By Phillip Davis
From November 17- 20, teams of Sewanee students competed in the 47th General Assembly of the Intercollegiate State Legislature (TISL) and its judicial branch, the Appellate Moot Court Collegiate Challenge (AMC3). This mock legal competition began with the first convention of the Senate and House of Representatives in 1966, according to TISL’s official website.
“Because of our size, the Sewanee delegation is quite small: one senator and one representative,” explains Dr. Andrea Hatcher, Sewanee’s faculty sponsor. “However, our delegation may consist of alternatives who swap into the principle roles.” Students can also participate as press operators, whose job is to “follow and document proceedings” via social media, or as lobbyists, who exert pressure for bills.
Paige Williams (C’17) won “Best Lobbyist” in 2014. “It was a great experience for me because I got to immerse myself in the fast-paced lifestyle that is political lobbying,” she says. “Even though the bill I argued for did not get approved by both chambers, I loved the experience.”
“The best part about TISL is seeing students’ creativity in policy making,” says Hatcher. “There have been bills related to matters as grave as carrying firearms on college campuses and bills as mundane as seat belt regulation.”
Margaret Dupree (C’19) is the student leader of the Sewanee delegation. “I came to [the] program because it was recommended by one of my favorite professors,” she says. “Olivia O’Brien (C’16), who was in charge last year, was the Speaker of the Senate, and she graduated. No one had the time to do it again this year.” Although other teams’ knowledge and preparation were daunting, she worked to recruit new people because “the knowledge and passion the people who attend TISL have is really something to behold.”
As for the judicial branch, Sewanee’s two teams of three members each “prepare[d] a brief and argue for the petitioner and respondent before the Court.” This year’s case concerns a fictional scenario in which children whose parents’ religion requires the hourly consumption of chocolate are banned from doing so by their school district as part of a wider anti-obesity program. Teams must switch between arguing for and against granting them a religious exception allowing them to eat the forbidden sweets.
“In years past, Sewanee teams have regularly advanced to the semifinal and even final stage,” explains Hatcher. This year, however, despite a commendable performance, neither team advanced beyond the preliminary rounds. Team one was composed of Georgia Konstam (C’19), Summer Menefee (C’19), and Phillip Davis (C’19). Team two consisted of Fiona O’Brien (C’19), Benjamin Cabrera (C’20), and Codell Craddock (C’19).
Dr. Hatcher would also like to thank Abbey Colbert, Assistant Counsel for Global Affairs, for the work she did with the teams in preparing their oral arguments.