On Friday and Saturday, Dec. 1-2, CSULB will host the American Collegiate Moot Court Association Western Regional, marking the fifth straight year it has been on campus. The competition will be held in the University Student Union. The event is free and open to the public. Three of the past four national champions have won the Western Regional en route to the national finals, including a team from CSULB that captured the title in 2002-03.
Moot Court, also known as mock Supreme Court or and Supreme Court Simulation, is a simulation of an appellate court proceeding. It involves teams of student contestants, clients burdened by a legal problem, briefs and oratory detailing the dimensions of the legal problem before an appellate court, and the judging of performances by panels of law students, attorneys, professors, law faculty, or, on occasion, members of the judicial branch of government.
On Friday, competition at CSULB will take place from 6-8 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Teams from colleges and universities throughout the nation will be arguing the same case. The case asks two questions – (1) whether the President has the authority under Article II of the United States Constitution and/or the Authorization of Military Force (AUMF) to conduct warrantless surveillance of American citizens and (2) whether the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution and/or the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) were violated by the warrantless surveillance of American citizens.
“Simply, this is asking if a lower court incorrectly interpreted the law or did the government do something unconstitutional,” said Lewis Ringel, a CSULB lecturer in political science who serves as the director of the university’s moot court program.
“This is judicial review. This particular topic can be a challenge because the case presents a subject and a scenario about which students interested in the law and/or politics generally have strong views. Professors like myself have to get students to put their preconceived notions aside and argue both sides with equal fervor – without prejudice or preference.”
Moot court teams are made up of two individuals and their combined oral argument must be 20 minutes, with each member of the two-person team presenting a minimum of seven minutes. Not knowing which viewpoint it will be presenting, each team should have the ability to support both arguments.
Approximately 16-20 teams will make up the Western Regional field, with seven of those from CSULB. Teams that finish in the top 25 percent of each regional automatically advance to the national tournament and the remainder of the 64-team field will be filled with at-large invitations.
The national tournament will be held on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 19-20, at Regent University Law School in Virginia Beach, Va.