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Resources for Teaching this Activity
Listen to Oral Arguments: To help students prepare for oral arguments, play excerpts of any oral arguments available on Oyez. This will prepare students for the interruptions of the justices’ questions and the types of questions asked. Consider using the Types of Oral Argument Questions handout and have students find examples of each type of question.
Provide Arguments: To reduce the amount of time spent on this activity or to help with students who might find generating the arguments too challenging, copy the arguments from the case summary and paste them after the precedents. Students should prioritize arguments from the most compelling to the least and begin their arguments with the most compelling.
Complete Classifying Arguments Activity: Instead of having students formulate their own arguments or giving them the bulleted arguments in the case summary, follow instructions for the Classifying Arguments activity. Students should prioritize arguments from the most compelling to the least and begin their arguments with the most compelling.
Provide Oral Argument Question Types Handout: Print or post the Types of Oral Argument Questionhandout to help justices formulate questions and prepare attorneys for the types of questions they might be asked.
Legal Resource People: Invite legal resource people (e.g., attorneys, law students, judges, professors, paralegals, etc.) to help students with this activity. Use the Working with Community Resource People guide, which suggests best practices for using resource people in your classroom.
Pre-Assign Roles: For full moot courts, pre-assign roles and responsibilities during preparation group time such as initial argument speaker, rebuttal speaker, time-keeper, task manager, precedent advisor, counterargument creator, rebuttal notetaker.
Chunk: Chunk out the moot court simulation process so there is time for reflection between each speaker.
Additional Time before Rebuttal: Provide additional time before rebuttals for each team to prepare together.
Formative Assessment/Preparation Notes: Use student preparation notes as way to collect formative assessment data for each student prior to the simulation itself (this would require a break between the preparation and the simulation). Data could show that you need to support specific students or groups and/or clear up misconceptions prior to the simulation.
Record Arguments: Allow students to record their arguments using an app like Flipgrid outside of class, then allow justices to ask questions at the conclusion of the recorded argument. You may wish to emphasize that this is not an accurate simulation, but similar to the procedure the Supreme Court used during the spring of 2020 during the pandemic. Justices can then record their decision and opinion, and students can view and concur or dissent in the comments.
Online Teaching/At-Home Learning: For suggestions for using this strategy in online/at-home teaching, see Street Law’s Materials for At-Home Learning webpage.
Listen to Oral Arguments: For modern cases, play excerpts of the actual oral arguments and decision announcement available on Oyez. Instruct students to answer the following questions:
- What arguments were similar?
- What arguments were different?
- If your role was “justice,” did you hear arguments presented that would have swayed your vote?
- If your role was “attorney,” were there arguments you wish you would have made but didn’t?
Compare Decisions and Opinions: Provide students with the decision and excerpts of the Supreme Court’s opinions and have them compare their moot court’s decision and opinions with the majority opinion and the dissenting opinion. Instruct students to answer the following questions:
- What is similar?
- What is different?
- How do the decisions and vote count compare?
- Is your moot court’s majority opinion closer to the Supreme Court’s majority opinion or the dissenting opinion?
- After reading the decision and majority opinion, do you prefer your moot court’s decision and majority opinion or the Supreme Court’s decision and majority opinion? Why?