This year, Boys’ State judges and lawyers got the opportunity to hear and argue actual cases that have gone before the United States Supreme Court. The third case, Oglala Sioux Tribe v. multiple defendants, was presented to determine whether retail sellers of beer, distributors of alcoholic products, and brewing manufacturers, including Anheuser-Busch InBev Worldwide, Inc., SAB Miller, Molson Coors Brewing Company, MillerCoors, LLC and Pabst Brewing Company, had knowingly acted in concert to manufacture, distribute and sell beer through the Whiteclay retail outlets in amounts that cannot be legally sold, consumed or possessed under the laws of the State of Nebraska and the Oglala Sioux Tribe.*
Below are comments from District Judge Jared Pohlmann from Deshler, Nebraska.
“This case was brought to the court on the basis that the Oglala Sioux Tribe blame the Multiple Defendants located in White Clay for selling alcohol to their native people, and thus destroying the native people’s lives on the reservation where alcohol is banned. The plaintiff (Oglala Sioux) stated that Chester Arthur took part of the Pine Ridge Reservation and made a buffer zone of 50 miles which included Whiteclay. They stated that the land was not taken from the reservation but just formed a buffer from it. On the other hand, the defendants quickly responded with the fact that in 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt reduced the buffer by 49 miles, creating a 1 mile buffer. Whiteclay resides 2 miles from the reservation, making the selling of alcohol legal. The court decided that the defendants were not breaking the law. Therefore the court ruled in favor of the multiple defendants. While selling to the residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation may not be morally correct or just, there is no proof of the town breaking any state or federal laws.”
This year, Boys’ State judges and lawyers got the opportunity to hear and argue actual cases that have gone before the United States Supreme Court. The second case, Bowman v. Monsanto Corporation, was presented to determine whether patent exhaustion does or does not permit a farmer to reproduce patented seeds through planting and harvesting without the patent holder’s permission.*
Below are comments from District Judge Caleb Wilson (Valley Forge) from Elwood, Nebraska and Trevor Polivka, a District Judge (Yorktown) from Lincoln, Nebraska.
“In this case I ruled in favor of Monsanto because of a few points. First is that the seed had a genetic resistance to Roundup and even though it wasn’t the first strain, it still had the genetic similarities that were marketed. Second is that even though Mr. Bowman had been doing this planting for a long time, he first had to spray the growing corn to see if he had any of that marketable strain from Monsanto seed. The third point is that Mr. Bowman signed the documents at the elevator to verify that he was using the seed for feed and not planting. Feeding this seed was not the case for Mr. Bowman. He planted to get the genetic strain that had resilience and that was also patented to Monsanto who still had the rights to it.”
“This case is about one farmer who found a loop hole in a large company’s patent agreement and is being sued because of it. In this case I ruled for the side of Bowman. Bowman did sign the patent doctrine when he bought the seed, however I see nothing wrong with what he did. He abided by the doctrine and sold all of his crop every year, as instructed, to a public grain elevator. Then the next year after he purchased more modified seed from Monsanto. He went back to the grain elevator he sold his crop to last year and bought more seed from them, in order to fertilize and grow more soybeans mixed in with his purchase of seed from Monsanto for a large healthy crop this season. There was no guarantee that he would be getting modified seed from the grain elevator from the year before, so I believe this is not a problem, seeing how it was a public grain elevator where other farmers could buy from and also sell their ordinary crop to the year before. He did not sell it “under the table” to other farmers and sold it like the doctrine said, so he is not breaking any rules, and they have no good evidence to convict him.”
This year, Boys’ State judges and lawyers got the opportunity to hear and argue actual cases that have gone before the United States Supreme Court. The first case, Heath and Human Services v. Hobby Lobby Corporation, was presented to determine whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), which provides that the government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless that burden is the least restrictive means to further a compelling governmental interest, allows a for-profit corporation to deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation’s owners.*
Below are comments from Kyle Upp (Bataan), a district judge from Gering, Nebraska.
“After reviewing the facts of the case and hearing from both sides, the court ruled in favor of the Hobby Lobby Corporation. The Hobby Lobby Corporation felt they were paying for abortions by submitting to four of the twenty contraceptive mandates under the Affordable Care Act. The Hobby Lobby Corporation therefore refused to submit to these mandates. The law to be interpreted was the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act. This act states that the US Government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion”. HHS failed to convince the court that the Hobby Lobby Corporation is not considered a ‘person’. Because the Green family owns 80% of the Hobby Lobby Corporation and the Green family is composed of four main individuals, they are covered under the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act and have the right to refuse the four contraceptive mandates.”
On Thursday evening, United States District Judge Mike Heavican paid a visit to Cornhusker Boys’ State to talk about the judicial system in the state of Nebraska, and also to administer the oath of office to the Boys’ State Supreme Court Chief Justice, who then gave the oath to other justices. Delegates had the opportunity to askHeavican questions, though at many points, he asked the delegates their own questions, curious how they would handle the scenarios they inquired about.
The Hon. Mike Heavican
On Friday afternoon, delegates visited the Nebraska State Capitol building. Cornhusker Boys’ State officeholders visited the offices of their Nebraska counterparts, while the legislature met in the Warner Chamber and the CBS Supreme Court heard cases within Nebraska’s highest courtroom.