On November 8 and 9, Loras College will host the Upper Midwest Regional Moot Court Tournament. This is one of ten qualifying tournaments being held in the country for the National Competition in Tempe, Arizona, in January.
Moot Court is an academic competition in which students compete in teams to deliver an argument on specific constitutional issues before the Supreme Court of the United States. It is typically an exercise implemented by law school students. However, the American Collegiate Moot Court Association (ACMA), founded in 2001, brings this activity to the undergraduate level.
Loras College is preparing four teams to compete for qualification to the national competition. Loras College has made it to nationals three out of the past five years. Last year, the team of Bo Anderson
(’13) and Dale Elenteny
(‘14) (Lemont, Ill.) made it into round 32, and Anderson
received an honorable mention for his oration skills. Elenteny will be competing again this year with Blake Gibney
(’16) (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), and Jessie Donels
(’14) (Center Point, Iowa), in the hopes of bettering last year’s placement. Megan Horst
(’14) (Vinton, Iowa), and Brandy Rubin
(’17) (Niles, Ill.), will also be competing this weekend.
In preparation, students have worked with Christopher Budzisz
, Ph.D., associate professor of politics and current chair of Division of Social and Cultural Studies at Loras, and Deone Merkel
, Circulation Supervisor and Adjunct Instructor of Communication and Fine Arts. “Students who choose to compete in Moot Court gain practical experience in presentation, argumentation, critical and analytical thinking, and ideological expression. Additionally, we spend hours with these students talking about the issues they are charged with presenting in their competition. It is a great opportunity to discuss ethical implications, concepts of politics, and legal dynamics,” Merkel explains.
This year’s case involves a U.S. citizen whose location was tracked via his cell phone. The government did not have a warrant for this surveillance, and used the technology to track the individual to a meeting where the FBI identified a couple of arms dealers who were believed to have ties to al-Qaeda and associated terrorist groups. Before the conclusion of his trial, the President of the United States labeled the individual an unprivileged enemy combatant (as part of the ongoing War on Terror) and sent him to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for indefinite detention. The case deals with two questions:
Did the warrantless surveillance of the cell phone's location violate the 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizures?
Did the president exceed his authority when he ordered the indefinite detention of the individual?
Donels is looking forward to competing in the tournament. “This is an opportunity not only to argue (which I love) against talented competition from across the Midwest, but a chance to apply the critical thinking and reasoning skills I’ve learned at Loras. Few private colleges give their pre-law students such a good opportunity to prepare themselves for law school as moot court. I hope to represent Loras well this weekend.”
Spectators are welcome at any point in the tournament and may report to the Academic Resource Center to be directed to one of the courtrooms. Rounds on Friday start at 2:30, 3:45, and 5 pm and on Saturday the rounds are at 8:30 am, 9:45 am, 11 am, and 1 pm.
Loras College is committed to providing an atmosphere and various opportunities for students to develop analytical, communications, and social skills in order to gain experience and be prepared for the future.