Sotomayor Anchors Van Vleck Finals

Van Vleck winners Kyle Singhal (left) and James Gross (right) flank judges Lee Rosenthal, Sonia Sotomayor, and Robert Katzmann after the competition.

Lisner Auditorium was packed for the 64th annual Jacob Burns Van Vleck Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition, as four finalists went head-to-head in oral arguments before a distinguished bench anchored by Justice Sonia Sotomayor of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The justice was joined on the bench by Chief Judge Robert Katzmann of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Judge Lee Rosenthal of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

The January competition, GW Law’s largest and longest running upper-level advocacy contest, centered on a Fourth Amendment rights question involving the legality of drones. 

The four competitors—Olivia Jahn and Amanda Nagrotsky for the petitioners and victors James Gross and Kyle Singhal for the respondent—presented compelling arguments and impressed the high-powered judges with their legal prowess. 

“You give me hope about the future of our profession,” Justice Sotomayor said at the conclusion of the competition.

Several U.S. Supreme Court justices, including John Roberts, Elena Kagan, and Samuel Alito, have presided over the final round of the Van Vleck competition in recent years.

The contest marked Justice Sotomayor’s third visit to GW Law in two years. She cut the ribbon at the dedication ceremony for the renovated home of the Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics in January and spoke at Lisner Auditorium late last year about her recently published memoir, My Beloved World, chronicling her life and her  road to the court.