The Ames Competition is one of the most prestigious competitions for appellate brief writing and advocacy in the country. Students participating in the Final Round started the competition in the fall of their 2L year.  From there, two teams progress to the Final Round through their strong research abilities and excellent written and oral advocacy. The Final Round is traditionally judged by this country’s preeminent jurists. Past Ames Competition winners include Professor Cass Sunstein, Dean Kathleen Sullivan, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and Justice Harry Blackmun. Click here for a list of past winners of the Competition.

The teams that competed in the 2017 Ames Final Round are below, as well as a summary of the case and the briefs submitted for the Final Round.

On November 14, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John G. Roberts Jr., Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Carl E. Stewart, and Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Debra Ann Livingston presided over oral arguments. The panel awarded “Best Oralist” to David Phillips of the John Hart Ely Memorial Team, “Best Brief” to the Fred T. Korematsu Memorial Team, and “Best Overall” to the Fred T. Korematsu Memorial Team. Congratulations to all of the competitors!

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The John Hart Ely Memorial Team
David Beylik
Jason Ethridge (Oralist)
Jenya Godina
Isaac Park
David Phillips (Oralist)
Derek Reinbold

The Fred T. Korematsu Memorial Team
Frederick Ding (Oralist)
Vivian Dong
Henry Druschel
Lydia Lichlyter (Oralist)
Raeesa Munshi
William Schmidt


Dylan Bloom v. United States of America

Like all male U.S. citizens, petitioner Dylan Bloom was required to register with the Selective Service System when he turned 18 years old in June 2007.  But Bloom declined to register then or at any time before his 26th birthday in June 2015.  Bloom openly flouted the registration requirement, sending an annual letter to the Selective Service System stating that he had not registered for the draft and did not intend to do so.  Bloom also criticized the draft in postings on social media sites and counseled teenagers on a swim team he coached to decline to register.

The government indicted Bloom on one count of willfully failing to register with the Selective Service System, in violation of 50 U.S.C. §§ 3802(a) and 3811(a).  Bloom moved to dismiss the indictment on the ground that the statute impermissibly discriminates on the basis of gender in violation of equal protection by requiring men, but not women, to register for the draft.  The district court denied the motion because the Supreme Court rejected an equal protection challenge to the registration requirement in Rostker v. Goldberg, 453 U.S. 57 (1981).

Bloom then decided to enter a conditional guilty plea, and he consented to have a magistrate judge conduct the plea colloquy and accept his guilty plea.  But before sentencing, Bloom moved to withdraw his plea.  Bloom contended that he had an unqualified right to withdraw under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(d)(1), which applies “before the court accepts the plea.”  Bloom argued that the magistrate judge had lacked statutory and constitutional authority to accept the plea.  Bloom contended that the acceptance of guilty pleas in felony cases cannot qualify as an “additional duty” under Section 636(b)(3) of the Federal Magistrates Act.  And Bloom further argued that permitting magistrate judges to accept felony guilty pleas would usurp judicial power in violation of Article III’s structural guarantee.  The district court rejected those arguments and denied Bloom’s motion to withdraw.

The Ames Circuit affirmed.  On the equal protection issue, the Ames Circuit recognized that Rostker’s equal protection holding rested on the fact that men and women were not similarly situated for draft registration purposes because women were ineligible to serve in combat when Rostker was decided.  Although combat restrictions on women in the military were gradually removed and ultimately lifted in full by January 2016, the Ames Circuit concluded that it was the Supreme Court’s prerogative to determine whether Rostker was still good law and controlled the validity of Bloom’s conviction.  On the plea withdrawal issue, the Ames Circuit held that magistrate judges have statutory authority to accept felony guilty pleas and that such authority does not violate Article III.

The Supreme Court granted certiorari to consider:

(1) Whether it should overrule Rostker and hold that Bloom’s conviction must be vacated  because the Selective Service registration requirement unconstitutionally discriminates on the basis of gender; and

(2) Whether Bloom is entitled to withdraw his felony guilty plea as a matter of right because the magistrate judge lacked statutory or constitutional authority to accept the plea.

Brief for the Petitioner (John Hart Ely Memorial Team)

Brief for the Respondent (Fred T. Korematsu Memorial Team)

Reply Brief for the Petitioner

Joint Appendix

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