J. Reuben Clark Law Society

Religious Freedom Moot Court Competition

For the past eight years, the J. Reuben Clark Law Society at the George Washington University Law School has hosted the National Religious Freedom Moot Court competition. Founded by JRCLS and GW Law alums, Marc Bohn and Sheldon Gilbert, the competition has grown to be the largest external moot court competition at GW. Much of the success of the competition reflects its unique position as the first moot court competition to be dedicated to the issue of religious freedom.
Twenty-eight teams from seventeen schools traveled from across the country to participate in the competition, arguing the merits of a hypothetical Washington, D.C. law that requires public school teachers and administrators to carry firearms in response to in-school violence, and the claims of conscience raised by religious and non-religious teachers who object to the statute's obligations. Competitors argued before panels of judges made up of influential practitioners in religious liberty law. Teams were required to argue both on-brief and off-brief and advanced based on their brief and oral advocacy scores.
The final round between teams from Notre Dame University Law School and Regent University Law School was argued before Judge David Sentelle of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Pamela Harris of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Don Willett of the Texas Supreme Court. Oral advocates Sarah Gallo and Patrick Duffey of Notre Dame along with brief writer, Jae Kim, won, and Regent University’s Paul Shakeshaft was awarded Best Oralist. St. Mary’s University was awarded Best Brief and the brief will be published in the Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion.
The competition concluded with a Café Rio-catered dinner where judges mingled with competitors and former colleagues to discuss the complexities of preserving religious freedom in a pluralistic society. The passionate exchanges between competitors and judges are indicative of the importance of these issues to our nation and the power of ongoing dialogue.
By Rachel Noteware

Posted: March 10, 2015