Four finalists from the Valparaiso University Law School Moot Court Society competed in the final round of the 24th Annual Luther M. Swygert Memorial Moot Court Competition.
Brittany Boatman and J.R. Wydra, both second year law students, represented the petitioners in the case concerning specialty license plates slogans. Janelle Thompson and Katlyn Rowe, also second year law students, served as the respondents and were named the winning team. Rowe claimed the Best Oralist award and Thompson was awarded the Best Brief award.
The teams debated over whether or not speech featured on license plates should be immune from First Amendment scrutiny because it constitutes purely governmental speech. They also discussed whether or not this would qualify as viewpoint discrimination upon application of First Amendment scrutiny.
Preliminary rounds for this intra-school competition began on Thursday, October 25 and continued through Tuesday, October 30 with 24 students participating. Chief Judge Frank H. Easterbrook of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Magistrate Judge Denise K. LaRue of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana and Judge Jon E. DeGuilio of the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Indiana served as judges for the final round. Professors Rosalie Levinson, Sy Moskowitz and Ivan Bodensteiner judged the semi-final round.
This competition was created in honor of the late Judge Luther M. Swygert by his wife and son. Judge Swygert received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Valparaiso University Law School in 1963. He served as the school’s first Jurist-in-Residence. During his life, he took a particular interest in moot court programs and donated money to Valparaiso University, Syracuse University, University of Notre Dame, Indiana University, New York University, University of Wisconsin, University of Illinois, DePaul University, Northwestern University, University of Chicago and Yale University law schools.