A foetus's right to life or a woman's right to choose?

It was hard-hitting submissions all the way at this year's Bucerius Common Law Moot competition, run by the Foreign Language Communication Programme

The Grand Final of the 16th annual Bucerius Common Law Moot took place in the Moot Court on Monday, 13 June, and proved to be a feast of US constitutional contestation. The competition is run each year by the Foreign Language Communication Programme and gives first- and second-year students a chance to moot competitively in English on a topical legal issue.


This year’s topic: Row v Wade

The subject of this year’s moot was the highly controversial leaked US Supreme Court draft opinion that overturned the landmark abortion rights case Roe v Wade, thereby curtailing a woman’s right to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy.

Appellant: A women’s reproductive health centre

Acting for the appellant, a women’s reproductive health centre, were senior counsel Nikolaos Massuras and his very able junior Baran Özdemir. The judges were impressed with the fluency and persuasiveness of counsel for the appellant’s submissions, in which they eloquently argued for a right to an abortion to be inferred from the text and context of the US constitution. They also put forward compelling arguments around stare decisis, the common-law principle that provides that settled decisions such as Roe v Wade should be left undisturbed.


Respondent: State of Mississippi and others

The respondents, representing the state of Mississippi and a number of other states, was represented by senior counsel Jula Rügemer and junior counsel Max Klinke. Both were steadfast in their view that a right to an abortion was not deeply rooted in US society and traditions, and that the right to privacy did not extend to the right to terminate a pregnancy.

The decision

The judges on the Bench – Foreign Language Communication Programme director Lezel Roddeck, Anglo-American Law Lecturer James Linscott, and US attorney and lecturer Lindsey Griffith – were impressed with the sophisticated and nuanced arguments put forward by all the mooters. Ultimately, the evidently liberal moot court Bench held that a right to an abortion does indeed inhere in the US constitution, and that stare decisis made it incumbent on the court to respect the decision in Roe v Wade.


However, respondents were awarded the trophy

However, the judges were nevertheless unanimous in their view that the respondents put up a stronger fight for their clients, and that the coveted Bucerius Common Law Moot trophy should therefore go to them.


Thank you!

The Foreign Language Communication Programme would like to thank all the students who took part in the competition for keeping the flame of mooting burning brightly in the law school. We would also like to extend our gratitude to the students who attended the Grand Final and made the event the great success it was.