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Appellate Clinic hears case involving NFL while visiting U.S. Supreme Court

Earlier this month, the Appellate Advocacy Clinic made its annual trip to the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. While there, clinic students observed oral arguments, toured the courthouse, and met privately with Clerk of Court General William Suter.

The clinic heard oral arguments in American Needle, Inc. v. NFL, an antitrust case involving the National Football League. The plaintiff claims that the NFL violated antitrust laws by giving Reebok an exclusive 10-year license to manufacture apparel with NFL logos. In a previous Sports Law class, some of the clinic’s students had studied the lower court decision in the case. In addition to 30-minute arguments by Plaintiff’s counsel and NFL’s counsel, a Deputy Solicitor General also argued for 10 minutes, arguing for a middle course between the litigants’ positions.

“I was amazed at how small the courtroom is; how packed it was, with almost every square inch covered in chairs; how similar the argument was to Moot Court; how informal the banter was between the Justices and the advocates; and especially how close the podium was to the bench, eight feet at most,” third-year law student Daniel Vandergriff said.

“The most exciting part of the trip was getting to see the Justices first enter the courtroom after the Marshal cried the Court in with the customary ‘oyez, oyez, oyez,’” added third-year law student Caroline Payseur.

After arguments, a member of the Court’s Curator’s Office gave the clinic a tour of the courthouse. On the tour, the clinic’s students learned all about the courtroom, other rooms in the courthouse, artwork, and architectural features of the building, including its spiral staircase.

The clinic then met in the office of Clerk of Court Suter, a retired general in the Army JAG Corps. In the past, General Suter was the commanding officer for Dean Blake Morant and Professor Charley Rose. General Suter told stories about the Court and answered questions. He also noted that he was about to enter a meeting about announcing the Court’s ruling, that day, to prohibit cameras from the federal courtroom in California in which Proposition 8 is on trial.

This year’s trip was the fourth straight year in which the Appellate Advocacy Clinic has heard oral arguments at the Supreme Court.