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Moot Court Competition Addresses Health Insurance Mandates

On Saturday, October 29, the Cornell Law School Moot Court Board presented the 2011 Cuccia Cup Moot Court Competition. The Board established a fictional statute, the Act to Care for America, based on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which is being challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court. Appearing before fourteen student judges, 30 second- and third-year students addressed whether the individual mandate to purchase health insurance is a valid exercise of Congressional power under either the Commerce Clause or the Taxing and Spending Clause. The scenario was based on several health care cases that have been decided in circuit courts around the country. Participant teams represented either a hypothetical petitioner–an uninsured individual challenging the mandate based on the change in spending habits it has imposed on her–or her respondent.

The finals, held in the MacDonald Moot Court Room and open to the public, pitted petitioner representatives Sean Langille ‘13 and Jovana Crncevic ‘13 against respondent representatives Nick Karasimas ‘13 and Hahn Liu ‘13. Sitting on the esteemed panel of judges were the Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr., of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; the Honorable D. Brooks Smith of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; the Honorable Kathleen Cardone of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas; the Honorable William C. Turnoff, '73, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida; and the Honorable Anne Patterson, '82, of the Supreme Court of New Jersey. Langille and Crncevic were declared the winners. Cody Herche ‘13 and Chad Mizelle ‘13 won the prize for Best Brief.

Finalists’ prizes for the Cuccia Cup are funded annually through endowed gifts from the late Francis P. Cuccia (LL.B. 1912), in memory of Mary Heagan Cuccia, as well as from Helen Belding Smith and the estate of Henry P. Smith III (1936).  The prizes for Best Brief are funded through an endowed gift from Louis Kaiser (LL.B. 1921).