Sign Up For Harlan Institute Virtual Supreme Court by November 1 to Request Virtual Mentoring Sessions – Opinion

Ashbrook and the Harlan Institute are proud to present the Tenth Annual Virtual Supreme Court Competition. The competition allows two teams of high school students to compete in research, writing persuasive appellate briefs and arguing against each other via video chats. During oral argument, they will attempt to convince a panel made up of distinguished attorneys that their side is right. This year, the competition is focused on New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc v Bruen.

The Center for Civic Education has endorsed the contest with its We The People Competition.

Virtual Supreme Court Competition helps students develop skills that enable them to analyze, synthesize, advocate and defend reasoned legal opinions on relevant and timely constitutional issues. It also deepens their commitment towards the rule of the law. The Center for Civic Education has high goals for the program, which aims to make citizens responsible and educated. This is why it’s a privilege for me to take part in such an important project. Christopher R. Riano President of The Center for Civic Education Member board of advisors, The Harlan Institute


Answer the Question

ResolvedYou can find this link:  

The Second Amendment permits the government to ban law-abiding persons from possessing handguns other than in the home.

A team of two students in high school will create an appeal brief using historical documents and US Supreme Court precedents. They’ll also present oral arguments.

  • Can the Second Amendment be used to prevent law-abiding persons from having handguns other than in the house for self defense?

PetitionersThey will claim that the Second Amendment is invalid. Interdictions States cannot deny a law-abiding individual a permit to carry a gun outside their home.

RespondentsThey will claim that the Second Amendment is invalid. It is not prohibitedStates cannot deny a law-abiding individual a permit to carry a gun outside their home.

Phase 1—Research and Write Your Brief

Register your teams with the Institute of Competition Sciences. After registering, teachers should contact the Harlan Institute and Ashbrook at The Respondents and Petitioners will receive teams of advocates.

Each team will conduct research to create their briefs. Your brief should not exceed 2,000 words. You can download the template. Please find the following sections in your brief:

  1. Table of Cited Authorities: Include all the sources you used and any other documents in your brief.
  2. Summary of Argument: Capture your point in less than 250 words.
  3. Argument: Make sure your argument is based at least 5 primary sources, and at most 3 Supreme Court precedents. The more authorities you cite, the stronger your argument will be–and the more likely your team will advance.
  4. Conclusion: Recapitulate your arguments and explain how you think the Supreme Court should resolve this matter.

You must proofread everything you write. The work must be yours, and you may not seek help from anyone else–including attorneys or law students. Plagiarized briefs may result in students being disqualified.

Check out the previous year’s winning entries:

Phase 2—Virtual Mentoring

Virtual mentoring will be available to all teams who register by November 1, 2021. The sessions will take place during week November 15-2021. Each class will be matched by the Harlan Institute with a mentor in our network. These sessions are helpful for finalizing your briefs, and preparing your preliminary round arguments.

Phase 3—Preliminary Round

Every team should prepare a YouTube Video for the preliminary round. Your argument should be no less than 15 minutes long. These are the ten questions coaches will ask students.

  1. What protection does the Second Amendment provide?
  2. What is the reason the Framers included the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights
  3. How does the Second Amendment protect you?
  4. Which weapons are included in the definition of “arms?”
  5. Which verbs, “keep” and ‘bear”, have the most significant difference?
  6. What exactly is a militia? And why was it referred to by the Framers in the Second Amendment.
  7. What should courts do to determine whether a gun control rule is “longstanding”?
  8. What does strict scrutiny mean? What is intermediate scrutiny? What is Rational Basis Review?
  9. Are there any differences between concealed-carrying and openly-carrying firearms?
  10. The Court should consider how licenses to possess firearms could impact public safety.

Each team will submit a Download PDFHere is the brief description of each participant, along with a link for their YouTube video to Institute of Competition Sciences. Deadline for preliminary rounds is December 15, 2021.

Phase 4—Virtual Rounds

Virtual Rounds will take place over Zoom

  • Semifinal Round: 2/12/22 & 2/13/22
  • Round of 8: 3/5/22, 3/6/22
  • 3/19/22 & 3/20/22: Round 4

This video offers five tips to prepare for oral argument:

Phase 5—Championship Round Rounds

All top teams receive free travel to Washington, D.C., to present their case before federal judges April 25-26, 2022. Good luck! Register today.

The Prizes

Grand Prize—The Solicitors General of FantasySCOTUS

Members of the highest ranking Respondent and Petitioner groups will be invited by Ashbrook Academy to learn about Constitution and Supreme Court in June 2022. Ashbrook will pay for reasonable transportation costs to and from the academy. Each member of the winning team receives a $500 Amazon gift certificate. The runner up team members will each be awarded a $250 Gift Card.


Each member of each finalist team will receive $100 Gift Card.


Coaches can register their teams at the Institute of Competition Sciences. Start by reading the problem. We wish you all the best. Please send any questions to