The Freedom From Religion Foundation is announcing its third annual essay competition for law school students.
Law students are invited to submit a no more than 1,500 word essay on the dangers of adopting a broad “history test” to justify violations of the separation between state and church. The contest will award $10,000 in prize money, with $4,000 for first place, $3,000 for second and $2,000 for third place, plus $500 discretionary awards for honorable mentions.
This year’s topic explores a change in Supreme Court interpretation that has become central to state/church litigation in recent years. In Town of Greece v. Galloway, the Supreme Court wrote that “the Establishment Clause must be interpreted ‘by reference to historical practices and understandings.’” In the wake of that decision, courts have struggled to define the exact contours of the historical considerations at play, with some courts treating Galloway as announcing a broadly applicable “history test,” while others have continued to apply more traditional Establishment Clause tests.
The contest is open to ongoing law school students attending a North American law school, except those starting law school for the first time in the fall of 2021. Students remain eligible to enter this contest if they will graduate from law school by spring or summer of 2021.
Eligible entrants will receive a one-year complimentary student membership in FFRF, including a digital version of 10 issues of Freethought Today, FFRF's newspaper, which publishes winning student essays. The deadline is midnight on June 15, 2021.
Contest entrants must fill out an application form online, which also details other requirements, and attach their essay.
FFRF will announce and post topics and prompts for its three longstanding undergraduate essay contests and one graduate essay contest by the end of February.