GHS students win first in national SCOTUS competition

By Emilie Munson

Greenwich High School students Lucy Mini and Arjun Ahuja claimed victory in the fifth annual National Virtual Supreme Court Competition for high school students on Thursday.

Mini and Ahuja faced off against Jacklin Chang and Emma Austin from Lake Oswego High School in Lake Oswego, Oregon after competing against dozens of teams from the continental United States in order to qualify.

Hosted by the Harlan Institute and the Constitutional Sources Project, the competition was hosted in the Supreme Court Institute Moot Court Room at Georgetown University Law Center, where two teams argued the case of “Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer”GHS in front of a panel of nine judges in a small-scale replica of the courtroom at the United States Supreme Court.

“These students represent the very best of America,” said Julie Silverbrook, Executive Director of the Constitutional Sources Project. “They are a testament to what can be achieved when thought leaders, public officials, schools, teachers, and parents invest in the civic education of our young people!”

Mini and Ahuja prepared for the competition while completing AP exams and senior internships, said Aaron Hull, coach of the Greenwich team and GHS history teacher.

“Both dug deep to develop Petitioners’ argument at a substantive and nuanced level, attempting, as we often strive to find in our Republic, a balance between the safety of all of our citizens and excessive governmental entanglement in the religious beliefs of a sect of them,” said Hull. “After we arrived in DC, settled in, had our dinner, and toured the monuments, they then continued to work into the night to deepen their understanding of the facts of the case. What a pair of citizen scholars.”

The students were put to the test during the championship round where, during oral argument in front of a lively panel of nine judges, the students had to respond to rapid fire and complex legal questions.

“The Constitution is nowhere near as black and white as it may seem in a traditional classroom setting,” said Mini. “Taking a stand on what those broad words mean, and then being battered by judges looking for any cracks in your argument, that is what the Founders intended when they wrote the Constitution, which is exactly what this competition provides for.”

The competition was judged by Honorable Andre Davis, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Honorable Meg Ryan, United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, Honorable Royce Lamberth, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute, Elizabeth Wydra, President of the Constitutional Accountability Center, Shon Hopwood, Georgetown University Law Center, Gregory Lipper, Clinton Brook & Peed, Josh Blackman, President of the Harlan Institute and Julie Silverbrook, Executive Director of The Constitutional Sources Project.

Ahuja said he hopes to continue to compete in similar law-based events.

“There are few time periods in U.S. history where it would be more important to be constitutionally literate than right now,” he said. “I find the law and the legal field to be interesting so it’s easy, but things like the Virtual Supreme Court keep the flame alive.”