Valpo invited to Oxford for moot court competition this week
Thursday, March 24, 2016
Posted by: Susan Ferrer
This year the Valparaiso University School of Law International Moot Court Society (www.valpo.edu/law/current-students/student-organizations/international-moot-court) has been invited to compete at the University of Oxford. Known for being notoriously selective, the Oxford opportunity is only offered to teams that earn an invitation. In nine years since the inception of Valpo’s Moot Court Society, this year’s team was the first to receive an invitation. To earn this invitation, our team competed in the Monroe E. Price Media Law Moot Court Competition at the Cardozo School of Law in New York City. Preparing for the competition required diligent research of international law that concerned the topic of media law. This year’s topic involved the promotion and maintenance of freedom of expression when it confronts hate speech and anti-terrorism laws. In a world confronted with terrorism on social media, countries have found themselves in a bind when meeting the international duty against terrorism and maintaining freedom of expression. Here, the team found several similar laws in various countries internationally and domestically.
The Price Media Law fact pattern involved a fictional country that passed two separate statutes aimed at defeating hate speech and terrorism. Within the fact pattern, a fictional politician, who was employed as a justice within the state, published posts on social media that were viewed as incitement of violence to some and satire to others. Here, the state dealt with imminent ethnic violence at the hands of a terrorist group that shared the underlying message the politician attempted to convey.
This fact pattern is highly reflective of current events involving the encouragement of terrorism on social media sites such as Twitter. Presently, ISIS has taken to these channels to promote an anti-Western agenda that includes broadcasts of executions. Most notable was the James Foley incident where a masked individual executed an American journalist. Here, it was determined that the masked executioner had a British accent. As a direct result of this, countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States have examined ways to address the encouragement of terrorism.
Internationally, member states under the United Nations look to the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) for guidance on maintaining the civil rights and safety of their citizens. The ICCPR and UDHR both shed light on the freedom of expression as a universal right. However, this right is not absolute and may be limited when confronted with a legitimate interest. Also important to these two universal documents is the right of privacy. Here, no individual may be subject to arbitrary interference with his or her personal privacy.
Laws in Denmark, the United Kingdom and the United States are highly reflective of the fictional No Hate Law and the Anti-Terrorism & Extremism Law. Here, the team dissected case law focused on these laws, which showed how a functioning society could address legitimate interests, in a practical way, by passing and enforcing such laws. By cooperating with United Nations documents, the fictional laws are in turn binding on state parties to the UN Charter. For this reason, the argument advanced by our team is hard to defeat.
It is the team’s goal to return to the competition at the University of Oxford and advance as we had done in the Americas regional tournament (http://pricemootcourt.socleg.ox.ac.uk/2016/02/americas-regional-rounds-in-new-york-completed). The international rounds will take place March 30 through April 2. Placing as finalists in this tournament would certainly capture the international law community’s attention in a favorable way for Valparaiso University in Indiana. Wish us luck – Robert Swaby and Brandon Mason, applicants; Marcya Burden, researcher; Gurhan Heinert and Carlos Del Rio, respondents; and Osbaldo Santiago and Michael Sanchez, coaches. – Carlos Del Rio