This activity is a simulation of a Supreme Court oral argument. It is not a trial. At the trial, witnesses gave testimony that showed Alvarez made the false statements he was charged with under the Stolen Valor Act.
The question before the student appellate court is not whether Alvarez made false claims that he served in the military and received medals. The trial court established that he made the statements.
The question in the case is: Whether the Stolen Valor Act, which makes it a crime to lie about receiving military medals or honors, violates the First Amendment's guarantee of the right to free speech.
In Advance: Teachers assign students to their roles. Eight are Associate Supreme Court Justices. Eight are attorneys (four on each side). All other students are organized into two groups – lawyers for the U.S. or for Alvarez.
Supreme Court Simulation
Oral Argument Procedures
- The Chief Justice (the teacher in the classroom or a presiding judge in the courtroom) calls the Court to order, announces the case, and asks the petitioner to begin.
- The lawyers for the petitioner present their side of the initial argument for about two minutes.
- After the lawyers finish, the Justices ask questions of the student attorneys and/or any student representing the petitioner for about two minutes.
- The lawyers for the respondent present their side's initial argument for about two minutes.
- The Justices ask questions for about two minutes of the student attorneys and/or any student representing the respondent for about two minutes.
- The lawyers for the petitioner present rebuttal arguments for about one minute.
- The lawyers for the respondent present rebuttal arguments for about one minute.
- Once arguments have been completed, the Justices deliberate in front of the group for about 10 minutes. At the conclusion of the deliberations, each Justice stands to give his/her decision and reason(s).
- The teacher/presiding judge asks for a show of hands among the Justices and announces the decision. The teacher/presiding judge, then asks for a show of hands vote from all of the students.
- The teacher/presiding judge leads a debriefing and discussion.