ND Law Moot Court Board hosts eighth annual religious freedom tournament

Author: Libbey Detcher

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The Notre Dame Law School Moot Court Board hosted the eighth annual Notre Dame National Appellate Advocacy Tournament for Religious Freedom from November 10-12 in the Patrick F. McCartan Courtroom.

Third-year law student Sachit Shrivastav served as this year’s tournament director. He said, “Questions on how religious freedom can thrive alongside other freedoms, such as free speech and antidiscrimination, are often contentious. Notre Dame is precisely the place where we discuss, debate, and strive to resolve those differences; as Fr. Ted Hesburgh once said, Notre Dame is ‘where differences of culture and religion and conviction can co-exist with friendship and civility, and even love . . . a place where the endless conversation is harbored and not foreclosed.’”

This year’s participants included teams from Brigham Young University, the Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, Elon University, Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law, Regent University, South Texas College of Law Houston, Texas A&M University, University of Chicago, University of St. Thomas (Minnesota), and Villanova University.

Every fall, the Religious Freedom Tournament attracts moot court teams from across the United States. During the tournament, teams are tasked with identifying, analyzing, and challenging issues related to religious freedom and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).

Student participants write briefs and present oral arguments that defend their assigned client’s interests before a mock Supreme Court of the United States.

This year’s case was Third Church of Christ v. City of Myaamiaki, an ongoing dispute over religious land use.

Religious Freedom Tournament winners

Team 3 from the University of Chicago won the tournament, as well as the award for Best Brief. They represented the petitioner, the Church, in the final case. Team 71 from Brigham Young University represented the City of Myaamiaki, the respondent.

Earning the second-place Best Brief award was Team 19, also from Brigham Young University.

Joseph Partain of Team 17 from the University of Chicago won Best Preliminary Oralist. Team 3 member Courtney Baer Green received the second-place Preliminary Oralist award.

Notre Dame Law School has hosted the Religious Freedom Tournament since 2016. The event was established to bring together competitors, scholars, and practitioners from across the country to advance and encourage legal discourse on topics related to religious freedom. The tournament is entirely student-run by the Notre Dame Law School Moot Court Board and is sponsored by the Law School’s Program on Church, State & Society.

Reflecting on the importance of the Religious Freedom Tournament, Shrivastav said, “This tournament, in a way, was a celebration of choice in freedom of religion. Which faith, or no faith, you hold is entirely up to you. I'm privileged to play a part in spreading that message — and more importantly, providing a forum for students to challenge each with vigor and respect in the pursuit of a better tomorrow.”

For more information, visit Notre Dame Law School’s Moot Court webpage.

Originally published by Libbey Detcher at law.nd.edu on December 01, 2023.