The United States District Court in the Southern District of California is excited to announce the 2021 Civics Contest for high school students in the western United States, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. This essay and video contest offers cash prizes and a chance to meet some of the nation’s preeminent jurists and legal practitioners.
“What Does Our American Community Ask of Us?” is the theme of a civics contest focusing on how our Constitution both confers rights and establishes responsibilities. The Preamble that begins the Constitution speaks of the people’s commitment to “secure the blessings of liberty,” while also recognizing the need to “promote the general welfare.” Among the many rights enshrined in the Constitution, for example, are the right to peaceably assemble, the right to free exercise of religion, and the right to a speedy and public jury trial in criminal cases. The shelter-in-place orders implemented during the coronavirus pandemic, the rationing orders imposed during World War II and the Great Depression, and the mandatory smallpox vaccination programs instituted in the early 1900s are just some examples of times when we have been asked to curtail our normal freedoms for the benefit of our entire community. At the same time, each of us has a civic responsibility to participate in and contribute to our democracy. How should we as a society strike the appropriate balance within the framework of our Constitution between safeguarding our rights and fulfilling our responsibilities to each other? Students in grades 9-12 in public, private and parochial schools and home-schooled students of an equivalent grade status can write an essay or produce a short video on the topic. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California offers prizes of $1,000, $500, $250 to the top finishers in both the essay and video competition. The window for submissions is February 1st, 2021-March 17th, 2021.
All of the 15 federal courts in the Ninth Circuit hold local contests with winners going on to compete in the circuit-wide competition. At the circuit level, prizes of $3000, $1700, and $1000 will be awarded to first-, second- and third place winners in both the writing and video competition.
Download Civics Contest Flyer
Download Civics Contest Rules