The Colorado and Denver Law Schools co-hosted the 2009 National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Competition yesterday. This year’s moot court problem involved Chapman v. Fort Howe State University, which challenged the fictional public university’s tuition waivers to American Indian students who have heritage that they can trace to the American Indian tribes that inhabited Colorado historically as violating a proposed (but defeated) November 2008 Colorado constitutional prohibition on using racial or gender preferences in state-funded programs. Out of 42 teams and 17 schools, best oral advocate honors went to the Columbia and University of Hawai’i teams, and best brief honors were awarded to the South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Columbia teams.
Held in conjunction with the Native American Moot Court Competition, Colorado Law hosted its first public Indian law conference, Native Americans, Race and the Constitution Conference, with featured leading academics and litigators in the field of federal Indian law, including Steve Moore ’79 of NARF and Professor Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie of the University of Hawaii. This conference focused on topics complementing the moot court competition problem, issues of race, tribal status, and the protection of American Indian religious exercise, including sessions on Native Hawaiians and Tribal citizenship determinations. Professor Sarah Krakoff moderated the conference, and Professor Jill Tompkins, American Indian Law Clinic Director and conference coordinator said, “Coordinating the conference with the competition was a wonderful opportunity to bring leading Indian law scholars to take a timely look at the myriad constitutional challenges that American Indian tribes and Native Hawaiians are confronting on a daily basis.” The conference was sponsored by the American Indian Law Program and the Byron R. White Center for the Study of Constitutional Law.