Cases. Here are our final predictions. The mandate is going to be struck down, and it will be severed.
The threshold question is whether the suit is permitted by the Anti-Injunction Act? The 11th Circuit held that suit was not barred by the AIA.
  • 94.28% predict that the suit can proceed, notwithstanding the AIA.
  • 5.72% predict that the suit will be barred by the AIA
Since oral argument, the numbers have increased somewhat as to whether the AIA will serve as a jurisdictional bar.
The most critical question is whether the individual mandate exceeds Congress’ powers, and is unconstitutional. The 11th Circuit held that the mandate exceeded Congress’s powers and is unconstitutional.
  • 57.14% predict that the Court will find the mandate unconstitutional.
  • 42.86% predict that the Court will uphold the mandate.
  • Of particular interest, 58.1% of members predict that Justice Kennedy will vote to strike down the mandate. Chief Justice Roberts, as well as Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito are all predicted to strike down the mandate at 72.1%, 82.9%, 89.0%, and 83.4% respectively.
Following oral argument, the percentage of voters who think the mandate will be struck down as jumped from about 51% to 57%. There has been a lot of movement in the last week or so.
Assuming the mandate is unconstitutional, the Court will next consider whether the mandate is severable from the remainder of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. The 11th Circuit held that the mandate was severable.
  • 68.67% predict that the Court will sever the mandate from PPACA.
  • 31.33% predict that the Court will find that the mandate is not severable.
  • Of note, 67.5% of members predict that Justice Kennedy will vote to find the mandate severable.
The severability numbers have dropped, while the mandate unconstitutional numbers has increased. This tells me that people think that the entire ACA is going down.
The final question is whether the expansion of Medicaid is constitutional. The 11th Circuit found that the expansion was in fact constitutional.
  • 74.38% predict that the Court will uphold the Medicaid expansion.
  • 25.62% predict that the Court will find the Medicaid expansion unconstitutional.

This is really the sleeper issue. The numbers dropped right after argument, but have leveled off.