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Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito ’75 Judges YLS Moot Court Finals


U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito ’75 was one of three distinguished judges presiding over the Spring 2007 Finals of Yale Law School’s Morris Tyler Moot Court of Appeals Monday, May 7, in the Levinson Auditorium. U.S. Court of Appeals Judges Rosemary Barkett (11th Cir.) and Rosemary S. Pooler (2nd Cir.) joined Alito in listening to an impressive panel of Law School students argue Rahmani v. United States, a real case that the High Court had previously declined to hear. 

The case addressed two questions:

1.  Whether the Government may prosecute an individual for donating money to or soliciting donations for an organization designated as a “foreign terrorist organization” while prohibiting the defendant from challenging that designation? 

2.  Are the procedures governing the Secretary of State’s designation of an organization as a “foreign terrorist organization” sufficient to protect the First Amendment rights of individuals prosecuted for donating money to or soliciting donations from that organization? 

Arguing for the petitioner, Roya Rahmani, were Anna Manasco Dionne ’08 and Krishanti Vignarajah ’08.  Representing the respondent, the United States of America, were Bryan Caforio ’08 and Jon Donenberg ’08.

Each oralist had 15 minutes to present his or her case and answer some tough questions from the judges.  After hearing the arguments, the judges took a brief recess to deliberate, then returned to the “courtroom” with their decision.

“We could not be more impressed by the quality of the oral arguments heard this afternoon,” Alito began, adding, “this is a very hard case.”

For “minute differences in performances,” he said, the judges awarded the Potter Stewart Prize for best overall argument to the Petitioners, Anna Manasco Dionne and Krishanti Vignarajah. They declared the Thurman Arnold Prize for best oralist to be a tie between Dionne and Vignarajah.

“I thought the judges asked good questions,” said observer Kristina Scurry ’08. “And Justice Alito was just as I thought he’d be—measured, thoughtful and patient, but also challenging.”