Talk about pressure.
They haven’t yet graduated from law school, and already four young Floridians will be arguing before U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
The argument won’t be taking place in Washington, but in Gainesville, Fla., at the University of Florida Levin College of Law.
The law school was lucky enough to land Roberts for its annual Justice Campbell Thornall Moot Court Final Four competition, to be held on Sept. 5. Joining Roberts on the moot court panel will be judges Peter T. Fay, Rosemary Barkett and Susan H. Black of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, all University of Florida Law graduates.
Apparently Roberts enjoys moot court competitions; he presided over one at Columbia Law School in New York City in April. UF Law was so thrilled to land Roberts that the school planned its annual fall competition around his schedule.
“To have the chief justice of our nation judge our Final Four Moot court Competition is a great privilege for our students and the University of Florida,” said Robert Jerry, dean of the College of Law, in a written statement. “It is a tremendous understatement to say that it has elevated both the significance of this annual event and the anxiety levels of our student competitors.”
In the University of Florida’s moot court competition — held every fall — four students are given a hypothetical case and asked to write an appellate brief, which is worth about 40% of the final score. After the brief is submitted, the students prepare and argue two 10-minute oral arguments, which are worth about 30% each. The students first argue against the position of their brief, then later in support of the position they took in their brief.
According to college spokeswoman Lindy Brounley, Roberts will not give interviews or allow photography during the event, but could “give hints regarding his judicial philosophy during his interactions with the competing students and fellow jurists on the panel.”
That could prove particularly interesting, since this year’s argument will concern First Amendment issues surrounding an imaginary “Choose Life” license plate in a fictional case pitting the Department of Motor Vehicles against Planned Parenthood.
The students — who are already likely burning the midnight oil and reworking their résumés — are Kevin Combest, Robert Davis, Cary Aronovitz and Tara Nelson. The alternate is Vincent Galluzo.
Some 1,500 people are expected to attend the competition, including much of the law school’s 1,300 students.