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Morris Tyler Moot Court Finals Monday, April 26

The Morris Tyler Moot Court of Appeals at Yale will be called to order at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, April 26, in the Yale Law School Auditorium. Four students will compete in the Thurman Arnold Prize Finals of the competition. Doors open at 4 p.m. A reception in the Alumni Reading Room will follow the competition. The event is open to the Yale Law School community and invited guests.

The Honorable Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Honorable Judge Debra Ann Livingston of the Second Circuit, and the Honorable Judge David Hamilton of the Seventh Circuit will hear the case of Snyder v. Phelps, which will be argued before the Supreme Court next Term. The case concerns whether or not the First Amendment protects the Westboro Baptist Church, which staged an anti-gay protest outside the funeral of a soldier killed in Iraq, from a variety of civil claims, including intrusion into a secluded event, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and civil conspiracy.

“We are very excited about this semester’s final round,” said Moot Court co-chairperson Robert Heberle ’10. “We are delighted to be able to host such a distinguished panel of judges to hear arguments from our exceptionally talented group of finalists. Given the importance of the issues presented in this major First Amendment case, we anticipate a fascinating set of oral arguments.”

Travis Crum ’11 and Zach Jones ’11 will argue for the petitioner, Albert Snyder. Tanya Abrams ’11 and Mark Hatch-Miller ’10 will represent the respondents, Westboro Baptist Church and its members. The competitors’ briefs will be posted on the moot court website approximately one week before the date of the oral argument.

The questions presented are:

1) Whether the First Amendment prohibits a private civil judgment against Westboro Baptist Church and its members for organizing a protest at the funeral of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew A. Snyder, at which Snyder’s family constituted a “captive audience.”

2) Whether the First Amendment prohibits a private civil judgment against Westboro Baptist Church and its members for publishing an online “epic” containing specific factual assertions about the life and death of Lance Corporal Snyder.

The Morris Tyler Moot Court competition takes place each semester at Yale Law School, culminating in the Harlan Fiske Stone Prize Finals in the fall and the Thurman Arnold Prize Finals in the spring. All second- and third-year law students are eligible to participate.