Oct 28, 2008

Free speech? Liberty hosts moot Supreme Court case

by Drew Menard

Liberty University School of Law will be hosting a moot court for an upcoming Supreme Court case, which could greatly impact future free speech cases. On Wednesday, Oct. 29, from 2-4 p.m., the Law School will host Jay Sekulow in its Supreme Courtroom, which is modeled after the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sekulow will be presenting his oral argument of a real case to a panel of Liberty Law faculty members acting as Supreme Court justices. Sekulow will be giving his presentation in the Supreme Court on Nov. 12 in the case of Pleasant Grove City v. Summum.

Mathew Staver, dean of the Liberty University School of Law, will be acting as the chief justice. The other eight justices will be represented by Liberty Law faculty members Judge Bob Ulrich, Judge Paul Spinden, Professor Philip Manns, Professor Shwan Akers, Professor Grant Rost, Professor Michael Sandez, Constitutional Law Attorneys Erik Stanley and Kelly Shackelford.

“Moot courts are vital to making winning arguments,” Staver said. “During these moot court practices, we hone and perfect the argument and the responses to the questions. This case will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court (and has) to be properly prepared.”

The case made its way to the Supreme Court after Summum, a cult religion, filed a suit against the city for “opening a forum for private speech on public property for permanent displays,” according to Staver. Summum had attempted to have its “seven Aphorisms” displayed next to a monument showing the Ten Commandments. The city refused to display its aphorisms in the two-and-a-half acre park, which presents 15 monuments depicting various aspects of local and state history.

“This case will have a significant impact on free speech cases,” Staver said.

Sekulow is the Chief Counsel for both the American (ACLJ) and European (ECLJ) Center for Law and Justice. He is a graduate ofMercer University and has a PhD from Regent University with a dissertation on American legal history. Sekulow is a “nationally recognized defender of religious freedom,” according to ACLJ.org. Sekulow opened the door for public school students to form Bible clubs and religious organizations on their school properties in the Mergens case. In his most recent case, Sekulow protected the constitutional rights of minors to participate in political campaigns after a unanimous decision in McConnell v. FEC.

“Our students are able to watch real cases with national significance being prepared right here on Liberty Mountain,” Staver said.

“When I created and designed the Supreme Courtroom, I envisioned that we would prepare some of the most important cases before the U.S. Supreme Court in this venue at Liberty University.”



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