12.02.2008

Regent Law Students Contribute to Landmark U.S. Supreme Court Case

Over a dozen current Regent Law students have had the exceptional opportunity to work on Pleasant Grove vs. Summum, currently being decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. For a quick case summary, click here.

To learn more about the Regent Law students who were privileged to work on this case, click here.

Read an eyewitness account of the U.S. Supreme Court arguments from second year law student and ACLJ clerk Ben Eastburn and see Prof. Lynne Kohm’s video recap of the arguments below.

Ben Eastburn writes:

In the early morning hours of November 12, over seventy Regent Law students awoke and braved the cold weather and darkness that surrounded our nation’s capitol. They made the brief journey from the warm confines of their hotel rooms to the steps of one of the beautiful landmarks of Washington, D.C.: the Supreme Court of the United States. Four hours and a few dozen cups of coffee later, the students filed through a maze of metal detectors and Capitol Policemen into the inner sanctuary of the Western legal tradition.

The students were admitted along with the general population; yet there was nothing pedestrian in their interest in one matter to be heard before the Court that day. Dr. Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), was set to participate in oral arguments in the case of Pleasant Grove City v. Summum. It was a case they all knew well, for each one had an integral role in its development.

If you were to rewind to a year prior you would find many of those same Regent students who were standing in line at work behind the desks of the ACLJ, pouring over countless documents and case law in preparation for the defense of Pleasant Grove City’s ability to deny the opposition—Summum—the right to erect a monument on city property. Many more students joined the effort that following summer, just in time to assist in formulating the case that would be presented to the Supreme Court in briefs and during oral argument. And lastly, students who enrolled in Dr. Sekulow’s class in the fall would have the opportunity to help finalize his efforts to present the best possible oral argument to the Court.

And what an oral argument it was. As Dr. Sekulow fielded question after question from the same Supreme Court Justices those students had previously only read about, the very arguments they had worked on began to materialize before their very eyes. After the Assistant Solicitor General of the United States argued in favor of Pleasant Grove City on behalf of the federal government and Summum’s attorney presented her argument, Dr. Sekulow once again took center stage. In two minutes of rebuttal time, he refuted the opposing counsel’s critical points and concluded with a synopsis of the key points of his argument.

To an amateur lawyer-in-training, it certainly appeared from the Justices’ reactions and lines of questioning that the ACLJ and Pleasant Grove City carried the day. And while the official result via the Supreme Court’s opinion will not be issued for another several months, the mood was nevertheless celebratory, if for no other reason than the seemingly endless preparation was finally over.

The students were invited to a post-argument party at the ACLJ’s Washington office, where they recounted their own tales of hard work during the preparatory phase of the case and marveled at the argument they had just witnessed.

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