American University’s Washington College of Law Wins 2019 Moot Court Competition

Abigail Kittredge and Stephen Moss of American University’s Washington College of Law were the winning team in 2019’s Seigenthaler-Sutherland National First Amendment Moot Court competition, held March 22-23.

The competition is co-sponsored by the First Amendment Center of the Freedom Forum Institute and by the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America (CUA).

Second place went to Brian Gibbons and Alicia Wolff of Loyola University Chicago College of Law. The other semifinalists were: Sydney Feldman and Jeanelle Gomez of the University of Miami School of Law; and Emma Cramer, Taylor Houston and Matthew Breen of Emory University School of Law.

In other competition honors, Sydney Feldman and Jeanelle Gomez of the University of Miami School of Law won the “Best Brief” award, with Taylor Schussel and Megan Pollastro of Brooklyn Law School taking the award for second place. Chris Conrad of Georgetown University Law Center won “Best Oralist” and Hannah Buzolitis of Michigan State College of Law won the runner-up award for “Best Oralist.”

The problem argued at this year’s competition involved a challenge to the constitutionality of a state university’s campus free speech policy. The competition was held days after President Trump signed an executive order demanding that colleges respect free speech rights in their policies and programs. The moot court issue involved the application of a university free speech policy to a student who chanted pro-immigration slogans during an anti-immigration speech delivered by a speaker invited by a student organization.

Competitors argued the first two rounds at the Columbus School of Law. The quarterfinal, semifinal and final rounds were argued at the Newseum.

The Seigenthaler-Sutherland National First Amendment Moot Court Competition is the product of the merger of CUA Law’s Sutherland Cup, the oldest continuous private moot court competition in the nation and the Newseum and Freedom Forum Institute’s Seigenthaler Cup, now in its 29th year. The Sutherland Cup was named for Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland. The Seigenthaler Cup honors John Seigenthaler, distinguished journalist and founder of the Institute’s First Amendment Center.

Several dozen lawyers and legal experts from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia judged the early rounds of the competition, including many Columbus School alumni.

Judges for the final rounds included members of federal and state district and appellate courts, including Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey, U.S. Circuit Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; Judge Marian Harrison, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for the Middle District of Tennessee; Judge Joseph Leeson Jr., U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania; Judge Thurman Rhodes, associate judge, District Court of Maryland; Judge Rodney Sippel, chief district judge for the Eastern District of Missouri and chair of the Judicial Branch committee of the Judicial Conference of the United States; Judge Jane Stranch, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; and Judge Paul R. Wallace, Superior Courts of Delaware.

Additional Judges

  • Freedom Forum Institute Trustee Jack Kirschenbaum, of the law firm Gray Robinson, Cocoa Beach and Melbourne, Fla.; Newseum Trustee Murray Garnick, executive vice president and general counsel for Altria Group, Inc.; Jan Neuharth, chair and CEO of the Freedom Forum; and James C. Duff, director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and former president and CEO of the Newseum and Freedom Forum Institute.
  • John H. Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America and former dean of Boston College Law School; and Sarah Duggin, adviser to the Columbus School of Law moot court team and law professor at CUA’s Columbus School of Law;
  • Gene Policinski, president of the Freedom Forum Institute; Lata Nott, executive director of the Institute’s First Amendment Center; and David Judson, First Amendment Scholar at the Institute and a law professor at Belmont University.

Final Round Video

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