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Youth & Government: Court of Appeals Showdown

by Eve Irwin

Court of Appeals delegates have two cases to debate during the conference and in each courtroom, two members from a delegation are chosen to be the appellants and two more members are chosen to be the petitioners. In a surprising turn of events, both the appellants and petitioners for the first case in courtroom 3 were from the same delegation.

The courtroom procession began with appellants Alisha Reynolds Welch and Dominic Seeley, from the Early College of Forsyth, presenting their argument that the Murrellet County Druid prayer at the beginning of the legislative session is not consistent with this country’s tradition of legislative prayer, and that it is coercive religion. Alisha began the argument by talking about the specific case law and the founder’s decision; she referenced several justices and founding fathers and their writings discussing the establishment clause, which is a first amendment. Dominic followed up with the general coercion information to establish their point. The two went back and forth with data gathered to prove their point and ended with answering a question from one of the judges.

Following the appellants, petitioners Amelia Baskin and Stephanie Duran Mendoza, also from Early College of Forsyth, were on the side of Murrelett County, arguing that the prayer is consistent with this country’s tradition of legislative prayer and that it does not coerce religion. Amelia and Stephanie’s main point was defending the historical importance of the prayer. Using various examples and cases to prove their point, both delegates reinforced their argument throughout the debate. To drive their point, the two finished with a quote from the case Engel v. Vitale, “History is the very foundation of our government, to undermine the historical factor, in this case, would undermine the very Historical Constitution we abide by.”

As the case wrapped up with Alisha and Dominic’s two-minute rebuttal, the judges left the chamber to discuss the points that the appellants and petitioners scored. Qualities such as logic, etiquette, and posture were considered as the winner was decided. The judges returned to give their final verdict of the thrilling case: the appellants, Alisha Reynolds Welch and Dominic Seeley won! With a score of 36 points, the judges informed the two that while they could have used more case law and had a more passionate inflection, they overall possessed a great argument.