Essay Contest Winners Announced
The Anne Arundel Bar County Bar Foundation is pleased to announce the winners of its annual High School Essay Contest:
1st Place ($500): Kevin Tang, South River High School
2nd Place-tie ($250): Rebecca Klebaner, Broadneck High School
2nd Place-tie ($250): Molly McQueeney, South River High School
2nd Place-tie ($250): Samantha Taylor, Annapolis Area Christian School
Usually, first, second, and third-place prizes are awarded, but due to the outstanding quality of the essays submitted this year, the panel of judges agreed on a three-way tie for second place. The essays were judged by five members of the Anne Arundel Bar Association (AABA): Hon. Timothy Meredith (Maryland Court of Special Appeals), Hon Glenn Klavans (Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County), Chris Brown (Brown & Getka, PA), Bill Roessler (retired deputy state's attorney for Anne Arundel County) and Lisa Stevens (Yumkas, Vidmar, Sweeney & Mulrenin, LLC).
The contest was open to all Anne Arundel County public, private and home-schooled high school students, grades 9-12. The four winners received their awards on June 7 during a special ceremony in the Historic Courtroom of the Circuit Court in Annapolis. The Honorable Timothy Meredith of the Court of Special Appeals presented the awards. Judge Meredith and his wife, attorney Kathleen Meredith, founded the contest and have sponsored it for the past 19 years. During that time, nearly 3,000 county students have participated in the competition.
For this year's essay contest, high school students were invited to express their opinions on the U.S. Supreme Court case Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. The students submitted their essays in February 2018, long before the Court issued their June 4 opinion on the case.
The students had to consider this question: Can a state compel an individual to create expression that violates his/her sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage? Students reviewed the case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which involved a Colorado baker who declined to make a cake for a celebration of a same-sex marriage and was subsequently found to be in violation of the state's anti-discrimination laws. Each student submitted an essay explaining how he or she thought that the Supreme Court should rule on this case.
In the end, three of the winning students argued in favor of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission and one argued in favor of the Masterpiece Cakeshop baker. On June 4, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop, citing the bias and hostility the cakeshop owner experienced during the Civil Rights Commission hearings. However, the Court's opinion on this case made it clear that as a “general rule,” religious and philosophical objections “do not allow business owners and other actors in the economy and in society to deny protected persons equal access to goods and services under a neutral and generally applicable public accommodations law.”