2021 Ninth Circuit Civics Contest





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

Entries accepted beginning February 1, 2021. Deadline for entries is March 17, 2021.  Sponsored by the United States Courts for the Ninth Circuit.

Download Contest Flyer.

“What Does Our American Community Ask of Us”

  *May be subject to federal, state or local taxes unless exemptions apply.







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.

Over the course of our country’s history, global events have challenged us to find
a balance between critical rights like these and our responsibilities to each other.
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?

“What Does Our American Community Ask of Us?” is the theme of a civics
contest focusing on these important issues. Students are encouraged to discuss
these themes with reference to the Constitution, and to consider the historical
examples identified above, or other relevant events in American history, in their
entries. In preparing an essay or video submission addressing the theme, students
are encouraged to explain what part they believe each of us plays in working
toward the “more perfect Union” described in the Constitution.

Individual students can express their thoughts and ideas on the theme in an
essay of between 500 and 1,000 words. 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, and may submit only one essay and be involved in the
production of only one video.

The contest is open to high school students in the Ninth Circuit (made up of nine
western states and two Pacific Island jurisdictions). Students from public, private,
parochial and charter schools and home-schooled students of equivalent grade
status may enter. Children of federal judges, chambers staff, and employees of
federal court offices are not eligible to participate.

In addition to cash prizes, student winners will be invited to the opening session
of the 2021 Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, scheduled for July 12-15, 2021 in
Big Sky, Montana. The winning essays will be distributed and videos shown at the

conference, which draws some 800 judges and lawyers working in the federal courts

of the western states.

The contest is sponsored by the Ninth Circuit Public Information and Community Outreach Committee (PICO).

Top: Empty supermarket shelves in Everett, Washington. Photo taken on March 14, 2020 by Cindy Shelby.

Above: Social distancing circles marked out in Washington Square Park in San Francisco.

Photo taken on May 27, 2020 by Christopher Michel.

Download Contest Flyer. Both essays and videos can be submitted electronically on this website starting February 1, 2021. Deadline for entries is 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time, March 17, 2021.

Questions?  For more information, please contact the Ninth Circuit Office of the Circuit Executive, (415) 355-8873 / civicscontest@ce9.uscourts.gov.

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