Sunday, September 24, 2017

A New Semester Means New Things For The Moot Court Honor Society

Published: October 01, 2015

The Moot Court Honor Society is not just about bettering one’s advocacy skills, but also taking those skills and giving back to the community. During Constitution Week, Mesa College requested that Thomas Jefferson’s Moot Court Honor Society put on a demonstration on a topic of law relevant to constitutional rights; a request Moot Court members were more than happy to oblige with.

Moot Court’s President, Brian Del Vecchio, Vice President, Elizabeth Atkins, and Moot Court member, Donny Samporna argued Fisher v. University of Texas along with the assistance of Moot Court members Nadia Akaweih and Pua Uyehara.

During the demonstration, Samporna argued for Plaintiff, Fisher, while Atkins argued for Defendant, University of Texas. Del Vecchio served as Solicitor General and Akaweih and Uyehara assisted with practices and the facilitation of questions.

Fisher v. University of Texas is a constitutional law case pertaining to a Caucasian applicant, Fisher, who was denied admission to the state university. Fisher brought suit alleging that the university’s race-conscious admissions program violated her Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection.

In 1997, the year that Fisher had applied to the university, the Texas legislature had enacted a law that required the University to admit all high school seniors who ranked in the top ten percent of their high school. Fisher did not fall within the top ten percent.

For those students who did not fall into that category, the school would consider race, amongst a number of other factors, such as Personal Achievement scores, as factors for admission. Fisher believed that the consideration of race violated her Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection.

However, the district court did not agree as they decided in favor of the University.  Upon appeal, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision. However, Fisher appealed the court’s decision and the case found it’s way before the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court held that such cases were reviewable under the Fourteenth Amendment and that a strict scrutiny standard was to be applied in determining whether such policies are “precisely tailored to serve a compelling governmental interest.” The Court held that the lower courts had not properly conducted the strict scrutiny analysis in this case. 

What was most exciting for Moot Court members was having the chance to demonstrate their litigation skills as thought they were really presenting a case before a court.

In addition to the invaluable experience, Samporna, who argued for Fisher, really enjoyed the process of helping college students see how Moot Court works and what all it represents. Samporna said, “Helping non-legal minds develop an understanding and appreciation of laws and the legal process deepens my own appreciation for my chosen profession.”

Hopefully the demonstration inspired more than just Moot Courters but also the young minds at Mesa College hoping to pursue a career in the field of law.