During the U.S. Supreme Court’s October Term (OT) 2020—corresponding to the 2020-2021 academic year— the Supreme Court Institute (SCI) provided moot courts for advocates in 57 of the 58 cases argued at the Supreme Court, offered our annual press and student term preview programs, and continued to integrate the moot court program into the Law Center curriculum. As in past Terms, the varied affiliations of advocates mooted reflect SCI’s commitment to assist advocates without regard to the party represented or the position advanced.
Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court took the unprecedented step of hosting all OT 2020 oral arguments telephonically. To prepare advocates for these arguments, SCI held remote moot courts using Zoom. Advocates practiced their oral arguments while remaining off-video, and then joined the moot “justices” with video on for the feedback portion of the moot.
Mooting virtually eliminated the normal physical space constraints, allowing SCI to host the majority of first-year Legal Practice students at two fall moots. To help limit student live-remote classroom time, SCI Director Debbie Shrager created video briefings to introduce new law students to our program and to prepare them for the substantive issues in the cases being mooted. These videos helped students get the most out of the opportunity to observe our moots. Overall, SCI moot court attendance was exceptionally strong. A total of 1,945 student observers attended SCI moots, averaging 31 students per moot. This high attendance is particularly notable because the Supreme Court had an unusually light Term—hearing arguments in only 58 cases.
To expand our service to the Court and the Georgetown Law community, SCI launched a pilot program to offer moots to both parties, with mutual consent, in select cases. SCI has had a longstanding practice of mooting an amicus appointed by the Court with the petitioning party’s consent. This term, SCI also provided moot courts for both petitioner and respondent in four contested cases.
A list of all SCI moot courts held in OT 2020—arranged by sitting and moot court date, including the name and affiliation of each advocate and the number of student observers—is included at the end of this report. Select facts and figures about SCI moot courts this term appear immediately below. Comparable figures from the past nine Terms, OT 2010 through OT 2019 are also included.
Supreme Court Institute, Georgetown University Law Center,, "Supreme Court Institute Annual Report, 2020-2021" (2021). SCI Papers & Reports. 10.