The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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First Amendment Debated

University law school student finalists debated current constitutional issues in a mock trial before a panel of judges in the Honorable Milton Mollen Moot Court Competition September 10.

The moot court competition is an annual event for second year law students in the courts honor society. The graduate students began tryouts during the summer and competed since then to become one of the top  finalists.

Executive Director of the competition Gabriella Zahn, said the current competitors in this trial have a good chance of appearing in more esteemed competitions in the future.

“It’s a great competition,” she said “The people who you see here tonight usually end up going to the nationals or big prestigious external competitions later in the year.”

The trial consisted of a case regarding a high school student who posted racially motivated comments about Mexican students on a public blog as a result of getting rejected from a university and finding out those minorities in his community got acceptance despite the fact he obtained higher academic standings than those who got in.

The competitors argued to the four presiding judges of the case regarding ongoing issues of how it pertained to both the first and 14th amendment in relationship to whether a high school has the right to regulate what a student writes or says outside of campus. Additionally, if a university’s affirmative action policy violates student’s rights to equal treatment between all races.

Sam Bazian, a second year law student, said how important he felt the topic of the trial was to society today.

“I think that why this competition is so interesting is because its dealing with really important issues,” he said.

“I think the reason this competition is so interesting is because it’s dealing with really important issues,” he said. “These issues of free speech on campus is something that you figure the Supreme Court is going to have to decide sooner or later because blogs are all the rage now.”

Finalist David Hommel, a petitioner for the university concerning 14th amendment rights, spoke on how difficult it was for him to become a finalist.

“The road to get here was anything but easy,” he said.

“It took a lot of hard work over the summer and to working with moot court e-board as well as my colleagues and second year law students.”

Zahn concluded by saying she is looking forward to seeing even more attendance in further competitions.

“If anybody ever wants to come out and watch our internal competitions there is another one were doing in the spring. It’s open to the public, we like to fill the seats, everyone’s welcome.”

The national competition will be held Nov. 14 and 15.

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