United States Air Force Academy

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Department of Law

MOOT COURT TEAM

The United States Air Force Academy Moot Court Team had another outstanding season competing against undergraduate teams from schools around the nation.

This season’s problem, developed by the American Collegiate Moot Court Association (ACMA), involved two complex issues in a fictional case appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court: whether a state statute posed an undue burden upon women’s right to an abortion in violation of the substantive due process guarantees of the 14th Amendment, and whether that statute violated the free speech rights of licensed physicians under the 1st Amendment.

In moot court tournaments, two-person teams, each arguing one issue, compete against other teams in front of “Supreme Court Justices” (who typically are lawyers, law professors, or judges). The “Justices” declare a winner after scoring on four criteria: knowledge of subject matter; response to questions; forensic skill and courtroom demeanor; and organization, logic, and clarity of argument. A tournament spans two days. The first day has three preliminary rounds, with each team arguing the petitioner and respondent’s side once, and a coin-flip deciding which side the team argues in the third round. The coin flip format places a premium on cadets’ knowledge of the case and mental agility in arguing either side with very little notice. At the end of the first day, the outstanding advocates are determined, and teams with sufficiently good records advance to the single-elimination rounds the next day.

All team members were hand selected for the team.

The Academy moot court program, in only its sixth year, is continuing its tradition of excellence. The achievements of the program over those six years are extraordinary, including four-time regional championships; many individual awards at regional and national tournaments; multiple awards for top-5 briefs in the nation; and earned bids to, and accolades at, the national tournament. Additionally, the Academy moot court program is now ranked #9 in the country. Even the cadets who did not earn bids to nationals tremendously improved their oral communication skills. The thinking, speaking, and writing skills that led to this remarkable record are developed throughout DFL’s robust Legal Studies program. It is a testament to the strength of that program, the DFL faculty, and our cadets that our teams have been able to perform so magnificently at the highest levels. The young and small moot court team is truly developing a national reputation.