Advocating constitutional education

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Constitution Day 2012 was livened with a Moot Court demonstration by the Law Club.

Members of SVSU’s Moot Court team debated cases regarding the First and the 14th amendments, focusing on a university admission policy that gives preferential treatment to male students over female students to alleviate an imbalance in the genders.

John Kaczynski, director for the Center of Public Policy and Service, said it is important to learn about the Constitution.

“Every American should understand not only the context of the Constitution and the way it was written and the intent of the document, but how it really affects us each day,” he said.

The Valley Vanguard

Vanguard photo | Taylor LaPlace

The SVSU Moot Court team debated university admission policies to celebrate Constitution Day and prepare for the national Moot Court competition.

Kaczynski said the day also celebrates U.S. citizenship and those who strive to achieve it.

“We are naturally born American citizens,” he said. “We never have to jump through the hoops and hurdles of taking a citizenship test, or having to worry about a green card or visa to be able to work in this wonderful country of ours.”

Saginaw Valley has held an event to commemorate Constitution Day every year since 2005 on September 17, the day the U.S. Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution in 1787.

According to Kaczynski, this year’s event allowed students to learn about Saginaw Valley’s Moot Court program.

“It’s one of the top programs in the country,” he said.

In 2010, the SVSU’s Moot Court team qualified for the national competition in its first year as a program. Last year, three SVSU teams qualified for nationals, and 2012 computer science graduate Joe Chrysler capturing a first place orator’s award in the regional competition that included 116 students.

In a Moot Court competition, students act as attorneys in teams of two. They make arguments to a panel of judges by drawing from constitutional law and Supreme Court cases. Judges then decide winners based on public speaking ability, knowledge of cases and of law and the ability to answer questions.

Monday’s demonstration focused on two gender-based issues: college admission based on gender and whether registered student organizations can be exclusive to either women or men.

Each side had two advocates who argued their points for seven minutes each. The petitioner argued for those affected by the gender policies, while the respondent represented the fictional Olympus State University. The teams were questioned during their arguments by three judges, who later discussed each team’s strengths and weaknesses.

The cases presented are the actual cases the Moot Court team will be arguing during competition in November.

Political science senior Jordan Woods said the event gave her good insight into what to expect from Moot Court.

“It is good for me to see how other people were going to take it, how the judges react and how they keep going with questions like that,” Woods said.

Woods said learning about the Constitution is a worthy goal.

“I feel like students are slowly becoming less involved in the Constitution,” she said. “I think doing a demonstration like this actually helps.”

Nikki Jamison, accounting sophomore, agreed.

“I didn’t really know what Constitution Day was,” she said. “I’d heard people say Constitution Day, but no one really ever talks about it.”

Kaczynski said Constitution Day allows students to reflect and realize that the Constitution is an important document.

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