2020 law students essay contest winners

Student essay contest

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is proud to announce the winners of the 2020 Cornelius Vanderbroek Memorial Essay Competition for Law School Students. FFRF is awarding $9,500 in scholarship money for this year’s  contest.

Law school students were asked to write a legal essay based on this prompt: “Are ‘No Aid’ Clauses Constitutional?” The Supreme Court will decide an important case involving the separation of state and church during the 2019-2020 term. In Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, the court will address whether a decision by the Montana Supreme Court prohibiting state aid for tuition at religious schools based on the state constitution’s “No Aid” clause violates the Free Exercise Clause. Many other states have similar “No Aid” clauses that prohibit taxpayer money from going to religious schools. Please write an essay exploring one legal argument defending the constitutionality of Montana’s “No Aid” provision, or rebutting one argument that the clause is unconstitutional.

FFRF awarded three top prizes and one honorable mention. For ease of reading, the essays appearing in this issue do not include the footnotes and citations that were included in the authors’ submissions.

Winners are listed below and include the college or university they are attending and the award amount.

First place

Marc Mohan, Lewis & Clark Law School, $4,000.

Second place

Jessica Gaudette-Reed, University of Florida Levin College of Law, $3,000.

Third place

Libby Jacobson, Hamline School of Law, $2,000.

Honorable mention

Rory Brown, Northeastern University School of Law, $500.

FFRF has offered essay competitions to college students since 1979, high school students since 1994 and grad students since 2010. The law student contest debuted in 2019.