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Law School Special Collections & Archives: Siegenthaler-Sutherland National Moot Court Competition

The Siegenthaler-Sutherland National Moot Court Competition

The Sutherland Cup Competition (now the Siegenthaler-Sutherland National Moot Court Competition), hosted by The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, is a national appellate advocacy competition focusing on constitutional law. It is one of the oldest national moot court competitions in the United States.

In 1949, Catholic University Law School students Robert J. Casey and Frank J. Whalen, Jr. approached Dean Brendon Brown with the idea for an inter-school moot court competition. Dean Brown supported their idea and invited the law schools of Yale, Fordham, and the University of Virginia to participate. With the assistance of University Trustee Lewis L. Guarnieri, the first Sutherland Cup Competition was held in the spring of 1950 and was judged by Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark.

The competition is named for Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland (1922 - 1938). The trophy, which is on display in the DuFour Law Library, was donated by George S. Elmore, a grandson of Sutherland who attended Catholic University Law School for one year before graduating from Cornell.

The original four schools competed for nearly forty years, with a few changes. In 1963, The University of Virginia withdrew from the competition and Cornell University filled their slot. In 1983, Fordham University withdrew and The University of Virginia once again competed. In the late 1980s, the four-school competition was expanded and other schools were invited to compete. A list of the winners of the competition from 1988 through to the present is in the document below.

The competition has been judged by many outstanding legal minds, including Supreme Court Justices Harold Burton, Hugo L. Black, Tom C. Clark, Potter Stewart, Thurgood Marshall, Byron R. White, and Clarence Thomas. Several former CUA Law faculty members have represented CUA as students over the years, including Professors Ralph J. Rohner, Urban A. Lester, and William F. Fox.

In 2016, the Sutherland Cup merged with the Newseum’s Seigenthaler Cup, a national First Amendment moot court competition begun in 1990. Named for John Seigenthaler, founder of the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center, the competition presents hypothetical cases based on current First Amendment issues.  Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic the competition was not held in 2020 for the first time since its inception in 1950.

Judge Kathryn J. DuFour Law Library / 3600 John McCormack Road N.E., Washington, DC 20064 / 202-319-5155