The question of whether a constitutional right to privacy includes use of contraception will be among the legal issues analyzed when Fitchburg State University hosts the American Moot Court Association’s Eastern Regional Tournament on Friday, Nov. 17 and Saturday, Nov. 18.
Competing students are judged on their oral and written arguments on opposing sides of legal principles, with this year’s tournament case posing questions about access to contraception and the intersection of law and religious belief. During the competition, the students will present arguments and answer questions from a panel of judges, as in an appellate court proceeding.
The teams with the highest scores at the regional tournament will move onto the national finals in January.
Fifty teams of students representing 17 colleges and universities will gather for the regional tournament this month, including five students from Fitchburg State.
“My kids have worked hard,” said Professor Paul Weizer of Fitchburg State’s Economics, History and Political Science Department, who founded and coaches the university’s moot court program. “I’m proud to have them represent Fitchburg State and am confident that they will be ready.”
Lydia Palmer, a senior from Ashby, competed in last year’s tournament and hopes to advance to the nationals this year. “This class has taught me invaluable research skills, an understanding of the law that no other class could give, as well as a chance to develop my leadership skills as team captain this year,” said Palmer, who is studying pre-law with a minor in political science. “As with representing any institution in competition, it is an honor.”
Adam Quinlan, a sophomore from Westford, said he joined moot court to prepare himself for law school after completing his bachelor’s degree, and that the experience has already improved his confidence in public speaking, among other valuable skills. He added that he was grateful for Dr. Weizer’s support in encouraging him to give it a try.
“Honestly when I began moot court the idea of representing Fitchburg State in such a large competition was very intimidating,” Quinlan said. “I felt like I was just a kid who likes arguing, staring at this mile-tall wall that is the rest of the nation’s competitors. As I have progressed in moot court I have begun to understand that I do deserve a seat at the table in a national competition, and I have felt overwhelmingly proud to represent Fitchburg State in such a large scale tournament.”
Fitchburg State’s Moot Court program launched in 2000 and has advanced teams to the national competition in almost every year of its existence. Earlier this year, the American Moot Court Association ranked Fitchburg State in its top 25 programs nationwide in appellate brief writing.