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 essay contest is a current Supreme Court case (Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans) that will decide whether a state violates the First Amendment by refusing to issue a speciality license plate bearing an image of the Confederate flag.
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 8, 2015
Essays must be postmarked no later than May 8, 2015, and mailed to: Anne Arundel County Bar Foundation, Essay Contest, P.O. Box 161, Annapolis, MD 21404.
The case under consideration: On July 14, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed a ruling that had upheld the right of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles to deny an application for a specialty license plate that would contain an image of the Confederate battle flag. The application was filed by the Texas chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, who asserted that the flag is a symbol honoring the Confederate soldier, history, and Southern heritage. Opponents of the application asserted that the Confederate flag is an inflammatory symbol of hate and oppression. Although the Texas board had approved over 350 applications for specialty plates, the board denied this application and explained that many members of the general public find the design offensive. The Sons of Confederate Veterans filed suit, alleging that the decision violated their First Amendment rights. The trial court found no issue with the denial of the application, but a divided panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that specialty license plates constitute private speech protected by the First Amendment, and the Texas board's denial of the application was based on impermissible viewpoint discrimination. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans v. Vandergriff, 759 F.3d 388 (5th Cir. 2014). On December 5, 2014, the United States Supreme Court agreed to review the decision of the appeals court, and oral arguments were set for March 23, 2015. Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans, Case No. 14-144. The questions being considered by the Supreme Court are: (1) whether symbols on state-issued specialty license plates qualify as government speech, which would be outside the scope of the First Amendment; and (2) whether the State of Texas engaged in impermissible viewpoint discrimination by rejecting the application to issue a specialty plate that included an image of the Confederate battle flag.
If you have questions about the contest, please contact us at 410-280-6950 or firstname.lastname@example.org.