2018 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 contest is a current Supreme Court case (Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Docket No. 16-111) that will decide whether the application of Colorado's public accommodations law to compel a cake maker to create a cake that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs about same-sex marriage violates the free speech or free exercise clauses of the First Amendment.
 
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:  February 23, 2018
Essays must be postmarked no later than February 23, 2018, and mailed to:  Anne Arundel County Bar Foundation, Essay Contest, P.O. Box 161, Annapolis, MD  21404. 
 
Essay Topic:
The case under consideration: In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins went to Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, CO, and requested that its owner, Jack C. Phillips, design and create a cake for their wedding. Phillips declined to do so on the grounds that he does not create wedding cakes for same-sex weddings because of his religious beliefs. Phillips believes that decorating cakes is a form of art through which he can honor God and that it would displease God to create cakes for same-sex marriages.
 
Craig and Mullins alleged discrimination based on sexual orientation under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (CADA). Craig and Mullins filed a formal complaint with the Office of Administrative Courts and the Administrative Law Judge issued a written order finding in favor of Craig and Mullins, which was affirmed by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission. On appeal, the Colorado Court of Appeals subsequently affirmed the Commission's ruling. The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear this case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (Docket No. 16-111). The question to be considered in this case is: Can a state compel an individual to create expression that violates his/her sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage? Or is this a violation of the free speech or free exercise clauses of the First Amendment?

Resources to help you get started:

Case Information on Cornell Law School’s Supreme Court Listserv

ABA Journal Article, Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, University of California at Berkeley School of Law


If you have questions about the contest, please contact us at 410-222-6860 or info@aabar.org.