2017 High School Essay Contest

The Anne Arundel County Bar Foundation invites all high school students in Anne Arundel County to enter its annual high school essay contest. The contest is open to all public or private high school students in grades 9-12, and home-schooled students at corresponding grade levels. The focus of this year’s essay contest is a current Supreme Court case (Packingham v. North Carolina, Docket No. 15-1194) that will decide whether a State may make it a crime for a registered sex offender to access any social networking site or website that might be frequented by minors.

Prizes:       1st place:  $500       2nd place:  $250     3rd place:  $100
The winners will be honored at a special ceremony at the Circuit Court.  All participants will receive a certificate.  College admissions offices look favorably upon applications of students who have received writing awards.

How to Enter:
Write an essay on this topic:  How should the U.S. Supreme Court should rule on this case and why?
Students should submit an essay of up to 1,200 words on the stated topic (see details below). Entries should be double-spaced and either typewritten or printed using a computer word processor.
The essay must be accompanied by a cover sheet that includes the following information: the student’s name, address, phone number and e-mail address; school’s name (if applicable), address and phone number; and the name of the teacher sponsor (if applicable, or parent if home-schooled). All portions of the essay that are not expressly identified as quotations must be the original work product of the student submitting the essay.

Deadline for submissions:  May 12, 2017
Essays must be postmarked no later than May 12, 2017, and mailed to:  Anne Arundel County Bar Foundation, Essay Contest, P.O. Box 161, Annapolis, MD  21404. 

Essay Topic:
The case under consideration: The State of North Carolina has a law that prohibits registered sex offenders from accessing social media sites or other websites that enable communication and exchange of information among users, if those sites allow minors to have accounts. In 2010, Lester Gerard Packingham, a registered sex offender, made a comment concerning a traffic ticket on Facebook and was convicted under the North Carolina law in question.

Packingham appealed the conviction, arguing that the law violated the First Amendment. An intermediate state appellate court overturned his conviction, but the Supreme Court of North Carolina reversed that ruling and reinstated his conviction. The State argued that the law is narrowly tailored and doesn’t actually regulate speech by registered sex offenders.
The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear a further appeal Packingham’s case. The question to be considered in this case is: “Whether a State may make it a crime for a registered sex offender to access any social networking site or website that might be frequented by minors.”  See Packingham v. North Carolina, Docket No. 15-1194. 

Resources to help you get started:

If you have questions about the contest, please contact us at 410-280-6950 or info@aabar.org.