The Harlan Institute and The Constitutional Sources Project (ConSource) announce their Fifth 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 Trinity Lutheran Church v. Sarah Parker Pauley, exploring whether funding a playground associated with a Church violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
ConSource Executive Director Julie Silverbrook believes “the Virtual Supreme CourtCompetition 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 theVirtual Supreme Court Competition leave a lifelong impression on participating students and encourages them to stay informed and engaged throughout their lives.”
Tanya Reyna, a winner of the 2016 Virtual Supreme Court Competition, noted that while her local community in Texas suffers from “an influx of drugs and criminals” and has dampened her views about the future of her community and the nation, her experience with the Virtual Supreme Court Competition “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.”
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. or New York City to attend the ConSource Constitution Day celebration in September 2017. 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 theVirtual Supreme Court Competition, 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 HarlanInstitute.org, add an account, read the problem, and get started!