IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law will send two teams to the William E. McGee National Civil Rights Moot Court Competition February 20-22, 2014 at the University of Minnesota Law School.
The competition is designed to give law students an opportunity to develop the oral advocacy and writing skills essential to become successful appellate lawyers, and to promote interest in civil rights law.
Second-year IIT Chicago-Kent students Nicholas Bartzen, Melody Gaal and Eric Shinabarger will compete on one team. Second-year students Matthew Jarka, Jacob Radecki and Jerome Urbik comprise the other team.
Bartzen earned a degree in economics and management at Beloit College. Gaal received a bachelor of science degree in biology with a minor in law and society from the University of California, San Diego. Shinabarger graduated from Taylor University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. The team is coached by Scott Lechowicz ’14 and Stephen Pauwels ’14 who competed on last year’s McGee team.
Jarka completed his undergraduate education at the National Labor College, where he majored in labor studies. Radecki earned a degree in international relations at Michigan State University. Urbik graduated from the University of Dallas with a major in drama. The team is coached by Roman Kashuba ’14 and Claudia Cortes ’14. (Kashuba was also a member of IIT Chicago-Kent’s 2013 McGee team.)
The students will argue a federal appellate case Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Secretary of U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. At issue is whether the religious owners of a family business, or their closely held, for-profit corporation, have free exercise rights that are violated by the application of the so-called contraception mandate of the Affordable Care Act. (The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the actual case on March 25.)
The competition is named for University of Minnesota Law School alumnus William E. McGee ’80, the first African American to be appointed chief public defender in the state of Minnesota. McGee also served as a public defender and prosecutor for Hennepin County. During his career, he worked as a staff attorney and then as executive director at the Legal Rights Center, a nonprofit community-based organization that represents low-income people of color. McGee worked with numerous community and legal organizations, including the NAACP, the Legal Redress Committee, the Minnesota Criminal Rules Committee and the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers, of which he was a founding member and a past president. He died in 2000 at the age of 47.