FFRF announces 2021 law student essay contest

Law school student essay contest

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is announcing its third annual Cornelius Vanderbroek Memorial Essay Competition for Law School Students.

This year’s topic: “Why ‘history’ shouldn’t 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.

The 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.

In no more than 1,500 words, identify the dangers in interpreting Galloway as establishing a broadly applicable “history test” and, with citation to at least two post-Galloway cases, from any courts, define the outer boundaries where a history test should be applied.

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. You may not re-enter if FFRF has already awarded you for a law student essay.

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.

Contest entrants must fill out an application form online (surveymonkey.com/r/ZP6CDVX), which also details other requirements, and attach their essay.

Deadline: 11:59 p.m. June 14.

Word limit and formatting: Essay must be no longer than 1,500 words (not including footnotes), double spaced, standard margins, and font size 11 to 14 point. Include your name and title of your essay on each page. Choose your own title. Pages must be numbered. Indicate word length at end of essay.

Agreement: By entering, students agree to permit winning essays to be printed in full or in part in Freethought Today, FFRF’s newspaper, and posted online at FFRF’s website. Winners agree to promptly provide a photograph suitable for reproduction with their essay. Verification of student enrollment may also be requested.