Laura Brown Wins USD School of Law’s 2014 McLennon Moot Court Competition

Laura Brown '15 (JD)

San Diego (April 2, 2014) – University of San Diego (USD) School of Law second-year student Laura Brown won the 11th Annual Paul A. McLennon, Sr., Honors Moot Court Competition.

Held at the university’s Joan B. Kroc Peace & Justice Theatre, the annual intramural event provides USD law students an opportunity to develop their brief-writing and oral advocacy skills by testing them in an open and rigorous competition. After filing a written brief, participants are given 15 minutes to argue their positions in the first round, and 20 minutes to do so in the semi-final and final rounds. Semi-finalists are required to argue both sides of the issue as they advance in the competition.

In this year’s fictitious case, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services v. Body & Sole, Inc., respondent Body and Sole, Inc. (BSI) brought suit against the federal government. BSI alleged that the contraceptive mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which mandates that a corporation must provide birth control and related preventative health services to its female employees, violated its rights under First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). BSI claimed that such contraceptive mandate forced it to pay for or facilitate the use of contraception, which conflicts with its sincerely held religious beliefs. The federal government claims that the mandate is enforceable because corporations do not have religious rights under the First Amendment or under RFRA, and even if corporations possess such rights, providing birth control and contraceptive coverage to women serves a compelling government interest.

In this tournament, the “Supreme Court” addressed the following questions: 1) Are for-profit, secular corporations protected under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and/or The Religious Freedom Restoration Act; and 2) Does the contraceptive mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act substantially burden the corporation’s free exercise of religion under the First Amendment and/or The Religious Freedom Restoration Act? If so, do the government’s claimed interests in public health and gender equality constitute compelling interests to enforce the contraceptive mandate?

The final round oral argument was presided over by Judge Bruce M. Selya, Senior Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit; Judge M. Margaret McKeown, Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit; and Judge Dana M. Sabraw, District Judge, United States District Court, Southern District of California.

Brown grew up in Atherton, Calif., and graduated summa cum laude from California State University-Fresno with a BS in Criminology, Forensic Behavioral Science. Looking to specialize in water law, she is currently pursuing a JD with a concentration in environmental and energy law at USD School of Law.

2014 McClennon Final Round Results

  • First Place: Laura Brown
  • Second Place: Curtis Abram
  • Third Place: Alyssa Eisenberg
  • Fourth Place: Ali Adelman

Best Oralist:

  • First Place: Bob Schultz
  • Second Place: Brittany Hogard
  • Third Place: James Joseph
  • Fourth Place: John Whittemore

Best Petitioner Brief:

  • First Place: Alyssa Eisenberg
  • Second Place: Bob Schultz
  • Third Place: Lauren Williams
  • Fourth Place: April White

Best Respondent Brief:

  • First Place: Ali Adelman
  • Second Place: Ernie Chen
  • Third Place: John Whittemore
  • Fourth Place: Jonathan Williams

About the Paul A. McLennon, Sr., Honors Moot Court Competition

The Paul A. McLennon, Sr., Honors Moot Court Competition provides an opportunity for students to develop their brief writing and advocacy skills and to test these skills in an open, rigorous competition. Organized by the Appellate Moot Court Board, the competition consists of several primary rounds, culminating in the final round argued before a distinguished panel of judges. This competition was established by USD Professor Michael Devitt to honor longtime family friend, attorney and naval officer, Paul A. McLennon, Sr.

About the University of San Diego School of Law

Celebrating 60 years of alumni success, the University of San Diego (USD) School of Law is recognized for the excellence of its faculty, depth of its curriculum, and strength of its clinical programs. Each year, USD educates approximately 900 Juris Doctor and graduate law students from throughout the United States and around the world. The law school is best known for its offerings in the areas of business and corporate law, constitutional law, intellectual property, international and comparative law, public interest and taxation.

USD School of Law is one of the 81 law schools elected to the Order of the Coif, a national honor society for law school graduates. The law school’s faculty is a strong group of outstanding scholars and teachers with national and international reputations and currently ranks 23rd worldwide in all-time faculty downloads on the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN). The school is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Founded in 1954, the law school is part of the University of San Diego, a private, nonprofit, independent, Roman Catholic university chartered in 1949.


Patrick Riedling
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