Local law students tackle actual issues in an imaginary court.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Dr. Robert Carpenter is both a citizen and an enemy of the United States. The professor was arrested after providing an electronic forum for members of al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Iraqi militants.
Carpenter is also fake. He does not exist—except in the Heisler Moot Court, an annual competition sponsored by the Monterey College of Law which uses fictional cases to explore very real issues facing America.
Carpenter wasn’t aiding terrorists, says MCL student Robert Greathouse, who comprises the defense team with Christian Scott: “He was merely creating a dialogue to understand what America did to anger them, and what they believe they’re accomplishing by blowing things up.”
MCL students Ron DeHoff and Emily Trexel, arguing for the Department of Homeland Security, disagree, saying Carpenter created a forum for anti-American hate speech. “He put on a terrorist telethon,” Dehoff says, “which expresses a desire to transfer his allegiance away from the United States.”
At the heart of the program, entitled “Enemy Americans—the Loss of Citizenship in the War on Terror,” are freedom speech and the right of citizenship. Under a statute of Patriot Act II yet to be adopted, Congress would have the power to strip Americans of their citizenship if they provide material assistance to terrorists.
“They’re destroying who he is as an American,” says Greathouse. “What is more fundamental than the right to be an American—the right to have rights? This country was founded upon the ability to dissent.”
The competition involved in the event is as real as the issue. For an entire semester, over 20 students vied for the chance to present their arguments in front of real judges.
“It’s an academic and intellectual challenge,” says Greathouse, “a cooperative effort to encourage debate and create awareness.”
THE HEISLER MOOT COURT convenes on Friday, Jan. 19, at 7:30pm at the World Theater, Sixth Avenue, CSUMB. Admission is free. 582-4000.