Comparing Democracies:
Colorado, Get to Know Europe
Special Europe Day Culminating Event: High School Student Moot Courts on Free Expression

April 26, 2012, University of Colorado Law School (Event Press Release)

Is it hate speech or free speech?  And why is it often forbidden in Europe and protected in the United States?   Those were the questions considered on April 26 when students from Fairview (Boulder), Thornton, and Mountain Range (Westminster) High Schools interacted with law students in a special event at the University of Colorado Law School.

Students presented moot court arguments on U.S. and European cases to a distinguished panel of judges, including Judge Marin Mrcela, member of the Supreme Court of Croatia, Judge Dan Taubman, Colorado Court of Appeals, Professor Melissa Hart, University of Colorado Law School, Honorary Consul for Slovakia Greg Fasing, Marilyn Cover, Director of the Portland-based Classroom Law Project and Chris Gdowski, Superintendent, Adams County School District 12.  The goal of this special event and lessons completed as preparation was to give students a deeper understanding of their own democracy by “stepping outside” to examine how cases involving hate speech are handled differently in other democracies. See new lessons created for this project here.

To prepare for the event, students analyzed the First Amendment and the European Convention on Human Rights, learning that both documents protect free speech, but the limits on such speech—especially on speech that many find offensive—are very different in the United States and Europe. Many students took advantage of a special project blog, posting questions to Judge Mrcela and EU expert Aubrey Westfall, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Virginia Wesleyan University.

The special student event, hosted by the Byron White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law at the CU law school, is a culminating project for an EU-funded program for Colorado civics teachers, “Colorado: Get to Know Europe.” The program is funded by the European Union and sponsored by the Center for Education in Law and Democracy

More information about this CELD project here.

This webpage has been funded with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this website are the sole responsibility of CELD and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union. Special thanks to Gabriel Sullice, Student Assistant, Colorado European Union Center of Excellence, for use of his photos.

CELD thanks the Byron White Center for their generous support of this event, including providing CU law students and the use of law school facilities.