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2017 Civics Contest

An essay and video contest open to high school students in the western United States and Pacific Islands.

Entries accepted beginning February 1, 2017. Deadline for entries is April 16, 2017.

CASH PRIZES for Essay and Video Contests
1st place: $2,000   2nd place: $1,000   3rd place: $500
 
Contest rules, entry instructions, and additional information are available here.
 
To combat terrorism, some have called upon our government to turn away immigrants and visitors who come from particular countries or are followers of certain religious faiths. Others have urged imposing restrictions on such persons already in this country. To students of history, this approach is reminiscent of what occurred 75 years ago as the United States entered into World War II following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Presidential directives issued in February 1942 led to a curfew for people of Japanese descent followed by the forcible relocation of more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent from the West Coast to internment camps in remote areas of California, Idaho and Arizona.
 
Two young Japanese American men who defied the curfew and relocation policies were criminally prosecuted. In those cases – Hirabayashi v. United States, 1943, and Korematsu v. United States, 1944, – the U.S. Supreme Court upheld their convictions and the underlying government actions. The decisions in these cases, which required the court to weigh national security against individual rights, were difficult ones and there was strong disagreement at the time over the outcomes. In a third case, Ex parte Mitsuye Endo, also decided in 1944, the court ruled that “citizens who are concededly loyal” could not be held in internment camps. The decision resulted in the immediate release of an interned Japanese American woman and led eventually to the closure of the internment camps.
 
The topic for the Ninth Circuit Civics Contest is as follows:
Consider and describe the relevance of the Japanese internment today as our nation combats terrorism.
 
The contest has two components: 1) Individual students can express their thoughts and ideas in an essay of between 500 and 1,000 words; and 2) Individuals and teams of up to three students can produce a 3-5 minute video on the theme. A student may submit both an essay and video. A student may submit only one essay and be involved in the production of only one video.
 
Your essay or video should: 1) Demonstrate an understanding of the history of the internment and its aftermath; 2) Explain what constitutional powers and rights were brought into conflict by the Hirabayashi, Korematsu and Endo cases; and 3) Discuss the important role of the Judicial Branch – then and now – in resolving constitutional conflicts involving national security and individual rights.
 
The Ninth Circuit Civics Contest is open to high school students at all grade levels and to home-schooled students of equivalent grade status. Students from public, private, parochial and charter schools may enter. The contest is organized by the Ninth Circuit Courts and Community Committee and cosponsored by the federal courts within the Ninth Circuit. Circuit contest winners will be announced in June. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three finishers in both the essay and video competitions.
 

The U.S. District and Bankruptcy Courts for the Central District of California are hosting a local civics contest with the top three finishers advancing to compete as finalists in the Ninth Circuit Civics Contest. Winners of the local contest will receive prizes of $1,000 for 1st place, $750 for 2nd place, and $500 for 3rd place. A student who finished first in the local contest and in the Ninth Circuit contest would receive $3,000 in cash prizes!
 
In addition, the 1st place winner of the local contest and a parent/guardian will be invited to attend the opening session of the 2017 Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, which will be held July 17, 2017, in San Francisco.  Round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations will be provided.
 
To be eligible to compete in the local contest, students must reside in one of these counties: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara or Ventura County. For more information about the local contest, please contact: Blake Francois at (213) 894-2766 or via email Blake_Francois@cacb.uscourts.gov.