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.

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The Seigenthaler-Sutherland Cup Moot Court Competition

On the weekend of March 18-19, 2022, Catholic Law will host the seventy-second annual Seigenthaler-Sutherland Cup (SSC) First Amendment Moot Court Competition. Beginning 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 vac- cine mandates. This year’s problem will address the issues of free speech, religious liberty, and the rights and obligations of private internet platforms. The competition will be hosted by Catholic Law’s Moot Court Board and will be co-sponsored by The Catholic University of America’s Center for Religious Liberty.
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The Seigenthaler Debates

In the spring of 2022, Catholic Law will begin a new program, The Seigenthaler Debates, which will feature two First Amendment Scholars debating and discussing First Amendment issues. This year, the topic will be related to a free speech issue being mooted during the upcoming Seigenthaler-Sutherland Cup Competition in March of 2022. The debate will be held prior to the competition, but after the teams competing in the competition have submitted their briefs. Each year, Catholic Law plans to host a similar debate in the spring. The program is named after John L. Seigenthaler, journalist, publisher, and free speech advocate.
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Judicial Clerkship Opinion Writing Conference

From February 24-26, 2022, The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law will host its second annual Judicial Clerkship Opinion Writing Conference, to be held February 24-26, 2022. The conference is open to individuals who have accepted a 2022-2023 federal clerkship (district court or court of appeals) or a 2022-2023 state appellate court clerkship. The 2022 conference is currently planned to take place in person on our campus. 

Over the course of the conference, conferees will receive opinion writing instruction from some of our nation’s most distinguished members of the judiciary. They will also be guided through writing an appellate court opinion and will receive individual review and commentary on their work by our faculty, all judges, or former judicial clerks themselves. Finally, each of the conferees will be eligible for the CSL Prize in Judicial Clerkship Opinion Writing. The opinions drafted and submitted by the conferees will 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 will work independently and in some cases work 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, Director 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)