While there, in addition to visiting several national monuments and museums, they will also meet with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, tour the Supreme Court, meet with U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado, and tour the Capitol. Associate Professor Melissa Hart, director of the Byron R. White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law at the CU Law School, will lead the students on the trip to participate in the National Marshall-Brennan Moot Court Competition. Eighteen of Hart’s law students have worked with 250 students at seven high schools since last September as part of the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project.
The literacy project, part of a national program, leads high school students through highlights of 39 of the most important Supreme Court cases affecting the rights and responsibilities of students. The second- and third-year law students also coached the students as they prepared for a moot court competition. The moot court will consider the question of whether the sentence of life without the possibility of parole for juveniles under the age of 18 who commit felony murder violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
“It is a really interesting question, very similar to two cases the Supreme Court actually heard arguments on last week,” Hart said. Isabella Solman, a senior at Lyons High School, said she has met with CU law students every Friday since September as part of her Advanced Placement government class. “They went through the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and different court cases that apply to students, that apply to our lives,” she said. The moot court case involves a hypothetical situation in which a student brings a gun to school, where it accidentally goes off and kills another student.
“You have to be ready to argue either side,” Solman said. “You get really into your side, so either one is interesting, after you study the facts enough.” Solmon said the competition has improved her public speaking and that she also has visited with law students on the CU-Boulder campus in order to practice. And while she has long been interested in going to graduate school, “I’d definitely consider going to law school now,” she added.
For more information on the National Marshall-Brennan Moot Court Competition visit http://www.wcl.american.edu/marshallbrennan/nat_competition.cfm. For more information on the Byron R. White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law visit click here.