McGee Civil Rights Moot Court Competition Examines Defense of Marriage Act
MARCH 4, 2011—Thirty-seven teams from 24 law schools across the country competed in the 26th annual William E. McGee National Civil Rights Moot Court Competition held at the University of Minnesota Law School on Feb. 24-26, 2011.
This year’s competition problem was based upon Gill, et al. v. Office of Personal Management, 699 F.Supp.2d 374 (Mass. Dist. Ct. 2010) and Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. United States Department of Health and Human Services, 698 F.Supp.2d 234 (Mass. Dist. Ct. 2010). These cases focused on the definitions of “marriage” and “spouse” contained in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as being, respectively, a “legal union of a man and a woman as husband and wife” and a “person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife.” Teams were asked to address whether these definitions violate the Tenth Amendment by impinging on authority reserved to the states or the Equal Protection aspects of the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.
Top honors went to Washington University in St. Louis School of Law Team 2, with team member Mikela Sutrina receiving an honorable mention for her close finish in the Best Oral Advocate Overall category. Michigan State University College of Law took second place, and Chicago-Kent College of Law finished third. The University of Wisconsin Law School Team 1 took fourth place, and team member Samir Jaber was named both Best Oral Advocate of the Preliminary Rounds and Best Oral Advocate Overall. Campbell University School of Law Team 1 won Best Brief honors.
Other teams that advanced to the quarter-finals were Washington University in St. Louis School of Law Team 1, University of Oklahoma College of Law Team 2, Ohio State University Mortiz College of Law, and Brigham Young University Law School.
Other teams that advanced to the Round of Sixteen were Hamline University School of Law Teams 1 and 2, Campbell University School of Law Team 1, Brooklyn Law School, the University of Wisconsin Law School Team 2, the University of North Dakota School of Law Team 1, Washburn University School of Law, and South Texas College of Law Team 1.
The William E. McGee National Civil Rights Moot Court Competition is an interscholastic appellate moot court competition sponsored by the Law School. Its mission is to promote interest, reflection, and discourse on civil rights law among law students, law faculty, and practicing members of the bar and bench, and to provide opportunities for interested law students to develop the oral advocacy and writing skills essential to being successful appellate practitioners. Professor Carl M. Warren (’75) has been the advisor and overall competition supervisor for 19 years.
More than 140 attorneys and judges volunteered to judge the briefs and oral arguments at the competition. To express its appreciation for their service, the Law School offered the continuing legal and judicial education program, “I do. OH NO YOU DIDN’T! The Constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act” on Jan. 28, 2011.