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Mock-trial teams get House support

Congress tried to provide a boost to Sabbath-observant students who participate in mock trials.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously Tuesday to require the National High School Mock Trial Championships accommodate students of all faiths who participate in the competition.

The lawmakers’ involvement stemmed from a case involving the Torah Academy of Teaneck, N.J., whose team won the state championship in 2005 but would not have been able to vie for the national crown because much of the competition took place on a Saturday.

Times were adjusted that year to accommodate the Orthodox students, but the chairman of the championship’s board of directors said the board ultimately decided to keep the Saturday competitions because of logistical problems.

Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) sponsored the resolution, which is not binding, in the hope that the board would reconsider rules that lacked provisions not only for observant Jews but also for Muslims and Seventh-day Adventists.

“It is exactly the wrong message for an educational group dedicated to teaching students about justice for all to send,” said Rothman.

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