INTERNATIONAL MOOT COURT COMPETITION IN BOLOGNA

An international Moot Court Competition in Law & Religion is being organized within the framework of the European Academy of Religion, in collaboration with the International Consortium for Law & Religion Studies.  The organizers gratefully acknowledge the financial and institutional support of the International Center for Law & Religion Studies.

 

The Program will run from March 6 to March 7 in Bologna, Italy. Teams from within and outside Europe will argue a case before either/both the European Court of Human Rights and the Supreme Court of the United States. Pre-eminent scholars and actual judges from both jurisdictions will sit as judges of the two Courts.

 

The purpose of the Program is to contribute to a better and deeper understanding of some of the most contentious issues that currently dominate the field of Law & Religion globally. Hence, the very same case will be litigated before the two Courts, although from different legal angles. In order to ensure the comparative perspective of this educative endeavour, the Courts' hearings will not run parallel, but consecutively, in order to allow all participants to attend both hearings.

 


 

THE CASE

 

For the European version of the competition

In 2015, Freeland, a State party to the European Convention of Human Rights, has implemented a statute that prohibits gender discrimination in private and public workplaces as well as in educational institutions.

In January 2017, Freeland passed a new law that legalizes same-sex marriage. Freeland does not recognize any form of civil partnership in addition or as an alternative to marriage.

 

For the U.S. version of the competition

In 2015, Freeland, a State of the United States, enacted a statute that prohibits gender discrimination in private and public workplaces and educational institutions. 

 

 

… Freedom University is a private academic institution with a religious ethos and is run according to its religious principles. It understands its religious vocation holistically, through providing services, programs, and facilities that foster the values of its religious orientation and that tend to span throughout the whole spectrum of human activities taking place on campus. Freedom University’s admissions policy, however, does not discriminate against students based either on their religious affiliation or moral values. It owns a chapel that students and employees of any faith can utilize and they are permitted to bring in faith leaders and/or state officiants to officiate at or to perform ceremonies. The University permits a state officiant to conduct marriages within its premises, including the chapel.

Martin and Kevin are a same-sex couple and enrolled as students at Freedom University. They have asked the University permission to bring in a state officiant and a leader of their faith in to register and solemnize their marriage with a special ceremony in the University’s chapel. The religion that inspires Freedom University’s religious ethos is opposed to same-sex marriage; consequently, the University has rejected their request.

 

For the European version

Martin and Kevin have sued Freedom University in state courts. The University contended that its denial was justified, as it was in accordance with Article 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights, a text that Freeland entrenches within its constitutional text and that it interprets in accordance with the European Court of Human Rights’ case law. State Courts have found the University’s denial to be in breach of the statute that bans gender discrimination, and furthermore that there was no justification for interference with that law under Article 9 of the European Convention.

After the exhaustion of the available domestic remedies, the governing body of Freedom University applied to the European Court of Human Rights, on the ground that the State prohibition to discriminate, as interpreted by State courts, violates Art. no. 9 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

 

For the U.S. version

Martin and Kevin have sued Freedom University in state courts, which held that the University’s denial was in breach of the statute that bans gender discrimination. The court also rejected Freedom University’s properly raised argument that the gender discrimination statute as applied was unconstitutional under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as applied by the Fourteenth Amendment. This decision was affirmed by both the Freeland Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Freeland.

Once the state appeals had completed, Freedom University applied for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States, on the ground that the statutory prohibition to discriminate on gender grounds as applied violates the First Amendment as applied through the Fourteenth Amendment, and it was granted. The Supreme Court retains jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1257.

THE WINNERS

 

European Court of Human Rights

Best Oralist: Elisa Babbini, Università di Milano, Italy  

Best Team: The Open University, UK  

 

Supreme Court of the United States

Best Oralist: Lawrence Wesco, Notre Dame University, USA  

Best Team: Notre Dame University, USA 

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