Students enrolled in Constitutional Law with History Department Chair Shelley Sallee, Ph.D., examined competing philosophies about judicial interpretation throughout fall term. Their work culminated on Oct. 19, when they held a moot court, a simulated court proceeding with oral arguments before a panel of judges.
To prepare for moot court, students examined a number of First Amendment cases involving freedom of religion, expression, assembly and the right to petition. With that foundation, they went on to study the Second Amendment, which protects the rights of citizens to bear arms or own weapons. They based their own moot court proceeding on New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, a pending U.S. Supreme Court case related to the Second Amendment.
Sallee divided students into two teams of attorneys and a team of justices who wore black legal robes as they heard oral arguments. To prep for their day in court, the teams spent hours researching case laws and refining their arguments.
According to Sallee, the purpose of the course is not to teach students case law per se, but to enhance their critical thinking skills, ability to conduct independent research and sustain logical arguments, and collaborate as a team.
The icing on the cake for her students? “It is far from ‘moot’ since the real Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the case on Nov. 3,” Sallee noted.