About the Initiatives

The purpose of the First Amendment Initiatives at The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law (Catholic Law) is to provide a collegial forum that fosters debate, dialogue, and study of First Amendment issues from all sides. Catholic Law is proud to be a leader in legal education in this area and hosts the following programs in furtherance of this goal.


The Seigenthaler-Sutherland Cup Moot Court Competition

Founded in 1949, the SSC is the oldest national moot court competition in the United States of its kind and welcomes competitors from across the country. The competition presents hypothetical appellate cases based on a variety of contemporary constitutional issues related to the First Amendment. In the past, the competition has contemplated situations such as political activity on social media, free speech on college campuses, high school dress codes, and national vaccine mandates. The competition is hosted by Catholic Law’s Moot Court Board and co-sponsored by The Catholic University of America’s Center for Religious Liberty.
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The Seigenthaler Debates

The Seigenthaler Debates feature two First Amendment scholars debating and discussing First Amendment issues. Each year, the topic is related to a free speech issue being mooted during the upcoming Seigenthaler-Sutherland Cup Competition. The debate is held prior to the competition, but after the teams competing in the competition have submitted their briefs. The program is named after John L. Seigenthaler, journalist, publisher, and free speech advocate. Click here to learn more.

Free Speech and Civility in American Law Schools Symposium

On November 15, 2023, Catholic Law hosted a symposium on free speech and civility in legal education and practice, an event especially timely in light of growing difficulties of engaging in civil dialogue in the academy and the culture at large. The event was recorded. Click here to learn more.

Judicial Clerkship Opinion Writing Conference

Each spring, Catholic Law hosts its Judicial Clerkship Opinion Writing Conference, open to individuals who have accepted an upcoming federal clerkship (district court or court of appeals) or state appellate court clerkship. Over the course of the conference, conferees receive opinion writing instruction from some of our nation’s most distinguished members of the judiciary. They are also guided through writing an appellate court opinion and receive individual review and commentary on their work by our conference faculty. Finally, each of the conferees is eligible for the CSL Prize in Judicial Clerkship Opinion Writing. The opinions drafted and submitted by the conferees involve First Amendment issues tied to the school’s other First Amendment initiatives, The Seigenthaler- Sutherland Cup Moot Court Competition, and The Seigenthaler Debates.
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Center for Religious Liberty

The Center for Religious Liberty at Catholic Law is an academic center dedicated to the study and articulation of the Catholic approach to religious liberty as a fundamental human right for all persons, regardless of faith. The Center allows students with an interest in religious liberty to grow their research and writing skills, while helping to increase the visibility of this important issue. Further, students work independently and with experts to produce research and reports related to religious liberty. There are also opportunities for students to participate in educational programming.
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For information about Catholic Law’s First Amendment Initiatives, contact Professor A.G. Harmon, Associate Dean of Bench and Bar Programs, The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, Washington, D.C. 20064 (phone: 202-319-5453; email: harmon@law.edu)