Wake Forest Law Appellate Advocacy Clinic Students Write Their Way To The United States Supreme Court

In May 2022, Wake Forest Law students Sophia Sulzer (JD ’23), Maryclaire Farrington (JD ’23), and Jacob Winton (JD ’23) were preparing for their last Summer Recess before the start of their 3L year. All three students were enrolled in the Appellate Advocacy Clinic, led by Clinic Director Professor John Korzen, and assumed that their clinic work would begin at the start of the Fall 2022 Semester. They never imagined that they would be making a trip to Washington, D.C. for an experience law students dream about. Sulzer, Farrington, and Winton spent their summers not only working at full-time internships, but also virtually collaborating to write an amicus brief that would be filed in the United States Supreme Court.

On October 11, 2022, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in National Pork Producers Council v. Ross, a case involving a constitutional challenge under the dormant Commerce Clause to California’s ban on the sale of pork when California banned the sale of pork when it is produced inhumanely. Even though the case centers around pork production, the ruling will have implications for all sorts of local ordinances and legislation. The students had submitted an amicus brief to the court on behalf of local government organizations to share the local government perspective on the case, providing examples of local legislation that could be affected.

“This entire case was a great opportunity for us to work together,” said Farrington, “We were able to collaborate and learn how to work with ‘colleagues’ on a case.” As a member of the Supreme Court Bar, Professor Korzen was able to oversee and guide the students through all of the phases of the case.

The group submitted their amicus brief for the National Pork case before classes started in August 2022, but they were not sure if they would be able to go to the oral argument in person, or if there would even be an in-person argument (the Supreme Court has had strict COVID-19 policies in place since March 2020). Professor Korzen confirmed there would be an opportunity for the students to see the proceedings in Washington, DC on September 28, 2022. He drove Sulzer, Farrington, and Winton to Washington, D.C. on October 10 and back to Winston-Salem, NC on October 11.

“Being able to walk up to and inside the Supreme Court was an amazing experience,” said Winton. “There were historical artifacts of the U.S. legal system inside, there were professors and lawyers from all parts of the legal industry, and we were able to be in the same room as the justices who decided many of the cases we talk about in our classes everyday.” Sulzer agreed: “We were lucky to be able to attend this hearing on a case we worked on and became so interested in. It was very inspiring to see where the decisions of cases we have studied were made and hear talented advocates.”

While the case was heard by the Supreme Court in October, some decisions on cases heard in the fall will not be released until June 2023. Wake Forest Law and the Appellate Advocacy Clinic will continue to watch for any decision in the case.