By: Jordan Emery and Jacob Bolen
The Judicial Branch of our government plays a vital role in evaluating the Constitutionality of bills. This vitality plays a similar role in the mock trials of the Youth in Government Program. Judges work together with the the Attorney General, and other attorneys to open the floor for debate.
On the second and third day of the 2018 Youth in Government legislation, we had the privilege to sit in and observe select debates presented in front of the Supreme Court Justices.The bill that was being discussed issued an Act to Mandate the Use of Motorcycle Helmets on Public Roads was presented to the court to form a consensus addressing the constitutional concern of the bill.
The petitioner’s speech was provided by attorneys Lucas Jacquot and Collin Smith to advocate for those who believe the bill impedes on the rights granted to United States citizens through the Constitution. The bill as attacked on the basis of vagueality. “A helmet, by definition, is a hard or padded protective hat (Dictionary.com). Due to the lack of a clear definition of helmet in the bill, a padded fedora could be classified and abide by the law.” The bill was far too ambiguous to be analyzed and ruled constitutional. This is extended by the violation of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…” It is under the jurisdiction of the judicial branch to uphold the laws currently enacted. This is embedded in the freedom of expression. When laws target individuals, as the bill regarding requiring motorcycle helmets does, the freedom of expression is violated rather than when addressed to the public as a whole. Smith inquired that the bill, “violates one’s rights as a citizen to be able to do what they want, when they want, and as they please.”
Acknowledging that an Act to Mandate the Use of Motorcycle Helmets on Public Roads could potentially breech the rights granted to citizens through the First Amendment, the respondent included specific examples of exception cases already in use. Like the limitations set on freedom of speech, mandating the use of motorcycle helmets would be a an extension to the freedom of expression on the basis that safety is far more important. “Helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries” (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). Serious head injuries are more likely to occur with motorcyclists because of the lack of an enclosed driving environment. Helmets would supply the minimal level of security to greatly decrease the number of motorcycle deaths and injuries.
An act to mandate the use of motorcycle helmets on public roads was a hot topic for debate inside the judicial walls of our capitol building. Petitioner and respondent speeches elaborated on the known facts of the issue. In a vote of 4 to 3 by our Supreme Court Justices, Bill 4-403 was passed Constitutional. Based on constitutional premises and justice morals, it was agreed that the bill was not only constitutional, but an valuable law that protects the lives of United States citizens.